Friday, March 28, 2008

Gertrude st Shopping Guide

If I only had 1 recommendation for a day out in Melbourne I think I would suggest a trip to Gertrude st, Fitzroy. Such a great collection of small boutiques, breakfast, lunch and dinner spots and small galleries... a truly eclectic mix. If you stroll along the route on the map above, you'll easily fill up an afternoon... but if you're up for a full day you could also venture down Brunswick st for more shopping... or if it's getting dark I'd avoid Brunswick st (which gets a little ugly as the sun goes down) and head into the city for drinks or dinner...

ps) must apologise to Melburnians who probably won't be surprised by any of my suggestions! I thought I should include even the most obvious choices for any out-of-town readers who might be planning a trip... Also sorry didn't manage to get all the opening hours down... blah.

*later addition (not on the map - sorry)
Crumpler Bags
87 Smith st Fitzroy (Cnr Gertrude st)

Crumpler doesn't just design a great range of bags, camera and laptop cases... They are also fantastic at fostering local creative talent - they often collaborate with local young creatives for their super-kooky marketing campaigns, and sponsor many Melbourne indy/artsy events (including tertiary Film Festival ‘U Film Fest’ and the Enhance TV ATOM Awards.) They’re good guys. These days, in addition to the extensive Crumpler range, you can also order a custom made design – The Fitzroy store has an adjoining workshop where your unique design can be turned into the Crumpler bag of your dreams.

1) Aesop - # 242 Gertrude st.

Aesop needs no introduction really... beautiful botanical-based skincare and haircare products, stunning simple packaging, and, importantly, beautifully designed interior fit-outs. I like the pared-back aesthetic - they often make use of their signature packaging to form part of the fixtures (as with the central display bench above), and they use a lot of raw materials such a plywood, cardboard and polished concrete etc. In the top image you can also see their custom window installation by possibly Melbourne's most publicised floral/event designer - Joost Bakker.

ps) there are some more excellent shots of the interior fit-outs of Aesop stores worldwide on their website - go to 'thinking', then 'design inspiration'.

2) Dr. Follicles Barber Shop - # 240 Gertrude st.

Very kooky little barber shop for boys. Great retro fit-out - traditional barber chairs, retro wallpaper, kitsch prints on the walls, and a generally fun, laid back atmosphere. The haircuts are cheap and allegedly very good, but the main drawcard for locals seems to be the free stubby of Coopers Beer with every haircut! You don't even need an appointment. Worth peeking your head in for a look at the decor, even if you're a girl (and I'm assuming most of you are) ;)

Nice little write up of Dr. Follicles here on the Abbotsford Blog (who knew?)... bit out-of-date now but it's a good summary.

3) Birdman Eating - #238 Gertrude st

Good cafe for breakfast and lunch... cute fit-out. Always busy. Good review here.

4) Fatto a Mano Bakery - #228 Gertrude st

Great rustic bread and baked goods. The bread is dense and tastes good for you! For a cheap lunch while you stroll grab a homemade pizza slice... mmm.

5) Obus - #226 Ger

Obus is a well-respected all-Australian made fashion label. Their design philosophy is simple - they set out to create 'intelligent, tailored clothing for modern thinking women'. Obus features natural fibres and exclusive prints, and is manufactured locally in Melbourne. (This is very rare these days!) Interesting fabrics and cuts... I also love those hexagons on the window (temporary display only).

6) Ladro - # 224a

Ladro is just for dinner... sorry. But I couldn't write a Gertrude st guide without including it! It's become such a well-known Fitzroy eatery - and with good reason. Great pizzas (slightly pricey, yes, but worth it), delicious salads and appetisers, great atmosphere (although does border on slightly wanky at times), and, again, great interior fit-out (these things are important!). Love the light fittings especially. Make a booking or you won't get a table!

Open Wed-Sun 6pm - 11pm.
Phone - (03) 9415 7575

7) Books for Cooks - #233 -235

Books for Cooks is Australia's largest cookbook bookshop. It's a great little shop that stocks
over 20,000 new, out-of print, second-hand & antiquarian cookery books, books on food writing, food history, food science, wine writing, food & wine guides & many other food related areas. They stock books for professionals, students, enthusiastic amateurs, novices as well as children.

