Meet the Trader: Why customers keep coming back to The Hackney Wardrobe

O’Hagan’s items have been bought by celebrity stylists and then worn by celebrities such as Sara Cox and Aisling Bea. Pic: Lisa O’Hagan

In the vibrant streets of East London, nestled amidst the eclectic fashion scene, lies a haven for sustainable style – The Hackney Wardrobe (THW). Run out of the home of Lisa O’Hagan, a lifelong enthusiast of second-hand and vintage fashion, driven by a passion for sustainability and community building.

“I have been a keen second-hand and vintage wearer all my life,” O’Hagan told Eastlondonlines.

“For me, it was about creating an individual sense of style and expressing myself,” O’Hagan shares. Her journey into sustainable fashion was a natural evolution, driven by a growing awareness of environmental impact. 

“Sustainability came into focus in recent years, and I realised I was already far along on that journey.”

O’Hagan’s journey began over a decade ago, selling vintage at East London markets. Dissatisfied with being dictated by online platforms, she rebranded herself as The Hackney Wardrobe, a reflection of her identity and community. 

“I wanted the brand to fully reflect me, where I was in my life and my community,” O’Hagan explained. From vintage to high street, THW celebrates the diverse styles found in our wardrobes, fostering a sense of inclusivity and authenticity. O’Hagan’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond fashion; it’s a lifestyle reflected in her choice of clothes and furniture.

THW sells colourful items, reflecting O’Hagan’s personal style. Pic: Lisa O’Hagan

Sourcing vintage pieces is a labour of love for O’Hagan, who scours car boot sales, thrift stores, and vintage distributors. “My criteria is that I have to personally like the clothes or see something interesting in them,” she said. 

Emphasising authenticity, O’Hagan ensures THW’s collection reflects her unique style while offering a curated selection of preloved treasures.

“The amount of trust I now have with my customers blows me away. 90% of my sales are repeat business. People ask my opinion on outfits and I get to know them over Instagram and have great chats. I will be honest and tell them an item won’t suit them as I am not here to sell clothes people don’t need or want,” she said.

For O’Hagan, sustainability is non-negotiable. “I don’t sell items from fast fashion brands,” she states firmly. By curating a collection that excludes fast fashion, THW offers an ethical alternative without compromising on style. 

“I want to create a more defined look that people can trust,” O’Hagan adds.

While Instagram serves as THW’s main platform, O’Hagan cherishes face-to-face interactions at markets and pop-ups.

 “I love meeting my customers in real life,” she says. Despite being based in Hackney, THW’s customer base spans the UK and beyond, connecting fashion enthusiasts with sustainable choices.

Maintaining transparency is paramount for O’Hagan, who opts for local consignment to establish a personal connection with sellers. 

O’Hagan often gets people arriving at her house with suitcases full of clothes to then leave having left a lot of those pieces with her.  Pics: Lisa O’Hagan

“I need the connection with the seller and to understand where they are coming from,” she explains. Thorough authenticity checks ensure the integrity of THW’s sourcing practices.

Despite her initial reservations, O’Hagan acknowledges the power of social media in promoting THW and connecting with her audience. 

“Social media is my business lifeline,” she says. By staying true to her passion and authenticity, O’Hagan has built a loyal following on Instagram.

As THW continues to thrive, O’Hagan envisions a future rooted in sustainability and community engagement. “I want to keep the business small and community-focused,” she shares. By expanding through pop-ups and collaborations, THW aims to leave a lasting impact on the sustainable fashion movement.

O’Hagan advises those embarking on a similar journey: “Be truly passionate and authentic.” 

By embracing one element of the fashion circular movement and excelling at it, aspiring entrepreneurs can carve their niche in the evolving landscape of sustainable fashion.

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