How to Reuse Reduce & Recycle your Fashion Footprint

From Rent-a-Rack to Shopping Preloved Fashion Online

After finding out the extraodinary amount of waste Australians contribute to landfill via their discarded fashion purchases, our Adelaide intern, Sophie Radford make a resolution to reduce her fashion footprint and vowed to reuse, reduce, recycle. Was it easier said than done? Follow Sophie’s sustainable fashion journey and get an insider’s tips on how to make the most of your local rent-a-rack and online preloved fashion offerings…

Reuse, reduce, recycle. They are words we’ve all heard before. But if you’re like me, when you hear them, you picture separating your green waste, plastics and recyclables from your main rubbish. All things to do with reducing everyday waste. But why is it that so many of us don’t associate this slogan with our clothes?

Reduce Reuse Recycle

Australia is now the second highest consumer of textiles per person in the world. Each Australian consumes an average of 27 kilograms of textiles a year and a huge 23 kilograms of that goes straight into landfill. Australia is facing a clothing waste crisis! So, what can we do about it? It’s simple – reuse, reduce, recycle.

New Year’s Resolution

I decided to apply the reuse, reduce and recycle principle to my wardrobe and began my pre-loved clothing adventure around 18 months ago. I made a pledge as my new year’s resolution, to limit the number of pieces of clothing I bought brand new. I was invested in trying to find another way to help make an impact on the environment. So how did it go? Surprisingly well. I only purchased 6 pieces of clothing for the entire year that were brand new, and the rest were all second hand.

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I won’t lie. When I began my pre-loved journey I was extremely sceptical. The first thing that came to mind when I thought of buying second hand clothes, were racks of worn out, crusty pieces at the local op-shop that wouldn’t cost more than $2 a pop.

Know Where to Shop

Then, when I first started looking around op-shops, I began to feel concerned about the prospects of me fulfilling my new year’s resolution. I couldn’t find ANYTHING I liked and everything looked very worn out and daggy. How the heck was I going to make it through the year without buying ANYTHING brand new? The turning point was when a friend of mine told me about the world of bidding for designer clothes on eBay. And just like that, my resolution seemed within reach!

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@_Aje_

My favourite all time brand is Aje. It’s incredibly expensive and out of reach on a University student budget. But Aje is also home to some of the most beautiful designs I’ve ever laid my eyes on. My first second hand purchase was an Aje cocktail dress. Retailing at $695, I purchased the pre-loved but in brilliant condition dress for $160. While $160 seems like a lot to be dropping on second hand clothes, the reality is I saved myself over $500 on something I probably would have purchased anyway, and I’ve saved it from being thrown into the bin.

Be Realistic About Prices

A common misconception of purchasing second hand clothes, is believing you’ll be spending next to nothing, like you would in the local op-shop. When you’re purchasing pre-loved designer clothes, you should expect to spend a decent amount, but keep in mind that you’ve paid a fraction of the original price, and saved something from going into landfill.

Rent-a-Rack

Generally, eBay is my go to for sourcing second hand designer clothes. However, 2021 saw the growth of rent-a-rack, pre-loved boutiques. This has made purchasing second hand clothing even more accessible and replicates a usual clothing store experience. My new favourite boutique is Once Loved in the Hills, based in Stirling of the Adelaide hills. This is my local pre-loved store and host to a collection of beautiful clothing in need of a new home, updated weekly.

My most recent purchases from Once Loved include some corporate queen business attire which I wore to a job interview the other week. My new-found, pre-loved outfit not only made me feel like I could kick ass and look good while doing, I think it also may have been the secret to my success of landing the job.

My next go to boutiques of pre-loved goodies are:

  1. Better Together Pre-Loved Fashion, Payneham Road Royston Park
  2. Rent-That-Rack, Churchill Road Kilburn
  3. Monday Market, the Parade Norwood

Each of these genuine fashion minefields are unique and outstanding in their own ways. Rent-that-Rack in Kilburn is actually the home to Adelaide’s largest pre-loved market and the first rent-a-rack boutique I came across. As well as seeing clothing going to a new home instead of landfill, the Rent-that-Rack team have helped countless sustainable savvy babes make a reasonable pay check from recycling their past wardrobes. Some earning upwards of $2-3,000 in one week! Did someone say cha-CHING?!

Mekko Market was the first boutique to kick off the pre-loved phenomenon in Adelaide, and those who have followed suit have all followed the same fool proof set up: A set hire fee between $80-$90 for one week; tag and price your own clothes and set your rack up for a week of selling. You can come in and refill your rack as you please AND you keep 100% of the profits. It almost seems too good to be true! Like hello, where are the negatives to this sitch? These were my initial thoughts. Until I tried renting a rack myself to off load some of my old pieces…

Rent-a-Rack of Your Own: Advice to Make it Work

I’ll admit, I was probably a little over-optimistic about the whole thing. I had only had positive experiences within the beginning of my pre-loved journey and I think I assumed I’d sell all my pieces in the blink of an eye. Oh, how wrong I was.

