THENINETYNINE’s founder on the world of online retail

A lesson on cutting through the clutter.

Thanks to that little thing called the Internet, we’ve got more retail access than ever. But sorting your way through the world of e-tailers isn’t an easy feat when there are so many places to shop.

So we’re always on the hunt for retailers who are doing things a little differently.

THENINETYNINE recently fell on our radar and for good reason. The Sydney e-tailer takes a different approach to retail, bringing the worlds of vintage and new season shopping together.

Curated by Claudia Tighe, THENINETYNINE delivers an offering from both local and international labels. It’s all in a bid to support independent designers, as well as encourage the recycling of used clothing.

Excited by her unique approach to retail, we decided to sit down with Claudia and get some insight into the behind-the-scenes of your next favourite store.

Why did you start THENINETYNINE?

Other than having an excuse to go hunting for vintage clothing, I essentially just wanted to create my own dream job. I’ve always been interested in fashion, but haven’t always known what part of the industry I wanted to be a part of.

We love the idea of mixing vintage and new season clothing across the one platform. How did you come up with the idea?

My favourite outfits are always a mix of something vintage and something new, like a top from a local designer paired with vintage jeans. It made sense to combine the two categories and build a one-stop-shop which supports independent designers, as well as encourages the recycling of used clothing.

What are you looking for when sourcing clothing?

Anyone who’s spent time rummaging through pre-loved clothing can probably relate to this. There’s this exciting feeling that hits you when you find a special vintage piece, an internal “yasss” goes off in your chest and you immediately start to visualise how you’re going to wear it, what you’re going to wear it with. Sometimes you picture the kind person who would give it its best life.

I get a similar feeling when searching for new brands but generally, I opt for labels that could easily be mistaken for vintage and are of a high quality. I want customers to wear pieces from THENINETYNINE season after season.

Tell us a bit about your background.

After high school, I studied graphic design. Between graduating university and starting THENINETYNINE, I worked in graphic design, fashion styling, customer service, order fulfilment and dispatch.

I like to think every job and internship I’d had up until launching was secret training for THENINETYNINE. 

We love the concept of incorporating editorial shoots across the website.

Thank you! I’m super lucky to get to work with photographer Ryan Pike. He understood THENINETYNINE’s aesthetic from the get go and helped me execute a signature editorial style for each shoot. I’ve found this helps give the products life, and is much more engaging for customers than standard e-comm ‘front, back, and side’ shots. 

Most popular label across the store?

Everyone loves Rolla’s. It’s so good to find a denim brand in which people are confident to buy online. LENNI the label has a serious cult following which is very impressive for a relatively new label hailing from Forster, NSW.

But the item we’ve sold most of is easily the ‘Oui’ T-shirt from L’ecole des Femmes. It’s exciting to introduce a designer not available locally to the Australian market. Being their sole Australian stockist means customers aren’t bombarded with the same brands every time they shop online.

We’ve noticed more and more consumers prioritising sustainable and ethical production when choosing clothing. How does this impact on what you offer?

In today’s world of fast fashion, I believe it’s a retailer’s responsibility to be transparent about where their product is from and how it was made, so it’s great to witness customers respond to this and shift towards opting for locally made clothing.

Our new season labels, Permanent Vacation and Hunter the label, are both designed and made in Australia and Melbourne-based label Sister Studios are sustainable queens, who use mostly vintage fabrics.

It’s my aim that the THENINETYNINE is a platform with great exposure for young and ethically made fashion labels.


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