For a long time and, for very good reasons, Melbourne has been known as the style capital of Australia. Flinders Lane has a history steeped in fashion. The block between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets was once home of the city's clothing industry and the busy scene of trolleys loaded with bolts of fabric, racks of finished garments being loaded into trucks and people desperate to kept next season's designs secret.
Now known as The Flinders Quarter, it covers a broader area between Spring,William, Flinders and Collins Streets.
It is still a very buzzy place but these days the area now known as 'The Quarter' is filled with artists, architects, writers, designers, galleries, apartments, hotels, quirky shops, cafés and bars.
The Flinders Quarter Association came together in 1998 to represent those with an interest in the area. It is run by a dynamic group of volunteers who support the growth and vitality of Flinders Lane. It is reminiscent of life in New York's SoHo district, and locals are proud of the heritage buildings and cathedral complete with bells.
Christine Boutique's owner has 27 years experience in the accessory industry. She has marvellous bits and pieces from around the world and her customers include Cameron Diaz and Linda Evangelista. She has handbags, belts, shoes, chandeliers, perfume and jewellery, all a touch on the eccentric side.
Alice Euphemia stocks works of relatively unknown young designers. Cath Fletcher is one of those designers and recently had a coup with Missy Higgins wearing one of her designs to the ARIA Awards. The red dress is now famous after attracting lots of positive comment.
The Campbell Arcade is the railway tunnel built for the 1956 Olympic Games. It is tiled pink and is very retro. Glass boxes featuring art exhibitions line the walls and these are taken care of by volunteers from Sticky who also make fun badges and sell mini magazines.
The Cat's Meow is in the Arcade. The owners sew their designs at the back of the shop and sell under the label Beserk. They also stock clothing and jewellery created by 17 other designers.
Men aren't left out Bobby's Cuts is a boutique set up just like a butcher's shop. Clothing is hung on meat hooks and T-shirts are presented like a meat tray a Styrofoam backing and wrapped in plastic. They are stored in butchers' glass display cabinets. They stock items designed by a young LA creator, a Melbourne label called MILK and quality designer clothes at really good prices.
When you need a break, Hell's Kitchen is a café/bar worth a visit. At lunchtime they serve food and it becomes a bar in the evening. It seats only 40 and has two large lounges with bar stools. Lots of regulars go to the Kitchen, many who live and work upstairs in the Nicholas Building.