Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Designer recycled stores - Sydney

Gotta give you some context and background, folks

My love for designer brands started with recycled shops in Sydney's affluent eastern suburbs.
That was way, way, way, way before ebay was mainstream.

When I say "designer recycled" I dont mean "vintage" - even though some stores place both terms in their name, to try & capture a broader audience. Technically, "vintage" refers to something that is approx at least 25 years old. Calling a 2002 Tom Ford YSL "vintage" isnt correct, but some of those stores do it....silly people.....

I doubt I will ever have the expertise for vintage recycled, so any vintage recycled blog post will come from someone else (see? I am practicing know thyself, pretty, good, eh?).

However I DO consider myself a designer recycled expert and I can walk through a store & pick out the best stuff in seconds flat. In fact I am at Olympic level in designer recycled shopping. I am at Gold medal level, truly.

Need help? Just ask me! I love the process of scouring for a designer recycled bargain, seriously I do, as crazy as that sounds.

PS: I am also an ebay expert in buying designer stuff - but we'll blog that one later....

FYI - Just so you know at least half my wardrobe is recycled ebay or recycled Sydney store stuff.

When I went to NY last year, I spent close to 4 days trawling through the Upper East Side designer recycled stores and boy, oh boy - I have never seen anything like it.....i was in nirvana and I can honestly say apart from a leather jacket & a coat, most of my TREASURES were from the recycled UES stores (rather than say Woodbury Common).....

back to littler Val.....it was with designer recycled stores that I discovered amazing fabrics, cuts & design which I hadnt previously seen in the suburbs. It was around 1990 - soon after I discovered the runway shows, in NY, London, Paris, Milan, then the difference between a diffusion and a main line......and the rest as they say, is history.

Mind you, back then, you didnt get internet footage of each look. You were lucky to see one look per designer in Vogue (hard copy) and you had to wait months and months to see that because Australia was a full 6 months behind. Anyway, I digress.

Eastern suburbs - Double Bay, Sydney

Most of the recycled designer stores in Sydney's eastern suburbs (specifically Double Bay) are still there, but I have moved on from them. Having said that, I will still pop in when I am literally on their door step but I will never arrange an errand (as you do), so that I can accidentally pop in......so they wont be covered in this post....

But since some of you may be curious (#^^*&()%&$%##$), these stores tend to focus on the more mature market in that area and even if they have tried to funk it up in the last 10 or so years, their clients still are pretty, well, mature, and so are the clothes. Typical labels include Escada, Armani, Burberry, Chanel, St John, Max Mara.....so they do carry the heavy hitters - but its the older more mature styles of those labels.

Lets say that I at 43 dont get excited in those stores when their outfits may look a million bucks but make me look like I have one foot in the grave.....granny Val isnt a good look for me.....

I have bought serious truckloads of stuff from designer recycled stores over the years but I cant list & photograph even a small portion - it will take too long....years.....seriousl...no joke....so I have quickly picked up some bits & pieces (notice that scarves are the easiest...yes, thats my addiction!).....

So.....drumroll........my favourite designer recycled stores in Sydney & I have been frequenting these regularly for oh around 15 years or more......

Trunk, William St, Paddington

The recycled outlet for Robby Ingham Stores (yes, the chicken man, who does high end designer for men & women).
Run by Katrina, who is the loveliest lady on the planet and she will keep an eye for your favourites when they come in.
Typical brands = Stella McCartney, Chloe, Prada, Christian Louboutin, Lanvin, Balenciaga....list goes on....
Lay-by available but the prices are very reasonable - dont be put off that I got some seriously expensive stuff.....she prices to sell, not to decorate the walls....
New stock is announced on the Robby Ingham blog.

Guess what? Due to the affiliation with Robby's men's store, Trunk has the COOLEST menswear - Commes des Garcons, YSL, Jil Sander, Tom Ford, Prada, Gucci, Martin Margiela, Paul Smith etc.

The Lanvin necklace was born here around AU$600 (lay-by please Katrina, no problems, Val), retail would have been around $2.5K, easy.

with box....I ADORE the boxes, as you know...how can anyone NOT love its house?

The Chanel matt silver tone aqua necklace was born here AU$700, another lay-by...the retail on this would be over $2K....but no box....waaahhhhhh!

Notice the tweed centre which goes back to the fabric used in that collection....too cute!

definitely the real deal.....

how could you not fall in love with this little girl?

Di Nuovo, William St, Paddington

This store is isnt affiliated with any retail outlet.
Run by Victoria, who can be a bit temperamental (PMT?).
She seems to have a gazillion different (young) staff & I dont get the sense that anyone tries to get to know you (for the long term). The staff are knowledgeable on the products but its pretty obvious they just want to secure a sale.

IMO, the prices are also a touch high (higher than equivalent merch say at Frock and definitely higher than Trunk/Recollections)

Interestingly, this is the only one of these stores that pays to advertise - in the SMH, usually in the Style section on Thursdays. The other designer recycled stores tend to be word of mouth.....

