The good, bad and ugly of preloved shopping

The good, bad and ugly of preloved shopping

Sort the good from the bad and ugly when buying secondhand and preloved clothes with this handful of fast tips:

1. Pick your time. A change of season is when people usually have a clean out of their wardrobes – there are generally great bargains to be had. You’ll also find some terrific bargains at clothing markets by visiting an hour before everyone starts packing up. Stallholders don’t want to take their clothes home with them! And, on days with inclement weather, or on blistering hot summer days, stallholders don’t want to lug their collections back to their cars so are likely to be more open to negotiation and can offer (like 3 for 2… etc) great deals!

2. Pick your area. On the one hand, out-of-town community markets may have particularly good bargains, whilst at city markets near more affluent suburbs you might just find some amazing designer or ordinarily-too-expensive-to-justify labels going for a song.

3. Think outside the box. Find out what’s happening in your area. Pick up clothes from fetes, garage sales, op shops, consignment shops, car boot sales, vintage shops, clothing markets, and swaps and friends. 

4. Scan. If you get overwhelmed with the quantity of collections and stalls, try scanning. Know what piece is missing from your wardrobe and look for that black fitted T or infinity scarf. Focus on finding particular colours that you know suit you or patterns and fabrics that pop. This way you’ll get to traverse a market more quickly and effectively.

5. Buy it right, buy it once. Having an eye for quality is key to scoring great unique pieces. A classic designer trench, tweed jacket or handbag may be something you can’t afford new, but it will always be in style. Apply the thought… ‘I’m too poor to buy cheap’.

6. Take style risks. If there is a new trend you’ve been eyeing but not sure if it’s you, buying it secondhand is the perfect way to give it a go.

7. Don’t be afraid to haggle. Most stallholders at markets just want to see a little money back from their initial investment; this puts you in the perfect place to have some convivial fun haggling. This form of haggling is usually reserved for markets. Bargain with a smile yields the most successful results, but don’t start too low.

8. Go with an open mind. If you don’t mind the slow wander and the market’s open for a few hours (and you’ve nowhere to be in a hurry) keep your options open and don’t be specific about what you’re hunting for – you’ll likely find gems.

9. Prepare to rummage. If you have the time, have patience. There’s so much fun in rummaging through over-stuffed racks and bargain baskets. Look for fabrics that catch your eye.

10. One in, one out. When you buy something new, pass on a no-longer-loved piece – simple as that.

11. Always try it on. Sizes vary widely between brands and eras, and the label won’t always tell you what you want to know. If it looks like it fits, give it a try.

12. Inspect it. Missing buttons or a small tear can be tidied up. If that’s not for you, though don’t be tempted unless it a must-have piece. There are local seamstresses that will do their magic even if it adds a few dollars to the bargain. It’s likely to be well worth it in the long run.

13. Upcycle it. Seen something amazing that you can’t live without, take it to a local seamstress and they’ll revitalise it to create your unique piece. It’ll most probably still be much cheaper than buying the piece new.

14. Look for vintage. Clothing from the 60s and 70s hold their value and were often well made. You can release your inner wild hippy or stick to classics. They’re great for onselling too once you’ve had your fun!

15. Go online. Facebook buy/sell groups, eBay and Gumtree are fertile ground for secondhand clothing.

16. Get clothes swapping. A group of friends, a bottle of bubbles or two and a bit of a laugh…perfect for a clothes swap. Bring all the clothes you haven’t worn in a while and use this as your currency or collateral to swap for someone else’s unwanteds. Anything left can be donated or sold at a market stall.

Adapted from an article by Penelope Quinn, Lifestyle.


What is Slow Fashion?

What is Slow Fashion?

Slow Fashion isn’t the opposite of fast – it’s a different approach.

Fast fashion is defined as cheap, trendy, disposable clothing influenced by the catwalk and celebrity culture and churned through high street stores at breakneck speed. Fast Fashion feeds a shopper’s obsession with ’I’ve got to have it now’ mentality. It is trend driven and plays on our insecurities of wanting to look good and keep up with our peers.

Once we know and are aware, we are responsible for our action and our inaction. We can do something about it or ignore it. Either way, we remain responsible.
Jean-Paul Sartre

Slow Fashion is the movement of designing, creating and buying clothing for quality and longevity. Slow Fashion encourages slower production, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and zero waste. Slow Fashion isn’t about buying nothing (although running around naked is the most sustainable clothing option!). It’s not anti-consumerism, it’s alternative consumption. It’s about your choice, information, balance and engagement. Buy less each time you shop. Shop less frequently. When you do shop, think green, preloved and vintage. Choosing preloved is a super sustainable option as the clothing already exists so you’re saving the entire negative impact of production.

