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Sustainable Fashion: Out With the Old, in With the Old?

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For an op-shop addict like me, the Repair. Remake. Swap workshop at Hotel Hotel was a dream come true.

My wardrobe is constantly changing, as I become obsessed with new trends and reinvent old favourites, but sometimes I wonder about the social and environmental impacts that my clothes habit is having. After all, fast fashion often relies on the exploitation of workers in developing countries. That’s where a clothes swap comes in.


At the Repair. Remake. Swap. workshop, each person brought along a piece of clothing or two to contribute to the swap pool, and then took whatever they liked. There were lots of gorgeous clothes up for swapping, and I managed to score a floaty Sass and Bide top and a green velvet t shirt, which have since become wardrobe staples.

Fashion stylist Nina Gbor was on hand to give us styling tips, and encouraged us to try on clothes that were outside our comfort zone. She also showed us how to turn a ‘meh’ dress into a striking outfit, with the right accessories and no sewing required.


The second half of the workshop focussed on the more technical side of repairing and remaking clothes with textile expert Valerie Kirk and designer Jacoba Van Lith. We were able to see some of their work, like Valerie’s embroidered jackets and Jacoba’s denim creations, and learn techniques to make old clothes into something beautiful. I can’t exactly sew, but I can take up the hem of a dress or remove the sleeves from a shirt.

I usually experiment with clothes by trial and error, so my biggest problem is knowing what’s going to work and what’s going to look like I let a toddler loose in my wardrobe with a pair of safety scissors. I took along a dress that I hadn’t worn for years, and Jacoba gave me some ideas to turn the fabric (vintage Liberty print!) into a top and skirt.


Valerie described the connection she feels when she has personalised a piece of clothing herself and the joy of owning a unique piece of fashion. When I think of my favourite clothes, it’s the story behind them that makes them special; like a vintage Pendleton plaid mini skirt from a market in London, or a pair of heels from the op shop in Adaminaby.


As Marc Jacobs said, “Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them.” While he was probably referring to thousand-dollar dresses rather than repairing, remaking and swapping, the idea is the same: clothes that make you happy never go out of style.

the essentials 

What: Repair.Remake.Swap
When: Saturday 9 July in two sessions, the first from 9.30am until 11.30am and the second from 2.30pm until 4.30pm
Where: Hotel Hotel
Tickets: $10 general admission, $7 for concession. Purchase them here: www.eventbrite.com.au

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