8) Enoteca - #229

Enoteca is a wine bar gaining quite a reputation these days. Great for an early evening drink while waiting for your table at Ladro. They also serve tasty bar snacks and tapas -
things like marinated olives, antipasto such as cured ham and pork terrines, and a range of cheeses.

Open Monday - Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner til late, Sunday for lunch and dinner.

9) Spacecraft - #225

Spacecraft have carved themselves a bit of a niche in Australia for their signature screenprinted homewares and bedlinen. Stewart Russell, who set up the company, was born in Scotland, studied fine art in England and Canada and currently lives and works in Melbourne. Russell has an impressive CV - In London he was director of London Printworks, a contemporary arts organisation with an international reputation for its exhibition program, commissioning a series of artists and fashion designers to discuss issues through the medium of printed textiles.

Spacecraft's style has always been characterised by their layers of botanical silhouettes in fantastic colours, but in recent years they've also added architectural images, photographs, and more graphic geometric patterns to the mix. They've also branched out by applying their images to clothing, accessories and simple timber furniture. The store has an interesting industrial interior fit-out, which includes a screenprinted pattern on the polished concrete floor, and colourful printed timber cubes which stack to form the counter (image above).

10) Industria - #202

Oh oh am I allowed to have a favourite? I think I am. And it's Industria!

Sue and Quinton Puckley opened Industria nearly 10 years ago... which makes them probably the longest standing current residents in this little round up. In that time Gertrude st has seen a lot of changes, but Industria hasn't changed much at all. They inhabit a vast space, filled to the brim with ex-industrial furniture, old medical equipment - including stainless steel trolleys and cabinets, vintage medical models and diagrams, chemistry equipment and glassware, vintage maps and signage, vintage lighting (including those ever-popular aluminium tram/bowls club lights)... the list goes on. They were sourcing and selling this eccentric collection of industrial pieces long before the demand was as great as it is now... and in recent years they've also incorporated a vintage clothing section, and vintage jewellery and accessories, and have also added reproduction industrial furniture to the mix.

Industria is a bit of a Melbourne institution. It's a truly unique shop. If you're visiting Melbourne, you have to promise me you'll visit!

Open Mon-Fri 11.00-5.00, Sat 11.00-6.00, Sun 12.00-5.00.

11) Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces - #200

Before its gentrification in recent years, Fitzroy was a hub for local artists, and Gertrude st was full of artists studios. Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces continues this tradition. It was founded in 1983 as a non profit contemporary art complex of gallery spaces and studio facilities, for the purpose of supporting artists in the early stages of their careers through exhibition, studio and public programs. They also house sixteen low-cost, non-residential studios for local artists, and a residential studio for visiting international and interstate artists.

From 14th March until 12th April, the Main gallery is showing 'Oblivion Pavilion', with works from Marley Dawson, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Matthew Hopkins, Emily Hunt, Tim Schultz, Raquel Welch, Curated by Amanda Rowell. For other upcoming exhibition see here.

Open Tue - Fri 11am-5.30pm, Sat 1-5.30pm

*later addition (not on the map sorry)
197 Gertrude st
(03) 9415 6101
Dinnertime only (sorry)

Anada is the current darling of the restaurant scene in Melbourne and with good reason. The well-publicised pedigree of co-owner Jesse Gerner includes London's Moro and The River Cafe, and a stint at MoVida in Melbourne. It’s my new favourite Restaurant in the whole of Melbourne. Seriously. Think Movida-style tapas, just a bit cheaper and a bit easier to get in to (Movida requires a booking up to a month in advance these days). The food is excellent and I think reasonably priced. A delicious, generous meal and wine for 2 can easily be had for under $100.

12) Deans Art - #188

Not much needs saying here. Deans Art have everything for the aspiring and professional artist. And its cheaper than Eckersleys.

13) Arcadia - #193

I have a love/hate relationship with Arcadia. The food is usually great, the interior is so nice and homely, the atmosphere is relaxed. However, the staff, I think, have gotten just slightly too aloof in the last year or two... they're just a little less attentive than would be ideal. A bit too cool for school, ya know? The food is yum though... good for a cheap, cheerful lunch.