Every time you shop, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.
Anna Lappe

Ethical fashion is about human and animal rights – working conditions, fair wages, treatment, and no child labour.  Sustainable Fashion (or Eco Fashion) is about environmental impact. Choosing organic, recycled, or repurposed, limiting harmful chemicals/dyes, reducing energy/water usage and waste, and overall choosing low-impact options. It’s your awareness of the impact of clothing on workers, communities and ecosystems.

6 ways to avoid fast-fashion hype and start building your healthier wardrobe:
Set your priorities
Know your brands
Rock your unique style
Have a wardrobe reset plan
Recycle, reuse, rent and swap
Take it easy on the clothes you have


Fast Fashion Facts. Did you know…

Planned obsolescence. Fast fashion companies design clothes to become unfashionable, wear out, lose shape or fall to pieces easily to force shoppers to keep buying new clothes. The fashion industry is designed to make you feel ‘out of trend’ after one week.

Fashion Consumption. 25% of Australian millennials (16-34) keep clothes less than 2 years then discard because they’re ‘bored’ with them or they’re no longer ‘in fashion’.

Shopping Habits. 30% of clothing in a wardrobe hasn’t been worn in the past year.

Resource Usage. One cotton shirt = @3,000 litres of water = what an average person drinks over 3 years. One pair of jeans = 10,000 litres of water.

Pollution. 63% of textile fibres come from petrochemicals.


Should you buy preloved or ethically made?

Should you buy preloved or ethically made?

When you shop secondhand, you’re doing a great thing because you’re diverting clothing from landfill, using up resources that are already available, giving a garment another life and decreasing the demand for fast-fashion. But the thing is, says Kate Hall, of EthicallyKate, secondhand shopping relies on other people to buy fast fashion. She suggests that if you ask yourself when op-shopping ‘what if everyone was living life like this, would it be sustainable?’, the answer is likely to be no.

There’s no doubting the many positives of buying and selling preloved clothes and this is often more practical than buying 100% ethically made clothing (although it may depend on where you live). Apps like Good On You can help you find what you’re looking for in Australia. If you’re struggling with your conscience though, Kate Hall uses the analogy of traffic lights when shopping. Op-shopping is orange fashion, or fashion neutral.Then there’s green fashion which is buying ethical clothing. This is clothing designed and made mindfully with minimal negative impact on people and the planet. If you go this way, you have the power through your buying choices to encourage a greater demand for ethically made garments. Ethical fashion companies also often tend to trade differently to those in fast fashion, meaning the ‘ethicalness’ is not just about the clothes; they may release only one collection per year, instead of one per week; and they might donate a certain percent of profits to charity.

What is red fashion in this analogy? Well, naturally, it’s fast fashion.

So when it comes to keeping your conscience in tact when going for a shop, what do you do? Easy, you get your preloved-shopping fix by shopping orange fashion. Then, add-in whenever you can, and the prices aren’t prohibitive, your ethical green fashion to supplement your basics wardrobe.

Staying in the orange light of fashion is a happy place to be and not unreasonable, and if you choose to do this 100% of the time, it’s great because you’re avoiding the red fashion zone! No matter where your ethics lie, Kate suggests that the next time you want to buy a garment, ask yourself a few things to keep in the slow lane.

  1. Do I need it?
  2. Will I wear it 30 times or more?
  3. Can I buy this at an op-shop or preloved clothing market?
  4. Does my budget allow me to invest in green fashion right now?
  5. What is my traffic light balance, and am I happy with where it is?


Detox Catwalk

Detox Catwalk

What is the Detox Catwalk? It’s a campaign to find out whether clothing brands are doing the right thing. Greenpeace launched the Detox My Fashion campaign in 2011 to ask textile industries to urgently take responsibility for, and make a change-commitment to, their contribution to toxic pollution of water ways and the environment, generally.

Basically, the campaign was aimed at addressing the widespread use of toxic chemicals in the manufacturing of clothing and textile sector. It urged clothing brands and retailers to phase out hazardous materials to achieve zero discharge of toxic chemicals by 2020 aka the Detox 2020 plan.

Many well-known brands use hazardous chemicals in the manufacture of their clothing. This campaign secured global detox commitments from 76 international brands, retailers and suppliers. We can assist by reigning in our addiction to fast fashion and the rate at which we buy it, use it and throw it away and, each in our small way, can lessen our environmental and human impact of fashion.

Take a look at the brands that are Avant Garde i.e. ahead of the curve on detox initiatives and ready to meet the Detox Catwalk 2020 deadline; those brands that are in Evolution Mode – needing to improve their performances but on the path, or not walking the talk or doing more greenwashing than being green and clean; and which brands are Faux Pas Toxic Addicts – not yet accepting responsibility for what they are doing. Back in 2016 when the third and most recent report came out, Nike, Esprit and Victoria’s Secrets failed the toxic-free fashion ranking, whilst adidas, Burberry, Levi’s, Primark, Puma, G-Star and Mango had a way to go. H&M, Benetton and Zara were on track to make a difference by 2020 – let’s see how they fair by next year.

