The RealReal: Changing The Luxury Goods Consignment Market

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Authentic second-hand designer goods can be difficult to find. I recall a time many years ago, finding a Burberry bag in a second-hand charity shop.

First impressions suggested said bag must be legit because the $$$ price tag suggested so and the pretty piece sat behind locked glass doors. I asked to take a closer look at the bag, but soon realised the Burberry was not all as it first appeared. A quick Google search proved the bag to be a Fake McFakey. I couldn’t blame the hard-working op shop volunteers who wouldn’t know any different. 

Sometimes though, it isn’t as easy to spot a fake. Apparently, authenticity is a real problem when purchasing pre-owned designer goods. This applies to dresses, hand bags, shoes or any other designer piece. There are fakes and copies of designer goods in circulation. The question remains; how do you know what is real and what is not. 

If pre-loved designer fashion is your preferred choice of wear, consignment stores are your best bet. But is there a guarantee that what you buy from a consignment store is 100% legit? Not always.

That said, there are some consignment stores who take authenticity very seriously. The RealReal for example, is one such luxury consignment start up, with a bricks-and-mortar store in Soho, NY.

The RealReal employ designer goods experts who verify each item as authentic before it is placed for sale in their consignment store or online. Independent experts who know a designer fake from a genuine piece.

The RealReal is the work of Julie Wainwright. She saw a need for a pre-loved designer fashion store that focuses on authenticity. The key to Wainwright’s success with RealReal is the ability to guarantee the sale of legitimate designer pieces. Fake items in the luxury market are commonplace, and so to say that each item sold is bona fide designer, whether either online or in-store, is the key to Wainwright’s success. 

Wainwright employs experts who spend considerable time examining each item before it hits the shelf. The reputation of the business is at stake, and designer authenticity in this case, goes a long way.  

Wainwright has been able to secure a whopping $100+ million to finance her brand. This has enabled her business grow and move into a physical store from The RealReal’s previous online-only presence. Some pre-loved designer pieces are better seen in person. 

While The RealReal is a relatively new concept for both sellers and buyers, customers are flocking to the store knowing they are buying bona fide luxury fashion for less. Designer authenticity is the key to The RealReal’s success.

The RealReal: 80 Wooster St, New York, NY 10012, USA 

Etiko Fairtrade Custom Designed Shoes

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Custom Designed Ethical Shoes by Melbourne Based Etiko 

It's been a while since I've posted anything here on Recycled Fashion. I had a situation where the design of my blog went a little skew-whiff because of a problem with Photobucket backlinks.

Thankfully, Meirav from Webby Web Design helped fix most of the errors and thus here I am, writing again for the old faithful.

I've also been really really busy on side projects like KidTown Melbourne more on that here.

However, I'm back and what better way to revive the blog than to show you a pair of amazing shoes I recently won in a competition via Etiko.

Custom Designed Etiko Fairtrade Kicks
Etiko is a fairtrade, ethical clothing and footwear brand based in Melbourne and is "globally ranked as one of the worlds most ethical fashion brands."

Etiko announced a competition to win a custom designed pair of Etiko kicks, to be hand painted by the very talented artist Claire aka The Little Treasure Company.

I rarely enter competitions to be honest, so I couldn't believe I'd won. I could choose any design I wanted to be painted onto my new kicks, so I chose this:

One shoe to be Melbournifed: the NGV's Great Hall Stained Glass Ceiling, a tram and Flinders Street Station.

The other to be Londonified: city scene with Big Ben and a London Bus, plus a tiny London Underground sign on the back.

I can't tell you how beautiful they are, almost too good to wear.

So I thought I'd show you.

Thank you Etiko and thank you Clare (the artist behind The Little Treasure Company).

What a treat.

Etiko can also be followed on:

Twitter: @etikofairtrade
Instagram: @etikofairtrade

Tasini: Cute Recycled Key Ring Alternatives to the Plastic Bag

Friday, June 23, 2017

A new crowd funding campaign popped up in my Facebook feed and really struck a chord with me. Tasini is a creative concept to make tiny (and very cute) fold up key rings to carry around and use as an alternative to the disposable plastic bag.

Tasini: the key to break the plastic bag habit, is a collaborative effort of four individuals from the environmental initiative Making Oceans Plastic Free.  Together, the team has designed a collection of five marine animal key chains, each made with recycled plastic, with foldable reusable bags inside.

