The NOT NEW 'Ask & Aperitif' feature is an opportunity to sit down with some wonderful women and ask them questions on life, fashion, their careers and what inspires them. A moment to listen and learn, over an aperitif, and an occasional boujee fry...
We had the honour of zooming in with Di from the extremely popular and highly regarded, @welcomeback_slowfashion. The Instagram reseller of special, exquisite vintage pieces, shared with us how she got in to it all, blue leather suits and how we can all do our bit to help the environment...
We drank: Our own homemade brews!
NOT NEW: You have a sharp eye for fashion and how to style vintage appealing to current audiences and trends – where did this love of fashion come from and what has been your journey in the fashion industry prior to Welcome Back?
Di: Fashion has just been this thread running through my life. I always loved fashion from a young age. As a teen, like so many others I sewed to create my own garments, having the latest fashions created so much excitement for me.
I worked as a partner in an accounting and consulting firm on the strategy side of things. The firm supported small to medium size businesses and some of these were NZ fashion industry clients. So, I became interested and skilled in the business side of fashion, they were my favourite clients. And I also had a keen interest in what the designers were making each season. So, I guess I was working on the periphery of the fashion industry. On my OE I had done some classes on Fashion History at Central St Martins in London. Then the same time I retired as a partner, NZ fashion designer, Doris de Pont, came to me with this idea to launch a New Zealand Fashion Museum. I thought it was a great idea to tell our NZ fashion stories, and shortly after was asked to be involved in the museum as a founding trustee. I have always had an interest in vintage and with my knowledge of fashion history too, this led me in to buying vintage and then I had so much, I decided I would have to start selling. Its been a round about journey but always coming back to the love of fashion, its history and our local industry.
NOT NEW: You focus largely on the NZ fashion story – was this always the objective or was this one of those serendipitous pathways that eventuated overtime?
Di: It happened overtime. Once I started selling on Instagram and had a platform for storytelling I discovered that many people shared my love of local NZ fashion and also the treasured pieces in their own wardrobe. That story telling was one thing I able to deliver authentically and do with ease. Being an older seller, my point of difference was going to have to be my experience not my modelling abilities!
I had worked in a sewing factory to pay my way through university…it was where my mum worked too so for me there is a deep emotional connection to the industry. I had experienced first hand how small communities thrived on those industry jobs. Of course there is very little now made here. I want to honour those NZ made pieces, give them an extended lifetime and bring their stories to life.
NOT NEW: At Not New we specialise in luxury resale which means the garments are ‘not new’ but are hardly worn, are in immaculate condition– usually within a handful of seasons old – we don’t consider ourselves vintage resellers -however- we have found in our journey that there is a lot of confusion out there about the meaning of the word vintage in the second hand market – with pretty much all resale being termed ‘vintage’. We would love to expand people’s ideas of what second hand can be as we believe that quality resale can indeed cater to most consumers - so please help us by sharing what is your definition of vintage clothing?
Di:This question reminds me of being interview by Kim Hill – what is vintage, was her first question to me, and it sort of threw me, but I now know how to articulate it!
I take a modern sellers view point - so I will say anything from nineties back is vintage, that's 30 years ago. Y2K is still a bit too current to be vintage. I always put the era, so will say 80s or 60s vintage so people understand some things are much older than others.
NOT NEW: Following on from this – the resale market has accelerated over the past few years – what do you attribute this to and where do you see it heading?
Di: The increased focus on the need for fashion sustainability, social media, particularly instagram and the covid lockdown (lots of people at home looking at social media and wanting to still shop) had a really big impact. In NZ lots of resellers got started selling during or after this time. It’s really when things started to take off. There’s definitely more acceptance of second-hand being a legitimate purchasing option, no longer as a second class option. Influencers are getting involved too, and even locally Glassons have curated vintage into their stores, and some of the luxury labels are bringing back vintage to red carpet events. People still want to consume but also feel they are doing ‘good’ by buying second hand and vintage.
