THE MULTI-TRILLION-DOLLAR FASHION INDUSTRY HAS COME UNDER SCRUTINY IN RECENT YEARS FOR MANY OF ITS UNETHICAL PRACTICES. BUT FOR STYLE INNOVATORS, THERE’S A WAY TO REVERSE THE DAMAGE
Have you ever thought about your clothing as rubbish? If not, we couldn’t blame you because our sparkly, silky and studded wardrobe pieces don’t match the smelly aesthetic of what we tend to think of as trash.
But in fact, Australians dump 500,000 tonnes of clothes and textiles into landfill each year.
So, it has fast become a very stinky problem.
Two Sunshine Coast sisters are on a mission to resist the dire trend and they are doing it in a way that’s stylish, loud and totally individual.
Alex and Jennifer Laycock first founded Fetch Vintage – an online store selling pre-loved and vintage pieces – while on a family holiday in Greece. They were doing what all girls do: taking photos.
“We were overseas when we first got the idea,” Alex said.
“Jennifer had been overseas for a few months by then. She was living in France, studying at an acting school.
“She had collected all these really cool vintage finds throughout her travels. I had also found heaps of cool stuff at some op shops hidden away in weird alleys and random spots.
“We had so much of it, we thought ‘We should share all this awesome stuff’ because it was things you never really saw in
Australia or western trends.”
While on their trip, the girls collated their favourite pieces and took photos of each other wearing the designs using Greece as a backdrop.
When Alex returned to Australia, she created an Instagram account to sell the items and immediately it took off.
Fetch Vintage’s early success and sold-out inventory gave the sister-duo confidence in their idea and linked them to an under-supplied market.
Here was a market of individuals who were looking to express themselves in ways that weren’t just the latest fads or trends.
Not only were they finding a point of difference in the styles they offered, they
soon realised how beneficial their business model was for the environment.
“With big brands like H&M, Zara and other mainstream outlets, they have so many collections. But they have to because it’s driven by consumer demand,” Alex said.
“They pump out style after style and as soon as that trend is out, they just send whatever is left to landfill and it becomes waste.
“We thought we should use our platform (because it was starting to get bigger) to preach sustainable fashion.
“That’s pretty much the aim of it now: to support sustainability. Not only is it better for the environment, it’s better for individualism.”
Alex said the Fetch brand also defied materialistic and consumerist attitudes.
It aimed to educate people about where their clothes came from and where they ended up, in the hope it would encourage consumers to be more concious about what they bought and how they bought.
“We want to evoke a bit more of a thought process in people before they buy something. To think about it, like, ‘Do I really need this?’,” Alex said.
“Especially now, when a trend starts, we see it all over social media. So everyone jumps on the bandwagon almost without thinking. I think we’ve lost that thought of ‘Is this something I want to wear? Is this something that brings out my personality? Does this suit my style’?
“We are all individual and we have our own things going but it kind of groups everyone together, just following one thing.”
Alex, 21, and Jennifer, 24, have sourced the inventory for their store from op shops all around the Coast, south to Brisbane and west to Toowoomba. They’ve spent hours perusing op shops, markets and garage sales on many overseas and domestic holidays looking for “out-there” statement pieces.
The thrill of finding a vintage gem is something Alex describes as exhilarating but also humbling.
“It’s really beautiful finding something and then making it your own and I love that we can give these items a second life,” she said.
The theme of individuality spreads thickly across the entire Fetch brand – from its online design to its inventory and even the models who represent the brand.
Many of them rock different looks and styles in a range of shapes and sizes.
It was a decision that seemed natural for Alex and Jennifer.
“We didn’t want to have all the same models because we wanted to show that anyone can rock weird and wacky clothes,” Alex said.
“We bring in a lot of our friends and people we know who are trying to get into modelling. We like to support that artistic environment because it gives them a portfolio to start with. It’s cool to see people who have never modelled before let loose.”’
With Alex living on the Sunshine Coast studying full time and Jennifer living in Brisbane pursing her acting career, Fetch Vintage is a common thread that keeps the sisters’ relationship close.
They admit that sometimes it gets tough to juggle business, life, work and study, but they are united by the mission to spread the message that “fast fashion ain’t fab fashion”.
“We are really close. We always have been,” Alex said.
“She (Jennifer) is the biggest role model to me besides my mum.
“We’re both so passionate about this thing and it’s so nice to work with someone you love on something you feel so strongly for.”
For the moment, Fetch Vintage is a passion-project for the girls rather than a solid income. However, staying motivated and relevant comes naturally to the pair, who say their success stems from open communication.
“We definitely share the load,” Alex said. “If she has a rehearsal or a show that day, she’ll message me saying, ‘Here’s what you need to do on the Instagram’. “Visa versa. If I’m busy, I’ll pass on what I need her to do.”
Follow the brand on Instagram @fetchvintage.
“WE’RE BOTH SO PASSIONATE ABOUT THIS THING AND IT’S SO NICE TO WORK WITH SOMEONE YOU LOVE ON SOMETHING YOU FEEL SO STRONGLY FOR.”
ALL OTHER IMAGES: Fashion shoot showcasing Fetch Vintage items.