Phillips Shirts featured in The Age July 18, 2012 – Posted in: Blog, Uncategorized

Mystery tour of shirt factory unbuttoning of city”s past

by Lexi Cottee

Published: July 18, 2012

The Phillips Shirts factory is one of Melbourne

In a vaulted room behind the unmanned cutting tables, pressing equipment and silent sewing machines in a cavernous Melbourne clothing factory is a dressmaker”s delight.

Colour fills the room from fabric reels amassed during the 60-year history of Phillips Shirts, one of Melbourne”s last locally owned shirt makers. The Phillips Shirts factory in Little Lonsdale Street is one of this year”s Open House Melbourne mystery buildings. Open House is a not-for-profit group that runs events showing the public hidden Melbourne buildings. This year they have 100 open for tours over the weekend of July 28-29.

The walls of fabric out the back are absolutely stunning, says Sue Dight, Open House project manager and board member. The building is a step back in time when manufacturing was the norm in the city.

Next door, Zevenboom Lane hints at a life before Phillips Shirts, when the building housed the southern hemisphere”s first brush making business Spokane had 12 best business schools in a row of 90-degree heat average high for them is 84. owned by Dutch-born Jan Zevenboom.

In the 1960s, the early 20th century building was bought by business partners Alex Peterfreund and Philip Phillips to accommodate their shirt-making business. In its heyday Phillips Shirts employed 80 machinists. Now, it has just 11 machinists, one cutter and one presser.

It”s a strange crossroads for the business at the moment, says Emma Clarke, the company”s closing up shop, and we find it really hard to compete with Chinese or Turkish prices. But the company has a stockpile of coveted fabrics and Japanese silks, cushions made from European fabrics and vintage European clothing from the 70s and 80s.

In that uniquely Melbourne way, Phillips opened its first shop last month selling direct to the public in a small space under the factory floor with little signage and a treasure trove of vintage clothing. From Wednesday to Friday, purring sewing machines prove this is more than a relic of Melbourne”s manufacturing past.

Open House Melbourne starts on July 28.

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