I am glad more people see recycle and vintage as alternatives to fast fashion but my hope is that people start buying less of everything. That would set us up for sustainable living by changing habits. But I dont see this as the current trend things are still too fuelled by capitalism and the need for people to be constantly buying. I try to stay outside of this fray.
NOT NEW: Your clothing always looks in great condition, very cared for and maintained – tell us about how you select and then prepare your garments for sale?
Di: I try and only sell stuff that is of good quality that will last and has some excitement or prestige factor. A lot of people bring me vintage and I accept a few pieces and then send others back…I try and have an eye on high quality, and I repair things too. I usually have two days a week doing repairs. I try and take care of all the small details, things like getting lint out of pockets, fixing linings, loose buttons or unravelling hems etc. I try and love each garment, tell its story with the hope they will last longer, arrive in good condition and be loved by their new owner.
NOT NEW: Your Instagram is intriguing. Your outfits are so well styled and you often feature references like magazines or patterns from the time. How do you source these references?
Di: I have a big collection of fashion books. I’ve been collecting fashion books since my twenties. Plus I use the online the NZ Fashion Museum as its a great resource on our NZ fashion history.
NOT NEW: You promote local delivery only and cite the carbon footprint of shipping as a concern. Share with us some of your thoughts about the environmental impact of fashion and what we all as consumers can consider to lessen our individual impact?
Di: For me, there are a few areas I can have an impact on the carbon footprint of my business and reduce it. Sourcing and shipping, both of which I keep local. I only use cardboard and paper for packaging, and I won’t use compostable bags, as they will go in to landfill if people don’t compost. I also recommend to my clients that if they are receiving plastic packaging that they ask suppliers to switch. As consumers we need to be so mindful of buying locally, to not just have a smaller carbon footprint, but to support the local communities and jobs. It may be more expensive to buy local, but if we are slowing things down and buying less it balances out.
NOT NEW: With over 4,000 posts and more than 11,000 followers you have blazed the trail for many vintage resellers. Congratulations! What do you think has set Welcome Back apart from the other vintage resellers in the NZ market?
Di: I think there was first mover advantage there to be honest, I was on Instagram fairly early.
And I think authenticity. I want to honour the clothes. My passion is the clothes, finding special pieces and being part of the bigger picture of people being more conscious of the role that clothing can play in their lives…there’s more joy if it is more meaningful. Fashion is an expression of who we are and it’s a joy to honour the people that have made the clothes.
NOT NEW: Can you share with us a moment which you have felt proud of in your business since starting Welcome Back?
Di: Just before Christmas my husband and I went for dinner at our regular restaurant haunt and as we were sitting there he said he was so proud of me of what I have created with Welcome Back and he had a tear in his eyes. Welcome Back has taken over my life and the house is chaos all the time…piles of things everywhere! So that was really nice and him being proud of me, well, that made me proud.
NOT NEW: And lastly – what is your all-time favourite vintage acquisition? …………….and did you keep it?
Di: Oh gosh! Oooooh I may have to get back to you on that one…some amazing things that have passed through my hands! One that immediately stands out is a 1980s turquoise blue Michael Hoban leather suit…another reseller bought it from me…sometimes I love the stuff but wouldn’t wear them now but back in the day I would have done! Cindy Crawford was modelling for Michael Hoban so that one was special.
A few days later….
Di: I had a good think about my all-time favourite pieces and one that stands out the most was a late 50s early 60s Roydon lime green, large check gingham pinafore sundress with full skirt. The backstory was that I had been trying, unsuccessfully, to recall what the inhouse clothing label of the NZ variety store, McKenzies was for years, and then one day the mystery was solved, it was Roydon. Then quite by chance the very same week someone sent me a pic of this Roydon dress they’d found at the OP shop, still with tags. It was thoroughly modern in its look but referenced its era beautifully. I ended up reselling it for the buyer to a quite well-known NZ designer who is renowned for her quietly considered timeless garments. It was a nice bit of history passed on to someone who will treasure it.
You can find Di and her beautiful vintage wares on Instagram @welcomeback_slowfashion
For more information on the history of NZ fashion, take a browse online at the NZ Fashion Museum