Sustainable? Check. Ethical? Check. Unique and funky clothes that are locally made? You betcha. We’re talking about Grandpa Thief, a local small business focused on upcycled clothing. Grandpa Thief is the brainchild of twenty-three year old Jordanna Miles, who has been operating the business since April of last year.
Inspired by a love of op-shopping (and the hilarious and unusual things one finds there), Jordanna began to consider upcycling her op-shop finds into wearable and durable fashion. Her sustainable mission was spurred on as she further educated herself about the issue of textile waste. Learning how to sew, she “pledged to buy as little new clothes as possible”, opting instead to only shop second-hand.
For Jordanna, upcycling “gives (me) an opportunity to be creative and design clothes without using valuable resources in the process”. She explains that mindful consumption of fashion is more important now than ever before, stating “trends change so quickly, we think nothing of buying clothes we don’t need and throwing them out a few months later.” The clearly passionate Jordanna explains that all Grandpa Thief garments “start at the op shop” and that “nothing is safe”, explaining that she’ll rummage through women’s, men’s and children’s clothing (and even bedding) to find upcycling gold.
Jordanna’s garments are made to last. She explains that she still wears her first-ever upcycling project – a pair of jeans – to this day; “I split the side seams and put in a panel of fun, bright fabric, and I still do this design to a lot of jeans.” Minimising waste is crucial for Grandpa Thief – Jordanna ensures even off-cuts are upcycled. She explains, “I also do crop tops with matching scrunchies out of the excess fabric, people are loving those right now. I’m not interested in making clothes that people want to throw out a year later, I want to make clothes that make people stand out and laugh and think.”
Jordanna states she is proudest of her work simply when “somebody comes back and tells me how much they love and wear something they’ve bought.” Bringing her creations to local Adelaide markets also sparks pride for her; “I also get pretty proud at markets when I can release all the fun things I’ve been working on.”
Jordanna’s advice to readers is to vote with your dollar to make sure your money is going towards businesses and organisations you can feel good about. “Truly, I think the most important thing is to educate yourself about where your clothes come from. We all vote with our money about the kind of world we want.”
What’s in store for the future of the business? Well, Jordanna hopes to have a sustainable storefront one day, “somewhere really free and crazy where everybody’s welcome, everything made from recycling materials”. Until then, keep up-to-date with the playful creations of Grandpa Thief on Facebook and Instagram.
All photos supplied by Jordanna Miles / Grandpa Thief