Away from the bustle of the north end of Newtown, south King Street has been enjoying a revival in recent years. It’s here, among the record stores, cute cafes and quirky vintage stores that you’ll find Outlet Newtown, a treasure trove of a store that’s part gift shop, part outdoor-adventure supplier and a whole lot of whimsy. Owner Celia Morris describes it as “a nostalgic adventure-lifestyle store that’s [Wes Anderson film] Moonrise Kingdom meets Newtown”. Outlet – which stocks a thoughtfully selected range of both vintage and new products – is the perfect fit for what Morris calls the “Paris end of King Street”.
Morris is no stranger to the suburb – she’s the founder of clothing label and store Dragstar, which has called Newtown home for the past two decades. Morris’s decision to open Outlet was born of a desire to have a store “full of all the things that I love. I want people to come into the store and feel like they can imagine these things in their house and in their life,” she tells Broadsheet. To that end, there’s a focus on ethical brands but also on accessibility. “It’s really important to be affordable. I don’t want people to feel excluded,” says Morris.
The other emphasis is on pulling people towards the outdoors. “I want to help people to observe nature,” says Morris.
There’s a colourful range of enamel cookware and camping essentials such as hurricane lamps, compasses, waterproof matches and even Swiss-army knives for the MacGyvers out there. Morris is in the process of putting together camping kits for Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award students to help in their endeavours. There’s also a neat selection of Planet Finska games to encourage bare feet on grass. The Australian company, which specialises in wooden outdoor community games, uses sustainable materials and avoids plastic in its products.
Morris’s keen eye and ethical approach extend to products for indoor use as well. “We have a beautiful selection of tableware from places like Kashmir that’s all fairtrade,” she says. “There’s also some gorgeous vintage barware, like glasses, and vintage cocktail books to go along with them.”
Also in the mix are handmade wicker baskets for plants, as well as books to help keep your greenery alive. (Morris’s own green baby, “Phil the philodendron”, lives in the shop window.) There are both second-hand and new cookbooks, guides to help you reduce waste and live more sustainably, and books on tying knots and crafting catapults.
The pull of vintage has always been strong for Morris. “I sold stuff at the Balmain Market from a really young age and have always been obsessed with it,” she says. Although she’s enjoyed great success with her Dragstar range, Outlet is the first chance Morris has had in recent years to let out her inner vintage queen.
Outlet also stocks a range of clothing, mainly “vintage workwear, like King Gee, and we’ve just got in some vintage Scouts shirts,” Morris says. Stock will shift depending on what’s coming in, but for Morris, vintage is about “repurposing what’s already there, rather than making more things”. That ethos extends to the shop itself. Everything used in the fit-out is repurposed – “except for the computer”, says Morris. “We thought we’d better start fresh there.”