14) Title - #183

Title is a great little shop with a select collection of music and film titles. Mostly its indi and/or slightly obscure stuff... lots of fun discoveries to be made here. Also another cute interior - more with the plywood fixtures... it's getting a bit everywhere but it still looks good.

Open Mon-Fri 11.00-7.00, Sat 10.00-6.00, Sun 11.00-6.00.

15) Porters Paints - #167

Whenever you read an article in a good interiors magazine about some gorgeous, eclectically styled interior space, the designer always seems to say they swear by custom mixed Porters Paints. Porters Paints is a well-respected Australian-owned company specializing in innovative paint finishes for both interior and exterior applications. They're famous for producing lime washes and traditional paint finishes, all of which are handmade and colour blended using time honoured traditions.

Peter Lewis named the company after his grandfather, Fred Porter, who was a builder in Sydney in the early 1900s. Apparently he had a special affection for the look of traditional paint finishes used throughout Europe, and often used them in his work. Shortly after his grandfather's death, Lewis discovered a number of old diaries with the recipes for these traditional paints. It was then that he decided to start a company which would produce paints of this quality, combining traditional methods and modern technology.

16) Left - #161
Left is an unique Melbourne fashion boutique for a number of reasons. They carefully select their exclusive stock... Most of which you wont find anywhere else in Melbourne, or Australia for that matter. The cryptically named Italian 'm.A+' label, in fact, is so exclusive that you'll find it at only 3 places worldwide. And one of them is Left. Cool huh? They also stock the Comme de Garcons' diffusion line, Y's by Yohji Yamamoto, and other selected high-end brands. The staff are true professionals - they know their fashion, they look incredible, and they're not snobs. They're true fashionistas.

OH and the interior design has won a few awards... it's fantastic. Wander in and check it out. The staff are just as happy to chat about the interior fit-out as they are their stock.

17) Artisan Books - #159

Artisan Books specialises in books, periodicals and exhibition catalogues relating to art, craft, design and culture. Their staff are experienced and helpful... and are usually more than happy to help you find even the most obscure of titles. They also exhibit a range of craft/artworks (think weavings, basketry and ceramics) in their in-store gallery.

Open Mon-Fri 10.00-5.30, Sat 11.00-4.30.

18) Seventh Gallery - #155

Seventh Gallery is an independent, artist-run exhibition space. Sometimes it has really interesting exhibitions... sometimes nothing you'd write home about. But the 2008 calender is looking quite interesting - check it out. The spaces houses 2 exhibition spaces - the front gallery (with window frontage), and the recently renovated and more intimate back gallery. From 25th March - 5th April the front gallery is showing 'A Particular Nothing' by Alex Penfold, and the back gallery is showing 'My Melbourne' by Shiau-Peng Chen. (oooh that link is worth a click...- I like those geometric shapes).

19) Three Quarters - #128

Three Quarters stocks lovely art deco and 20th century furnishings. Scandinavian stuff, retro stuff. You know the drill. It's good though.

Open Tues-Sat 11.00-5.30.

20) Moustache - #124

Vintage clothing. According to my sources, they apparently have a great selection... Bit pricey for vintage, but the best places usually are.

21) Alice Euphemia - #114

Alice Euphemia is no longer in Gertrude st! Closed down 10/9/08 :(

22) Dianne Tanzer Gallery - #108-110

Dianne Tanzer Gallery
represents a group of select artists. They usually show super contemporary pieces... lots of large scale stuff... a bit of craft-based stuff. Great variety. There are a good collection of images on their website.

Open Tues-Fri 10.00-5.00, Sat 12.00-5.00.

23) Circa Vintage Clothing - #102

Circa is a vintage clothing store with a difference - You won't find cowboy boots and peasant blouses here. It's true vintage - ie pieces from as early as the 40's and 50's - really classic pieces. Unfortunately that means a lot of tiny sizes. Especially the shoes :( But you know. Beautiful pieces. And everything they sell has been lovingly restored back to its original glory - because really, if you buy something with a broken zipper are you really ever going to get around to fixing it?

Circa is owned and run by Nicole Jenkins, who has worked in costume hire, film, theatre and a few fashion companies here in Australia and in the UK. She studied Costume Design and Construction at Perth Technical College and the WA Academy of Performing Arts and ran a Sydney vintage clothing shop - Glebe’s “Albert and Gladys” - in the late 1980s.

