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April 20, 2017

Unlikely fashion collaboration for a cause

A fashion collection built from overlooked and forgotten material discards, transformed anew.

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  • Words: Sharmonie Cockayne
  • Pictures: Julian Cebo

Underneath the oft-trod pavement of Hindley Street is a little clothing exchange called SWOP.


Swop the Seams: A Collection and Runway Show will take place at The Mill from 6pm on Friday April 28.

Tickets are sold out, but standing spots will be available for walk ins on the night.

To use the word ‘little’ as a descriptor might be incorrect though – the space might be small, but little is not the size of the following it has garnered since its opening, nor is it a measure of the positive impact on Adelaide’s collective consciousness about recycled fashion.

Many city-dwelling sustainability-conscious vintage-appreciators already know about SWOP, but there are many Adelaideans that definitely do not.

For those who don’t, here’s a quick catch up: SWOP Clothing Exchange buys the public’s unwanted clothes –vintage and new – on their designated Friday buy day, and sells them back to the public in the Hindley shop every other day of the week. It’s a concept that was started by SWOP Adelaide owner, Emily Sheahan, and her friends in Brisbane a few years back. Two years ago, Emily moved her life here to launch SWOP Adelaide.

And here she is.

While Emily is already tackling the issue of waste leftover after SWOP’s weekly buy days (if clothes don’t sell, they’re donated to charity), she wanted to go further. So, she has collaborated with local seamstress, Natalie Ivanov, to create a collection made of recycled clothing titled Swop the Seams.

A campaign shot, by Indigo Cherry.

“Owning this shop, I see so much waste, and I’m always toying with the idea that you can utilise this in some way,” says Emily.

“Adelaide is only a small city, but the public churns through a shit load. Every week we go through 6-12 garbage bags worth that go to donation.

“We face an inability to connect with our clothing, which is just a disposable by-product at this moment in time. Trends are what dictate fashion these days, and I think there should be a lot more than that. Both in terms of resources, like creating things new, and making a proactive choice in what we’re going to wear.”

Natalie, whose 2014 graduate collection won both the Australian Fashion Labels Award and the TAFE SA Feature Award, has worked for Adelaide-born fashion brand, Acler, local leotard business, Jem Designs, and runs her own swimwear label, Re-Swim Club.

The Swop the Seams collection is a true collaborative project – Emily supplies the materials, the pair work on the designs together, and Natalie produces the finished product. And then together, on April 28, the pair will host an intimate runway show at The Mill as a Fashion Revolution event.

Another campaign shot, by Indigo Cherry.

On the night, around 30 re-constructed pieces will be showcased on a mix of street-cast models and agency-signed models from Rin Models. The designs will also be worn alongside jewellery label, Home Job.

In reaching out to people to get involved, Emily was surprised by the positive response she received.

“I was humbled by the feedback we had from people. Everyone is helping out. Having people on board who want to be a part of this project,” says Emily.

“Even Melissa Holman, who is doing hair – she’s doing New York Fashion Week, but she’s happy to come and be a part of it. An artist who is stocked in the Gallery of Modern Art is willing to be a part of it as well – that’s where Home Job is from. Rin as well.”

All the items and jewellery will be available for purchase after the show until 11.30pm, and will have a place within SWOP thereafter.

And Emily and Natalie’s collaboration won’t stop here.

“I’d like it to go more,” says Emily. “I think Natalie and myself have something to offer, and I think Adelaide has platforms to be explored.”

We’ll see you there, and maybe even at the event after.

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