The bright and colourful little marine animals open up into colourful bags for you to use when you're out shopping. The idea is to eliminate the use of disposable plastic bags, with the hope of keeping more plastic out of the oceans.

See more here:


Help the Making Oceans Plastic Free team's concept become a reality. You can back the crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo here.

Vinnies Winter Style Challenge

Saturday, June 17, 2017

I'm no stranger to a St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria (Vinnies Victoria) fashion challenge. It all kicked off with the New Year New Style challenge over a year ago, when Vinnies sent a $50 gift card in the post for me to find a collection of pieces to add to only 10 fashion items I could choose to wear over a two week period. More on that here.

Fast forward a year and a half and the Vinnies team asked if I'd like to participate in a smaller challenge to find a winter outfit for 20 dollars. Sure, why not.

The hardest part of any Vinnies fashion challenge, is finding things in a short space of time. The small window of opportunity I had would be with my 3yo in tow. Totally fine until he starts hiding within the clothes racks and I lose him for a few minutes. Fun times.

Anyway, he found a Peppa Pig toy and stayed put for a little bit while I browsed the racks as best I could.  Interestingly enough, it was my 3yo who found this jacket for me. He picked it out and said "I like this one Mummy", and you know what? He chose well.  I like it. $8 down.

Next up, I'm short of a bag to hold enough of my stuff when I'm out with the kids. I'm not talking about handbags as such, but rather tote bags with enough room to hold drink bottles, tissues, a change of clothes, toys, cardigans, cameras, phones and the rest. You know what I mean. Anyway, I found this pink tote and I love it. It's a brilliant size for the aforementioned, and so colourful. Again, $8 down.

I'm then left with $4 for which I can find an accessory maybe, or a purse. But you know what? My little guy did good to hold out, and his Peppa Pig was priced at just under $4, so I figured why not treat him, and so I did.

Thanks Vinnies for the opportunity, I look forward to the next challenge!

Junkies Magazine Australia Issue 9

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

You may remember that I am now contributing articles to Junkies Magazine Australia.  The latest Junkies Magazine Australia is out now (Issue 9) and two of my articles are in it.

Junkies Magazine is an eco-driven print publication, filled with interesting stories related to the 'rethink, reuse, reduce and recycle' mentality.  Junkies Magazine introduces people and brands who are following sustainable practices in a creative way.

In the latest issue of Junkies Magazine Australia, I had an interesting experience interviewing Catie in Istanbul. Catie is the volunteer currently managing the Drop Earrings Not Bombs project.

Drop Earrings Not Bombs is community-run imitative called Small Projects Istanbul; a volunteer organisation that focuses on providing education and support for displaced Syrian refugees.  The community group weave bright coloured teardrop earrings, which are then sold all over the world and therefore generate an income for those who make them.

Due to time differences, the entire interview with Catie took place via email questions and WhatsApp voicemail replies. Thank goodness for technology.

The second article relates to a small business much closer to home.  I delved into Zane and Manuel's Melbourne based business Melbourne Vintage Audio.  Zane and Manuel scour the country for vintage bags and suitcases, and transform them into magnificent bluetooth Suitcase Speakers (V-Case).

The article in Junkies Magazine Australia explains how Zane and Manuel's suitcases with soul concept became a reality in 2011, and how the business is booming 6 years later, in more ways than one.

I'm also really delighted to see that I teed up Margaret Wells with Junkies Magazine Australia.  You'll notice Melbourne-based Margaret's bottle-cap headpiece and dress adorning the front cover of this edition of Junkies Mag!

Get hold of the latest issue of Junkies Magazine Australia now >

Father's Day Gifts from Recycled Materials via Gifts Less Ordinary

Thursday, June 8, 2017

It's Father's Day coming up in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, and so I'm led to believe, in other parts of the world, too.

I've never understood why Father's Day isn't celebrated on the same day in other countries that mark the occasion.  For example here in Australia and in New Zealand, Father's Day falls on the first Sunday of the month, in Brazil the second Sunday in August, and Thai fathers are celebrated on December 5th!  Father's Day fun facts seen here.

Anyway, because Father's Day is celebrated in quite a large volume this Sunday 18 June and what with my own Dad living in the UK, I've been researching some unique gift ideas on Gifts Less Ordinary.

Gifts Less Ordinary is a "one-stop marketplace displaying beautiful and memorable gifts to treasure." Many of the gifts available to buy via Gifts Less Ordinary can be personalised. If you're shopping for a hard-to-buy-for loved one, do take a look. I've been inspired. Here are my picks for unique Father's Day gifts on Gifts Less Ordinary made using recycled materials.

