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December 6, 2018

The Commons Studio + Exchange brings an elevated retail concept to Young Street

Emily Sheahan has grown since SWOP, and from that growth comes new vintage & designer fashion exchange The Commons.

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  • Words and photos: Sharmonie Cockayne

We caught up with Emily Sheahan during the Adelaide Fashion Festival to talk about her new brick-and-mortar retailer The Commons Studio + Exchange. It was the night before SLOW Saturday – Adelaide Fashion Festival’s sustainable fashion event that grew from 2017’s SLOW Fashion Festival, of which Emily was instrumental.


The Commons Studio + Exchange

17 Young Street, Adelaide


Launch Party
Friday 7 December, 5pm

She wasn’t tired, and she didn’t complain. Unheard of, really, for any person before the night of their big event. Instead, she was calm, focused and, above all, infectiously excited.

That’s Emily. And that personality is why people are drawn to her and her business – and why her new business, The Commons, works.

Emily moved to Adelaide from Brisbane in 2015 to launch an Adelaide branch for SWOP Clothing Exchange. At home in a blink-and-you-miss-it basement under Hindley Street, the business was a cultural hub. People young and old embraced it, and Emily and her staff became friends with the public. And then it ended.

Emily Sheahan

Emily has been busy this past year or so. She took herself to business school and built a fashion retail business with a conscience.

The Commons Studio + Exchange builds upon SWOP, but takes it in a different direction. There will be more independent, eclectic and sustainable labels stocked, as opposed to just vintage, which Emily says came from public desire.

“It’s an exchange-based model by appointment, with a booking service online. The idea is you can go online, and at any point during the week during open hours, you can go online, book a half hour appointment, come in, drop off your clothes, and we have our buyers assess them. The control is brought back to the consumer,” says Emily.

The Commons will have a higher-than-usual rate of return: 30% cash and 50% store credit. Emily says that the goal here is to increase the level of stock and the sort of stock that’s coming through. It’ll be higher end.

Much of the existing stock has been (and will continue to be) sourced from Japan and London, with labels like Comme des Garcon, Dries van Noten, Prada and Issey Miyake. The shop also offers a platform for independent labels from Adelaide and across Australia.

The Commons campaign

Launch campaign: hot pink quilted set and a tee. Modelled by Aimee from Azalea Models.

While the branding is by Candice Papagiannis, the shop fit-out is a collaborative amalgamation.

“We’re actually collaborating with some of the designers from Jam Factory – Tom Golin, he does a lot of bending steel work. He’ll be doing a lot of quite creative installations with the racks,” says Emily.

“We’re going to keep it a little more minimal. If you have ever walked past it, it’s got gorgeous concrete, you don’t need to do much.”

Sitting next to Elementary Coffee on Young Street, it’s far from the oversaturated Rundle market.

“We really wanted to move away from the rush and hubbub that is Rundle and Hindley Street. We really love the developments of Elementary and, hopefully, by being a destination store, we can create a more diverse retail sector of Adelaide,” she says.

With all of her previous work, Emily has already contributed to just that, and her new venture, The Commons, will only further the cause.

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