Affluent suburbs in Sydney’s north and east are the places to go to find Vinnies’ full of high-end castoffs, but the inner west has the biggest variety of second-hand clothing stores.
There are old-fashioned op shops with racks of clothes to dig through, atelier services with tailors and places to swap your old treasures for new.
“There’s something special about wearing a piece of clothing when you are the only person who owns it,” says Casey Simms, co-owner of Forever Vintage.
Here are five inner west second-hand shops where you can find your sartorial one-and-only.
Cathy’s Dress Up
Cathy Pick only opens her shop for a handful of hours during the week, and on the weekends you can find her at Rozelle Markets. It’s worth tracking Pick down. She sources contemporary clothing that crosses into art. Expect pieces from designers such as Issey Miyake, Marni and Jean Paul Gaultier.
Occasionally items from Pick’s own wardrobe will make it to the shop. “I cull my wardrobe a lot. I figure if I’m not wearing it anymore, it should be passed on to someone who will be thrilled with it,” she says.
Cream on King
Cream on King is the little sister of Surry Hills vintage institution, Cream on Crown. Cream is one of the best vintage fashion purveyors in the city, refashioning many of its second-hand pieces into contemporary silhouettes. Tie-dyed T-shirts are cropped, dresses are midi-length and board shorts are made from brightly printed vintage fabrics.
Forever Vintage specialises in high-end, mid-century designer and couture evening wear. Most pieces come from Europe or America, and the racks hold exquisitely tailored dresses. You’ll find pieces by Balmain and Christian Dior, and the lesser-known (but equally talented) Sophie Gimbel.
The shop is like an old-fashioned atelier, with skillful service that includes consultation, fitting and tailoring.
SWOP Clothing Exchange sells vintage and pre-loved fashion, all acquired from the local community. Every Friday, the exchange booth opens. People can sell or “SWOP” their clothes for cash or in-store credit.
This isn’t the place to bring a pile of old T-shirts from Cotton On though. Check the website for brands SWOP loves and brands it doesn’t.
Salvos at Tempe
Tucked inconspicuously next to IKEA, Tempe Salvos is a warehouse space spanning rack upon rack of second-hand clothing to dig through. Come equipped with patience; uncovering a special piece of clothing amid old furniture, stacks of vinyl records and rejected musical instruments takes time and luck.