Dulcie's, best known for their vintage clothing bus, have now opened a store in the Adelaide Arcade and onlookers can expect a slow fashion, curated clothing oasis.
Inside Dulcie’s new Adelaide Arcade home
In the past decade Amanda Blair has been building a collection of incredible vintage clothing, and it’s about to be available to shop in the Adelaide Arcade.
Amanda is one of the founders of Dulcie’s, best known for their bus filled with vintage and second-hand goods.
Dulcie’s bus pops up at events around SA – you might have seen it recently at Harvest Rock or recognise it as a fixture of the Adelaide Fringe’s Garden of Unearthly Delights.
Over the years when they’ve come across a clothing item that’s truly fabulous (a frequent occurrence), Amanda has put it aside and heavily curated a range that will be finally made available in their new high end vintage boutique in the Adelaide Arcade.
“This is not the normal Dulcie’s stuff…this is the best of the best,” Amanda says.
“It’s almost like I’ve been preparing for 13 years to have this bougie boutique.”
Dulcie’s was established to reduce fabric waste in landfill and support people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage, with 100 per cent of proceeds from the vintage gems split between Hutt Street Centre and Centacare.
As well as the bus, Dulcie’s has a store located on Grange Road at Kidman Park.
The new Adelaide Arcade spot is a Renew Adelaide space, which Amanda says is a “tremendous opportunity” for them to expand Dulcie’s brand into the CBD.
You’ll still be able to find your standardised priced second-hand goods at the Grange Road store, but given the higher-quality nature of the boutique, items will be individually and reasonably priced based on their worth.
“We were never going to be hugely expensive because part of our philosophy is let’s keep it affordable for people so that it doesn’t become only rich people that can afford vintage fashion,” Amanda says.
Their Arcade store will also eventually host a range of workshops for people to learn valuable skills like sewing on buttons and mending garments, as well as showcase a special range of new handmade, upcycled garments made by Dulcie’s.
In keeping with their not-for-profit roots, all funds raised through Dulcie’s will go back into their community programs to share their sustainable values.
“Dulcie’s is more than just a shop, it’s a way of life, it’s a social connection point… we want to maintain and grow on that,” Amanda says.
The new Dulcie’s will be in the heart of the CBD’s shopping precinct and presents an alternative to fast fashion for shoppers looking for a fresh fit.
For the hesitant, Dulcie’s manager Brittany Turack (who has another life as lead singer of Swiftly Covered) has a suite of styling tips and can help shoppers get over the hurdle of not knowing how to wear vintage clothes. For herself, 60s and 70s is the era she often rocks.
Joining Brit and Amanda to pursue Dulcie’s mission is a team of about 2o regular volunteers with different skillsets giving the time they can.
There’s Rhonda who loves restoring vintage clothing to its original state; Irina, who the team has dubbed ‘the ironing god’ because she’s never met a wrinkle she couldn’t beat and many other characters crucial to Dulcie’s story.
As their community has grown over the years, Dulcie’s has converted many shoppers to the slow fashion ethos by simply being an alternative, affordable spot for people to find unique clothing.
Amanda says it makes her feel great to know that her work with the Dulcie’s team can help Adelaidean’s young and old shop sustainably.
“When an 85-year-old lady who’s going to her great grandson’s wedding comes to us first for a dress, that makes me feel great… My 16-year-old daughter’s friends come and buy their formal outfits at Dulcie’s.”
In Australia, only 16.5 per cent of clothing donated to op shops are actually sold in those op shops, according to 2021 data from Charitable Recycling Australia.
The rest is either being provided as welfare (0.4 per cent), recycled domestically (36 per cent), exported (33 per cent) or sent to landfill (14 per cent).
Dulcie’s doesn’t fit these trends and pride themselves on selling upwards of 90 per cent of what they receive in donations, or upcycling the materials into other items.
Only if an item is truly beyond repair will it go in the compost bin.
When Dulcie’s source clothing, they don’t just take the garment, they take the story too.
Amanda is frequently sat down by ladies offering their wardrobes and talked through the stories behind their clothes. Often, she takes pictures of the garment’s journey and lets the original owners know when the garment has found a new home.
“I think that’s why people love being involved with us, and they love to give us their clothes because they know we’ll take care of them.
“This is actually someone’s life, it’s someone’s memory and we try and honour that.”
Some special pieces Dulcie’s has salvaged have even gone on to be shown in museums, including the South Australian Migration Museum.
Dulcie’s cleaned up two tiny jackets that had been worn by young boys in Spain after WWII. They connected the original owners with the Migration Museum and the rest was literally history.
Dulcie’s is located in Shop 15 on the ground floor of the Adelaide Arcade at 112/118 Grenfell Street and is open from Monday to Saturday from 10am until 5pm.
Connect with the business on Instagram for more.