I remember falling in love with fashion when I was seven years old.
My mum had taken me shopping, and I spotted a pair of hot pink cowboy boots in the window of one of the stores. It was love at first sight, and I begged my mum to buy them for me.
Despite her saying, "People will need sunglasses to see you when you wear those boots because they’re so bright," I wore those flashy boots to death. Every day for more than two years, I paired those boots with almost every outfit I owned until they literally fell apart.
Since then, I’ve never stopped loving fashion. Fashion is not just the clothes I put on, but it’s how I express my personality. With such a passion for the art of dressing, I noticed as I got older that no matter the price tag, almost all the clothing I bought would fray and look old after only a few wears.
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In a world of fast fashion, I became increasingly aware that much of the imported clothing I was buying in Australia had been made in a sweatshop. These are places where women and children are overworked and underpaid, sometimes working up to 16-hour days for less than 20 cents per day.
I was also surprised to discover that up to 63 per cent of Australia’s clothing is made from plastic-derived and non-biodegradable fabrics like polyester, nylon and acrylic. So, concerned about clothing’s effect on the environment and the exploitation of people in sweatshops, seven years ago, I decided that I would always try my best to only buy second-hand.
These clothes were amazingly refreshing and not to mention, beautiful.
Not only did I want to wear clothes that were sustainable and ethically sourced, but I also aimed to look stylish and feel like a million bucks without the environmental impacts – plus, it also never hurt if it had op-shop prices!
I have never regretted my decision.
Today, my shopping habits revolve almost entirely around vintage stores. My wardrobe has developed a personality of its own. This brings me a lot of joy as I get to wear outrageous and incredible outfits that elicit compliments from friends and strangers alike.
Beyond being a personal style statement, I’ve found that my vintage clothes serve as a great conversation starter. When I wear my vintage silk scarf or my thrifted red coat, I feel good knowing that I’m breathing new life into clothing that would otherwise have been tossed into landfill.
I know that some people may think that all op-shops have to offer is ugly clothing, but I could not disagree more. I think second-hand and vintage clothing is fun.
These garments have a story to tell and they’re from a time when fast-fashion wasn’t part of the vocabulary. Clothing made in the '60s, '70s and '80s were made to last. These clothes have survived the test of time and at this point are pushing more than 50 years old while still being in great shape.
To top it all off, in 2023 all these clothes, like '80s high-waisted jeans and shoulder pads are fashionable and cool again and have now become a style I affectionately call, "Grandma Chic."
When I walk into an op-shop these days I feel a sense of excitement and adventure. Each store is like a treasure hunt, and I’m not sure what I’m going to find. Sometimes it’s nothing, but other times it’s a beautiful 1950s dress or a $10 jumper that I need for winter.