Friday, February 5, 2010

Australian Red Cross Op-Shop, Richmond (Cremorne)

There is this great dispersion of colour in this op-shop. The clothes have been colour coded so they fan around the small space graduating from corals, to pinks, red, yellows, greens, blues and blacks.

When I was there a couple of volunteers were arguing over the dressing of the mannequins, trying to match a bag with one clothed in white capri pants and a purple shawl. Garment quality and presentation are obviously well considered in this shop. It's good to see volunteers taking an active interest in the lay-out of the store.

But despite a little bit of innovation, this doesn't really feel like an op-shop. It's too clinical and most of the clothes are only a few seasons old. It was 2003 all over again and I was an awkward teenager, buying stretchy t-shirts from supre and trying to show as much cleavage as possible. It was all almost new, slightly recycled and way too 2003 for my liking.

It's a great place for alternatives to moderate to low priced department store clothing. There is this overwhelming feeling of modernity, including the airconditioner blasting icy air into the store.

Among the few vintage highlights was a technicolour top made from crinkly, stretchy fabric and a couple of lovely cream shirts with collars and lapels embroidered with little hearts and blue and gold thread.

There were a couple of simple black wraps, a nice-looking linen jacket, black skinny jeans and a vest with bold, brassy buttons.

There were clothes from brands like living doll, wish and supre and while they were young and a little bit fashionable, their selection really cancelled out the quality of vintage finds in the shop.

I'd always been curious about op-shops in Richmond, believing it to be either a bit of a wasteland or a heartland of underground vintage finds. Despite some early promise, Swan St proved to be a bit of a barren disappointment (If you've found a good op-shop in Richmond I'd love some suggestions.)

Great if you need some casual stuff for work or day wear or you are clinging onto 2003. A couple of vintage finds.

where is it? 120 Swan St, Richmond (or Cremorne)
how do i get there? Train to Richmond station and exit at the Swan St end (opposite the MCG exit)
will i have to wait for a change room? there are two
whats on the stereo?
New age/ Enya style vapid nonsense
i'm hungry? Mexicali Rose on Swan St has excellent mexican food if you are in the mood for a sit-down meal (103, Swan St Richmond)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Check cat and bird out at Etsy

It's early days but I have put a couple of items from my collection of vintage clothes on It's a great platform to sell vintage and handmade pieces if you haven't got the web-skills to set up an online store yourself.

Come have a browse, there are only a few items up at the moment, but more to come!

** Special thanks to my beautiful model Jasie

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sacred Heart Mission Op Shop, South Melbourne

Who doesn't like Tony Bennett? He just seems like a nice guy.

The corny jazz of the silver-haired crooner is the soundtrack to this deceptively charming op-shop.

It's a floral-inspired vintage universe and the Sacred Heart Mission have transformed a plain building on Clarendon St into a wonderful space. Old-fashioned bird cages, fake vines and flowers hang from the ceiling, it's impressive stuff and the attention to detail is amazing.

The nerve center of the shop is the counter and sorting pile in the middle, with racks and wardrobes of clothes, shoes, handbags and records unfolding out around it. There are some good obscure buys and some quality finds from good labels amongst the standard op-shop fare.

I liked that some care has gone into placement of clothes, it was balanced well. Some good items and labels on some ranks, counter-balanced by everyday clothes and accessories. There were a few excellent pieces on a rack just inside the entrance. I loved a Burberry-style trench coat and a faux fur lined jacket with a bell shape.

The collection of millinery was fantastic, soft felt hats, feathered creations, berets, beanies and hats with fur and sequined trims. It stretched across the top of a low, wooden rack of clothes and mixed pieces that were high-end or suitable for the races with feminine caps that could be worn everyday.

Most impressive were the collection of white and cream shirts, tops and jumpers. There some really gentle and delicate fabrics and plenty of sheer, patterned creations that would work well tucked into skirts or high-waisted denim shorts.

Chunky black boots dominated a decent shoe collection and there were plenty of skinny black jeans that were for women, but could have unisex potential. The men's collection consisted of mainly dark and navy pieces, though some bright sweaters and jumpers brought some colour to the collection.

Vases, porcelain plates, saucers, tea cups and animal inspired milk jugs added a unique finish to the op-shop. Prices were a little higher than other op-shops, but not as expensive as clothes from a vintage fashion store.

Again, great attention to detail, I really loved the big white-washed wardrobe filled with nightdresses, the oval mirrors and the lovely floral curtains in the change-rooms.

Loved it.

where is it? 365 Clarendon St, South Melbourne
how do i get there? Take the no.1 tram to South Melbourne, cnr of Clarendon St and Park St. Turn left at the intersection and walk towards Albert Park
will i have to wait for a change room? there are two, spacious changerooms
whats on the stereo? Tony Bennett
i'm hungry? Taco Bill's is a couple of stores down, check the website out for nightly specials and the multitude of margarita's are a must.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Animal Liberation Op Shop, Camberwell

It's an unlikely space for an op-shop, small, modern and remotely located on the edge of the suburban sprawl.

It has windows painted like a butchers with 1/2 priced specials on Havaianas thongs, this store is famous for cheap Havaianas thongs. For the large part the clothes are uninteresting, gazman-style slacks, tops and jeans for men (good basics) and a few strappy printed dresses, work shirts and colourful lycra tops for women.

I loved a wonderful corset type, white shirt creation. Think Madonna and like a virgin, with lace, pearls, satin and a perky bust. There is a small, but robust collection of VHS' (including titles like Armageddon and the Breakfast Club) and some good second hand books, kids clothes, strappy leather handbags and other assorted goods.

