In what many women would consider a fashion crime, an Auckland student has cleaned out half her wardrobe to make way for hand-me-downs and second-hand clothes.

Holly Chase, 19, has started a year of wearing only recycled clothing to show that fashion can be sustainable.

She is keeping a daily online record of her experiment.

Holly is allowed only new footwear and underwear. Everything else must be second-hand, and she's not allowed to cheat and wear clothes borrowed from friends.

"There's nothing I am wearing that I don't own. There is some stuff that has been passed down to me by my sister and my mum and my friends but it is all stuff that they no longer want so I won't be returning it."

Holly, who is studying at AUT for an arts degree, describes herself as an "op-shopper".

"What I really like about secondhand is that it's not just all the same stuff that's in the high street stores.

"There are lots of things that when you look at a piece, it just takes you back to another era, so I have a lot of retro dresses that look like they are from the 50s.

I really like wearing things that don't look like they are from the current period of fashion."

Inspired by Hong Kong eco-fashion organisation Redress's 365 Challenge, Holly hopes to highlight the environmental effect the industry's fast-changing trends create through textile waste, pollution, water and energy consumption.

"Fashion is not only killing our creativity, it's killing our planet, too.

"Redress founder Christina Dean is nearing the end of her challenge and is encouraging others to join, so I was really inspired by her and thought I should do it as well."

The biggest challenge would be re-inventing what she finds.

"A lot of it looks old and tatty, so I will have to be really creative to find a new way for it to be worn and not get discouraged because my wardrobe is a little bit smaller now. I will just have to find the potential in everything."

Nine days into the challenge, her eye for finding stylish garments has not gone unnoticed this week.

"There is this one dress and it is so beautiful. It is white and it has orange lace over it and I wore it out the other night and some people were asking, 'Is that dress Trelise Cooper?'

"And I was like, 'Nope, it was $13 at an op shop'."

Holly's highlights

Best find: Orange lace dress that is mistaken for a Trelise Cooper, $13 at Salvation Army, Karangahape Rd

Craziest find: Peacock-print leotard with blue and yellow frills that comprised a Cirque du Soleil Halloween costume from Recycle Boutique, Darby St

Best shops: Fuzzy Vibes, Paperbag Princess and the Salvation Army on K Rd; Recyle Boutique on Darby St; the Takapuna Hospice Shop on Hurstmere Rd

Thrifty tips: Be patient and in the right mood for sorting through all the racks

• Know what colours, patterns and styles you like and what suits you

• Look for the potential in items: Small tears or marks can easily be repaired or removed

• Quality brands and fabrics will last for decades

Spend-savvy: Holly estimates her wardrobe is worth three to four times the amount she paid for it

Follow Holly's year:


Instagram: @ayearofsecondhand

Learn more about the Redress 365 Challenge:

By Morgan Tait Email Morgan