One of the things I love about Melbourne is that it’s a city that nurtures and encourages creativity. Maybe it’s because we don’t have fabulous weather all the time (though personally I love it) or pretty beaches to swim in, but Melburnians really seem to enjoy delving into their own creative headspace. The vibe of the inner city especially reminds me of a small-scale Prenzlauer Berg, Greenwich Village or Shoreditch.

In line with this attitude of supporting creative industries, Oak off Chapel is a 7-days-a-week fashion work and gallery space which has just opened in South Yarra. Housed in an abandoned warehouse and entered through a hideaway graffitied garage door cut-out, Oak off Chapel’s aim is to give emerging designers a space to create, collaborate, promote and sell their designs to the public.

The raw whitewashed walls contains studios, a fashion gallery from which clothing dangles from ropes and wires, a communal coffee lounge and a central meeting area which acts as a showroom for buyers and media. There’s even an in-house satellite office of fashion and lifestyle PR company, PRville.

Oak off Chapel is the idea of twenty-something streetwear designer Dave Brennan, who designs Chapter 11 Apparel, and his business partner Liam Magee. I met the very personable and enthusiastic Dave at the opening of the fashion gallery, which I attended with Poppy from Poppy Gets A Life and a throng of youngsters who were so hip it hurt.

In between drinks we strolled amongst the items on display, from menswear, womenswear, shoes and accessories. Here are some of my highlights:

I am an absolute sucker for winter coats. Especially structured coats which give a bit of an edge to a wardrobe staple. So I adore this coat from Swedish eco-couture designer Camilla Wellton – look at the detailing on the sleeves and the curved cut from the back is beautiful. Camilla has shown at Stockholm Fashion Week and is launching her capsule coats and jackets collection in Australia and New Zealand this year. To introduce the label to the market, Wellton’s 100% wool avant-garde outerwear will be placed in temporary installations promoted through social media, with orders taken via an Australian-centric e-boutique.

I Heard They Eat Cigarettes. Just because of the name! Founded as a boutique denim label, I Heard They Eat Cigarettes now also produces t-shirts, shoes and leather hoodies. Their jeans have a noticeable Balmain edge to them.

Design by Jude’s one-off hard-edged/pretty accessories. I particularly liked his bejewelled epaulettes but unfortunately the picture didn’t come out.

A cleverly draped and twisted dress with a distinct Japanese aesthetic by Kollate. Origami folds appear to define this label, which was previously sold by-appointment only.

The other brands available at Oak off Chapel include Sosume, Kosi Kosi, Small Time Crook, Chapter Eleven, St Lucia shoes, Tor Mathieson, Borsha and Sea Pony. You can check out more photos from the opening at the blog Lady Melbourne and Poppy Gets A Life.

You can be a fan of Oak Off Chapel on Facebook here.