It's a quiet shop and the collection is limited. But you may find one or two interesting pieces and some good basics. The Havaianas racket in this op-shop is one of the more interesting op-shop, thong related rackets I may have encountered.
There are boxes of them and depending what month and what day you go in on there is usually a variety of sizes. They even have kid sizes.

Not a great place for vintage fashion, cheap Havaianas are the highlight.

Monday, January 18, 2010

RSPCA op shop, Burwood East

This op-shop is sick. It suffers from chronic overcrowding. It's a mountain of vintage with clothes squashed onto racks on tangled coat hangers making browsing exhausting.

It really is a terrible disease because the RSPCA opshop in Burwood is very good. There are some unique pieces here, a completely inventive selection and different than what you’d expect from a suburban op-shop at the back of a shopping complex.

However the volume of clothes is just overwhelming and some of the good knitted pieces and lovely cream white shirts have been damaged and dirtied in the clutter. It’s junkyard brilliance, but makes for frustrating shopping.

The left side of the narrow shop stretches to the far back wall. It’s lined with kitsch porcelain pieces, like pots shaped like swans and tiny soldier pepper and saltshakers. There are big baskets filled with an impressive selection of linen, lacy table clothes, chequered tea towels, bed sheets and floral doona covers. There are books, old VHS tapes and noisy children’s toys and clothes as well.

There as been some sort of process to the organisation of clothes. Blacks, cream and white tops are sorted together and there is a lovely collection of heavy woollen jumpers and jackets hanging from a rack on the second level.

I loved a French-made navy body suit that was constructed from this silky corduroy material and given shape by teardrop shoulder pads. There was a velvet black top, cropped at the waist and several beautifully made cream shirts. The selection of cream and white shirts deserves extra attention, as they really were lovely. Some had little rows of pearls laced through the collar and down the front, others were button down with lacy collars and there was one lovely loose midriff shirt with long sleeves.

There were some interesting knitted pieces too, heavy cream pieces interwoven with green yarn, cardigans, multi-coloured knitted vests and white jumpers with pearls and gold thread embroidered through-out.

A big selection of jeans was balanced by a reasonable collection of wide slack pants and pencil skirts. It was not quite Dynasty power dressing, but there were some nice, understated jackets from the 80s. I loved a couple of woven ones with faux fur lining and a houndshooth jacket in black and white.

Amidst the mess there were some glimpses of unwearable brilliance, big taffeta formal dressed from the 1980s with hewn in waists, puffy skirts and embroidered and shoulder-padded collars.

Ultimately the collection is bloated and hard to sort through despite some unique finds. The shop is overwhelmed with donations; there were a couple of volunteers putting excess stock into bins while I was there. Go, but be patient, good finds are only a little extra muscle power away.

where is it? Shop 9 & 10, 2-8 Burwood Hwy, Burwood East
how do i get there? The no.75 tram to the corner of Middleborough and Burwood Hwy. It's at the back of the shopping centre opposite the RSPCA animal shelter.
will i have to wait for a change room? there are 2, though one is used to store excess stock.
whats on the stereo? no music
i'm hungry? Brumbies is next door, also a greasy fish and chip place and a cafe with a $7 egg and bacon sandwich and coffee special

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bentleigh Market stall

Weather permitting, I'll be holding my first vintage clothes stall at the Bentleigh marke on Sunday the 17th of January

Vintage clothes and a small selection of bags, earrings and hats will be on offer. I'll be at stall 37 (somewhere in the middle of the market) if you would like to drop by.

The Bentleigh markets are just behind Centre rd Bentleigh, in the carpark next to Bentleigh station. It's an interesting mix of garage sale junk, plants and gardening stuff and a few nice secondhand finds.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Scroungers, Northcote

Scroungers is a few doors up from that familiar Northcote band-room and watering-hole, the Northcote social club. The Thornbury side of high street is a pretty desolate strip with lots of closed store-fronts and sun beaten buildings, Northcote is like it's colourful, slightly careworn other half. Scroungers is owned by the same couple who own and run Scavengers in Brunswick. Both shops cater for a slightly different brand of second-hand shopper.

It's a big barn-like space, with heavy wooden beams and burnt yellow walls. There is an open space at the back surrounded by racks of long taffeta dresses and mirrors draped with fabrics and scarfs. It was kind of fabulous, like Bette Midlers forbidden wardrobe.

Despite an excellent display, big old-fashioned counter and a huge collection of clothes, I was a little disappointed with the collection. It lacked the inventiveness of Scavengers. The clothes were a little older and everyday, there really weren't any great cuts or fabrics. Though a pile of 80's leather clutches and long and short lace and pearly gloves improved the selection of vintage items.

There were some good basics amongst the cardigans and shirts. Some with interesting variations, like a cardigan with sheer sleeves with ripples like an oriental fan. It was boosted by some sweeping long dresses and colourful 'dynasty' jackets with big shoulders. I also considered a denim one-piece and a spotty, shift top with this amazing shimmery texture. The good pieces were interesting at scroungers, if a little unwearable.

The collection of men's clothes is small, but dressy. Sharp suits and jackets juxtaposed with a mixture of long leather belts and pointed boots.

The prices are reasonable, you'll pay slightly more than an op-shop, though not the dizzying, Mt Everest high prices some Vintage stores charge. It's definitely a collection for a more low-key vintage shopper, with cheapish items and a few well-placed vintage finds.

** Make sure you check-out the fantastic collection of second-hand books. It's a highlight

where is it? 245 High St Northcote
how do i get there? No. 86 tram to Bundoora RMIT
will i have to wait for a change room? there are 2
whats on the stereo? Tony Bennett
i'm hungry? The Northcote social club at 301 Hight street has a decent kitchen at the back (looking over the carpark) Dips, tapas, burgers and big stuff