With the smell of freshly ground coffee flooding in from the cafe next door and the light bustle of people haggling for discounts on second-hand clothing, The Slow Fashion Collective is situated in the heart of Cape Town’s vintage fashion district: Lower Main Road, Observatory.
The Slow Fashion Collective brings together eight vintage clothing vendors, each offering a unique selection of pieces with their own distinct style. The collective’s goal is to give smaller independent thrift vendors and local brands a space to sell their secondhand goods in a brick-and-mortar setting, as a way of democratising retail space.
“It all began during the COVID-19 lockdown when we were stuck at home and many of us were rethinking our wardrobes,” says Lauren Apperley, one of the co-founders of the Slow Fashion Collective. “With an overflowing wardrobe, I started selling my old clothes on my Instagram page, and started to connect with other Instagram-run thrift stores,” she says. Through the social media platform, Lauren connected with the three women who would form part of the Slow Fashion Collective’s team – Christine Gregory, Simone Bedeker, and Hannah Hartogh.
Left to right: Simone Bedeker, Hannah Hartogh, Lauren Apperley, and Christine Gregory
After running their businesses online for a few months, the co-founders wanted a space where people could see, feel, and try on the clothes. By the end of 2020, Lauren, Christine, and Simone opened the Slow Fashion Collective at a small space in Woodstock that was part-storage space, part-retail space. All four owners continue to run their own business selling second-hand clothes in their shared space as well as online, which many of them do alongside their other careers or studies.
“It started as a way to declutter, but has since been moulded into so much more,” Christine says. “I found myself immersed in this industry because of my love for fashion, but this community sparked an awareness of sustainability that made me challenge my habits and beliefs.”
And by June last year, The Slow Fashion Collective moved to their current space in Observatory. Since, the store has invited different vendors to join them and launched bi-monthly markets. They also collaborate with local brands, such as Studio Candor, at the Candor markets. More recently, the Slow Fashion Collective has started hosting clothing swap shops after being inspired by Twyg. “We think it’s important to be mindful of our consumption and swaps are a great way to change up your wardrobe without expanding it as well,” says Lauren.
Collaboration is at the heart of the Slow Fashion Collective. The team believes in supporting other sustainable fashion businesses to promote the shift from mass-produced, unethical, and environmentally harmful clothing to slower, circular fashion practices. “We each have our own set of skills and experience that we bring to the business which makes the whole process so much easier,” says Christine. “We believe that we are stronger as a collective.”
Ultimately, the Slow Fashion Collective offers an experience that can help challenges the stigmas around buying and selling secondhand fashion. The Slow Fashion Collective hopes to continue growing the slow fashion community in Cape Town and to encourage more people to embark on their own sustainable fashion journey.
- Pop into their store on Lower Main Road, Observatory, or follow them on Instagram to keep updated on their next swap shops and market days.
- Images supplied by the Slow Fashion Collective