Old is the new new

OP SHOP GURU: Maria Henare at her stall at the Nelson market - Henare is bringing a truck filled with more than 4000 vintage treasures to Wellington.
OP SHOP GURU: Maria Henare at her stall at the Nelson market - Henare is bringing a truck filled with more than 4000 vintage treasures to Wellington.

When Peter Allen sang, Everyone Old is New Again, he wasn't just singing about clothes.

But his warning not to throw the past away - "you might need it some rainy day" - has been so taken to heart by Nelson op shop guru Maria Henare she has filled an entire church hall with yesterday's treasures.

Now vintage clothing fans are on high alert; Henare is bringing a truck filled with more than 4000 vintage treasures - children's, men's and women's clothing, hats, jewellery, shoes, scarves and gloves - to Wellington this weekend for a gigantic jumble sale.

The sale items date from the 1920s to the 1980s and were collected by Henare over the past six years from stores throughout the south island. She has been pricing them for four months and doesn't want to be carting stuff back to Nelson.

Why? Because her rented church hall is no longer big enough.

"When you open the door it all falls out to meet you. It got to the stage I only had a tunnel to get into the hall because there was so much stuff. Every time I tried to sort it I would be overwhelmed within half an hour, so I'd jump in the van and buy more. That's how I dealt with it," Henare says.

It's now too much to move through her vintage clothing store Eclectic or at Nelson's weekend market. And with customers from Wellington, Auckland and overseas her biggest buyers, she's decided to bring the mountain to Mohammed.

With items priced from 50c to $50 - most will be $5, $10 and $15 - it's good news for vintage clothing enthusiasts, quilters and craftspeople in search of unique fabrics and costume collectors, as well as offering great stuff for the dress up box.

And it's good for both wallet and carbon footprint.

"Second-hand shopping has never been more popular. It's eco-friendly, budget conscious and, if you have a good eye, it's an excellent opportunity to find unique one-off pieces,"

Wellington wardrobe consultant Trudi Bennett of Wardrobe Flair says. Savemart in Porirua and Upper Hutt are regular destinations for Bennett, who is often asked to revamp her clients' wardrobes for $200 or less.

It is a concept Wellington designer Janet Dunn is embracing. Next week Dunn, already known for reworking vintage clothing, launches ReFashion ReDunn, to help women restyle existing items. She goes through their wardrobes and they work out which garments to refashion, which ones to farewell, with gaps filled by op shopping and recycle boutiques.

"With times getting tough and with less to spend, we can still look good and help to save the planet at the same time," she says.

"I could put some tulle on the bottom of a T-shirt and turn it into a ‘tutee', a better fate than ending up as an industrial rag."

Dunn has also been known to turn men's trousers into a woman's jacket and make a woman's hat from a man's waistcoat.

Henare says: "If you are a sewer there is so much you can do with vintage clothing. I'm not, but if I see anything with potential I have someone do a bit of nip and tucking for me."

She will have garments in fabric she loves taken apart and re-sewn. Changing the buttons can also give a piece a lift and a new identity; or an old felt flower might change the look of a dress.

Pieces can be remodelled to fit current trends, and if a fifties style doesn't quite fit (women were smaller back then) extra fabric from the hem can be used to put into the side seam.

Sisters Josie and Sophie Bidwill, of Martinborough store Thrive, are also recreating garments using vintage fabrics and styles.

The fabrics are part of the sisters' history; beloved pieces from op shops, old aprons, inherited unfinished vintage dresses and material, even their mother's old curtains.

Most are one-offs and occasionally can be made to order, and come in a variety of sizes.

Thrive's philosophy - refashioning fashion one frock at a time - includes recycling and supporting local industry. The positive spin off is being able to offer unique garments.

* The Great Eclectic Jumble Sale, community hall at the end of Emmett St, Newtown, Saturday, November 15, 9am-5pm and Sunday, November 16, 9am-4pm.

The Dominion Post