Outback entrepreneur makes “dirty money” selling old work clothes to inner-city hipsters

Outback entrepreneur makes “dirty money” selling old work clothes to inner-city hipsters

7 January, 2015. 12:03

ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

AN enterprising young farmer has made millions selling his ruined work clothing to the inner city cultural elite.

Life on the land is growing less attractive to young people as a future career in agriculture seems quite dim – particularly with the ongoing drought.

However, not for 29-year-old wheat grower and sheep grazier Michael Clarkedale – who’s found an ingenious way to supplement his income in the tougher times.

29-year-old farmer Michael Clarkdale has built a fashion empire from his family's Tambar Springs property. PHOTO: AAP
29-year-old farmer Michael Clarkdale has built a fashion empire from his family’s Tambar Springs property. PHOTO: AAP

Three years ago, Michael had a very comfortable life in the city.

He was studying agricultural economics at the University of Sydney, regularly catching up with the fellas and enjoying the lifestyle Sydney has to offer.

But Tambar Springs, where he grew up in mid-western New South Wales, was calling.

“Dad wasn’t getting any younger and running the place on his own was difficult for him,” he said.

“I thought I’d had enough time fucking around in Sydney so we both thought it was time for me to come home,”

“The first year was rough, my office hands weren’t up to the job [laughs],”

It wasn’t until he returned to Sydney for a friend’s birthday that he realised he was sitting on a potential goldmine.

“At the party, this hipster bloke asked me where I got my jeans from,” he said.

“It confused the hell out of me because I didn’t buy them anywhere trendy – in fact I thought I had embarrassed myself for not packing a cleaner pair,”

“Mum bought them for me at a rural outfitter in Dubbo,”

That was when the penny dropped for Michael, who said he was offered $200 for the jeans.

“I didn’t see the value in them until this dickhead tried to buy the jeans from me then and there,” he said.

“If this long-haired fuckwit was offering me $200 for a pair of my old fucked jeans, then who’s to say somebody else wouldn’t offer me $300,”

That was when Michael founded his own fashion house, The Distressed Jeans & Shirt Collective, complete with a flagship store on Sydney’s Oxford Street.

The jeans were debuted at Sydney Fashion Week last year to wide acclaim. PHOTO: Vogue Australia/AAP
The jeans were debuted at Sydney Fashion Week last year to wide acclaim. PHOTO: Vogue Australia/AAP

The label specialises in buying brand new work clothes from leading suppliers such as King Gee, Levi Strauss and RB Sellars and giving them to struggling farmers around Australia.

After a period of between 6 to 12 months, the farmers are sent new jeans and shirts in return for their old ones.

“And the idea took off,” he said.

“Who knew the market for fucked old jeans was so big?”

“Sometimes, we don’t even wash them. Just open the parcel and put a price tag on it,”

A selected number of the jeans are tailored to fit the current style, which allows the label to offer a wide range of options – from skinny leg moleskin trousers to “daisy dukes”.

The income generated from the fashion business has paid off his parents mortgage on the property and has allowed them to retire.

“We’ll always keep the property,” he said.

“It’s just that now we don’t need to farm it very hard to have a decent life,”

“That’s the biggest reward of all.”

 

3 Responses to "Outback entrepreneur makes “dirty money” selling old work clothes to inner-city hipsters"

  1. Rex Taylor   January 9, 2015 at 12:12 am

    grrrrreat story – I live 100 meters off Oxford – guess where I’m going after coffee !!!

    Reply
  2. Glenda Simpson   April 18, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Now that is Ag Economics at it’s best!

    Reply

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