Summer is a great time to refresh your wardrobe. But before you run off to stock up on the latest fast-fashion trends, stop. There’s a better way, according to The Commons Studio and Exchange founder Emily Sheahan.

She’s behind Adelaide’s newest hub for vintage fashion and local designers. The store – next to Elementary Coffee on Young Street – has one-off pieces for purchase or exchange.

Exchanging is simple. Just book an appointment online. “It’s super easy, just like booking in your hair,” Sheahan says. The Commons is open for exchange six days a week, including after hours. You can also shop online.

A buyer will go through the clothes you’ve brought in to swap. “We assess each piece individually for stains, condition, style, era. Based on that assessment we [assign] a resale value. Based on that you can choose 30 per cent in cash or 50 per cent in trade credit.” Nab new pieces for your wardrobe at a fraction of the cost and with barely any impact on the environment.

It’s no surprise Sheahan was instrumental in adding “slow fashion” to the main program of this year’s Adelaide Fashion Festival.

“Underlying this whole concept was that element of sustainability and conscious buying that I wanted to address,” she explains. Four years ago Sheahan relocated from Brisbane to Adelaide to open our state’s first (now-closed) Swop Clothing Exchange.

There’s no shortage of new, local slow-fashion labels leading the way – think Good Studios, Autark, Re-Swim Club and Solomon Street. But Sheahan says exchanging quality pre-loved clothing is vital to shift the community’s attitude on fast fashion.

“In terms of an avenue for second-hand clothing, there are only so many op-shops and mass, throw-out approaches to that stuff,” she says.

Op-shops support charities and offer affordable clothing, but they can perpetuate the throwaway culture that is a drain on resources and contributes to landfill. “I’m certain op-shops are only selling a small portion of the intake stock they get,” says Sheahan. “I guess this concept of renewing, re-loving and exchanging your pre-loved wardrobe is that you’re still having that element of care from an existing wardrobe to continue into another one.”

The Commons Studio and Exchange
17 Young Street, Adelaide
Mon to Fri 11am–6pm
Sat 11am–3pm