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A nose for recycled fashion

Photo credit: Jess Noble

Photo credit: Fashion Hound

Second-hand is sexy. That’s according to the Australian queen of thrift shopping, eco-fashion blogger and style ambassador for the Salvation Army, Faye De Lanty.

Sydney-based Faye – a well-known Aussie TV presenter turned eco-stylist and founder of amazing eco-fashion blog Fashion Hound – is changing the (still slightly muddy) face of second-hand clothes. While vintage fashion did see a mammoth resurgence in the last decade, Faye thinks there is still work to do to get consumers to stop buying fast fashion, and start seeking out the recycled gems hidden in the op-shops of the world. Turn on Channel 9’s Today Extra and you’re likely to see Faye’s face pop up in one of her live eco-fashion parades.

Otter’s Jess Noble had coffee with Faye in Sydney last week – and now she’s a thrift convert. Here’s what they talked about.

Hi Faye! Why should we shop thrift? What are the benefits, for us and the Earth?

Fashion is the second most toxic industry in the world, second only to oil. It uses insane amounts of chemicals, energy and water … did you know it takes close to 3,000 litres of water just to make one T-shirt? That’s enough water for one person to drink for 900 days!

On top of that, op-shopping helps those less fortunate, giving individuals and families in need a hand-up. And in the Salvos’s case it helps volunteers build their skills and get back on their feet when battling addiction and homelessness.

What’s your advice to consumers for becoming a savvy thrift-shopper?

Here’s five top tips for you:

  1. Treat it like a normal shopping experience – only buy the things you really need and love. Change your perception of what op-shops are – they are so much more than daggy destinations filled with retro and costumes. There are serious amounts of eco-chic to be found.
  2. Go with an idea in mind – what do you need? Or do you have an event you are going to? Perhaps you have seen a look you love. Start by just looking for that to avoid the overwhelming feeling.
  3. Educate yourself: learn about fashion, follow the trends, look at websites like WhoWhatWear. British Vogue is my bible; it has taught me so much about the language of style. And not just the editorial – the advertisements hold so much information about the aesthetics of brands. It’s because of these that I can now replicate looks from Chanel, Balmain, etc., for less.
  4. DIY and customise – so much of what we see in fashion, especially now, is quite simple to replicate. You don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars for ripped jeans when you can do it yourself.
  5. You can absolutely build a super stylish wardrobe with op-shop finds … my suggestion is to start with the fashion fundamentals – the basics like a great black dress, cool denim, a classic trench, for example. Then you can add the trends and play around with ideas from there.

Which are the best Aussie suburbs for thrift shopping?

My favourites in Sydney are the Salvos stores in Darlinghurst, Tempe and Minchinbury. Our Kiama boutique has some wonderful finds too. In terms of vintage, Crown Street in Surry Hills is awesome, as is King Street in Newtown. Keep an eye out – little gems are everywhere.


Photo credit: Fashion Hound

How did you come to be in the amazing position of eco ambassador for the Salvos?

Honestly, my job didn’t exist – I created it! They say necessity is the mother of all invention, and this absolutely rings true for me. When I was living overseas in NYC and London, trying to establish the next stage of my career, op-shopping and thrift was all I could afford, so I had to find a way to make it look expensive. My best friend would joke that every time we went out, despite her wearing head-to-toe Gucci everyone would comment on my preloved ensembles. She kept telling me to do something with this crazy-cool skill I had, suggesting I start a blog to share my knowledge – so I started Fashion Hound.

Upon returning to Australia, I pitched the concept of eco-fashion and op-shop parades to Channel 9 Mornings (now Today Extra) and they loved it. My background is in environmental kids’ TV – I was a presenter on Totally Wild for 10 years, so I understood the power of storytelling!

Then I decided to approach the Salvos about using their clothes for the segments. I just walked into my local store and pitched it to them. Then I pitched some more ideas on how I could help the Salvos reinvent their stores. I could see the potential and et voilá, I’ve been working with them ever since! Three years now.

I absolutely adore my job because it’s truly from my heart and honestly what I was living and continue to live.

What’s your blog, Fashion Hound, all about?

Fashion Hound is all about eco-chic, showing people just how stylish second-hand can be. I am truly passionate about changing people’s perception of preloved. It doesn’t have to be retro and costume-y, it can be very modern, high fashion and just like what we see on the runways, celebs and in the magazines. I highlight outfits I put together, as well as ethical brands and people I love, tips and tricks on op-shopping and vintage. I’m going to launch an online store soon, showcasing some customised preloved pieces I’ve been working on that reflect the current international trends.

Your best thrift find ever?

When I was living and working in NYC opening a designer thrift boutique for the Salvation Army (hello dream job!), I found a brand-new pair of black-suede pointy-toe Manolo Blahniks – they still had the price tag of $800 on the sole, I scored them for $25!

Are you noticing any trends in the fashion consumer world that are impacting the thrifting world?

Interesting question. Yes, we certainly live in a mass-produced world. It’s amazing to me what people discard – brand-new, still with tags on, for example! Thankfully, though, as luxury house designers and international magazines are now starting to highlight sustainability, there is a shift towards a slower mindset, but we still have much work to do!

What advice do you give to a consumer who wants to be ethical but doesn’t want to wear “seconds” or “hand-me-downs”? What’s the next best option?

Well, I think first of all visit our boutiques if you are in Sydney or NYC and see if you still think second-hand isn’t stylish! However, yes, there are plenty of options to buy ethical high-end brands. Brands like Stella McCartney and Edun (owned by Bono and his wife) are very conscious. In the middle market, The Reformation is amazing, and if you just spend a little bit of time on Instagram you will find plenty of brands doing cool things. Try tags like #EthicalFashion #SustainableLiving and #EcoChic.

There are lots of great Aussie brands too. The app Good on You is a great searching tool to learn more about how ethical brands are, giving the consumer the power to make a more mindful choice.

Photo credit: Jess Noble

Photo credit: Fashion Hound


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