Wollongong is a small town just south of Sydney with a population of just under 300,000. The city is also home to two young women with a passion for vintage fashion. Ruby Apps and Charlotte Power in the wake of COVID-19, and with extra time on their hands, recently decided to start Waratah Vintage. This week Star Observer spoke with Ruby about the initiative behind the start-up.

“I’ve always expressed myself with clothing, art and music, so starting Waratah Vintage with my best friend Charlotte is something we’ve talked about for ages, because the only thing we do together is go op-shopping, we both have a huge love of vintage clothing.”

This love of vintage fashion shared by both young women, is matched only by their focus on building connection within their local community.

“One of our main values in our mission statement is allyship and creating a safe space, so knowing what it’s like to be to be left out, or not feeling super right in a lot of spaces growing up.

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 “Being Indigenous myself I am not happy with the way that Indigenous people are being treated in Australia,” Ruby explained. “I want to do whatever I can – as one single 19 year old girl from Wollongong to make that at least a little bit easier for people. To create an allyship with Indigenous people and LGBTQ+ people in a safe space.

“My business partner Charlotte is not Indigenous, but she is an amazing ally and understands where I am coming from.”

Though the two are still looking for a physical store, Ruby continued the interview by telling us exactly how they envisage their desired location.

“We’d love a store in the middle of Wollongong, and we want a store that is big enough, so that in the evenings we can push all the clothing back and have slam poetry, live music and of course drag shows.

“I am friends with about 90 percent of drag queens in town, that’s our circle in the community.

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 “I know the struggle they have to get gigs. Adding another lot of gigs into their roster and adding some more culture into our little small town would be good as well.”

Turning our attentions once more to fashion, we c curiously ask Ruby if there was anything else driving their passion for pre-loved clothing.

“Basically, fast fashion is not the best, it’s a detriment to people everywhere. We believe at Waratah Vintage that everyone should be boycotting fast fashion however they can.

“Our generation grew up on fast fashion, and it maybe unimaginable for some to imagine not participating, however we need to remember that lives have been lost so we can enjoy a $4 t-shirt from K-Mart.”

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 The response from the Wollongong community has been positive so far, a point that Ruby keenly enthused over.

“We’ve had an overwhelming positive response, and we are really excited to create a space where we are from for our physical store, we’ve received a lot of messages saying that this is what Wollongong needs.

“We are very early in our journey, but people should keep in touch with us – it may take us a couple of months to get a physical store, but it will be coming, it’s at the forefront of our minds.”

To keep up to date with Waratah Vintage, head to their Facebook page.

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