Sian Rowlands fell into the same trap many women do when they first live in Dubai: while working in interior design in high-end hospitality venues, she had developed a bit of a shopping habit. And so she launched My Ex Wardrobe with her two sisters in 2011, after going through her closet and realising many of the items in it have never been worn. At the time, the platform – a basic website and series of popups – was one of the only ways women could sell their second-hand clothes in the UAE.
That concept has now been rebranded and consolidated in the form of Retold, a gorgeous, colourful, 3,000-square-foot space that opened earlier this year near Mall of the Emirates. Retold is a proper thrift shop, but it’s so much more than that, with 6,000 to 7,000 items on display and new pieces rotating in every few days. In addition to shoes, bags, clothes, gowns and wedding dresses, all artfully displayed by colour, there are an assortment of vintage cameras – a passion Rowlands shares with her manager – and secondhand prints. The store accepts items on a consignment basis, with membership packages available.
“Dubai really suffers from over-consumerism,” says Rowlands. “I’m turning into an eco-warrior and I really do want to save the planet.”
Building on the theme of consumer responsibility, Rowlands has also added items from several ethical jewellery line. Article 22 uses aluminium shrapnel to fashion pieces, with proceeds funding the clearing of Vietnam War-era landmines from Laos.
Branded Collective is a line of brass, copper, aluminium and leather jewellery made by survivors of human trafficking.
“Anything homegrown, anything ethical, anything with a story behind it, anything with a cause behind it, I’m behind it,” says Rowlands.
Shop 5, 9394 Avenues, Umm Suqeim Road, Dubai. Sun to Sat 9am to 9pm, Tel: (04) 2976777 Taxi: Umm Suqueim Road, after Mall of the Emirates toward Arabian Ranches. shopretold.com