Circular economies. We can all help in creating those. It’s a way of thinking that goes to the heart of Beth’s work at Reunion, her second-hand clothing store on Enmore Road in Newtown. And is one very good reason as to why she has come down to Addi Road in Marrickville to donate a range of select and vintage clothing.
The outfits and items will be made available for our Wednesday Night Lights event – where free medical care from Street Side Medics, a free hot meal, a warm fire, plenty of conversation, and our low-cost Food Pantry are all happening.
Needless to say, the winter gear gifted to us from Reunion will be appreciated by people who’d like to stay warm and look cool tonight.
Beth says Reunion chose to donate to Addi Road “because we really like the way you so immediately connect to the community. Addi Road is a place where people can go and get help very directly. The help is on hand. You can see it happening. We were wanting to give back directly to our local community in the same way.”
If it’s successful, Beth is hopeful Reunion can have a rack of quality clothes available every Wednesday night at Addi Road. “Why not?!”
For now the problem at Addi Road is suddenly needing to find our clothes rack and hangars. Some ding dong has borrowed our only one and not yet returned it. A makeshift solution might be needed, with the Addi Road team improvising, as usual, to make the clothes visible and available. By next week we will be looking far more prêt-à–porter, rack and all, so watch out.
There’s some fussing around as Beth lays the clothes out on our main office table… A wild pink hoodie, Barbie goes suburban hip hop. A slick, slim, Glen plaid women’s jacket. A Japanese designer raincoat, pop art for the Newtown streets. A dark brown, long suede coat in a classic cut. Some very nice brand name items for whoever might fit into them.
Beth takes real delight in the way vintage and well-made clothes “have a story, a history. You might find a piece that is 50 years old and it is still giving life.”
“Today’s clothes are not made to last,” she says. “Fast fashion is very fast, it isn’t going to have any life after you. And the makers and retailers don’t want it to last. The whole model is about selling you a new piece every week. Not you saving and buying one thing that you wear and wear again that is special, that lasts, that gives you real pleasure. That element has been lost in the fast fashion world we have today.”
Environmentally that’s a disaster. And that’s a serious worry.
“Fashion is one of the world’s top polluters, up there with oil and gas. It’s ridiculous,” she says. “It’s not just individuals either who have responsibility. The big stores over-order. So much is thrown out. It all gets sent to Africa. They can’t deal with it and send it somewhere else. It goes in to landfill. There are entire garbage islands of just clothes.”
Her concerns dovetail with Addi Road’s long-running commitment to the environment. From the way our Food Pantry sources rescued food, through to our use of electric vehicles and solar energy, and cultural events like our current Yalla Bye Plastics Exhibition, the artistic wing of an educational campaign working with multicultural communities in multiple languages and in fun ways to help stop the spread of single-use plastics. Combining forces with like-minded local businesses is just another deepening aspect to that environmental commitment and community caring.
When Beth speaks you can certainly see how much pride she takes in her work: for the good of the planet and in simply making people happy. “I was an avid op shopper when I was a kid,” she laughs. “That’s when I really got the bug for it. Over time I started to better understand the garments, the fashions. I love it.”
“At Reunion we try to offer a more boutique and curated space. The premise behind it is pretty realistic. Not everyone has the time or the skills-set to find quality clothes in all the stuff that is often at op shops. And it is just getting harder and harder to find that kind of quality thing at op shops too,” she says frankly. “Plus the prices have gone bonkers!”
With winter coming to an end, Reunion is restocking its shelves – and its clothes racks. They figured there were plenty of people around who could do with nice warm clothes right now. And that Addi Road was a perfect outlet for what they they had to give. Beyond her environmental concerns and helping to cloth people who might not otherwise access such items, Beth takes a spirited and creative view of what good clothes can do for anyone: all the ways they can help us feel good about ourselves.
“We’re glad to come down to Addi Road and give back a little, like I said. We always wanted Reunion to be a space that let people be experimental with their fashion choices, so that they can have some creativity without it being cheap and nasty and bad for the environment in that fast-fashion way I’ve been talking about. The clothes are actually good enough for you to potentiality sell it back to us again after a while. The life in them keeps going. There’s something beautiful in that.”