Vintage Shopping: Why Eco-Fashion Is on Trend

Who recycles your clothes effectively? Large-scale fast fashion or small-runs Second-hand market

Not just fast fashion brands recycle our garments. IMAGE CREDIT: Sally Luo

Gathering for the fighting fast fashion panel on the last night of Fashion Revolution Week, the 30 audience members gave a loud hurrah to Nudie Jeans when they told people they had a ‘repairs for life’ clothing program, and had repaired 55,000 jeans globally for free in 2018.

For Suzana Tas, the wholesale manager of Nudie Jeans, “recycling and reuse” are the most effective ways to hit the mark of fashion textile sustainability so as to save the planets

“We believe that every jean needs to be flipped in and reworked in and loved and warmed for as long as possible,” Tas said in the night panel held at Sydney’s Marrickville Hotel on April 30.

Suzana Tas is talking in the panel at the Marrickville Hotel
As the representative of the Nudie, Suzana Tas is introducing their sustainable strategy of ‘Free repairs for life’ program. IMAGE CREDIT: Sally Luo

You can also take your denim back to them as well. There are two solutions for Nudie Jeans dealing with the denim they take back. By means of assessing it, rewashing it and then repairing it, the reuseable jeans go into their vintage collection. They call it the Re-use line.

If the denim you bring back can’t be repaired, Nudie can then chop it up and use the fabric to repair other denim, so that fabric never gets wasted.

“For our future, we’re using the most wasted fabrics creating ranges from. Instead of just making organic cotton and continuously creating new resources, we’re going to stop using all that dead fabric,” Tas explained.

From another perspective, second-hand clothes are “totally the perfect” way to put into eco-fashion practice, according to Melinda Tually, the representative of Fashion Revolution Australia New Zealand, “because they are using what’s already existed.”

Cream on Vintage

When it comes to recycled fashion in Sydney, Surry Hills accompanies Newtown as the prime destination for a dazzling array of second-hand vintage stores and op shops. As well as eco-sustainability, stylish design and unique story behind the second-hand clothes are what’s are attracting the consumer.

  • Cream on Crown is on the corner of Crown Street
    Cream on Crown as the first store of Cream, is located in Surry Hills. IMAGE CREDIT: Sally Luo
  • A picture of Zoo Vintage's store door with a nice design
    Zoo Vintage Emporium at Campbell Street. IMAGE CREDIT: Sally Luo
  • The doors image of Storeroom Vintage and Route 66 Vintage
    Two famous Sydney vintage stores located in Surry Hills. IMAGE CREDIT: Sally Luo
  • Vinnies affordable price
    As the charity op shop, Vinnies would provide customers the most affordable price. IMAGE CREDIT: Sally Luo
  • Delicate and beautiful jewelry with affordable prices
    Delicate and beautiful jewelry was shown in Vinnies' vitrine. IMAGE CREDIT: Sally Luo
  • Girly Elise Boutique is in Newtown
    Elise Boutique in Newtown is a very unique vintage store with the nice visual merchandising. IMAGE CREDIT: Sally Luo

 

Among these scattering boutiques, Cream on Vintage is typical for the fashion brand abandoning the fad and pursuing the closing fashion loop.

The owner of Cream, Jonathan Head who has been doing his second-hand career for 25 years believes that trends go around in a circle “They do come back but they come back differently. People just wear them in different ways,” said Head.

Since continuously contributing to fashion recycling, this 50-year-old founder travels around the world year in and year out. He hand-picks good quality items without marks or stains, and brings 6000 pieces back to upcycle every trip.

Cream remade the second-hand garments for contemporary fitting
For Head, Cream is the first store in Sydney who took the men’s side and to upcycle the big clothes for better fitting. IMAGE CREDIT: Sally Luo

“Instead of clothes ending it up in landfill, we are trying to use the most wearable fabric with nice designs and make it come alive again,” said Head.

From the same point of departure as Nudie Jeans, Cream chooses another approach to revamped the second-hand clothes. Resizing to contemporary fit and even remaking the whole clothes are the soul of their remarkable upcycling system. They are skilled in turning men’s polos into girls’ dresses, and salvaging and “softening the stiff shirts with nice pattern into the backpacks,” said Head.

