Pre-loved plus-size clothing brainwave takes off in a big way

Leonie Claasen and Cindy Leander open their new second-hand clothing store in Cambridge on Saturday
Leonie Claasen and Cindy Leander open their new second-hand clothing store in Cambridge on Saturday
Image: Barbara Hollands

An East London woman who started selling plus-sized clothing on social media was so successful that she is now opening a physical store.

What started as a quick way to sell 10 of her own garments on Facebook in October burgeoned into an online buy-and-sell business with up to 15 women a day cropping up at Cindy Leander’s Morningside home to look for bargains in 16 to 28 sizes.

“In the past I have sold jewellery, cosmetics and bras, but nothing has been as successful as my Facebook page Second Hand Plus Sized Clothing East London. It has helped pay the bills,” said Leander, 35, who shares a home with her husband and 10 beloved cats and dogs.

“There is only really one specialised store selling plus sizes and a few shops that have sections with larger sizes, but then an average garment cost R300 to R400. My customers tell me they can’t afford that.”

Her 10 garments sold instantly, giving Leander the impetus to hook up with her good friend Leonie Claasen, 27, who had closed her second-hand clothing shop in Kidd’s Beach, and supplied her with a few more items.

“Women started coming to my house to buy and I turned my spare bedroom into a fitting room. Some had lost weight and were selling large clothes and others had gained weight and were buying them.

“Some were embarrassed but I also wear bigger sizes and joked with them to make them feel comfortable. This is a non-judgemental space,” said Leander, whose wardrobe has also benefited from her micro enterprise. “Everything I’m wearing is second-hand,” she said.

“One lady brought so many garments sized 16 to 20 because she had put on weight. Some had never been worn and still had price tags on them. The biggest pair of jeans I have is a size 28.”

Leander decided to join forces with Claasen when her friend invited her to join her new venture.

“After closing my shop in Kidd’s Beach when I moved back to the city I had so much stock. I did other work until I saw a ‘To Let’ sign in the window of a Cambridge shop. I thought ‘this is it’ and decided to ask Cindy to join me,” said Claasen.

The shop is called Closet to Closet.

“Cindy’s section will be called Curvy Closet.”

The friends will buy clothes “by the black bag” but only good quality, unstained garments will be sold.

“Anything that has holes or is marked will go to charity or my boyfriend will cut it up and sell it on to car mechanics as rags.

“We think recycling is important,” said Claasen.

Leander will still use her Facebook page, now renamed Curvy Closet Secondhand Clothing. “I may even model some outfits!”

  • Closet to Closet and Curvy Closet will celebrate their grand opening from 7am to 6pm on Saturday at 134 Queen Street, Cambridge, with a 25% discount on all purchases. —barbarah@dispatch.co.za

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