Recycling just got chic

With our resident fashion blogger on a well-deserved holiday for most of this month, I get to write about fashion, my daaahlings.

First Degree PR tends to represent sustainable companies. Not by design, more by accident, or fate more accurately. Our own personal values align with those of ethical or sustainable companies.

While sustainability has become a no-brainer for industries such as financial services, building or technology, the fashion world lags in this area. Consumers are partly to blame. Ethical fashion can be a tough sell, particularly to older generations who pigeonhole it as hemp clothing for Byron Bay hippies.

In the spirit of saving, our newsletter theme for this month, I’d like to challenge the usual perception of ethical fashion. Ladies, if you love your Gucci, Armani, Burberry, guess what? You can still have your cake and eat it too.

In fact just about anything can potentially be ethical if … it’s recycled.

Here’s my guide to where you can find secondhand treasures and get a return on your designer frocks instead of letting them collect dust in your cupboard.

1. Beacon’s Closet 
Yes, Beacon’s Closet’s shops are in New York, but their estore is also very good. In terms of the online customer experience, their website beats Myer’s and David Jones’ hands down.

Similar to Nordstrom, my favourite online store, you can view a garment on Beacon’s website from various angles. David Jones has only recently started adding the rear view of some items on their website. Why it’s taking Aussie department stores so long to add simple features like this, I have no idea. Ladies want to know if their butt would look like Kim Kardashian’s when considering an online purchase.

Since we’re always at least a season behind in Australia, the best thing is that by the time it’s our summer, New York fashionistas have cleared out their dresses and tops from their northern summer. So the timing’s, in fact, ideal. It means discounts galore.

2. Vinnies, Crows Nest 
Don’t you love that St.Vincent’s rebranded to the more true blue name, Vinnies? The Crows Nest store is where North Shore ladies’ preloved items end up. My greatest find ever is a nude Italian designer handbag. Purchased for $25, it retails for over $1,000.

There is also a furniture section up the back where I’ve scrounged around for lamps and also happened upon three matching Kosta Boda crystal bowls. I walked away with only the biggest bowl out of the collection, as I’m not a match-matchy person, happily parting with $20, knowing that brand new it would have cost me ten times as much.

3. Kirribilli Markets  
Every few weeks, I walk my dog Rafa up to the Kirribilli Markets. He enjoys shopping al fresco. He happily sits and waits at the stalls being patted by total strangers who want to adopt him, while I sift through jewellery, handbags and scented candles. The candles aren’t recycled, they’re just an added bonus. But they look rustic in their cute jam jars, with bits of tea leaves and lavender floating in them that look just divine when the wax melts.

It’s a win-win for everyone – hubby also gets to have a Turkish pizza, dumplings and cane juice while he waits ever so patiently.

4. Newtown
This is where recycled fashion began for me. As a uni student on a tight budget, I was a regular at Newtown’s vintage stores. Greatest find ever? A skirt made completely out of men’s neckties. It was a statement piece, OK?

Sadly, there aren’t so many cheap shops anymore. As Newtown has become gentrified, rents have become pricey and the vintage stores that have remained cater for more luxurious tastes. Also, those uni students who frequented the stores in the nineties have grown up to be yuppie hipsters who have allocated their clothing budget to home furnishings. So now there are a lot of … recycled furniture shops.

5. Ebay 
When someone mentions Ebay I think ‘The 40-year-old Virgin’, one of the best product placements ever. OK, the stripper knee-high boots shown below don’t give the best impression, but Ebay is a good source for recycled clothing, I’m told. (I lost my password for Ebay so haven’t used the site for years.) Our intern Madelaine regularly updates us on her latest Ebay shopping purchase, whether it’s a Herve Leger dress or VS bikini! (Click on the image below for a LOL.)


6. INA consignment store 
We’re back in New York with this one. What can I say, it’s the best place on earth for shopping. INA is the consignment store to end all consignment stores. Beautifully displayed, brutally edited and perfectly washed and pressed. No musty grandma smells here, or goods that are so obviously, like, six minutes ago. Just a fantastic collection of classic pieces that make me wonder how could anyone possibly want to part with that?

Shopping here is worth the flight to New York – think of the savings! Located on Bleecker Street, you can make a day/night/weekend of it, flitting in and out of boutiques, drinking cocktails in small bars and taking in some live jazz. They also have stores in other fabulous neighbourhoods in Manhattan.

Sartorially yours,