Hidden underground just outside Flinders Station, Campbell Arcade is home to quirky fashion, art and Melbourne's only dedicated zine shop. You might know it as the Degraves Street Subway, as it can be accessed via a stairwell nestled amongst the coffee shops lining Degraves Street. Coming from the bustling laneway above, where scores of conversations can be heard at once, Campbell Arcade is strikingly quiet and bare.
From its humble beginning of being a railway tunnel shuttling commuters away from busy Flinders Steet Station and into Degraves Street, the pink-tiled corridor has been transformed into a hub of artists and underground culture. The architecture resembles a retro toilet block -it is certainly not the prettiest place in Melbourne- but worth a visit nonetheless.
Glass cabinets filled with often political artwork are set into the walls of the long walkway leading up to the shops. Once intended to house advertisements, the cabinets are now curated by Platform. Founded in 1990, it is Melbourne's longest-running public art program. On the first Friday of each month, a new exhibition is unveiled.
Home of zine culture in Melbourne, the Sticky Institute is something of a centrepiece to Campbell Arcade. Sticky is staffed by volunteers, who are all too happy to help you work the photocopier to distribute your own zines or create badges on the badge machine. Since 2001, they have been a space for creative types and enthusiasts of moderately-priced zines.
Women's fashion from independent labels is to be had at The Cat's Meow, in which everything stocked is lovingly made in Australia. Unlike many other stores featuring quirky one-of-a-kind pieces, they stock a range of sizes designed to be flattering on different shapes. Some Like it Hot has more of a grungy sense of style, stocking recycled men's and women's clothing, particularly leather items. Subject to Change is another lovable clothing shop stocking local labels. For handcrafted jewellery and accessories, take a look at Corky Saint Clair .
Under Degraves Street are small clothing boutiques selling locally made fashion.