National Recycling Week: The Second Runway’s Ana Covarrubias promotes op shopping

The eco-fashion stylist and blogger has become an expert at ‘upcycling’ clothing she finds in op shops, and even volunteers her time at The Smith Family’s Dubbo store.

“I’ve loved clothes since I was a kid and I used to even make clothes for my dolls,” she said.

“I used to have my own clothing line in Mexico and when I came to Australia in 2016 I became obsessed with the vintage clothing stores and showing just what great looks you can create with them.”

Ana started a blog ‘The Second Runway’, has turned a curtain into a jacket and made t-shirts into jewellery.

To show the hidden gems on offer in op shops, Ana did a styling session with National President of VIEW clubs of Australia Jan Roberts.

She’s now calling on others to embrace the trend of repurposing pre-loved clothes, rather than contributing to the demand for “fast fashion”.

Ana Covarrubias styles VIEW clubs of Australia National President at The Smith Family store in Marrickville.

“Australia is the second country in the world for discarding textiles,” Ana said.

“We’ve been following the trends that fast fashion is giving us, but if we can show people what slow fashion can do they are going to love it.”

According to the ABC’s War on Waste program, Australians dispose of 6000kg of fashion and textile waste every 10 minutes.

About 12 million kilograms of clothing and accessories is donated to The Smith Family every year, with the best quality items sold in the charity’s retail stores and the rest exported or recycled.

But three per cent of total intake in the last financial year – or 360,000kg – was non-recyclable, ending up in landfill.

“This is the only planet we have and we have to look after it,” Ana said.

For those interested in slowing down their fashion habits, Ana had some simple advice: “When you feel like you need to buy something ask yourself: do I really need it?”

“If you still need or want this item, that’s fine! Try to mend your clothes, or just go to the op shop first.”

Ana’s top tips:

  • Only go when you have lots of time. The joy is in rummaging through lots of things and trying everything on. You don’t want to go when you are rushing off to get somewhere or if you have others who are waiting for you.
  • Look at all the sections. You really throw out the rule book when it comes to Op Shopping and something that is in the men’s section or children’s section could work just as well as what is in the women’s section. Make sure you browse the whole store.
  • Check with staff what days they get new stock in and when is best to go. It may sound obvious but the really good stuff won’t stay in the store for long.
  • Keep up with the stores’ social media pages. They may just hint when they’ve got great stock in and which stores to visit.
Ana’s 3 top tips

“Then if you can’t find [what you want] then try ethical brands,” she said. “There are amazing options out there, rather than the fast fashion.”

Proceeds from the sale of clothing donations go towards The Smith Family’s education support programs for disadvantaged children.