Living in a country once relatively remote from the malls of the world, many New Zealanders used to count on second-hand shopping to deliver niche international designer brands. Yet even though almost any label can now be delivered at the touch of a button, pre-owned clothing is even more prevalent today.
Whether stocking a leading label’s previous seasons or vintage pieces – considered to be items 20 or more years old – the number of high-end resellers is increasing. After watching her parents build popular national resale outpost Recycle Boutique, Aimee Egdell opened second-hand store Tatty’s, which is now in two Auckland locations. “It’s part of our culture to make use of what we have and think outside the box,” she says. “Second-hand shopping is a way to do this.”
With sustainability a major focus of the 21st century, a wider range of people are also cottoning on to the need to rehome their clothes to avoid wastage. “Shopping second hand is now not only considered acceptable, but a positive choice to make,” says Egdell. “Recycling is a way to bring about change – environmentally, economically and socially.”
Melaina Newport-Karaitiana, owner-operator of Napier’s Aroha and Friends, says she sells a selection of pre-loved pieces alongside new-season stock as part of the store’s ethical agenda and appreciation of the industry. “It’s really important that you’re reducing the amount of clothing that’s ending up in landfills,” she says. “You’re valuing the hours of craft that go into high-fashion production, beyond the fresh new ticket price.”
One of the original second-hand destinations in Auckland, Scotties Recycle has been curating designer cast-offs since 1999. Co-owner Sonja Batt cites both sustainability and the thrill of the chase as key to its success. “Its popularity has grown considerably due to the excitement of finding the unexpected, and the ability to purchase a designer item at a fraction of the cost.”
Eclectic store Ziggurat opened in Wellington in the 1980s and current custodian Kate Bryant says an increase in awareness of the benefits of buying second-hand has enhanced its popularity. It’s the best way to find a one-of-a kind piece ready to walk out the door in, she says. “When shopping in a place like Ziggurat, I’ve done all the work for you. Each item is hand-picked for its uniqueness.”
With shoppers now happily mixing high-end and high-street for a new kind of fashion cred, styling garments from collections past as well as the current season is a fun way to add creative flair to your look. Take a sequinned retro top teamed with a pair of jeans, for example. No longer just a night-time look, combine it with flats and simple accessories for an excuse to wear second-hand shine anytime.
An increase in retro and vintage appreciation means there’s never been a better time to peruse these boutiques. Passionate retailers are more dedicated than ever to delivering the trifecta second-hand shoppers seek: high-quality, interesting pieces at a reasonable price.
Here’s Simply You’s little black book of the best vintage stores we’ve shopped:
Auckland, Greytown & Wellington
Encore Fashion Recycle
One of the longest running fashion stores on Ponsonby Road, Encore continues to grow thanks to its high-quality range of middle to high-end fashion labels, from Gucci and Diane von Furstenberg to Workshop and Self Portrait.
Based on the belief that the customers' needs are of the utmost importance the committed team seek out fashionable finds wherever they go.
“Encore stands out in that we are fussy about what clothes we accept for sale and we combine second-hand with brand new samples and ends of lines as well as selected current fashion from overseas buying trips,” says owner Siddhi Smith.
Having been trading for 36 years, the team have second-hand recycle down to a fine art. Encore goes the extra mile to ensure each customer has the best experience with their professional recycling service.
The stock is presented in sizes and in colourways for time-poor patrons for one of the easiest shopping sprees you'll experience yet.
“It's the kind of shop I love to discover when I travel,” adds Smith.
Along with a satellite store in Greytown, Wellingtonians can look forward to a new store opening in the CBD soon.
“The benefits of shopping secondhand run far and wide. Gaining quality at a reasonable price, slowing the production of new goods, becoming part of a community where you build relationships through a shared love of fashion, and finally being able to curate your individuality knowing that no one else will have the same look as you,” says founder and director of Tatty's Aimee Egdell.
Her store in Ponsonby provides a designer deconstruction of it-labels, while a more eclectic mix of retro pieces can be found at the High Street store.
“Good design generally does not date, and over time certain pieces can become more desirable and collectible,” says co-owner Sonja Batt.
The recycle department at Scotties has a cult-like following for its constantly updated selection of international designer brands.
In the recycle business with Tango for 30 years, Driss Lambaraa has a passion for extending the life of beautiful fashion and interiors. The store on Little High Street caters to designer European and New Zealand fashion followers.
“People have started to appreciate vintage because of its quality, design and style,” he says.
Aroha and Friends
Growing-up second-hand shopping, owner and operator of Aroha and Friends Melania Newport-Karaitiana sells a growing range of new second-hand pieces alongside its new season selection, which supports New Zealand designers.
“I have grown up in the tradition of second hand shopping and I love it along with everyone I know. It's the excitement of finding lost treasure.” she says.
With one side catering to vintage, the other to recent but also swoon-worthy second-hand finds, Ziggurat is a Cuba Street institution.
“People love a bargain and to find something different to what you can find on the high street,” says ‘present custodian’ Kate Bryant.
No16 is a reputable store known for well-cared for clothing, from avant-garde labels to the latest luxury fashion.
“I believe strongly that we should all sell less but better quality clothes,” says fashion buyer Anna Ronberg.
Soup Fashion Recovery
Stocking a range of vintage and recycle from modern Zambesi and Chanel to gloves from the 1900s, Soup Fashion Recovery is for those that choose to stand out from the crowed and do their bit for the planet.
“We like to think we are recovering fashion,” says owner Marie Jephson.
Hunters and Collectors
Trading for more than 30 years, Hunters and Collectors is a trusted spot to find vintage from all eras, as well as a handful of the team's favourite labels, including Vivienne Westwood and Moschino.
"We offer a very personal service," says owner Christina O.
With a penchant for pre-1950s vintage and natural fibres, Preservation Society is a treasure trove of sun-drenched tea dresses, aged silks and other delicate garments.
There's also a cabinet with collectible curiosities, including sentimental jewellery.
Photos: Getty and Supplied.
Read more fashion commentary, including how to incorporate the latest trends into your wardrobe, in the spring/summer issue of Simply You