The shop name means "anew" or "again" in Italian.

This store has a blog but not FB page.

The brands are wonderful but tend to be a touch funkier, eg: Marc by Marc Jacobs, tonnes of trendy jeans (eg: 7s, Citizens of Humanity ets), sass & bide, see by Chloe, DVF, Willow, Collette Dinnigan, Karen Walker etc...However dont get me wrong, she does carry loads of imported main lines too, Chloe, Akris, Paul Smith, Missoni, DKNY etc

But what is really special about this store is that she has a client or two with spectacular leather goods in mint if not unused condition - bags & shoes, especially in 39-41....worth visiting just for these - Manolos, Louboutins, Choos, Diors, Jamin Puech, Bottega, Fendi, Dolce etc..the list is incredible and the stock is refreshed every season (& has been for the last 4-5 years or so+)..... it wasnt just a one off......

A couple of my bubs....

Azzedine Alaia black puppies (real alligator tongue), around AU$300, new, never worn, no box, retail would be around $1K-1.2K

Jimmy Choos in black with tiny holes and skin coloured lining, new, never worn, no box - probably paid too much for these, but I love them to death and will wear them in the coffin.....retail would be around $700

Recollections, Military Road, Neutral Bay
(close to the Oaks pub - city end)

A smart boutique but with some cool boho pieces.
This boutique is not affiliated with any retail stores.
It carries hard core import and Aussie designer brands at amazing prices.

Run by Jade, a friendly lady who will never forget a client and makes every effort to understand what you are interested in shopping for.

Jade's prices are better than the Paddo stores.

Typical brands = Armani, Sonia Rykiel, Missoni, Mela Purdie, Carla Zampatti, Paul Smith, Simona, Collette Dinnigan, Tod's, Ferragamo, Gucci, Fendi, Emma Hope, Kate Spade.

Some of my loot from here:

A main line Sonia Rykiel wool scarf - very dramatic with huge pom poms.
Perfect for the theatre or dinner on a winter evening.
And the shade of burgendy is perfect for my colouring. It was $100 & I would estimate the AU retail would have been around $1,200, easy. Score!

I havent "styled" it here, but you can imagine how many ways you can tie this as it is so long & glamorous!

arent they too cute? the little (actually, big) pom poms....

PS: The straight boys dont "get" this scarf & its pom poms...only girls "get" it.....no surprises there!

Next.....yep, another scarf.....

See this hikaru noguchi scarf (English)? I bought it from her about 7 years ago for AU$25 (retail over $150)....an orange with charcoal stripes and fringing...100% wool & hand washable...its Belinda stock.....

then 2 winters later I found the identical red/pink version in her store (AU$28).....same client.....too funny!

Here's an interesting one....a French brand Martine Boissey...AU$28...its stock from Von Troska which retails for $160 (& hand washable, gotta love that)

How do I know about Von Troska? Cos I had bought the vivid purple/black spot version from Von Troska about a year ago.....
but have to admit, the strong colours of the purple one do suit me more than the pale blue, so i am glad to have gotten the blue at such a fabulous price and the purple was worth paying more for....

Are you starting to notice that I tend to buy the same things over & over? Either I am a terrible hoarder or I "know thyself"!!! Maybe a bit of both.

TIP: Even though Recollections is on the north side, I'd make a point of visiting regularly - Jade's stuff is amazing and I truly think she keeps her prices more reasonable than the Paddington stores (who we all know are subject to the highest rents in Australia)

Red Threads, William St, Paddington
(opposite the Church)

This is a Red Cross initiative which opened a few months ago with alot of fan fare due to receiving consignments from celebrities such as Megan Gale, Charlotte Dawson etc

It has a tremendous amount of stock, which I would class as trendy and youth oriented and alot of the up & coming Aussie designers who are stocked on Oxford St as well as high street (Sportsgirl, Ojay, Witchery, Country Rd etc).

Prices are seriously affordable, loads & loads of stuff at $2 upwards, most being around $30-$80

Loads of cheap & cheerful jewellery for $1 & $2 to brighten up an outfit & cheaper than you would find at say Sportsgirl

I have not bought anything from here - probably a bit too young for moi.

Finally - I have saved the best til last....ta -da.....my stand out, hands down, winner by a country mile is ......

The Frock Exchange, Clovelly Rd, Covelly

This is Belinda's recycled store and it is run like a beautiful well oiled machine.
Run by Sophie with staff that know their stock, the designers and the industry. They are helpful to get things for you, they definitely make an effort to get to know your likes and call when things arrive.

Not surprisingly they have a very active blog and a Facebook page that wets your appetite for the new arrivals.

Belinda's tag line is "Love is sweeter the second time round"...too cute!

