Much-loved actor, style influencer and creative, Sthandiwe has unwittingly become a champion of slow fashion. Always ahead of the curve, she’s been recycling and upcycling secondhand and vintage clothes for many years. Her love of clothes with a strong story line led her to starting The Vintage Market. In collaboration with about twenty other vintage lovers, she offers a wide range of clothes, all in good condition for independent-minded fashion lovers and keeping these clothes out of the landfills.

 Why do you like old clothes?

I love good clothes like Oprah Winfrey loves bread! Just because a garment has “lived” before, shouldn’t mean it can’t keep reincarnating itself. Many old garments were well thought-through and the fabric was durable. Hence, if you’re lucky, you can still find a beautiful dress or skirt from the 50’s.

What is your favourite vintage piece?

I have so many! But if I have to choose I’d choose a Japanese kimono. It’s from the 1800’s, an era I can only read about, and yet I  own a piece of that history in 2017? That’s what I call vintage bliss!

Are their influencers who have helped make vintage clothes aspirational and fashionable?

So many! Diana Ross, Tracee Ellis Ross, Penny Lebyane, Solange Knowles… and the women I randomly meet on our Instagram streets!

Have you seen this recycling trend grow?

The vintage space is growing. I think this has a lot to do with the style evolution and revolution happening all over the world. Being unique is no longer perceived as awkward or weird. People all over the world are owning their individuality through style, art or any other way they can express themselves. So, The Vintage Market which a few years ago could have been seen as a space for “old, disregarded” clothes, is now seen as a space to find pieces that are unique and can be reimagined by being upcycled.

Vintage shopping is a good ethical consumer choice to make. Is this something you were aware of when you first became interested in old clothes?

To be honest, my love for vintage was not about wanting to recycle. I only realised after I was in deep that I’ve developed and am developing positive habits for the planet.

Tell us about The Vintage Market?

I started The Vintage Market because I realised how many young people make a living by being “vintage hunters”. These young people are not sitting at home and complaining about the status quo and youth unemployment. They are creative entrepreneurs, who love vintage! So for me, I merely created an organised platform for them to sell and for vintage buyers to come together in one space. All over the world, vintage markets form part of the tourist experience. Portobello market in the UK is a destination. I hope to create a similar concept for vintage entrepreneurs.

How do you go about selecting second-hand clothes to buy?

I always insist that it can’t be “modern second-hand” that’s not the business we’re in. We don’t look for pieces that were recently in the shops. We consciously try to seek out garments from decades ago, that have a historical reference point. I won’t lie; this route is difficult because people are now keeping items for sentimental reasons. My vintage kimono for instance has a stain that the best dry cleaners have refused to touch because of the delicate fabric. But it’s very important to look at quality, holes, buttons, stains etc, it will be very hard to sell if it has any faults.

Have you got any tips on how to maintain or care for your treasured vintage wardrobe?

Gloves must be kept in boxes and separated by tissue paper because they deteriorate. Treat garments and accessories as you would an art collection, with respect.

Which are your favourite vintage clothing stores?

I absolutely love Glitterati and Afraid of Mice in Cape Town. In Johannesburg it has to be Reminiscent in Melville and Fruit Cake, in Johannesburg’s Fashion Kapitol. Durban and Pietermaritzburg, my hometown, has many gems. Also you’ll find more gems in the Natal Midlands. Your vintage success is about the hunt. Wherever you are, ask. New York is a vintage heaven. So are Mozambique and Parys in the Free State. Don’t forget Johannesburg’s Louis Botha Charity shop!

Sthandiwe’s vintage address book

Glitterati

Antique Arcade, 127 Long St, Cape Town

082 819 5247

Afraid of Mice

Shop 86, Cnr Longmarket St, Long St, Cape Town

021 423 7353

Reminiscent

7th St, Melville, Johannesburg, 2000

011 726 7905

Fashion Kapitol

130 Pritchard Street, Johannesburg City Centre

011 3337372

  • The next Vintage Market is on 17 February. Follow Sthandiwe on Instagram @sthavintage for details.
  • Photo credits: Supplied