Pre-loved connoisseur

Photos Gary Sissons

Tucked away on a little side street off Sorrento’s bustling Ocean Beach Road is a very unexpected boutique called Connie. Inside the fashionable little shop is a treasure trove of pre-loved mid-to-high end clothing and accessories made more affordable in their second incarnation.

Proprietor, Sarah Davis curates clothes like a gallerist curates art. Each piece is chosen for its own very particular panache. Design, colour, cut, fabric and little bit of je ne sais quoi catches Sarah’s eye and she adds it to the exclusive collection of consignment goods.

“I collect all kinds of different things. Each piece has a story. Because I have a close relationship with my consignees, I know about the history of each item so I can tell my customers all about it. I love that and they love it too,” she says.

Connie (short for consignment) truly is a collection. There are clothes and accessories, new and vintage art, homewares, books, jewellery, shoes, boots and signature perfumes to set it all off.

It’s a little fashion gallery full of delightful moving parts. No two trips to Connie will ever be the same. Items are often snapped up quickly. Sarah rotates the collection about every six weeks so there is always something new to discover. This kind of shop is very out of the ordinary and her customers know it. It’s why they keep coming back.

Whether Sarah is looking through a home wardrobe or checking out what a consignee brings in, she delights in the discovery. That might be a Zimmermann or Scanlan Theodore dress, a Lucy Folk towelling set, some Celine sunglasses, an Annie Bing blazer or a set of vintage Louis Vuitton luggage. She just never knows what she’ll find and that’s the fun of it.

“I’ve always loved shopping and shops. I’m a bricks and mortar kind of shopper. I like the experience of going in and trying things on. I’ve always loved second hand, pre-loved and antiques shops where I can fossick through and feel like I’ve found a little gem. I want to create that experience for my customers,” she says.

Sarah is always happy to look at everything brought in because she never knows what she’ll find, but she tends to stick to items that are no more than three years old to stay with current trends. She can see when styles change. Something that’s ten years old will look out of fashion. Because she gets bombarded with clothing, having that three-year window also limits what people bring in. Then the pricing challenge begins.

“A lot of research goes into the pricing of things. A fair price is important. Most pieces move very quickly. Consignees can expect to receive between 50 to 70% commission on their pieces. As items sells, stock is quickly replenished. On top of everything in the shop, I have as much or more in storage. I bring pieces out seasonally or if I think it’s the right time for a particular item,” she says.

Supporting a circular fashion economy is important to Sarah. With the tragic consequences of ‘fast fashion’ she’s glad to be part of a conscious solution. She says, “Circular fashion touches on two points I love – finding diamonds in the rough and supporting a sustainable fashion industry.”

Lots of things come in with the tags still on them. It’s great to see these items go to someone who will wear them, appreciate and love them. It’s win-win to see these items get a second life” she says.

“People often buy too much and then never wear it all. Lots of things come in with the tags still on them. It’s great to see these items go to someone who will wear them, appreciate and love them. It’s win-win to see these items get a second life” she says.

Sarah aims to shift people’s mindset that new is not necessarily better. One of the joys of shopping at Connie as she sees it comes from the knowledge that her shoppers are not only finding those unique pieces that are just right for them but also that they are making a sustainable and conscious choice too.

Having her shop in Sorrento is serendipitously full circle as Sarah grew up in the small coastal town of Torquay and went to university in Geelong. Being near the water is in her veins. It’s fitting that the girl who once dreamed of working for a fashion magazine now owns a fashion boutique.

Sarah enjoys being part of her local community and supporting local businesses. Buyers and sellers come from all over, but lots of locals in the know have become part of Sarah’s community of shoppers. When a new piece comes in, she often knows exactly who will want it.

Next, she’d like to expand her website for shoppers who don’t live on the peninsula so they don’t miss out on that one of a kind piece. For four weeks from May 24, she’ll have a pop-up shop in Armadale at Kitte carrying a mix of winter and summer travel pieces for people heading to the Northern Hemisphere.

For a chance to give your pre-loved items a new life or for a shopping experience that is truly unique, take a peek at this little boutique at 58 Kerferd Avenue. Sarah and her tiny tight knit team will welcome you with open arms.
IG: @theconniecollector

Peninsula Essence – May 2024