You might be surprised!


Fast fashion: Increasingly passé!

Fast fashion: Increasingly passé!

There are many reasons to believe fast fashion is slowing down and slow fashion is the new black. You’ll see all over social media and so on that some of the large retailers are feeling the dip in profits and being left with unsold stock and going as far as burning millions of dollars’ worth of designer labels that just aren’t moving. It appears that the craving for throwaway items is shifting.

Fast fashion or designer brands, if your shoppers can find a high-quality product for less, they’ll choose preloved.

For instance, American reseller ThredUP estimates that resale fashions have recently grown 21 times faster than fast fashion sales, with preloved clothing consumption likely to overtake fast fashion buying trends. It is predicted that this industry will be worth $60 billion Australian dollars within two years, by 2022.

They claim that a couple of years ago resale equated to 6% of the fashion market, with fast fashion at 9%. By 2027 however, it is projected that preloved sales will almost double to 11% and start to overtake the stagnating estimated 10% of fast fashion sales.

Total secondhand clothing market is set to double in 5 years with the resale, preloved clothing market driving the growth. 


This change is assisted by the shopping habits of millennials and boomers who are the biggest and most impulsive yet simultaneously environmentally-conscious shoppers. The stigma of buying secondhand or used clothing is disappearing. Gen Z (18-24) are the fastest growing preloved clothing shoppers where 1 in 3 are buying secondhand in 2019. Overall, 64% of women now, compared to 45% in 2016, say they’ll buy preloved clothing, shoes and accessories. The report concludes that while millennials discard items after about one to five wears, 77% are willing to switch to preloved purchases for environmental reasons.

Resale offers the wardrobe-rotating fun of fast fashion without the guilt of waste. By driving preferences away from disposable fashion towards higher-quality clothes, reuse is a boon for our personal style and the planet.
Elizabeth L. Cline, Author of The Conscious Closet

There’s apparently been an interesting shift in the perception of ownership and how shoppers are increasingly thinking differently about clothing. Apparently 40% of shoppers consider potential resale value when buying clothes, so they’re looking at their clothing buys as an investment rather than a disposable commodity.

It’s a big Yay! from us.

End note: Meet the wardrobe of the future.

You can more from ThredUp‘s full report here.


Baby steps towards doing your sustainable thing

Baby steps towards doing your sustainable thing

This year, Fashion Revolution Week comes close on the heels of Earth Day and is pathing the way for the Slow Fashion Challenge month of May. What an ideal time to take a look for the small (or large…whatever takes your fancy!) part we can play to make a difference.

The first and easiest place to look is your own wardrobe. You probably already know some of the hacks—if you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it, or turn all your hangers around and if, in 6 months, you’ve not turned them around once you’ve worn an item, toss it….and so on. But those suggestions don’t quite cut it for when you have, say, a classic vintage piece or a truly unique garment that you know you’ll wear (one day), but just don’t have regular use for.

Treat your wardrobe like a capsule collection. You may love the colourful array of clothes greeting you every time you open your wardrobe doors, but how often do you still wear that day-glow romper that you just had to have several years ago? Most of us have a signature look—essentially, a version of what they look good in and like to wear. But we tend to hang onto extra clothes for that fantasy self. Essentially, an ideal Capsule Wardrobe is 30-40 pieces of clothing that can be mixed and matched to create a feast of outfits. And those numbers include shoes. So, if that means more black, white, navy or other neutral tones than anything and accessorising with colour and classic textile patterns like polka-dots or stripes. That could be unique necklaces, scarves, bangles or earring, a great hairstyle, or a bold lipstick.

Are you holding onto things as representations of your fantasy self or is it really ‘you’?

Return on investment (ROI). Don’t wait for a great the ROI on investment pieces like that designer label piece you bought whilst interstate on a shopping spree….in the moment! Stop it collecting dust and having it collecting you some income.

Edit often. While most people tend to look at the new year to start afresh and par down, it’s easier to take a more fluid approach by editing down constantly. Maybe keep a donation bin close by so you can say Ciao Charlie to clothes when the mood strikes. That way, you get in the habit of paring down so it’s not a huge task to tackle when you finally get up the courage to do it.

Your collateral – the heirloom vintage or unique piece. Finally, we come to that ‘OMG, no way can I ever part with this’ piece. How about offering it up as collateral by sharing the love and lending it to a friend (in return for something you might like of theirs). The garments get the airplay they deserve, and they’re not left gathering dust and faded old memories in the dark.

Ask yourself some questions and be strong in your response to yourself!

    1. How did I feel the last time I wore this?
    2. Is upkeep for this piece a pain? i.e. do I have to iron this every time I wear it, does it easily show wear and tear, is it dry clean only? Is all of the hassle worth it?
    3. Is this a representation of my fantasy self? or will I actually wear it?
    4. Do I need to be a certain weight to wear this and feel good in it?