Ash Battle had always wanted to create a store that resembled that sort after step-in wardrobe – and so, after putting together her favourite collection of vintage items, local designers, photographs, books, shoes, bags, belts and a few jars of sweets – her shop, Wardrobe, with the help of her partner Gren Forte, was complete.
‘We wanted to create a unique display space to sell the beautiful and quirky fashion items we were coming across both locally and internationally. We opened Wardrobe in 2009 when the concept of vintage fashion was starting to get a lot of attention in South Africa, and a large part of our range was made up of thoughtfully sourced vintage garments, re-worked vintage garments and garments made from vintage fabrics including beautifully printed upholstery fabrics and linens.’
The shop is filled with recycled Victorian floorboards, wooden shelves and closets, which tie in with Ash’s desire to keep their carbon footprint low. The walls are adorned with classic literature and books about fashion, a poster from a 1941 issue of Vogue and a sewing machine from the 20’s.
‘We tried to create a cute, intimate homely feel as opposed to a slick interior, and a lot of the stuff found lying around the store are the kinds of things you may find at home.’
The jars of various sweets from The Treat Company in Cape Town are a more recent edition to the mix.
‘People used to say the store was like a candy shop for grown up girls, so we started stocking and selling these little sweets as well, to keep with the theme.’
The clothing is a mix of beautiful silk dresses, rehashed fabrics and trendy tops and skirts. ‘Over time more and more local designers have approached us to stock their designs. We now have several South African designers from around SA that we work with including Moth, Spilt Milk and Mieks amongst others. We also have leather handbags from South America, dresses from Austraila and knitwear from Hong Kong. ’
There is also the in-house label ‘wardrobe’, which Ash and Gren do all the designs for.
‘The majority of wardrobe in-house label is manufactured here, either using locally made fabrics, or imported fabrics. We obviously try use local fabrics as a first, unless it’s something we can’t get hold of.’
When asked what Ash has in store for winter, she said ‘High waisted shorts over opaque tights and cropped jerseys. Our favourite colours for winter are cream, beige, brown, burnt orange and mustard.’
Ash and Gren also own the popular and established men’s shop, Poppa Trunks, just two shops down. Wardrobe receives new stock every week – just another reason to keep visiting.
*unedited version of my article published in the khuluma June magazine