Nicole's website is also a bit of a blog, which is regularly updated and features Nicoles' latest finds, stocked items as well as more general lovely images of vintagey things.

Open Tues-Sat, 11.00-6.00.

24) Mr Lincoln - shop 2 / # 102

Mr Lincoln is the newest kid on the block around here. Actually when I dropped in they weren't entirely up and running, so they didn't want me to take any photos just yet. I think they were still waiting on some workbenches for the shop. Anyway... what I do know is this - They're a really cute little florist... the walls are painted black with white hand-writing on top (lovely), and there are gorgeous white Birch branches leaning up in the window.

I promise I will go back very very soon and uncover some more information. Before they get a write up in The Age... or ThreeThousand. Agghh. The clock's ticking.

25) amor y locura - #77

amor y locura scours South America for the most beautiful antiques and relics... There's lots of distressed wrought iron ware, fantastic antique timber doors and gates, the odd lamp, religious iconography and framed mirrors and artworks. It's an eclectic and unique mix... they also restore a lot of the pieces themselves - amongst other things they can create glass-topped coffee tables from some of the wrought iron relics, and upholster stunning antique chairs in fabric of your choosing. This treasure trove is definitely worth the extra few steps beyond Brunswick st, so make sure you don't leave it out!

Open Wed-Sat 12.0o-5.00 or by appointment.

26 ) Robio - #73

Last but not least, Robio is a Japanophile's playground - vinyl figurines and robot toys in all shapes and sizes, T shirts and hoodies, books and magazines, artwork, accessories... check out their comprehensive website for photos of a lot of their stock.

Open Tues-Sat 11.00-6.00.

*later addition (not on the map yet - sorry)
Cottage Industry
67 Gertrude st Fitzroy
(03) 9419 2430
Open 11am - 6pm Wednesday-Saturday

Cottage Industry is owned and run by Melbourne craft queen Penelope Durston. Inside this cosy little boutique you will find hand made clothing, quilts, homewares and accessories… many created from vintage tea towels and tablecloths (sounds strange, actually they’re stunning). Almost everything here is made by Pene Durston herself. She’s a craft machine.


  1. Lucy, what a brilliant blog about Gertrude St. I too love that street and always send out-of-towners there, it is so eclectic and gorgeous. I won't be doing my little Gertrude St map for visitors anymore I will just refer them to your blog, very tasty thanks. Victoria

  2. what a great write up!!
    Brunswick st really isn't all that scary at night time...It's one of the places that I feel most comfortable walking down at night.
    keep up the great work!
    brooke and moca

  3. Victoria you're lovely! Thankyou - My most loyal reader ;)

    As for Brunswick st after dark... I probably should have explained myself better... I didn't really mean it was 'scary'.. I think just in recent years it's been getting a bit roudy at night - you know... a bit busy and loud and a bit yuk? I still do spend a lot of time there though!

  4. Sigh...I wish I still lived in Melbourne after reading things like your blog. I can't believe I just found you! I haunted Gertrude St for years, hanging out at Deans Art and all of the local shops before it became 'in' to go there and before most of the cool shops...sigh...I need a good latte now! Cheers - and thanks for such a wonderul read...Vanessa, Retro Age Vintage Fabrics

  5. Vanessa thanks so much for your kind words :) I need encouragement! That post was a bit exhausting to compile!

    I just googled Retro Age Vintage Fabrics... where are you guys? I've never heard of you! How out of the loop am I?? I am supposed to be switched on about these things...

    I would love more info please!! thanks! Lucy x

  6. Hi Lucy

    Retro Age is purely an online business - our base is on the Surf Coast in Vic...but our main outlet is our website

    I grew up in Carlton and Ivanhoe and only left Melb eight years ago...and am still looking for a latte that's just as good as Mario's on Brunswick St or Brunetti's in Carlton...sigh...there needs to be more culture outside of Melbourne! LOL...

    I'll keep up to date with your blog and live vicariously through you :) - SUPER great stuff...