Head loves salvaging secondhand fabric, such as the stiff shits with nice patterns
The backpacks were remade by Cream from shirts with a nice design. IMAGE CREDIT: Sally Luo

“In 2004 [to] 2005, no one was really doing menswear in their Vintage shops,” Head is also proud of starting recut big menswear, “I think Cream basically [was] taking the men’s side to somewhere different and I think now obviously all the shops are following,”

Fabric Quality Matters

When Head picks items outside, he tends to go the stuff with quite good quality which last long, especially “in the 80s or 90s. These fabrics they use was just over different quality. The stuff lasts so long,” said Head.

Also to customers, “Feeling the fabric quality is one of the most important things, especially for the second-hand stuff,” This is why Head is not a fan of online shopping as well, “ [you can see] the hottest models and style beautifully, [but after] you get it and [you will feel] the fabric is not great,”

Indeed, durable fabric is important for the second-hand purchaser. Before I could tell him, Gargano identified what I was wearing in the interview day is a vintage outwear from America in the 90s just by eyes.

As the store manager of the well-known streetwear brand Stüssy in Sydney, Tim Gargano has a sensitive sense of fashion. With enthusiasm for the vintage clothes, he values and pursues the “high-quality technical fabrics that last a lot longer,” and he believes that the real fashionista would find fabric quality important.

“There’s always some sort of thought in the back of my mind where sustainability and ethical kind of practices come into it,” he said, “[for] people that were really really really into clothing, I don’t think they’d probably prescribe to buying something that’s a fast fashion brand.”

What did the fast fashion do wrong?

The poor quality of fast fashion fabric is not the only root problems in terms of its unsustainability.

The surge of apparel production results in the over-consumption of the energy, water and chemicals. According to McKinsey’s The State of Fashion 2019 report, the figure for global clothing production doubled from AU $528 billion in 1995 to AU $1071 billion in 2018.

Overproducing fast fashion would not work for protecting the planet
According to the Pulse of the Fashion Industry report 2017 by Global Fashion Agenda, the fashion industry would continually further be increasing the environmental burden in 15 years, by creating an estimated 102 million tons of consumption in total. IMAGE CREDIT: Global Fashion Agenda

 

“Fast fashion’s big production scale is fuelling disposable fashion. It is fueling people buying stuff and choosing it for its cheap prices,” Tually said.

It is worth mentioning that Zara Australia has joined the high street brands like H&M in introducing a clothing recycling program since last December, which is available in all 19 Australian stores. They offer vouchers after customers bringing their unwanted old clothes by any brands.

 

The banner of 'Bring the clothes you no longer wear and give them a new life.' on Australian Zara's recycling page.
Australian Zara’s sustainability collection program has launched since December 2018. IMAGE CREDIT: Zara Australia

 

While from Tually’s perspectives, these brands trying to divert clothing away from landfill, by putting in it into the circular economy.

“They are just doing the most groundbreaking stuff that any other brands are doing,” she explained. “They do have charity partnerships. Sometimes, a lot of damaged-enough clothes is going to be researched on how those fibres could be stripped apart. [They will] reyarn them and then make something out of recycling,”

In fact, based on the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations, $13 million Australian dollars would be spent on waste management each year for landfilling 60,000 tonnes of unusable donations.

That’s why Tually kept mention during the interview that the business model of fast fashion needs to be slower. “A circular economy won’t work if you just keep producing overproducing,” she said.

The Australian Vintage Market in the future

 

 

For Gargano, the vintage trend is moving in the right direction. “I see more and more brands these days going down that line. Patagonia does the upcycling program as well.”

Cream’s expanding customer range is an important reason for Head having confidence in the future of Australia vintage market.

“We even get businessmen who want to come in and buy their polo shirts from here,” Head said.

Head thinks the mainstream fashion has lost its ways. “That’s why vintage has become popular, and it got some eco sources behind it too. It’s a good thing than just buying new fabric,”

Will you help to slow down fashion?

 

For the next time to reload your wardrobe, which one would you choose?

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About Sally Luo 5 Articles
Sally is a Sydney based media practice student whose undergraduate major is fashion communication.

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