I set up a rack at Better Together on Payneham Road with one of my mates. While I absolutely love the setup of this boutique and have purchased a few pieces myself, the reality dawned on me after I made whopping profit of $75 that this store is still relatively new. This means that they are still building their customer base. I believe the downfall to my success was due to a combination of this and that I priced all my pieces for more than they were worth or would sell for.

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Stylist Lauren Dilena at her own rack at Yours and Mine @yoursandmineboutique_

My lesson: Lower your expectations and price your clothing at a more accessible price if it isn’t designer.

I think the reason I ended up rather upset about my first rent-a-rack experience was because I wanted to save my clothes from becoming landfill and make some space in my wardrobe. I missed this goal by a country mile as I was only able to sell six pieces out of fifty, leaving myself, my wardrobe and my bank account in a slump.

It’s not all bad news though as this one not-so-chic rack hire experience hasn’t put me off from trying it again. Taking on board my past learnings, I will endeavour to price my pieces more appropriately and HOPEFULLY clear out my wardrobe for good at Once Loved in the Hills.

Rent-a-rack boutiques provide you with a traditional in-store shopping experience as you would get in a standard clothing store*. Arguably though, the customer service you receive in pre-loved boutiques is far better as they’re small local businesses with a handful of staff who makes the overall experience much more personal and enjoyable.

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Pre-Loved Online Shopping

On the other hand, for the boss-babes stuck on a working grind or for our introverted friends, there is a way to shop sustainably without having to leave the comfort of your own office or home. May I introduce you to: the world of pre-loved online shopping.

While the concept sounds obvious, it’s not. If it was so obvious, so many more people would be making the most of it, which they are NOT.

There are so many online avenues to explore within the world of second-hand fashion. Here are a few of my personal favourites.

eBay: The powerhouse of online resale. Commonly mistaken as being a place to buy things in bulk or sell odd items in your home that you really don’t care for or want. As well as being a go-to for resale of household goods, eBay has an insanely large market for second hand designer clothes. If you’re like me and want to update your collection to the likes of Aje, Zimmerman, Scanlan & Theodore etc, you need to be prepared to spend more than $100-200 on an item. Most of the time you will find these pieces in stunning condition, which means they hold some of their retail value. For these higher end brands, you’ll need to be prepared to enter bids.

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What I learnt from my experiences of eBay bidding: take no prisoners.

Also, I generally wait until the last 30 seconds of the bid to enter the highest bid by 50c or so. Typically, it works every time. I would definitely recommend this method for in-demand garments that have a lot of ‘watching’ profiles.

DEPOP: I think of DEPOP as the ‘rent-a-racks’ of the online world. You have your own little market place for other users to browse through, you’re subject to a surcharge if you sell an item (like a racking fee) and you can restock your store with ease. I personally haven’t had as much success with DEPOP as I’ve had with eBay, but I generally find prices are more affordable and sellers are far easier to communicate with. DEPOP takes on a very social media like platform setup, while eBay holds a more traditional online store format.

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Advice for sellers: People want everything for nothing. There is little wriggle room for pricing, so make sure to set exclude postage from the price of your item and sell for substantially less than you think you should. Otherwise you won’t receive any nibbles on your old items if you’re trying to sell.

Advice for buyers: Negotiate the prices of your items with the seller. Most of the time they will accept reasonable offers, or even less if you’re extremely polite. We’re all about the haggle and hustle this year people.

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Facebook Marketplace & Selling Groups: Facebook is an incredible place. It was once designed with the sole purpose of putting you in touch with other available students on campus and then to keep you in touch with friends from afar. Now, its uses extended to social events, buying & selling, advertising and entertainment. My recommendation is to only use Facebook to make purchases locally where you can go and collect them yourself. I personally have purchased many items from marketplace without any issues but do know a number of people who purchased things and never received their product. Con-artists and scammers aside, Facebook is home to a local group dedicated to your favourite brands, guaranteed. I frequently visit the Aje and Zimmerman buy, swap & sell pages, as well as a local ‘Adelaide Designer Labels’ where you can almost always find what you’re looking for, for a reasonable price.

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While there are certainly pros and cons to each online platform you try, the more you use them, the more savvy you’ll become. Ultimately, the joy of shopping the pre-loved clothing is for the positive environmental impact of reducing landfill. Reuse, reduce, recycle. Initial success is never a guarantee but I promise you, the overall benefits are going to be worth it.

So… what more can I say? In a world where landfill is taking over our planet, I believe I have found a way to make a difference in the easiest way possible. I desperately hope the trend of shopping pre-loved fashion continues to make an impact and it becomes way cooler to buy your clothes second hand than further contribute to textile pollution.

Start your pre-loved journey today and join the reuse reduce recycle movement to ensure a more sustainable future.

Like this? Then you’ll want to see Best Vintage Stores in Melbourne.

Check out the best vintage stores in Sydney here.
Or, check Adelaide’s best vintage best. Or, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Hobart.

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