There are approximately 680,000 listings for women’s clothing on Trade Me. It might seem entirely impossible to sort through that much guff to find something fabulous at an even more fabulous price. If you’re serious about shopping for great fashion options on Trade Me, you’re going to have your favourite sellers. I’ve interviewed my all time favourite – Dianne Ludwig, who runs Welcome Back. Dianne generously gave me an hour of her Sunday afternoon (and honestly, I could have chatted to her indefinitely and only ended the call because I was acutely aware of that fact and needed to cut myself off!). Here’s a little bit of what we covered off (and 10 of my favourites from her shop right now, including that scarf).
Fashion has been both a huge source of pleasure in Dianne’s life, and central to her work. In a story that delights the slightly reluctant lawyer in me, she managed to go from a management degree, to a job in an oil company in London (where she studied Fashion History at Central St Martins in the evening), to a job back in New Zealand working for an established fashion business. From there, she did more training, moved into a role in an accounting firm, and worked with fashion clients all the way through partnership into an early retirement when the firm was bought out. That early retirement allowed her to keep working with her creative clients, and to participate in other important aspects of New Zealand’s fashion landscape, including as a founding trustee of Doris DePont’s New Zealand Fashion Museum (you can see some of Dianne’s work with the Fashion Museum here and here).
Dianne tells me that, much like many New Zealand women, she grew up sewing and going to the dressmaker for fancy things. One of the highlights when she was young was going to Queen Street and getting $20 to spend on whatever she liked – which resonates with the excitement I felt as a kid when I spent my birthday money on a sweatshirt I loved and got to choose myself. Also much like me, Dianne explained that as her income grew, the amount she spent on individual items also grew exponentially but, eventually, remembered the thrill of the chase of finding amazing designer and vintage items in second hand shops, and the high end clothing boutiques started to lose their lustre.
I might buy the Trissi one to wear over a black swimsuit with retro shades, I would DEFINITELY buy those espadrilles but they are too small, and that jacket has all the right school uniform vibes for wearing with denim
After using TradeMe to sell some furniture after a home renovation, Dianne realised that her ability to pick interesting and quality clothes and her in depth knowledge of fashion really lent itself to selling designer and vintage via the site. Initially set up as a hobby, Welcome Back first focussed on mainly vintage. Dianne explains “designer labels sold really well and really quickly, which told me that’s where that market was, so I started buying designer brands to my personal taste. Since then I’ve been trying to bring in more vintage and now I have regular customers who are interested in both vintage and designer.” Reducing consumption and recycling clothes has become more of a focus over time, and now Dianne has started putting care instructions in with garments, realising that not everyone will know how to go about washing wool jerseys.
Dianne tells me she thinks there needs to be much more public discussion about what the fashion industry is doing, and the impact of fast fashion not only on the environment, but on human psychology. She emphasises the need for personal responsibility in our actions, suggesting that one of my favourite fashion recommendations – just trying on a massive pile of stuff – is also a great way to get to grips with why you are buying things, and a vehicle for some personal analysis around whether you are using shopping as a means to distract yourself. She exhorts us all to be more engaged in loving fashion (I am very on board with this!), saying “people need to think about clothes like we think about food – what makes you feel good. Think about what you can do in your life to bring you a sense of joy, and make sure that when you engage in fashion you look for what makes you really feel good.”
If I had an event I'd be in that organza so fast, I've stalked the Origami dress for ages but I accept it's too big for me, and that sorbet jacket is a great summery twist on the heritage jacket trend
In addition to the hundreds of items of stock (Dianne has an incredible sounding galley style office with a “massive bank” of extra wardrobing and cupboard space to house it all), Dianne also has a large personal collection built up over her decades of loving fashion. She says “I wear less and less variety now, so it’s not often that I pull stuff out of stock – it has to be really unusual and quirky or something expensive that I would have bought…had I been willing to spend the dosh”. She describes a divine Gucci jumper which retailed for a cool $1500, and a pair of 70s denim overalls with multicolour stitching (which I will admit to being seriously jealous of). There are obviously other risks with such a massive amount of vintage and pre-loved clothes and she tells me that her number one fear is that she brings home moth eggs (I confess I had never thought about this and am now in a low level state of panic). Her advice to this absolute fool *points at self* is to put all second hand things in the freezer for two days to kill the bugs. Currently my freezer holds 2 litres of ice cream, some pretty ancient sausages, and a woollen jersey I bought on the weekend. This is such an accurate snapshot of my lifestyle.
In a nutshell: buy things you love, thoughtfully.
Best finds: toss up between an authentic Chanel handbag found in a St Vincent de Paul’s shop for $75 (!!!) or a 1970s suede bag with a patchwork of a yacht sailing along under the sun, in mint condition.
Quirky buy: a boy’s jumper in mint condition in denim blue wool, with a gun and a cowboy boot on the front and stripes on the sleeve. Fits perfectly and is beautifully made, so it was a keeper!
Recommended stores in Auckland: Painted Bird in Milford, and Vixen for quirky items.
I'll be back next week with a post outlining my tips on how to make Trade Me a great place to shop!
Just so much yes. Bell bottom jeans are back with a vengeance, and that 1970s suit is incredible (and two outfits because the jacket is also a dress). That hat. It would fit my giant noggin AND it's hilarious. A must buy.