Welcome to the Thrifting With series – where I chat to thrifting collectives about how they got started. We started off with Len’z BooTiek (owned by one of my friends – Youlendree).
Thrifting has long been an activity associated with low-income and working-class families who didn’t have access or resources to purchase brand-new clothes. In recent years, with the rise of “ethical” consumerism and the devastating 2013 Rana Plaza disaster which left over 1000 workers dead, it’s been harder to ignore the effects of fast fashion. People want to know more about where their clothes are made, who is making them and how it got here.
Lambley (2.0) is back again! The thrift collective was founded in 2012 and headed up by Tarryn-Lee “Lamb” Warner. She’s a gal with an MA who just got back from some time spent in Asia. As a result – the shop went on a short hiatus but came back refreshed and ready. We met close to a decade ago, when thrifting and eco-fashion wasn’t as popular or mainstream as it is now. And, I was one of the first Lambley consumers. I had a quick chat with Tarryn about how the scene has changed and why Lambley is back once more.
What’s your history with thrifting and secondhand shopping?
I remember going into secondhand shops with my mom when I was really young and I had no idea then (I’m talking early 90’s) that it was a place where people who couldn’t afford normal clothes went to shop. When I turned 14, I was having NONE of that.
I started working and I don’t think my mom has shopped for me since. As a teenager I wanted to wear what everyone else was into, whether it was JLO inspired velvet trackies or handkerchief boobtubes.
Something changed for me in my early 20’s though. I started really carving out own image and found that mainstream fashion did not really cater to the image I wanted to portray. I also had zero time for brands thinking it’s okay to charge hefty prices for mass-produced pieces thousands of people would be wearing. Ugh. So I turned back to the place which I had shunned and began rummaging through piles of discarded clothes to find pieces I loved, and which spoke more to me as an individual.
I grew up with a single mom who didn’t really have a budget that accommodated a child who wanted new things all the time, so it was pretty normal to me to have my mom get me goodies from secondhand shops.
What prompted you to start Lambley? (and why did you start it back up again, etc?)
There used to be heaps of amazing goodies in second-hand shops which perhaps just didn’t fit me or wasn’t my style- but it was great and I just felt like I had to share it with other people. Thrifting back then wasn’t the same as it is now, it wasn’t ‘cool’. People still thought that the more expensive your clothes were – the better you were. They didn’t see the value in cheap stuff- but in the end I wanted to sell the idea of individuality and so I opened Lambley to be a platform for that.
I loved selling one-of-a-kind pieces to girls and that’s the reason I reopened again.
Of course now, my philosophy of slow and sustainable fashion is more informed and having spent two years in China where textiles are cheaper than a coke, I saw the value once more in encouraging people to reuse clothing, not only as a personal statement but an environmental one.
We take back the power of our bodies when we own and shape our own style.
Have you seen a change in the kinds of people who thrift?
Absolutely. Before it was mostly broke students who found thrifting appealing but now through various influences recycling and reusing clothing is pretty normal.
A few years ago, I was part of a blog that was competing in the first STR.CRD. One of the guests they had brought out had been the divine Vashtie Kola. New York’s sweetheart, DJ, artist, designer and all round style-icon: and the first thing she asked us, “Are there any thrift stores around here we can go to?”. That was a seminal moment for me in unlearning who I thought ‘thrifting’ appealed to.
As I got older, I became more aware of where my money went and even more how using my money in certain spaces, or on particular brands had weight. I do my best to be a conscientious consumer because it matters.
How has thrifting intertwined with your politics, eco-feminism etc?
I firmly believe that your politics says everything about you. It informs every decision you make, who you include, exclude, influence and where your morals really lie.
People love to say they aren’t interested in politics but where you buy your clothes says more about your politics than most realise.
There is a lot about buying secondhand clothes that resonates with me on so many levels.
You’re not only impacting people from where you source (charity shops) but you are reducing your impact on the environment by reducing waste that goes into landfills and as I mentioned earlier, the ability to curate your individuality on your own terms, without brands and social media pushing ideas on to you. As a woman, this is vital.
It matters to the environment and it affects you on a personal level. In my home, we do our best to limit meat, to walk places if we can, we pick up rubbish people love to leave on the beach to kill marine animals and we recycle- we do small things because we own the environment around us and we hope to try to make it better in what small way we can.
Thrifting is the same, if your contribution to the environmental crisis is to simply buy less fast fashion items and instead preloved items – encourage more people to do the same and that contribution becomes a change.
If you’d like to check out Lambley – head over to the official Instagram for uploads and affordable items.
Thanks for reading!