Melbourne Fashion Week is returning – and in a big way.

Following last year’s radically altered program, the annual fashion event is transforming some of the city’s most exciting spaces, asking hard-hitting questions of the industry, and highlighting more than 250 emerging, established and independent designers and labels.

But there’s more than just fashion on this year’s program – it’s intersecting with art, dining, travel and advocacy. More than half of the events are free, with many of them also available to view online afterwards.

It’s a jam-packed offering. So we’ve navigated the seven-day program to highlight five picks worth marking in the calendar ASAP.

M/FW Aquarium Runway
This year’s runways are taking over nine iconic Melbourne locations, from The Ian Potter Centre at NGV to the Plaza Ballroom at the Regent Theatre and the geometric angles of Fed Square. But the longest walk is at Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, where it’ll take models almost four minutes to strut down the entire length of the gauntlet. Tanks and marine life will be backdrops to pieces from local labels with fittingly conscious and sustainable practices, such as Elk, Arnsdorf, Búl and Sister Studios. They’ll be showcasing seasonal pieces and everyday staples that prove you can help the planet without compromising your style.

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, Wednesday November 17 at 6pm, 7.30pm and 9pm

M/FW Conversations: Beyond Greenwashing
Speaking of which, sustainability has become a buzzword in the fashion industry, fueled by customers looking to make more conscious and eco-friendly purchases. But how can you spot the real, transparent deal from those just greenwashing to make a buck?

This question and more will be mulled over on an industry panel hosted by Clare Press of the Wardrobe Crisis Podcast. Featuring Courtney Holm of slow fashion label A.bch; Eloise Bishop, the head of sustainability at Country Road; Genevieve Smart of Ginger & Smart; and Homie creative director Marcus Cook, the panel will discuss ethics, responsible fashion and the circular economy. The chat will be streamed online for free.

Online , Wednesday November 17 at 11am

Pop Up Runway 2
As always, Melbourne Fashion Week shines a light on local talent, from the designers and makers to stylists and models. The second pop up runway sharpens the focus further with a curated lineup of First Nations brands. Expect a mix of streetwear, denim, resort fashion and activewear, all bringing Blak voices – from Gillawarra Arts, Ginny’s Girl Gang, Nungala Creative and more – to the fore.

The models will walk through spaces of significance to Aboriginal peoples, such as Birrarung Marr, Fed Square, Southbank and Yarra River promenades. Trading Blak, a collective highlighting First Nations-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, is helping bring the event to life.

Birrarung Marr, Fed Square, Southbank and the Yarra River, Wednesday November 17 at 12.30pm and 1.30pm

Fashion Capsule 8: Queer Voices
Eight exhibition capsules are cropping up across the city, featuring the work of 76 Melbourne designers and 19 creatives, from drag performers and First Nations weavers to interdisciplinary artists and makers.

The eighth capsule on Southbank Promenade celebrates the diversity of the city’s LGBTQIA+ community and queer creatives. There, labels Atelier Harlem and Wackie Ju, designers Chris Ran Lin and Lokesh Kashyap, drag queen Aysha Buffet, artist Marisa Mu and more will draw inspiration from the colours of the pride flag and its powerful role in everyday queer life – not just pride month.

Southbank Promenade between Even Walker Bridge and Sandridge Railway Bridge, November 1 to November 21

Drink and Dine
Melbourne’s diverse food and beverage scene is as integral to the city as its penchant for fashion and style, and the two will come together in this year’s Drink and Dine offers featuring top restaurants and bars.

Just mention M/FW in your booking and show your digital ticket to score deals on the likes of an exclusive three-course menu (with champagne on arrival) from Chancery Lane; a complimentary Longrain cocktail with an order of the banquet menu; 10 per cent off your meal at Calia, plus complimentary drinks; sparkling wine and tapas on arrival from Bar Lourinha; and more from the likes of, Daha Project, The George on Collins, Ging Thai, Pastuso and San Telmo.

Various locations, throughout the duration of Melbourne Fashion Week

See more details and the full program.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with City of Melbourne.