Over the past decade, the beautiful and historic Como home of South Yarra has hosted annual sales of vintage clothing of epic proportions, hosted by the National Trust of Australia. Filled with hard-to-find fabrics and haberdashery, they have become a treasure house for donated items, many of which come from designer collections lost since the late 1800s.
But now the National Trust has taken to the archives to open its own dedicated store – called Vault – in the iconic Block Arcade in the CBD, so you can shop for its collection year round. (Although pop-up sales get nowhere.)
“The National Trust has had the idea for some time now,” says retail coordinator Jack Fordham. “It’s really a transition from [the sales] in a space where we can really show off the clothing heritage… it’s been a long process, especially with Covid delaying the opening. Additionally, all proceeds are intended to support the efforts of the National Trust to protect the state’s natural, cultural and built heritage.
The store itself is airy, with high ceilings in the ornately decorated arcade, which has been part of Melbourne’s shopping scene since the late Victorian era.
When it comes to what’s hanging on the shelves, “It’s really about picking out pieces that cross a wide range of designers, decades, and price ranges,” says Fordham. “There are some really nice high end pieces here, but there are also some more affordable pieces.”
You will find real gems among the constantly rotating stock – there is another collection kept upstairs, so new stock trades are regular. From local vintage finds (like retro pieces from ’60s favorite Prue Acton and debut Carla Zampatti) to international brands (including the odd YSL or McQueen piece), it’s a wide and varied selection.
And there is a healthy balance between everyday designs. “Just because it doesn’t date from the 1960s and hundreds of dollars doesn’t mean it’s not interesting for someone,” he adds. You can also buy vintage shoes, jewelry and accessories.
Although buying vintage goods and second-hand items has always been popular. Not only because of the obvious durability benefits, but also because in an often homogeneous fast-fashion environment, vintage usually means more unique.
It can also mean better quality, with clothes made during a time when consumers were buying clothes for the last generations, rather than being thrown away when the cycle of trends changes. Fordham says, “We should get back to this mentality of keeping clothes on longer.”
Block Arcade, boutique 14-15 / 282 Collins Street, Melbourne
Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sun 10 am-4pm