By Cleo Robins
Statistics wise, fashion is the second largest polluting industry in the world, after oil. Eight billion items of clothing are produced each year, which are increasingly (and worryingly) seen as disposable in the eyes of Australian consumers. With the ever increasing problems climate change and pollution cause, more and more people are looking for alternative energy sources to oil and fossil fuels. Slowly, but surely, the same is beginning to happen in fashion. From the ground up, a new, “sustainable” or “slow” fashion movement is beginning to emerge, with small business and second-hand shops using our fixation with the past to influence consumers to shop more sustainably. The vintage aesthetic is slowly gaining popularity, along with the notion of renewable fashion.
If you are interested in shopping sustainably AND looking chic, here is your guidebook to the second-hand vintage stores of Perth.
Fi and Co is the perfect introduction into the world of vintage fashion. Located in the heart of Northbridge, this sophisticated little shop sells a range of second-hand and new items. Their window displays are always carefully curated with mannequins dressed in the latest items in store. Stock ranges from shirts and shorts from Byron bay surf brand Afends, to flowery womenswear from Australian designer Elliat Collective, to secondhand Oroton bags and Roccobarocco skirts.
If you are looking for a real bargain, head straight to their discount basket, which has previously yielded $10 authentic Batik shirts and chic velvet skirts for low prices.
This hidden vintage boutique located on a Subiaco side street offers a range of retro and vintage fashion, and also includes a costume and event hire section. If you are looking for velvet suits or elegant satin evening dresses, Lucy is the place for you. As well as evening and event wear, Lucy sells a collection of vintage sundresses, killer cowboy boots, straw sunhats and funky prints galore. The store also showcases heaps of accessories and some antiques, all in keeping with the shop’s overall style.
Once again, if low budget shopping is your thing, raid the discount basket!
Mercado 32 is very much a champion of the slow and sustainable fashion movement. They buy and sell second-hand womenswear, always on the lookout for the best quality. Their Maylands shop (I cannot speak for their Leederville outlet as I have never been there) contains neatly organized and colour coordinated rows of dresses and shirts. If looking to buy or sell, think brands like American Apparel, Gorman or Zara. Mercado 32 is for the refined vintage shopper, someone looking for a sleek jumpsuit or a pair of royal blue Opening Ceremony sandals. Prices vary depending on brand, style and quality of the items.
With shops in North Perth, Subiaco and Fremantle, Re-loved sells sustainable fashion at a sustainable price. Re-loved stores stock a combination of traditional op shop fare, interspersed with vintage gems. If looking for a cheap, but just as fashionable approach to shopping retro, look into a Re-loved store. Previous purchases range from faux crocodile skin heels to long black evening dresses. Added bonus to shopping at Re-loved: all proceeds go towards rehabilitating furry critters in need!
The Vinnies in Northbridge is distinguished from other op shops because its concentration of fashionable finds is slightly higher. Branded as “Retro”, it markets itself as a vintage Vinnies outlet. Expect to find everything from sparkly cocktail dresses to Ralph Lauren Polos. Retro Vinnies has something for everyone.
Located on the fringe of the Maylands shopping strip, about half of Vintage Emporium’s stock is pre-loved housewares, while the other half includes brightly embroidered shoulder bags and floral sundresses. The shop is definitely more womenswear focused, but everyone can find something amongst the artistically cluttered wares of the store. If you are looking for some something eclectic and unique, head to Vintage Emporium. A highlight of the store is its black and white Kit Cat clocks, a vintage classic essential for any quirky household.
Salvos, Good Sammys, Vinnies, Red Cross shops, Save the Children, Anglicare
Of course, sustainable fashion isn’t only found in niche vintage stores like the ones mentioned above. If you have extreme patience, and a good eye for quality, a trip to any local op shop can yield fashionable results. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And in purchasing treasure from any charity run op shop, you are supporting those less fortunate than yourself, as well making the world a more sustainable place! It doesn’t get much better than that.