Golightly's Sally Williams is on a mission to change the state of waste in luxury fashion

Shopping for designer clothes shouldn't be a 'guilty pleasure', and Sally Williams is happy to stand on her soapbox and talk about it. She's the co-owner of Golightly, a rent and recycle boutique based on the Mornington Peninsula, and she lives by her mantra, 'Reserve it, receive it, return it. Rethink the way you wear it.'

Sally has fused her love of high-end fashion with her passion for sustainability, and every day, she opens the doors to Golightly to offer a shopping experience as enjoyable as it is eco-friendly. She believes that the luxury of high-end fashion should be accessible to everybody, everywhere, regardless of budget, and in a less wasteful way too.

Golightly's Mount Eliza boutique stocks some of Australia's most coveted luxury labels including Zimmermann, Lover, Shona Joy, Alice McCall, Thurley, Mossman and Sass & Bide, and every outfit is available to rent online.

Sally stepped away from the shop floor to talk about the ins and outs of luxury fashion, renting, and what it's like to run a boutique in a small seaside suburb of 17000...

Your business is centred around the concept of 'reserve it, receive it, return it'. Why is this concept so important to you?
At Golightly, we're all about shaping a sustainable approach to fashion. By renting an outfit for an occasion, our customers secure the latest styles from the best designer labels. In terms of sustainable and ethical practices, when you rent a garment, fewer resources are spent on negatively impacting the environment too. One item should be worn 20-30 times, rather than 20-30 items being worn once. Renting saves dollars and the environment.

What inspired you to launch Golightly?
Fashion has always been my first ‘love’. My whole life has revolved around swapping clothes with my girlfriends and finding unique pieces from all over the world on great sites like Vestiaire and The Real Real. As I got older, I started to recycle my own wardrobe as people were always wanting to buy my clothes off me. I also started to shop in the little upcycle stores I’d come across in Melbourne and South Yarra. It’s the best way of getting that unique, highly sought after piece without breaking the bank. It’s the thrill of the find! I also noticed the growing trend of renting dresses through my teenage daughter, and thought it was a brilliant idea not just for teenagers but for all ages. So all this combined, with a desire to tread lightly on the environment, gave me the idea to start Golightly.

You advocate for sustainable high-end fashion. Why does the luxury need change, and how are you helping with this mission?
Most of the luxury or high-end brands on the market don’t adhere to ethical practices when manufacturing their clothing. By offering a customer to rent a high-end dress for an occasion rather than purchase it, and by selling a recycled piece, we are providing an alternative to excessive consumerism.

What does the name 'Golightly' mean to you?
It’s all about treading lightly on our planet; we want to reduce our footprint by renting and recycling, as well as ‘going lightly’ on the pocket. The name Golightly was also inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s character and fashion icon, ‘Holly Golightly’, from the 1960’s movie, 'Breakfast at Tiffany’s'. I think she would have approved!

What challenges did you initially face when you launched?
Changing people’s perception of the ‘rent and recycle’ philosophy was tough. It was tricky educating consumers about the fact there is really no benefit to owning a high-end piece that they'll only wear once. These things tend to hide away hanging in the wardrobe until they go 'out of fashion', then they just end up in the landfill. It doesn’t make economical or environmental sense. When shoppers eventually nderstand that our pieces are expertly curated and cared for, it's a ‘no brainer’.

How important is recycled clothing to the future of fashion and the environment?
The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and is having a huge impact on our planet and the issues with sustainability. By 2030, it is predicted that the industry’s water consumption will increase by 50% to 118 billion cubic meters (or 31.17 trillion gallons); its carbon footprint will increase to 2791 million tons; and the amount of waste it creates will hit 148 million tons annually. These are frightening statistics. Our insatiable appetite for fashion doesn’t have to mean that we destroy our beautiful planet. Buy well, wear well and sell well; that's the solution. 

Your commitment to your ethical beliefs is obvious. What’s the most rewarding part of being in this business?
At Golightly we have a wonderful loyal customer base that believes in what we are trying to achieve. They rent our pieces for special occasions, they buy recycled fashion, and often, they consign their own items with us to sell on their behalf. It’s about building a community of sustainable fashion advocates!

To shop sustainably and rent from Australian luxury labels, head to Golightly online

The Fashion Advocate x

Interview with Golightly, a designer wardrobe borrowing service based in Melbourne

Interview with Golightly, a designer wardrobe borrowing service based in Melbourne

Interview with Golightly, a designer wardrobe borrowing service based in Melbourne

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