The Ultimate Guide to Thrift Shopping in Sydney

Image of a woman looking through a rack of clothes.

Interested in thrift shopping but don’t know where to start?

Ever been left awe-inspired by YouTubers and influencers who manage to snag the cutest vintage pieces for only a few dollars?

Ever walked into the local Vinnies and left empty-handed and disappointed, wondering how to master the art of thrifting?

Images features a row of vintage-style clothing on a rack in a thrift shop.
If you’re willing to dig, you can find some hidden gems in any thrift store.

Thrift shopping isn’t for the faint of heart – it’s a hobby that requires skill, knowledge and a good eye.

But mastering the art of thrifting, will open up new world of fashion.

There are several benefits to thrift shopping: it’s far more sustainable than fast fashion, it’s way better for your bank account, and you often find rare gems to spice up your wardrobe with and give you that effortlessly unique look.

So, here are some tips and tricks from a veteran thrift shopper to help you find the best second-hand scores.

Keep an Eye Out For Designer Labels and High Quality Garments

Knowing which labels and fabrics are worth more and are higher quality is an important skill for a thrift shopper.

Firstly, when thrift shopping, it’s critical to know your brands.

While having an encyclopaedic knowledge isn’t necessary, familiarising yourself with designer brand names like Bec & Bridge, Camilla, Ginger & Smart, Zimmermann and Sass & Bide (to name a few) will make spotting a high-quality garment way easier.

Luckily, many Vinnies often include a designer labels rack to make your shopping experience easier – but there will almost always be some good labels still lurking in the other racks, so don’t just stop there.

While these pieces might be priced slightly higher, usually in the $20-$50 range, it’s a huge discount for a designer garment that will definitely add an air of style and sophistication to your wardrobe.

Moreover, since the fabrics used by designer labels are typically more expensive, rarer and higher quality, it’s likely these garments will last you a long time.

This brings us to our next topic – fabric.

Much like looking out for designer labels, looking out for high-quality fabrics is also imperative.

This is particularly important when you’re looking at vintage pieces – whether the label is worn off or it’s a brand you’re unfamiliar with, the fabric will still provide you with an excellent indication of its quality.

For shirts, dresses and sweaters, keep an eye out for fabrics such as silk, cashmere, wool, linen and cotton.

The higher the percentage, the higher the quality.

Not only are these fabrics more sustainable, they are also more breathable and will last you longer.

For jeans, keep an eye out for pants with 98-100% cotton denim – while 100% denim jeans can be stiff and uncomfortable when they are purchased new, second-hand denim is softer, easier to wear and has that slightly-worn look that’s all the rage these days, all while being durable enough to last decades.

For leather goods like jackets, leather pants and belts, make sure there’s a “genuine leather” label somewhere on the garment.

Real leather is another material that will last you decades – it’s usually quite expensive to buy leather goods new, but a second-hand leather item will be softer, trendier and more ethical than buying new.

Images features three pairs of vintage Levi's folded on a white background.
A pair of vintage Levi’s are always a welcome find when you’re thrift shopping.

Thrift Shopping is More Than Just Vinnies – Branch Out To Weekend Markets, Local Garage Sales and Other Second-Hand Stores

But don’t stop your search for great second-hand bargains at Vinnies – there are tonnes of other places to get great clothes for great prices in Sydney.

Wayside Chapel Op Shop, located on Warner’s Avenue in North Bondi, is run by the charity and Parish Mission of the Uniting Church, Wayside Chapel, who have been active in assisting homeless people and other disadvantaged individuals since 1964.

Their Op Shop has racks of high-quality and designer donations, with the proceeds of these heavily discounted items going back into the community and the Parish’s charity work.

But if you don’t have time to swing by their North Bondi Shop, the Wayside Chapel Op Shop has recently launched an online store with hundreds of fabulous items available at the touch of a finger.  

Then there’s the markets – we all know about the Bondi Markets and the Glebe Markets, but there’s a whole world of other weekend markets out there to explore.

Roughly once a month, Good Lines in Ultimo – right outside the Powerhouse Museum – holds a Suitcase Rummage, where you can pick out cute clothes right out from someone’s own suitcase in this funky and unique outdoor space.

Another market to keep on the calendar is the Kirribilli Art, Design and Fashion Market, which takes place in Bradfield Park, right next to Milson’s Point Train Station and Ferry, and is held on the second Sunday of each month.

With live entertainment all day, food stalls and cool clothes debuting from new local fashion designers, the Kirribilli Markets is certainly worth the journey over the Bridge.

If you’re a real bargain hunter with an eye for a deal, be sure to check out the Rozelle Collectors Market at Rozelle Public School, where second-hand clothes are sold alongside funky antiques, vinyl records, furniture, books and much more.

Image features a wooden structure with clothes hanging up, outside. There are other vintage-looking items such as suitcases surrounding the clothes.
One man’s trash is another’s treasure, as they say.

And Make Sure You Know When Your Local School Fairs are On, Too

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has caused the cancellation of many school fairs and fetes this year.

But as restrictions ease, it’s likely they’ll be up and running again next year.

Make sure you keep an eye out for posters when you’re passing your local Primary or High schools, or just hop on Google to find out when they’re holding their annual fetes and fairs.

School fairs are amazing chances to find that high-quality statement piece you’re on the hunt for, especially in the Eastern Suburbs.

Since all the clothes at these fairs have been donated by parents or staff, the emphasis is on raising money rather than making a profit – so it’s likely you’ll find high-quality or designer pieces for bargain prices.

Some standout school fetes are Bronte Public, Coogee Public, SCEGGS Darlinghurst, Kincoppal Rose Bay, St Catherine’s in Waverley and St Vincent’s College in Potts Point.

Typically, these fairs are held around Springtime, so make sure you keep an eye peeled for signs outside and around these schools between the months of August and November.

Otherwise, you can always visit the school website’s Events page for more information.

Happy Thrifting. Make sure you stay tuned with Bondi Beauty for more helpful tips and tricks.

Sydney Earnshaw

Sydney is an avid reader and writer with a passion for fashion, health and beauty. When summer hits, you'll likely find her diving in the ocean's deep depths, reading Classics in the shade or snapping nature shots with her camera. Her favourite hobbies include changing her hair every two to three months (it may be becoming a problem), going to the pub with friends and keeping up-to-date with the newest arthouse or foreign films.

  1. Love the guide, thanks Sydney! Huge fan of Rozelle Collector Market. Another option is to check out online consignment and thrift stores, like the one we just started called SwapUp. You can buy like-new items at up to 90% off RRP without leaving your couch, and because we’re based in Sydney, shipping only takes 1-2 business days. We also have an online consignment system where people can send their clothes and we’ll sell the clothes for them. Let us know if you’d like more information on this 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.