The best shops on South King Street
The Social Outfit on King Street is a venture that specialises in ethically produced clothing, accessories and home wares made in collaboration with social enterprise projects. The store has a sewing school out the back and offers employment and training opportunities to people from migrant and refugee communities living in Sydney.
Bodhi Books and Gifts on King Street has a range of vegan-friendly cookbooks and fair trade gifts from around the world.
The Cosmetic Kitchen is a beautifully arranged store that stocks certified vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics. The natural mineral make-up range is enormous and reasonably priced, with a selection of foundations starting at $36 and mineral mascaras at $19.95. The staff are friendly and more than willing to teach you about the ingredients in your products.
South King Street has recently become home to Sydney’s first Lentil as Anything – a unique, not-for-profit enterprise that offers wholesome vegetarian food for a pay-by-donation fee. Diners are invited to decide what they think the meal is worth and pay accordingly, or simply to part with whatever they can afford. Opened by founder and former Sri Lankan refugee Shanaka Fernando, the social and dining experiment has been running successfully in Melbourne since 2000. Pick up a recipe book from their shop for $54 and try the dishes at home.
Newtown institution Caramba is Sydney’s home of the Panama hat. Exuberant owner Julio will greet you in a mixture of Spanish and English, proudly demonstrating his skill as a salesman by measuring your hat size just by looking at you. Julio will quickly convince you that his hats are the best on the market. (We went home with a handcrafted, chocolate brown Ecuadorean-style chapeau).
Stop by All Buttons Great and Small for a store entirely devoted to the sale of the humble button. It’s worth a look even if you have no need or patience for needlework.
This is not strictly vintage. Sister duo Sharon Hanley and Teena Borg love the looks from the ’50s, from wiggle dresses to prom frocks, but they recreate the looks from new fabrics. All items are Australian made.
Keeping the focus on high quality, locally made clothing is Dragstar, where timeless threads and accessories are made right here in Sydney. Another reason to visit is their collection of beautiful clogs from Scandinavia and Australia; ‘Anna Clogs’ by Swedish brand Troentorp are currently exclusive to Dragstar.
As well as being the go-to for local garage/indie/DIY releases, Repressed have some of the very best vinyl imports and reissues at the lowest prices (almost always under $30). They also stock 'zines and t-shirts, and they host the odd in-store.