Father's Day Gifts from Recycled Materials via Gifts Less Ordinary

Nine Personalised Map Hearts in a Black Frame

I've never been shy to admit I'm a bit fan of vintage maps and global maps used in fashion pieces.

This sweet gift is hand-made in Kent. Choose destinations that are most memorable for your Father, and send off your order for a unique personalised piece of wall art to be made. Nine map hearts spefic to your order are cut out of vintage maps and are mounted and framed.

Nine personalised map location hearts in a black frame: Gifs Less Ordinary

Personalised UK Sailcloth Weekend Bag 

Made in Nether Wallop (love it!!), England, these practical weekend bags are handmade using recycled and new sailcloth with a canvas bottom.

Adding to the oceanic feel of these bags, nautical rope is used to provide extra support and each product is stitched using the traditional sail maker zigzag stitch.

Bags are made to order, and can be personalised with up to 3 letters and numbers on the reverse. Satchels are made with a white background, red base, navy straps, red side ends and the Union Jack Flag on the front.  Other flags are also available.

Personalised Hand Stamped Vintage Spoon

La de da in Gloucestershire in the UK source and collect vintage silver plated cutlery pieces. Big ol' spoons are then stamped with witty or personalised quotes that are special to your Dad.

Every letter is hand stamped, and therefore each piece will be completely unique because spacing and alignment will vary. Handles vary; choose ornate or plain

Watch Movement Cufflinks 

Nothing like a little steampunk inspired gift for your Pappa.  If Dad wears cufflinks, these beauties are unique little accessories to have for his wardrobe!

Each set of cufflinks is designed and made using the movement parts of old wrist watches. Order with a personalised chrome cufflink box and choose to have the wording of your choice engraved onto it.

Watch movement cufflinks: Gifts Less Ordinary

Shop for more unique Father's Day gifts at Gifts Less Ordinary on:

Disclaimer: sometimes I collaborate with companies I like and will publish a blog post for a small compensation.  This is one of those posts. 

Introducing Ethical Fashion Label: You and Mei

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Q&A with Tanika of ethical fashion brand you&mei

A couple of years ago, I took over as Editor of KidTown Melbourne and that's where I hang out most of the time now.  Having said that, there are times when my interests in the ethical / vintage / recycled fashion world collide with kid-related events in Melbourne. Vintage fashion or art exhibitions with a focus on encouraging children's attendance often mean I am wearing both by Recycled Fashion and KidTown Melbourne hats at once!

Last year I received an invitation to attend a media event featuring TV's well-known children's musical performers Hi-5.  For one reason or another, I got chatting to Tanika, one of the Hi-5 band members about fashion related things, and coincidently, she told me of a new project she'd been working on in the background; her new ethical fashion range. Tanika has since left Hi-5 to pursue her ethical fashion journey and low and behold you&mei has launched.

I'm excited to showcase you&mei to Recycled Fashion readers, because I'm sure you will enjoy learning more about this gorgeous collection of clothes crafted in Myanmar, and what a difference you can make by choosing to buy you&mei.  Read on.

Tanika - you&mei

Q. How difficult is it to set up an ethical clothing brand from scratch?

When I first started working on you&mei, I thought to myself- "why aren’t there more people starting businesses that have a positive impact on the world?" Two years later, I have realised, starting a business, particularly one like you&mei is one of the most challenging things you could ever do.

Turns out running a business that operates on the other side of the world with employees who don’t speak english isn’t as easy as you would have thought. Aside from all the challenges and the emotional toll it takes on you, starting an ethical business or a business that is working to change the world is one of the most rewarding things you could ever do.

Q. Why is ethical clothing important to you?

There are so many problems in this world that we live in and humanity as a whole can work together to change it but it will require a lot of progress before we are at the point where we can work together as one.

In my eyes, fashion is such an easy place to start when making a difference. It is important to me that we wear clothes that don’t have a drastic impact on our environment. Natural materials are a simple choice over synthetic material such as polyester and nylon.

Our girls work with old school foot peddle sewing machines using significantly less electricity as well as slowing down the fashion industry. We are fighting the destructive world of “fast fashion.” You&mei is proudly slow fashion. However, the main focus of you&mei is to alleviate young girls from poverty by providing them with an income, education and nutritional support and guidance. You&mei trains the girls up to be leaders within their own communities or even the world.

