Two young Northern Beaches entrepreneurs hope to cool down fast fashion.
Unable to work due to lockdowns, 21 year old Sienna Baker and 20 year old Marlin Millar decided to make the most of their free time, and start ‘Recycool’, an online business selling vintage clothing from a factory corner in Brookvale.
Narrabeen local Sienna came up with the idea to create the business, after realizing she had amassed a room full of vintage clothes she had been purchasing for herself and her friends over the past few years.
Now, this may be hard for most of our followers to read, but vintage is 90s now…
“For years I was always buying vintage clothes- mostly because I liked the idea of buying something that was recycled- but it was also unique, no one else was wearing it.”
Partnering with friend Marlin Millar, the duo launched their website just five weeks ago and hope to not only sell their items, but raise awareness about the adverse effects of fast fashion.
“For years we have had the hobby of searching thrift shops for hidden vintage gems…instead of supporting the cycles of cheaply produced fast fashion that are detrimental to the environment.”
Sienna explains her interest in ethical and sustainable clothing came from a project she completed for her HSC on fast fashion. Learning where the clothes come from, worker’s wages, along with how many fibers end up in local water streams, ignited her passion to make changes in the way people consume fashion.
“I learnt that children are working in these factories, and that companies keep cheap labour hidden very well.”
“When the factory collapsed in Bangladesh for example, a lot of workers died, but the brand names were kept out of the news, so it wouldn’t affect their sales.”
ABC TV’s ‘War on Waste’ host Craig Reucassel also drew attention to the issues of fast fashion when he stood atop a 6,000kg pile of discarded clothes in Martin place in 2017- revealing that every hour Australians throw out 36 tonnes of clothing.
Whilst Marlin admits it can be expensive to purchase well-made, sustainable clothing, he argues it works out more cost effective in the long run.
“You buy clothes from one of the cheaper chain stores, and it will self destruct within a couple of weeks or months so you have to go and buy something new. It’s just a continuous, vicious cycle.”
A few local companies are leading the way in long lasting, sustainable clothing. New Zealand outdoor clothing brand Kathmandu uses recycled polyester in some of its garments, whilst Californian company Patagonia, use recycled soda bottles and ‘worn-out’ garments to produce some of their clothing.
The team would like to see this approach expand to more of the larger chain companies, with a move towards reusable fibres and recycled fabrics.
Recycool aren’t just about sustainable clothing, their packaging bags are made from recycled plastic, their clothing bags from recycled fibres, and they plan to soon include stickers made of recycled materials.
Teaching themselves business, marketing and photography skills from online tutorials, the young duo have worked hard to go from operating out of sienna’s bedroom to a small, dedicated space within a factory in Brookvale.
“Everything has been foreign to us. We were never taught in school how to start a business, or build a website, or how to invest your money into it. So it’s been scary for us, there is a risk at the start when you put your own money into a new business.”
Next on their wish list is an industrial washing machine- not the usual dreams of 20 and 21 year olds! But as Sienna explains they often spend up to six hours at the Laundromat washing boxes of clothing, and trying to remove any stains or blemishes from the garments.
“We spend days washing and getting any stains out, or checking for any small holes that we can stitch up. If we can make a garment a little bit better before we give it to someone, then we will.”
Once international travel is back on the table, Sienna and Marlin hope to be able to visit some of their international suppliers that they currently spend hours on video calls with sifting through garments together virtually.
The team also say they would eventually like to make the business their full time jobs, and be able to employ other people.
“We are just putting in as much effort as we can. We just have to trust the process and the work we’re putting in.”
“We believe in our goal of providing affordable vintage clothing, and we hope to make an impact in the way people consume fashion.”
If you think you have something they’d like free free do take quality donations to 13 Old Pittwater Rd, on the corner of Dale St. It is a lobby where the ‘Splashes Spa’ shop is, and they have a ‘Recycool’ sign in the doorway.
Check out their wares at https://recycoolvintage.com