Typical brands = Marni, YSL, Dries van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Missoni, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Lanvin, Bottega, Chloe, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Mulberry, Vanessa Bruno, Acne...the list goes on and on....

Pricing is very reasonable considering the brands they carry.

Everything in these 3 photos was for sale at the Frock. The photos are from the blog (FABULOUS blog) The models are the sales girls. The photos are from the blog & every item is disclosed there. New stock has since arrived.....drool....

I have bought loads from here - especially Marni, Dries van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Hermes scarves, heaps of silver jewellery always from galleries & interesting designers (rather than Angus & Coote).

Honestly, Belinda clothes the best dressed women in Australia in a modern and chic way - & I get their offcasts at the end of the season (hardly worn)!

As a guide, I'd say if I had to give you an idea of price, it'd be around 50% - 90% off retail.

Remember these from a previous post?
They came from The Frock & are now mine....another coffin item....

Here is an Ericksom Beamon set - bracelet & earrings - they were around AU$120 for both, boxes included (happy dance!) The photos doesnt reflect the daylight sparkle...they are lovely.

PS: This is NOT the Ericksom Beamon for Target!

The small print.....

*Check Facebook to see if each has a page - some do have a page although I believe that Frock is the only one ATM with an active (very active) page.
*Check their websites.
*Check their blogs

TIP: The more you check FB/blog/web & are aware of what they are receiving, the more you are likely to be in danger with your bank manager! But you only live once my lovelies!

* There are other designer recycled stores even in the areas I have covered (Paddo, Neutral Bay)....but I have excluded them from this post simply on the basis that I dont think they are as good as these....but if you want to know more, please ASK & I can certainly let you know.

* I have also used these stores to sell my stuff - but with the rise of ebay, sometimes i find its better to use the latter - more about selling recycled in a later post.


TIP: Seriously folks, if you are going to visit one designer recycled store in Paddo, make it The Frock.....but the funny thing is, when i set aside a sunny Saturday to stroll the Paddo strip, pretty much all I visit is the recycled stores & since they are all within spitting distance, I check them all out. (Plus Robby Ingham)

When I do the Paddo stores, I see the same women in the stores as me - no, we are not stalking each other - we all have the same (smart) plan - to visit all of the designer recycled stores in that 2-3 hours allocated to the best shopping designer money can buy...

TIP: If you are visiting all of the recycled stores in Paddo, dont buy everything you like at the first one you visit. There is a serious chance you will see heaps more that you MUST have at the others. So ask each to hold for 30 minutes while you get some money out of the machine and weigh up what will go home with you (or on a lay-by) after you have seen everything on offer. I have learnt this the hard way....

TIP: There is only one of each item. You need to have a very well developed sense of what you need/want. Its not like normal shops where if it sells they can usually get another in. Here, once it goes, its gone. Bye, bye item! And since no one holds for longer than an hour (& even then, even if they know you, have to fight with one of the above, no names Di Nuovo, to get even a half hour hold), you need to make decisions fast.

TIP: This type of shopping is not for the faint hearted. Generally recycled stores can be smelly, badly lit etc and you have to look through racks of cramped items where each one is different - it is far more stressful than scanning through a rack of a the well laid item in 8,10,12,14,16....However all these I have shown here are light & airy & professionally displayed. They are not musty & iccky. Some of the ones I have left off, well, perhaps one of the reasons I have left them off is the iccky factor!

ANNOUNCEMENT - Westfield getting into designer recycled!

Today, Westfield announced it is opening the Giveability store, a designer charity store stocked with second hand designer items donated by celebrities and fashion designers to raise money for children with disabilities and their families.

The Giveability Store will be open in Sydney Bondi Junction 20th-24th July and Westfield Doncaster 27th- 31st July.

100% of the proceeds from all sales will go to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in NSW and Scope in VIC, which provides vital services to people living with cerebral palsy and their families.

I would imagine that if these stores are successful, they will be continued or maybe also expanded to other suburbs.


  1. Oh wow! Love those Jimmy Choos. Classic but with a point of difference (okay, maybe 'points' of difference). =)

  2. Trish, if you are around a 39 -40, they have a client who drops off the most amazing shoes. But their prices tend to be abit inflated....I probably dont go as much these days - so I dont get tempted.....The Frock Exchange is my fave recycled shop .....Val

  3. Hi V, any suggestions for shops in Perth or W.A. At all? Thanks in advance!!

  4. Terrible spelling. A bit, a little, a lot - are 6 separate words, not 3.

    1. No need for negativity, at least we get what she means. Ever heard of ' if you don't have anything good to say, remain silent?

  5. I love all the stuff being displayed there. All look awesome with its fashionable designs. But that Jimmy Choos in black with tiny holes fascinates me more. Can we order these stuff online? I will be more grateful if we can. Thanks.

  6. Absolutely great! I'd like to recommend you this online men's clothing site http://www.flatsevenshop.com where you can find some designer and stylish mens clothes!