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Nothing New: A history of second-hand (Robyn Annear, Text)

Opportunity shops—or op shops, as they’re lovingly referred to—are a well-established and much-loved feature of the Aussie retail landscape. In this entertaining and insightful history, Robyn Annear looks at where op shops originated, how they’ve evolved over the years and why the popularity of second-hand goods and clothing has persisted across millennia. From the Dickens-era street markets to the higgledy-piggledy shops of interwar France, Annear traces the jumbled history of thrifting as we know it in a chatty writing style that is rich in detail. She excels at putting the market for used clothing into context, ransacking history books for fascinating titbits—for example, the people of Holland once repurposed the decommissioned red coats of the British infantry as rheumatism-shielding flannel undergarments. Annear is particularly persuasive when pondering the modern appeal of op shops and the changing retail market that has led to the rise of ‘fast fashion’. No stranger to digging through history books, Annear has previously written about Victoria’s gold rushes and the making—and remaking—of Melbourne. For anyone with a love of op shops and an interest in exploring our textile waste problem, this book is a veritable treasure trove.

Hilary Simmons is a former assistant editor at Books+Publishing and a freelance copywriter, journalist and editor


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