Five years ago Sarah Kokkinos saw a gap in the second hand shopping sphere after noticing a lot more trash than treasure in outdoor community markets.
“I wanted to create an environment where there was more treasure and less trash and a little bit more luxe. It’s in a warehouse and not outside in a car park, with change rooms, coffee and Instagram moments, so a whole experience to shop secondhand,” she told Neos Kosmos.
The 23-year-old remembers growing up always wearing her two older sisters’ clothes thus making pre-loved threads her common ground, so much so that she began her own mini fashion revolution dubbed Hunter Markets.
“I started it five years ago with girls holding stalls, so it had nothing to do with influencers, it was just for anyone who wanted to sell their clothes but were girls…and by luck I got an influencer there and she promoted the most and sold the most clothes and so I though I could be onto something,” she said.
‘Fast fashion’ has boomed with the age of online shopping, with some retailers dropping new clothes every week.
This high overturn of clothing styles has the tendency to make consumers feel they are already behind on trends but also calls into question other environmental and work practices are being overlooked.
“I think people need to be more aware of where these fast fashion chains are making their clothes, what they’re paying their staff, the conditions they’re in, what their emissions are on the planet, it needs to be more vocal. I wish we could put that on the front of H&M,” Ms Kokkinos said.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australians throw away around 500,000 tonnes of leather and textiles.
“When I go to fast fashion shops I get disheartened by how much rubbish there is in there…If it doesn’t get sold, it does go to landfill. If we can slow that down and if I can change even one girl’s perspective to come to Hunter Markets that day instead of going to a retailer, I’ve done my bit,” she said.
In this day and age Hunter Market is a bright beacon for sustainable shopping practices, but Ms Kokkinos’ message stretches far beyond that.
“There’s a real feminine touch about Hunter Markets. I promote girl power and feminism and being whoever you want and wearing whatever you want in the market, meeting your favourite influencers and girls who you look up to,” she said.
Its no surprise that Ms Kokkinos focuses on embracing individuality and strong relationships coming from a family of go-getters.
“My pappou and yiayia are Cypriot and they had six daughters and two sons, one being my dad. I suppose they were a bit more ahead of their time…they pushed their daughters to do whatever they wanted to do. Many of my family members are business owners, so that played a big part in my upbringing. And even my dad had that mentality of ‘you can do absolutely anything you want in life’.”
Her father Harry Kokkinos is the CEO of his own shopfitting business which he runs with the help of the family.
Ms Kokkinos cites her father as one of her biggest inspirations, as he helped foster her ideas into reality.
“My dad plays such a big role in my life…He’s one person I look up to as well. He is a wise person to talk to when you need advice,” she said.
Ms Kokkinos’ future looks promising as she continues to grow the sustainable fashion movement through her brainchild Hunter Markets.