Inner West: a Hothouse of Innovation

by Urbane Property

Whether they’re selling prescription glasses made from old bottle tops or providing a bright start for our community’s most vulnerable, we’re continually inspired by the innovative and progressive organisations in the inner west.

Here are some of the stand-outs.


The whirr of sewing machines can be heard in the background at ethical clothing store, The Social Outfit, with garments manufactured onsite by a team of refugees and new migrants. The workroom and shopfront on King Street, Newtown help new arrivals to rebuild their lives through employment and training opportunities in fashion and retail. The bright and beautiful designs are the result of artistic collaborations, and largely made from donated fabrics which would otherwise go to landfill, helping people and the planet.


In the Newtown workshop of prescription glasses brand, Dresden, frames have been whipped up using milk bottle lids from local cafés, keyboard letters and discarded trawler nets found washed up on the beaches of Arnhem Land. So far, their recycled frames have saved more than 430kg of plastic from going into landfill, and carved a unique niche in the eyeware market. They offer one durable frame design in a range of mix-and-match colours, and at less than $50 for prescription glasses, have won over frustrated glasses-wearers across Sydney.


Erskineville local Ravi Prasad and his wife Della have turned the lounge room of their family home into a bohemian café that trains refugees and prepares them for jobs in hospitality. Parliament on King also hosts local dinners prepared by asylum-seekers, refugees and recent arrivals, and has a catering arm, providing home-style dishes from the country of origin of its team-members. Fronting onto King Street, the welcoming book-lined space holds weekly life-drawing classes and has a wall of Polaroid photos with phone numbers to help its regulars meet new people. It’s no-wonder why the front window of this beloved local haunt keeps getting marked with mysterious lipstick kisses.


A beating heart at the centre of the community, the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre unites an army of volunteers to fight homelessness, support elderly locals and maintain the area’s weird and wonderful character. The not-for-profit organisation is behind the annual Newtown Festival (pictured), which raises funds to help the homeless, and runs outreach programs for people in boarding homes. Its grassroots approach also includes weekly activities, such as knitting classes and tai chi, and a volunteer visitor program for isolated seniors.


Money is no barrier to filling up on a wholesome cuisine at King Street institution Lentil as Anything. Food without borders is the mantra at this not-for-profit enterprise, which has no set prices and instead invites diners to pay what they feel into a contribution box. Most of the staff are volunteers, with underemployed, homeless, refugees and disenfranchised individuals all welcome to join the ranks and gain skills while helping others.


Responsible grocery shopping goes well beyond remembering to use your reusable shopping bag at not-for-profit coop Alfalfa House. The majority of goods at the Enmore Road corner shop are sold package-free, with bulk pantry staples sold by weight. Fresh organic produce often comes direct from the farmers, and the shop supports local artisanal producers.
At Urbane Property, we aim to be innovative leaders in our own field. Whether it’s promoting sustainability as a selling point through liveability rankings on our property listings, or enabling prospective buyers to bid through a live auction mobile app, we’re on our own journey towards empowering new futures for our clients, our community, our agents and our industry.


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