The Story Behind Preloved Clothing Online & Studio61
I have been an avid op-shopper/vintage shopper ever since I was a teenager. My friends and I would scour the charity shops in our local town looking for big “grandad-style” shirts and coats. It was the 1980s; we were into The Smiths and The Cure and that’s what everyone was wearing. We used to buy white shirts from op-shops, wash them and roll up the large oversized sleeves. I was often found in my garden with fabric paint splashing these items, Jackson Pollock-style, so that I could wear them when I went out that evening.
I was really interested in fashion, but had no money, so I had to get creative. I remember stealing my mum’s best cotton sheets and cutting them up for my next fashion project. Something I regret to this day (and I did get in trouble for it!) was raiding my dad’s Navy jacket from the attic and cutting it up to modify it. My mum caught me walking out the door and told me off, “That’s your dad’s naval jacket; you’d better not let him see what you’ve done to it!”
This brings back a childhood memory of my first foray into customising fashion. I was probably about 9-10 years old. My grandma had a Welsh blanket and my mum wanted it to be kept as an heirloom. But I had other plans – to make a poncho for my teddybear, so I cut a hole in it to fit my teddy.
I would have loved to have gone into fashion and studied textile design at Art school. However, being a child of the ‘80s, my parents were very keen for me, a girl, to go into science or engineering. I got a degree in Food Technology and Marketing and had a long career designing food products.
But my passion was always second-hand shopping and fashion – not that I considered myself to be stylish; it was more that I love colours and patterns, the look from the ’60s and ’70s with their oversized glasses, flares, floral prints…
At university, I would spend my entire university grant that we used to get back then in one week at Kensington Market, London, on vintage clothing. Opposite the Market was a huge shop called Hyper Hyper where emerging designers would have a concession store and sell one or two of each piece of their designs, so whatever you bought there was genuinely unique.
In my third year of university, we had an evening ’do. I got a beautiful silk dress from a vintage shop in Reading. My mum was horrified when I cut it up, made it shorter and swapped out the old beads for ones I liked. I wore the dress with a pair of Dr Marten boots, spiked hair and crazy make-up! Another ’80s memory was cutting off the ends of a black sock to make a sleeveless glove that I embellished with beads. My teens were spent doing all sorts of fun stuff.
Fast forward to my career in Food Technology… It paid the rent and it’s where I met my husband (we went on to have two beautiful children). However, in work, I always felt quite unfulfilled; it wasn’t my raison d’être. Over time, my attic in Sydney had filled up with my amazing finds from op-shopping. I had about 60 designer leather bags and beautiful clothing all hanging on racks, waiting patiently in my attic.
One day, a gentleman knocked on my front door. “I understand you are keen on leasing the building at 61 West Street. It’s coming up for lease. Would you be interested?” he enquired. I was – although I had no idea what I was going to do with the space. But within a month, I had signed on the dotted line. I sub-licensed all the offices to various businesses to help cover the rent when inspiration struck – why not use this space to sell my attic full of op-shop clothing?
Studio61 and our website, Preloved Clothing Online was born out of an idea that wasn’t fully formed but it grew stronger and stronger. After just one month in business, I realised that people really wanted my products and I enjoyed sourcing them. Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength and I couldn’t be happier.