Vintage Melbourne – Phillips Shirt Factory

Once upon a time, the Melbourne CBD was full of clothing factories – as time went on, they gradually moved to the suburbs and then more recently most closed down as the fashion and textile industry moved manufacturing offshore.

Imagine my surprise to find a relic of the past just around the corner from our city salon! A visit to the Phillips Shirt factory is truly like stepping back in time – the factory occupies the first floor of 274 Lonsdale Street and the warehouse is on the next floor, sharing space with a shop/museum full of vintage shirts and Liberty print cushions and blouses, along with memorabilia of interesting items found tucked away in the building.

The building dates to 1915 and features many original features but the Phillips Shirt factory moved in in 1958 – the offices are wood pannelled with built in cabinets including a bar, in true Don Draper style. Most of the furniture looks to be of the era too, and so are many of the factory machines.

Here’s the front door to the factory and offices –

Brand new and unworn vintage shirts for sale.

A display of collars and cuffs.

These are shirt fronts only, a pity as I’m sure many of us would love original ’60s paisley prints from Liberty of London.

The expansive warehouse – or rather, a small part of it.

There was more vintage fabric than I think I’ve ever seen before, most of it with the original dates.

The gorgeous old fabric cutting machine – you can cut through many, many layers with this useful device.

Shirt patterns, there were hundreds of them.

The secret to a very pointy collar is this amazing vintage machine.

Wonderful fancy ’70s shirts for special occasions.

The shop/museum is open Wednesday to Saturday 10.30am – 3.30pm or by appointment. Tours of the factory are available by arrangement too.

They can custom make shirts or blouses, as well as selling vintage or modern styles. If you’d like to learn more, the website has lots of great history and information as well as many great pics.


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