Melbourne  Buffalo: Day Three

Today we visited some local boutiques on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo to see how the unique shift towards local shops and boutiques is occurring in the city. One of the many highlights was visiting Blue Collar and Modern Nostalgia, two boutiques located on the strip offering men’s and women’s fashion (respectively). Here we chatted to the owners and retail assistants about their customer and the area, as well as their take on sustainability.

Modern Nostalgia

Modern Nostalgia, located on Hertel Ave, Buffalo

Being a small, independent store, the owner of Modern Nostalgia also functions as the store’s buyer, as well as working on the shop floor. This gives her a very well-rounded view of what her customer wants and what will sell, allowing her to purchase smartly and ensure she can sell her all her products, stating that she will only purchase an item for the store if she can think of three specific customers she can sell to, and, if there’s any doubt, she simply doesn’t take the risk. According to staff, all clothing and accessories purchased for the store are sold, with none sent to waste at the end of a season. They also make use of a tailor for any repairs, and use discounting to move end of season stock – a stark comparison to numerous fast fashion brands, many of whom send volumes of unsold stock landfill or incinerate once the latest trend has passed.

 

Both Modern Nostalgia and Blue Collar try to offer their customers quality pieces of clothing, which they will love and wear for many seasons to come. It is this durability of both style and construction that their customers value, reinvigorating a culture where people form an emotional connection to their clothes and the retailers that they purchase from. Of itself, this reduces rates of consumption and means less apparel and textiles are sent to landfill, as people choose to buy better items less frequently, and tend to hold onto them for many seasons. Many of the brands are also made locally in the USA or neighbouring Canada (around 80% of the women’s wear), helping to boost the local economy as well as saving on emissions caused by transportation of goods.

 

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Preloved up-cycles unwanted clothing into unique pieces

Modern Nostalgia also stocks several sustainable brands, including Threads For Thought, Preloved and Alternative Apparel. Preloved, which is designed and made in Canada, is a range that takes second hand clothes and up-cycles them into a range of apparel items, creating pieces which are truly unique. But do the customers care about sustainability? According to the owner and staff, sustainability features as an added bonus in some cases, but ultimately customers purchase based on their tastes. This highlights the need for sustainable fashion – pieces which can compete with “regular” and fast fashion in terms of style – as sustainability cannot be the single selling point for fashion products. However, by reducing their impact through choice of brands and clever buying practices, Modern Nostalgia and Blue Collar can help reduce their own impact as well as that of their customers, without sacrificing on style.

 

– Bec Shotton, RMIT

Written by Grant Emerson