The fashion industry is notoriously wasteful – the units of clothing produced between 2000 and 2015 doubled to more than one billion per year, while the actual use of those garments has steadily declined.
Lauren Harper, owner of Regent Arcade giftware shop Have You Met Charlie, is fighting the throwaway fashion mentality with a new venture called Charlie’s Marketplace. She hopes to encourage consumers to start “embracing conscious fashion, helping to upcycle and recycle clothing and accessories from one owner to the next”.
The shop – which opened adjacent to its sister store last month – trades in quality, preloved clothing at affordable prices. Expect to find vintage and modern designer labels, denim, formal and casual wear from all eras – many with original shop tags intact.
“Buying preloved clothing means an item that might be in perfect condition won’t end up in landfill,” Harper explains. “Other important factors about re-loving, as opposed to buying new, are that it aids in water preservation, reduces chemical pollution and lowers your carbon footprint. What’s not to love about that?”
Harper says Have You Met Charlie, which she has run for five years, “is a go-to now for buying a variety of reusable and sustainable products”. The store has always stocked a small selection of vintage and vintage-inspired clothing. “Shoppers would ask if they could consign their own pieces to us,” Harper says. “It got me thinking.” So with Charlie’s Marketplace, she’s experimenting with the new model.
The shop operates on consignment, with anyone from vintage collectors to those decluttering their wardrobe invited to get involved.
The process is simple. Sellers pay a small, up-front fee based on the number of items they bring in. When a piece is purchased, they receive a 75-per-cent cut of the sale price. Charlie’s Marketplace has only one rule for potential sellers: “No cheap, fast fashion allowed.”
Harper’s experience in retail means, “The shop is set up for the shoppers’ best experience,”. Styles and eras are grouped together in size order, and staff create displays from whatever’s on hand for extra inspiration.
Mostly Charlie’s Marketplace stocks womenswear, but Harper wants to see more men’s and children’s pieces. “Our clientele is really broad,” she says. “Young and old, vintage-lovers to bargain hunters.”
Harper is also curating a range of Australian labels, beginning with Queensland sisters Chloe Rowe and Kate Russell’s Jericho Road. “We have more we’re working with behind-the-scenes, and should have in store in the next three to four weeks,” she says. Just like at Have You Met Charlie, the focus is on supporting independent artists and offering unique pieces that are otherwise only available online or interstate.
There’s another social aspect to the enterprise, with half of all the up-front seller fees going to a nominated charity. The first is the RSPCA SA. Then, every quarter, Harper will double-down on the scheme by offering sellers the option to donate back any unsold items to be part of a “super sale”, with all profits also going to charity.
Shop 26 Regent Arcade, Adelaide
Mon to Thu 10am–5pm