Retro Lilly Pilly

Retro Lilly Pillly Owner Lisa Burkhart has a lifetime’s worth of experience selling retro and vintage clothes. As a university student in her 20’s, she started selling vintage Levi’s, old-style shirts and other types of clothing. Flash forward many years later and she’s brought her expertise to the Old Bus Depot Markets.

Lisa hand-picks a wide selection of vintage and retro clothing, making sure all the good stuff is in one place. She also specialises in a collection of designer label clothing that range from the 1960’s to modern day. 

Having specialised in costume design, Lisa has robust knowledge in tailoring. She saw an opportunity in Australia to introduce more stylish winter clothing. Jumpers and cardigans are her specialty. She’s also quite aware that most people don’t spend the time to sort and pick through used clothing. Not to mention that great-quality clothing aren’t typically on one place.

So that’s what she set out to fix. Lisa makes an effort to hand-select all the clothing you see in her stall at the Old Bus Depot Markets. First, she starts by feeling the fabric for its quality. “I’m looking for the natural fibres,” says Lisa. “That’s my number one criteria in my selection. And then I look for colours, styles, and ones that are barely used.” In terms of decades, Retro Lilly Pilly spans clothing from the 50’s to the 90’s. Vintage is considered 50’s to 70’s while retro is from the 80’s to the 90’s.


“They come and check out what I have because I try and get some really unusual pieces that you just would never find anywhere else”


Lisa finds that there’s so much great clothing in old-style wool items. Think jumpers, cardigans, and jackets. Although there are exceptions, she’s found many high-quality wool items that deserve to be reused. The hand-knitted jumpers are a highlight. They’re one-of-a kind with high-quality fabric. This means it can keep you warmer than acrylic or other cheaper fabrics.

In addition, funky and unusual pieces are somewhat of a specialty. You can’t simply go to a store to find them. “I’ve got a lot of customers that come to me on a regular basis,” says Lisa. “They come and check out what I have because I try and get some really unusual pieces that you just would never find anywhere else.”

Retro Lilly Pilly sells for both men and women. Their range covers jumpers, cardigans, coats, jackets, dresses, and shirts in a variety of styles and sizes. A collection of Hawaiian shirts is on the way. And possibly jumpsuits towards winter.

While many items in her collection dresses to impress women in their 30’s to 70’s, Lisa finds that customers from teens to people in their mid-20’s are showing a quite a bit of interest too. Retro items from the 80’s to the 90’s are quite a hit.


“For me, it’s about overconsumption and trying to use what we already have”


Throughout, Lisa’s always been aware that there is an over consumption in cheap-quality clothing. Her past experience of designing clothes in Indonesia made her more aware that there are businesses trying to cut costs so much that it can result in adverse effects. In many cases this can result in people paid poorly and a landfill of clothing.

“I just saw this real overconsumption,” says Lisa. ” There’s so much abundance of clothes out there that we really need to be more conscious and more aware of what we’re doing to the environment. And to try to use what’s already out there. For me, it’s about overconsumption and trying to use what we already have.

“It’s more about the waste. There’s this incredible waste and there’s nowhere for it to go. People just get rid of stuff instead of trying to reuse it. So I try to fix it up and use it to do whatever I can so you can wear it again.”

Lisa has been at the Old Bus Depot Markets for a total of twelve years. She initially had a jewellery stall and transitioned to her current retro and vintage stall that’s at the Markets today. Her jewellery items can still be found at the Markets particularly around Christmas time.

“I remember this fluke day,” says Lisa. “It wasn’t even winter yet and it was absolutely freezing. All these people were from out of town, and everybody was coming to me to get warm. I remember them buying all the stuff from me because it was freezing. I felt really good because I could help them.”

Through the years Lisa has also enjoyed being a customer of other stalls at the Markets. Two favourites that come to mind are Vetro e Metallo for their up-cycled jewellery and Andrew Gittoes Woodturning for their stellar woodcrafts.

See Retro Lilly Pilly and meet Lisa at the Old Bus Depot Markets on 17 March for Retro Depot. You can also see her at the ANU Markets on Thursdays and at special events such as Groovin in the Moo (GTM) and the National Folk Festival.


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