Change starts with the younger generation. The you&mei girls are extremely talented, intelligent, driven and inspiring, they just need an opportunity. You&mei makes their dreams, possibilities.

Q. How do you go about communicating with the members of your team in Myanmar?

I have a small team in Myanmar running the operations. Whenever I visit, I have a translator with me at all times. During my last visit in March, I visited the you&mei workshop without a translator for the first time due to the progress that the girls have made in their English lessons as well as my questionable Myannmar language. It’s a challenge and we are constantly working on improving our communications.

Q. How often do you travel to Myanmar?

I travel to Myanmar approximately 4 times per year and I always take someone with me who could be beneficial to the project. I am a creative so having a partner whilst I’m over there who has skills in systems and organisation is so helpful.

Q. Who designed your current / first range?

I designed the collection with the girls. I always make sure that the girls have a say in the deigns as you&mei is all about empowerment.

Q. Where are the materials sourced to make the you&mei range?

We have two ranges. One is made from 100% organic cotton dyed with natural vegetable dyes. This material is not only environmentally friendly but also people friendly! For those with sensitive skin- the clothes we wear can have a huge impact on our health as our skin is our biggest organ so choose chemical free! Our second range is made with 100% cotton sourced locally in Myanmar and handwoven by the locals to create the traditional Myanmar Longyi.

Q. Tell me about the name you&mei and what it means?

My middle name is Mei. The name you&mei is about togetherness or in other word you&mei. Together, we can make a difference.

Q. How many pieces of your 'limited edition' range are made?

Our first run was made up of 500 garments. Certain styles are more limited than others. For example, our Pink Longyi Dress had a total of 8 pieces in the first run as this material takes so long to hand weave and there aren’t many people in Myanmar who are able to make it.

Q. The colours of some of your pieces are quite vibrant, are these colours typical of traditional Myanmar wear?

The vibrant colours are a true reflection of Myanmar as a country- vibrant, bold and beautiful. The vibrant pieces are made out of the female “Longyi” which is a traditional skirt that Myanmar women wear in there daily lives.

Q. How often will you release a new 'range' or do you intend to release new pieces rather than entire collections?

At this point it will be a combination of both. We are hoping to release a range towards the end of the year and every year after that with the occasional piece added to the collection sporadically.

Q. The move from acting and presenting into fashion is quite different. Will you ever completely move away from TV? 

I love entertaining people. I will always continue to be a part of the entertainment industry because I think it’s a great way to reach more people and share your message to an audience of a much larger scale. Presenting and performing gave me a voice to start you&mei and for that, I am grateful.

Q. How does you&mei help the girls who work on the brand in Myanmar?

You&mei is an ethical clothing label working to alleviate young girls from poverty in Myanmar by providing them with an income, education and nutritional support and guidance. We aren’t training the girls up to be great employees. We are training them up to be leaders and change makers so that they too can make their mark one day.

The girls get excited knowing that when a new group of girls come in, they will have the responsibility of training them up and sharing all the valuable lessons that they have learnt from their own journeys. Change starts with the younger generation which is why you&mei is different. We are empowering young women who have the potential to be great leaders one day.

My top picks from the you&mei range

Now you know a little more about the you&mei range, here are my top picks from Tanika's beautiful ethical fashion label:
The “Longyi” Traditional Dress LIMITED EDITION

Isn't the above dress so gorgeously vibrant?  A favourite of mine for sure.  I could imagine wearing this dress to brighten the cool months of a Melbourne winter, matched with long knee length boots and a jacket.  In the summer, a simple pair of sandals and you've got a perfect beach dress.

KIDs Longyi Overall (Unisex)
Cute with a capital C!  How adorable are these unisex dungarees?  And priced at a very reasonable $39.95, too.

JUMPSUIT in Traditional Myanmar Longyi pattern

You wouldn't know straight away, that the above one-piece is actually a one-piece!  I've long been a fan of dusty pink and greys together (I am an 80s child after all!), so I'm particularly drawn to this gorgeous jumpsuit.

Now it's your turn.  Jump over to you&mei's website take a look at the collection.  I'd love to hear what jumps out as your favourite ethical fashion piece.



Side note: this is by no means a sponsored post of any kind.  I merely wanted to showcase Tanika's work on her label you&mei and the great work this label is doing to improve the lives of a community of young women in Myanmar.