Di Nuovo has been a William Street staple in Paddington for 25 years. Technically it might only be a second hand store. But it’s consignees happen to be some of Sydney’s best-dressed women.
They offer their goods for Di Nuovo to sell on. The result is a treasure trove for those in the know – think Celine skirts, Rick Owens leather jackets, Isabel Marant dresses, Fendi sock boots, Marni slides, Gucci loafers, and Chanel knits and bags. Stock is refreshed every week.
Victoria Barber has owned the business for 13 years. She still purchases clothes from some of the original consignees. “I love we’re not contributing to waste,” says Barber. “And we’re making two parties happy. I love when I can pair a nice seller to a nice buyer.”
Barber meets women from all walks of life – from a student who wants to sell a pair of jeans to the “socialite who shops for a living, with high-end, couture clothing.” Consignees book appointments with Barber so she can talk to them and learn about each garment. “People want to tell you where they got it from,” she says. “How old it is, what season it’s from.”
Barber has helped many women find affordable wedding dresses; recently she kitted out the wardrobe of an emotional, grateful regular who lost her house and its contents in a fire. If you’re a return visitor, you can join the request book to be contacted when particular brands come in or certain consignees drop clothes off. “It creates a frenzy,” she says. “They know they are going to find something they want. We would never tell them who that person is – they just know they are matched with that person in size and taste.”
Another secret locals know is to follow the store’s second Instagram account – Di Nuovo Donates. Barber and her team have always donated to different charities, but recently they’ve been posting unsold high-end stock for $50 on Instagram each month. Recently, there was a Dion Lee skirt, a velvet Ellery top, Calvin Klein heels and a Comme des Garçons wallet. On another day you might find a Burberry trench or Givenchy studded wedges. Each month the team chooses a different charity to donate to, and give 100 per cent of the proceeds.
If you leave Di Nuovo empty-handed, there’s still much here to explore. The William Street strip has always been special – a lane of beautiful, bright boutiques – it feels almost European. Barber’s favourite local store is East 43. “It’s incredible,” she says. “Most of my wardrobe at the moment is from there. Ilkin, the owner, buys unusual, edgy brands from New York and Paris that you don’t necessarily see everywhere. She’ll call me and say, ‘I’ve got something you’ll love, you have to come up.’ And I’ll get it and ten people will ask me where it’s from. So I’ll send them there. I love to help out and they do the same for us.”
The candles Barber burns in the store are also from East 43. Another of her favourites is Poepke (for Dries Van Noten especially) and Just William Chocolates for a 4pm sugar hit. She’ll often buy her son gifts at Belance. The strip is more than a row of shopfronts – it’s a community. “We’re at Alimentari for coffees every day,” says Barber. “If I’ve got customers or clients, they’ll bring over coffees and sparkling water.”