7377 Bourke Street
Tel: 61 3 9650 3277
This large gallery in City Centre represents Aboriginal artists and artisans from around Australia, specializing in dot paintings from the Central and Western deserts. Two showrooms are chockablock with canvases, and you can watch videos of the artists at work. Each piece comes with a certification and information about the work. The associated adjacent gallery sells antique maps and prints.
17 Howey Place
Tel: 61 3 9654 9203
Coquettish designer (and Tasmanian native) Alannah Hill has gained a cult following in Melbourne for her unabashedly feminine clothes. Her collections are filled with floaty dresses in silk, chiffon, and lace; floral prints and polka dots; and girlie accessories, such as waist-cinching ribbon belts, slinky stockings, and camisoles. There's a second location in South Yarra (533 Chapel St.; 6-13-9826-2755).
185 Little Collins Street
Tel: 61 3 9663 4334
Jewelry-design duo Emma Goodsir and Ali Limb (the name's a clever amalgam of their initials but also, aptly, means "for example…and then some") showcase innovative handmade pieces from designers around the Antipodes. Some pieces are classic in design, like slim stacking rings in rose, yellow, and white gold; other pieces use precious stones; and still others incorporate hammered metals, pearls, and shells for a more ethnic look. There's another city center location at 167 Flinders Lane (61-3-9639-5111).
137 Flinders Lane
Tel: 61 3 9654 3332
This is the place to buy well-priced contemporary art from emerging and mid-career Australian painters, printmakers, and sculptors, including some standout indigenous artists (the "dreaming" paintings of Shorty Jangala Robertson and Liddy Napanangka Walker are especially vivid). The gallery's cool digital service lets you provide wall dimensions, then "virtually hang" work till you find the perfect piece.
Open Mondays through Saturdays; by appointment only on Sundays.
Sydney's newest fashion district is bursting with hot Australian design talent, with most of the action on the Oxford Street end. Start at Ksubi, whose artfully distressed and customized jeans helped put Australian denim on the map. You can see the expanded line of T-shirts, pants, dresses, and accessories at their open and airy store. Sass & Bide's denim has an equally large cult following, launched largely by the Kate Moss skinny-jean craze. The flagship store's decor showcases designers Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton's eclectic style, referencing everything from Victoriana to Pocahontas. Kirrily Johnston's womenswear pushes the envelope without becoming unwearable: eye-popping neons, exaggerated shoulders, and futuristic fabrics still retain a fun sense of girlishness. Scanlan & Theodore also fuse catwalk trends with eminently wearable staples such as flattering, sexy knits. The line is hard to find outside of Australia, so be sure to stock up. Check out avant-garde New Zealand label World's unusual fabrics, often kooky combinations, and cute hipster street wear.
Weekends in Sydney see two significant fashion pilgrimages. On Saturdays, bargain-hunters head to Paddington Markets, a bustling collection of stalls selling the gamut of handmade goods, from cutesy children's clothes to Indian cushions, one-off jewelry designs to breezy summer dresses. Many of Australia's leading design talents—like Lisa Ho and Dinosaur Designs—got their start here, and you can bet at least a few of your fellow shoppers will be scouts on the hunt for the next big thing. Come Sunday, everyone is heading down to Bondi Beach, and not just for the surf. Bondi Markets is the place to pick up a vintage one-off for a song. You'll also find boho jewelry, housewares, and plenty of budding fashion designers.
Leafy, tony Queen Street is the place to head for antiques (traditional and otherwise) and sophisticated home design and fashion stores. Lee Hardcastle's shop in a Victorian townhouse is crowded with natural treasures, from giant sawfish teeth to leopard-skin rugs, giraffe skulls, and mounted whalebones. The owner can ship items anywhere in the world and uses a reputable company in Bondi Junction called Pack Send to handle the precious cargo (www.packsend.com.au). If you're looking to start an antipodean art collection, Rex Irwin is a good place to start. The gallery represents significant Australian artists such as painters Peter Booth, Robert Dickerson, and the late Fred Williams. Get a little of everything at Orson & Blake, where artisanal glassware and silk cushions made from Japanese obis sit amid an excellent edit of local and international fashion. Akira Isogawa is perhaps Australia's most acclaimed fashion designer, known for architectural designs that fuse traditional Japanese techniques with contemporary shapes and fabrics. Many of Sydney's fashion-forward brides choose to be married in his ephemeral, stunningly unusual dresses. Lisa Ho's designs eschew cutting-edge shapes in favor of floor-length, red carpet–worthy gowns in look-at-me hues.
180 Collins Street
Tel: 61 3 9662 9126
For almost a century, Reginald Murray Williams has built a reputation for high-quality, hard-wearing bush gear. His best-selling boots are handcrafted from kangaroo, kid, or cowhide leather, double top-stitched, then oiled or polished. Extensively road-tested by real stockmen, this footwear is made to last—and it looks good, too. Other good buys include high-quality moleskin pants, oilskin coats, and heavy-duty cotton shirts for both men and women. There are also locations at 201 Spencer Street (61-3-8689-7535) and 300 Lonsdale Street (61-3-9663-7126).
190 Little Collins Street
Tel: 61 3 9654 9951
Designer Roy Christou creates smart, edgy street wear for men and, more recently, women. Best buys include funky printed tees, corduroys, casual structured jackets, and, for girls, sexy skinny-leg pants. There are several branches throughout the city. The latest, in the neighborhood of Armadale, has themed beach, barn, and boudoir rooms, and some store-exclusive pieces (1015 High St.; 61-3-9822-4344).
Melbourne's most concentrated style strip, Chapel Street, links the fashionable suburbs of South Yarra, Prahran, and Windsor (www.chapelstreet.com.au). The street bristles with sleek boutiques, including the flagship stores of most of Australia's name designers (homegrown luminaries Bettina Liano, Roy Christou, and Scanlan & Theodore all have outlets here), as well as bookshops, cinemas, and gift shops. Prahran Market, on Commercial Road, is a local institution, and a good source of fresh and gourmet produce (61-3-8290-8220; www.prahranmarket.com.au; closed Mon. and Wed.).
This steep little side street off Oxford Street has for the last decade been the epicenter of avant-garde fashion in Sydney, and its dominance continues with the recent addition of several newcomers. Collette Dinnigan's love of all things French shines through in her bijou of a boutique, with its quaint courtyard and racks of delicate, lacy gowns and lingerie. For more practical pieces, head to Leona Edmiston for jersey dresses that transition seamlessly from day to night. In Sydney, proper beachwear is as essential as a little black dress, so, head to Tigerlily for sexy bikinis, colorful caftans, and cover-ups, all designed by former model Jodhi Meares. Sydney's style set heads to Belinda when they can't get to Paris or New York for their Sigerson Morrison, Vanessa Bruno, and Marc Jacobs fix. The Corner Shop is Belinda's hip little sister, with fashion-forward labels like A.F. Vandevorst hung amid disco balls and retro ephemera. Bespoke shoemaker Andrew McDonald can whip up anything from sexy gold pumps to a 1930s-style men's dress shoe at his workshop-cum-atelier. If your purchases have outgrown your suitcase, head to Ginger & Smart for one of their coveted travel bags.