By ABBEY HALTER
Walking into Alexandra Laycock’s bedroom is the most nostalgic experience, like going for a stroll through an eclectic Parisian, vintage boutique on a drizzling Sunday afternoon. Her shoulder-length, crimped and vibrant pink hair is what commands attention first (the colour changes most weeks. She’ll then offer you a black coffee to sip while searching through the seemingly endless mound of clothes that pours from her closet doors, unable to contain the chaos.
Born and raised in Cairns, Alexandra is the co-owner of Brisbane-based ethical clothing store Fetch Vintage, which she operates together with her equally as quirky and retro older sister, Jennifer. As a collective, Fetch Vintage’s goal is to provide people with fashion that’s fun and individual and makes a girl feel excited and strong.
“We just want to empower women. By empowering others its always going to come back to you as well. Making a change in your lifestyle that helps someone else is going to make you feel good.” Alexandra explains, while filtering through her overwhelming collection of sequined, vintage gowns.
Fetch Vintage was created in mid-2017 following Alexandra’s life-altering travelling adventure through Western Europe, while Jennifer was studying acting in France. The pair re-united in Greece with what felt like an infinite amount of one-of-a-kind pieces that were too cool to return to the op-shops. It’s unclear who first suggested selling the clothes, but before their trip back to Australia they’d created their Instagram account and started selling up a storm. Once they sold out of all the Europe finds, they started outsourcing, thrifting and going through Grandma’s closet to keep up with the steady demand.
Alexandra remembers discovering her love for fashion at around the age of 17, when Jennifer would come home for uni holidays wearing op-shop outfits she at first thought were “so lame”, but soon made her realise is a whole world of individual style brought back from another time.
“When I moved to the Sunny Coast, I had a really big revelation of who I actually am,” she says. “So I thought ‘I’m moving to a new place, no one knows me, this is my change to just be who I am and dress weird and if no one likes it no one likes it, that’s fine’. I at first was self-conscious but then I was just, like, fuck it.”
It’s obvious with just a glace of Alexandra’s room that her favourite style era is the ever-colourful and over-the-top ‘80s, while she does have ‘50s hues scattered around the place.
“There’s something within me that can’t compartmentalise how women were treated in the past, but I think that’s the magic of bringing older fashion back into style,” Alexandra says. “It’s so ironic because I have a voice in this society but I’m also wearing this amazing outfit that shows off my body in a way that I’m able to appreciate and I don’t care if anyone else does or not.”
Through Fetch’s passion for female empowerment, the girls are committed to fighting the stigma around purchasing pre-loved clothing, and doing their bit to stop the detrimental business of fast fashion.
“My personal definition of fast fashion is fashion that comes from a source where it has a really quick turnover. So, as an example, H&M. They turn over every style, every season and whenever that changeover happens they just get rid of those items that aren’t bought,” Alexandra says. “It also means something that’s made with cheap quality fabrics pumped out in places that aren’t ethical and by people who aren’t being paid or looked after.”
Fast fashion is a drain on the world’s environmental resources and contributes significantly to climate change. The ideology of consumerism is the creator of this damaging industry, and like most things in society, will continue while the demand still exists. When buying brand new clothes, it’s important to research who is selling it and how they conduct their business. Buying from sustainable and ethical businesses that are transparent about how and where their garments are made may be more expensive but it has been shown to have a minimised impact on the environment and support the paying of liveable wages to workers.
“Per head, an average Australian buys 27kgs of textiles per year- so that could be clothes or a sheet of fabric or whatever- and then disposes of on average 23kgs per person per year, which I find absolutely ridiculous,” Alexandra says. “When textiles then get to the point of being discarded, they take up to 15 per cent of landfill and can sit there for 200 plus years as they decompose emitting the greenhouse gas methane.”
Alexandra’s passion for fashion doesn’t end there. Her favourite thing to do is styling young women and creating outfits for them they wouldn’t usually wear, and watching them absolutely love rocking the ‘fits. And what is in the future for this colourful garment lover? She foresees a combo of fashion and dance, with a little vintage store snuggled next to a ballet studio and both under her wing. For a woman who is all about helping others feel empowered, adding movement to beauty would not be a very big leap.
Find Fetch Vintage on Instagram @fetchvintage and Alexandra @_alexandragrace_!