  7. Hey Lucy,
    That is a great post. I love the visuals on your map too. Gertrude st is definately place for an out of towner to soak up a bit of melbourne culture.
    ps) Jim just asked me yesterday if I chatted to you at his party... I didn't make the connection at the time. Are you the lovely lady I met at the start? Gordons partner?

  8. Vanessa - Thanks for the info! I bookmarked your site! Mario's is still lovely but have you been to Brunetti's recently? Since the Brunetti family sold it it's lost a bit of its character. The Fitzroy/Carlton area has changed so much in the last 5 years or so... you'll have to plan a weekend visit to satisfy that latter craving!

    Kitty - YES we met early on I think... you were with Emma? You looked like a sailor? I didn't put 2 and 2 together either.. duh! How funny. Thanks for your comment about the Gertrude st map! Man... that drawing took a while. I'm sure we'll cross paths again soon! x

  9. Mwah! Brunetti's sold?? MWAH! That's a bit sad, actually. I remember going to the original La Porchetta's in Nicholson St, Carlton, whee the family would take your order without pen/paper and all of the food was delish - now it's just a franchise, no community values and the food is, well...not what it was :)

    I need to fob the friends visits off and go latte hunting instead! With the Saturday Marios...and my journal...sigh...there's nothing better...

  10. I think I need to save for a trip to Melbourne...and I need you as my guide Lucy!! Can't tell you how much I want to go to Spacecraft!!!

  11. Hey Julia thanks for your comments!! :) I saw you on Indie Art and Design :) yay!!

    Also I loved that post about your own place! Gorgeous. Sneak peeks like that always leave me wanting more..!

    Hey next time you're in Melbourne I would love to be your guide. Promise to email if you're headed out this way!

    OH and also... I have in my diary that you might be freed up a little for a potential interview sometime later this month...? It's still on my mind when work calms down for you... keep me posted! x

  12. Just wondering why there wasn't a write up on 'The Signet Bureau'?

  13. Hi Jessica, thanks for your comment. The main reason that The Signet Bureau isn't here is because they weren't that helpful! I spent a day in Gertrude st drawing up my map, talking to shop owners and taking photographs etc. I went in to The Signet Bureau, gave them my card and explained the site... but they weren't too keen on me taking photos, so I asked for them to email me some, and they never did! Oh well... to be honest this guide also got so long in the end I didn't prioritise chasing it up. I think 'Left' next door is a much more exciting shop in terms of the selection of unique labels they offer that you can't find elsewhere in Melbourne (although it is pretty expensive!). Thanks for your comment!

  14. So glad I stumbled upon this blog -we are heading to Melbourne in 2 weeks and staying right near Fitzroy, so your list is a treasure- many thanks!

  15. Hey thankyou! I'm glad it will come in helpful! Fitzroy is the best place to stay in Melbourne... so close to everything. I also wrote an overview of fun places to see in the Melbourne City Laneways which is published over at Bloesem (along with quite a few photos) -

    Have a great trip! (Bring warm clothes!)

  16. awesome post! and really love your blog!

  17. Hi Vanessa, thank so much for your comment :) I really appreciate your kind words...

    must get around to writing some more shopping guides soon! They are quite labour intensive!

    Thanks again! Lucy x

  18. You, uh, forgot Northside Records… Design-a-plenty in there…

  19. Hi Lucy, have just come across your very dedicated and extensive Blog. We must congratulate you on such a comprehensive site. We came across it researching information fro one of our Melbourne Accommodationclients a was able to refer them to your site for more information

  20. Lucy,
    Thank you so much for such a beatiful and comprehensive guide to Melbourne shopping! I'll be using them as pocket guides on my trip coming up in March... can't wait to hit Gertrude Street!

  21. This is so cool!

  22. This is a great post! - I love Gertrude St!

  23. Great run down of one of my favourite streets in Melbourne. I LOVE the map - pure genius. I'll be following more of your blogs for sure :)

  24. hey lucy did you know the gertrude street robio is closed now? now the other store is closing too! sad times :C

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  27. its sad robio has gone.
    but on a positive.. there is a cool new bike culture shop in the old robio space... and SaDotNa has moved to this end of gertrude st... and a lovely columbian couple are about to open a cafe. yay! go gerty!
    mandy . amor y locura . 77 gertrude st