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

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sacred Heart Mission Op Shop, Windsor

Despite it's short span, there are several, excellent vintage and op-shops along the Windsor end of Chapel street. I call it my Sunday afternoon mile, a late breakfast, cranberry tea followed by a couple of hours of browsing.

There is this great juxtaposition of interesting clothes and reasonable prices in the op-shops along this stretch. Though the glittery vintage stores like Shag and the Chapel St Bazaar are fantastic sources of "high" vintage artifacts (and the occasional furry hat.)

The sacred heart mission op shop in Windsor is a clear favourite. Firstly, its open on Sundays, they often play sad, Johnny Cash country and rock-a-billy music (good for a reflective Sunday afternoon) and the furry, zebra-print counter-top is magnificent.

It's a big store, with high, arching roofs and wooden staircases and fittings. There are clothes, furniture and other second-hand wares everywhere, in the alcoves behind the windows, in parallel racks in the middle of the shop, and an open area at the very back, populated by ageing, but beautiful furniture.

The best selection of clothes is in the middle of the store, elevated from the entrance and the counter by a small flight of stairs. The collection is parted by a walkway, with men's clothing on the left and women's opposite. The jackets are beautiful and really textural. I loved a beige jacket from Harry Who, that was double-breasted and tied at the waist by a camel belt. There was a soft jumper made from alpaca wool, it was exquisite with zig-zag embroidery and tufts the fluffy wool threaded through-out.

A few average dresses (especially some plain, high-necked black dresses) are counterbalanced by some wonderfully 80s resort wear. There is an abundance of polka dots and shoulder pads amongst the collection, with a white fitted dress with purple polka dots and beautifully constructed collar and shoulder the highlight.

There are some interesting men's clothes, heavy woolen suit jackets, interlaced with skinny jeans and corduroy pants, flannel shirts and leather jackets. The quality of shoes are good, from scuffed, chunky lace-ups to delicate leopard print pumps there was a mixture of styles.

The staff are friendly, if a little perplexed by the workings of the eftpos machine! For a store that embodies that has such a strong "vintagey" vibe, the clothes are well priced. Sacred heart mission seem to present their stores in a way that the Salvos can't, inventive, old school but consistently affordable.

a Sunday (or any day) afternoon must.

where is it?
86-88 Chapel St, Windsor
how do i get there? Sandringham train to Windsor or Prahran
will i have to wait for a change room? there are 2
whats on the stereo? Rock-a-billy, sad blues and country and Barbara Streisand.
i'm hungry? The yellow bird a few doors down is a great cafe/ casual dining experience

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Salvation Army Thrift Store, Ashwood

This is a relatively new incarnation for the Salvo's on the edge of Ashburton and Ashwood. Occupying two big rooms in a row of flat, square shops, the clothes are affordable and there are some really interesting items.

At the moment, the bulk of the clothes are half-priced, the special also extends to hats. I admired this blue hat made from felt, a bowler hat with a wide brim, it was brilliant and totally inspired by "Madeline" (the French orphan who is very very small... but inside she's tall!) The small collection of furniture is on display outside the shop, stools, oak tables and draws are generously discounted, if a little scratched and careworn. The was also a rather extensive collection of home wares and porcelain statues, vases and other kitsch collectibles.

There is a good range of clothes in the room adjacent to the counter. Amongst the t-shirts, blouses and brown lace shirts there were some inventive and colourful pieces. I found a quilted jacket, embroidered from blue and gold material with stretchy velvet sleeves, a ruffled, long-sleeved top that cinched in at the waist and a pair of mahogany tinged lace-ups from Rivers.

There were some long, discounted wedding dresses, made from taffeta, pearl and sequin and a lovely leather jacket with long swirly pattens carved into the padded shoulders. Shoes were showcased in a wide cabinet along the back wall. There were some impressive eighties pumps and sling-backs and narrow leather boots for men.

There was little joy to be found amongst a rack of $2 clothing, despite the engaging "$2 off, today only" sign in swirly black marker. However there were plenty of bargains and half priced clothes were good for buying in bulk.

The ladies at the counter are lovely. Salt of the earth, country netball mum's they were, dealing out advice, gossip and compliments while they worked the busy shop-front.

FINAL WORD: Not a brilliant selection, but some colorful pieces and unique pieces if you can take time to sort through the racks. Inventive window displays and great prices.

**Spend $10 or more and you get a "loyalty" card, after every 5 purchases you get $5 off - and, well a candy cane.

where is it?
401-403 High St, Ashwood
how do i get there? Glen Waverley train to holmesglen, then catch the 908 Altona (yes, the bus to Altona) to the corner of High St and Warragul Ashwood, walk towards Box Hill and turn left at the Subway corner.
will i have to wait for a change room? there are 2
whats on the stereo?
No music on the stereo :(
i'm hungry? subway on the Warragul rd corner

Friday, January 1, 2010

Eurotrash, Prahran

I’m strangely terrified by the woman who manages Eurotrash, the slightly eccentric vintage clothes shop on Chapel St. With her alarming red hair, heavy make-up and Ivana Trump accent, her and the collection of clothes seemed to have escaped over the wall from East Berlin only yesterday.

It’s an amazing collection, luxurious, if slightly edgy and definitely not prim and proper. There are some beautiful recycled clothes from labels like Chanel, Miu Miu and Versace amongst the leather, fur coats and spandex – plastic gold pants.

The best items are not featured on the walls or in cabinets they are amongst the crowded racks of clothes and shoes in the narrow shop. Beautiful faux (and some real) fur coats stood out from a predominately dark collection. Thigh length and heavy with fibres, they are coloured in deep chestnuts and black. I loved the inventive selection of leather items, especially this smock jacket made from pieces of fine, thin leather studded and layered together with a final piece draped from around the neck. There were some great little vests, leather skirts and a baby-blue leather mid - rift top with elbow-length sleeves.

Circular racks bursting with tops and pants obscured the narrow walkways, there is definitely a theme of black, lace and leopard print and there were a few items held together by studs and layers of fabric. There were some lovely long dresses, made from a mixture of fluffy white tulle and heavy stretchy fabric around the bust and some fantastic mini-skirts and shorts.

There was a beautiful purple coat with feathery embroidery on each breast pocket, on closer inspection it turned out to be Miu Miu and had been reduced from $1200 to $300. Shoes were in an elevated cabinet, there were some delicate and white heels with think straps and sandals, the feature being a pair of Chanel sling-backs. In the crowded, glittery window a black Chanel purse/bag flashed at me devilishly, though I'm not 100% sure of its authenticity.

There were some amazing pieces, and some trashy ones, which made the collection really diverse. Studded, flared jeans, red latex hot pants and a sequined vest made from long, fringy tendrils were interesting additions to an eclectic mix of vintage clothes

There are some serious European brands and quality items at Eurotrash. It’s expensive, but unique second hand shopping.

** Note
– Eurotrash is a unique place for vintage fashion and a haircut ...
there is a small hairdressing salon at the rear of the shop.