When Lara Piccone emailed me to answer some questions for a story titled “Second Helpings” for the latest issue of Local Paddo, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to think about where it all started for me and where it’s heading for us all.
We are used to seeing a vision of the future as science fiction, in plays, movies and books - projecting a dystopian world but we never really expected the future to visit us so soon.
Here are the questions and my answers. Of course they are lengthy, so sit down, sip on your beverage and brace yourself.
Q1. How long has Pelle been in business?
A1. We would have celebrated our 24th anniversary on Tuesday the 24th of March, but coronavirus hit one day before. That put a spanner in the works for all of us, but lets concentrate for a moment on the many years we built the business and created awareness that recycling has beauty.
I am very pleased to have had a lasting business for over 24 years that has survived many ups and downs.
Q2. Did you start out with an eye on sustainability or has it developed as the issue has become more apparent?
A2. Yes sustainability has become an interest of mine ever since my grandmother took me to the flea market in Zurich when she was about my current age to visit her daughter, (my aunt) selling her treasures. I was 8 years old. I remember vividly falling in love with a green beret, my aunt was selling. This incident opened my eyes to this amazing world of by gone eras and my grandmother's obsession to never throw anything away without re-purposing it in one form or the other, not to mention my mother's eye for beauty and style, forged an interest in what is now called sustainable fashion. I was delighted when I found my vocation making a living from my philosophy to recycle everything and change the attitude from that "old thing" to lets give this thing a new life.
Q3. Do you think the Paddington community is mindful of such issues in fashion?
A3. Oh yes they are. I talk to them all the time about sustainability, slow fashion, decluttering, to buy less, but better quality. My generation and the generation before me, don’t have the same wants anymore, so they purchase more wisely now. The new generation has been introduced by their mums to my shop and shops like mine. My youngest customer at the age of 12 bought her first vintage Dior bag, with her own pocket money, mind you. She was the most savvy and interested customer I have ever met. For her it wasn’t about to have the latest, but her love of vintage was at the forefront and the fact it had a previous life and history.
Even clients who previously would only buy new, have now started to value what the media calls vintage. It is easier to buy pre-loved because there is only one size and one style. People are sick and tired to see the same thing on every street corner and preloved changes that concept, its being embraced.
The curating process took time and is what makes the shop’s collection interesting, desirable and unique.
Q4. What do you think the biggest environmental hurdles fashion labels face are?
A4. 2020 will bring to the forefront reflection and radical changes. The biggest environmental hurdles the fashion industry faces is definitely resources, overconsumption, over population and waste. The near stand still of many industries at the moment will show how quickly some can adapt to the changes we are facing in the current climate and or reinvent themselves all together from scratch. The Corona virus is a representation of our conscience. We have definitely been in a very destructive phase and the tipping point is inevitable, but the opportunity to create a new paradigm is not in the future, but now. The consumer is as responsible as the producer and we should ask ourself what is the real cost of fashion, before we consume.
Q5. Are some people too worried about wearing the latest seasons to buy secondhand, or do you find that mostly they just look for quality?
A5. As mentioned previously die hard clients who usually buy the latest in season are now coming around, investing in preloved by adding a vintage piece to their latest season wardrobe. The one off aspect in vintage or pre-loved is very appealing, meaning it’s very desirable not to look cloned. We have so much choice now in what we are able to wear and more to the point, what suits our body shape, without having to follow blindly the latests trends. There is much more freedom to express one self.
Q6. How do you see the fashion industry changing in coming years?
A6.I would like to be hopeful that the large fashion houses start to form more sustainable practices and lead the way so that high fashion does not come at the cost of the planet. There is already a movement towards stylish up-cycling by using previous pieces for current fashion, bringing the idea of the latest season coming from the reusable past.
Q7. Has the world-shift this year (with COVID, bushfires et al) made consumers more conscious about mindless consumption and therefore more interested in sustainable fashion?
A7. That is an interesting question. I asked this very question myself a few months ago. I think we hardly had the time to recover from the bushfires when an even bigger event hit us, which took precedent. People forget quickly unless they are hit hard themselves, so with Covid which hit everyone you could come to that conclusion, but old habits die hard.
In the end it all comes down to your personal economics if you have been affected by it or not and your personal choices will be lead by that impact. This is not necessarily by choice, but by circumstances. It’s still too early to predict the fall out, or changes that will come from this. Saying that I have seen a huge increase in clients clearing their wardrobes, reducing superfluous excess, so clearly there is a shift in consumer consciousness about mindless excess at home.
It has to start somewhere ....