What Is Sustainable Shopping?
Sustainable shopping is at the forefront of what Flourish is all about. When Audrey performs her signature Sort, Shop, & Style service, she guides clients through the process of letting go of the items that no longer serve them. Once the Sort is complete, the pieces that she hauls away are consigned at our brick-and-mortar, Found, donated to a local non-profit organization such as Dress For Success, or recycled to the best of our abilities. She shops with clients second-hand at Found or at retailers who have made eco-friendly, progressive changes towards sustainable practices. It is safe to say that over the last several years, the collective whole has been made aware of how damaging the fashion industry has been to the environment.
Fortunately, many designers and brands have responded by implementing vital changes to their production practices, and have also encouraged resale and recycling of their products. While the industry has a long (lonnnng) way to go, we want to shine a light on those who are making a difference in this way and encourage you to choose these brands first, instead of those who are falling behind.
I don’t know where to begin!
Additionally, it can be especially difficult to know where to begin when shopping secondhand. From Goodwill to high-end consignment stores, it can be daunting and quite frankly time-consuming. We know that some of you enjoy shopping and could do so all day, every day! But as this isn’t the case for everyone, we have rounded up a list of our favorite sustainable brands and designers as a resource for you – organized by style archetype! Shopping second-hand according to your own style archetypes is like a curated, you-specific roadmap to finding pieces that work for you and that will live a long, happy life in your closet.
Disclaimer: We want to note that throughout this article, we did link to brands and designers who are NOT currently sustainable. The purpose of this is to give our readers further understanding of the archetypes from an aesthetic standpoint, and can be used as a reference on your own secondhand shopping journey!
Sustainable shopping for the Dramatic
The Dramatic woman typically lives for avant-garde, powerful statement pieces. She is sharp, angular, and bold. Borderline masculine, even. The first second-hand retailer that comes to our minds when thinking of this woman is The Real Real. If you haven’t heard of it, we suggest you check it out immediately, if not sooner. It is a platform for designer consignment, which is like the best combination ever. We suggest our Dramatic gals look there for pieces from Helmut Lang, Alexander McQueen, and Rick Owens.
If you are shopping at a second-hand store in person, we suggest looking for brands like Zara* and BlankNYC, whose pieces usually have a bit of a creative edge to them. In terms of new pieces to invest in, check out Phoebe English. Her designs are a combination of runway and street style, which can be perfect for a Dramatic. Not to mention, all pieces are made in the London studio and are made to order, avoiding overproduction and utilizing local materials.
*Yes, Zara is definitely on our shit list when it comes to brands we do NOT want to support. However, we strongly believe that if items have already been made, they deserve to be worn! The negative ethical and environmental impact has already been made – we might as well wear the heck out of secondhand fast fashion.
Sustainable shopping for the Cosmopolitan
The Cosmopolitan archetype lives for an elevated lifestyle. She is a force to be reckoned with and tends to turn heads with her confidence and effortless strut. As an innovative forward-thinker, her wardrobe is a tad intimidating, but not on purpose. When shopping preowned, it’s going to be high-end luxury items that fit the bill for this archetype. For example, a Chanel or Hermes bag (hello again, designer consignment!) would be an excellent statement piece for any closet. She’s also likely to invest in couture statement jewelry such as a Fendi logo bracelet. In the more affordable realm, Banana Republic would be a great brand to explore secondhand. Their items tend to be the perfect balance between practical luxury and refined timelessness.
Additionally, shopping at consignment stores for designers such as St. John, Max Mara, and Reiss would be a great way to go. Their styles tend to have that straightforward, easy-breezy sophistication that a Cosmopolitan just so happens to embody. As for new pieces, a great go-to sustainable option would be Vetta. While they create capsules that would be appropriate for many archetypes, their Glam and Edgy capsule items resonate with Cosmopolitan vibes.
Sustainable shopping for the Classic
The Classic archetype is what you get when you combine principle, tradition, and action. This woman gets things done, but, by the rules, of course. She keeps the world in motion from behind the scenes. So when shopping for lightly loved items, this archetype will want to look for items from brands like J. Crew, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, and Brooks Brothers. These brands tend to produce clothing that has clean lines, neat and tidy patterns, and an overall aesthetic that whispers quiet authority (there’s no yelling for this archetype).
Navy Grey is a knitwear brand we recently discovered that has Classic feels all over it. Their tagline is literally, “Better classics. Effortless and pragmatic.” Theory is another brand that, while isn’t wholly sustainable, is making efforts through their Theory for Good initiative which focuses on ethically grown cotton, wool, and linen. We’d recommend shopping for specifically those items which are part of that line to let them know this is what we want more of!
Sustainable shopping for the Natural
The Natural archetype is BY FAR the most unpretentious, easy-going, and accepting of the archetypes. This person wants to feel comfortable in their clothing 24/7, experiencing life in a way that just flows. For secondhand shopping, this archetype seems to have many options. Pieces from Free People, Anthropologie, and Madewell tend to fit the bill for a Natural. We hope that these brands will soon implement more sustainable practices (fingers crossed), but it’s worth noting that we tend to find them while thrifting quite regularly. AllSaints and Vince are two other good options that you can find in abundance on reselling platforms like Poshmark. (PS: If you’re new to Posh, use our code SHOPSTYLESHIFT to earn $10 towards your first purchase!)
Additionally, the Natural scores big when it comes to new clothing produced by sustainable brands. Mila Vert, Eileen Fisher, and Mara Hoffman (leans Natural-Creative) all score high marks for their efforts towards “slow fashion” and are worth investing in. Their clothing embodies the comfort and ease that suits a Natural, perfect for a picnic in the park. We especially love Nisolo, who creates sustainable-centric shoes, bags, and jewelry. They even have sustainability fact labels for their items.
Sustainable shopping for the Creative
When it comes to self-expression, the Creative archetype is likened to an explorer. This woman has a good eye for curating unconventional yet pleasing visual statements. With a strong imagination, this archetype does not like to be put into a box. Therefore, when secondhand shopping, look for items from Cos, Baum und Pferdgarten, and Ganni (the latter two are currently making moves towards sustainable practices, thank goddess). Anthropologie can sometimes have pieces with a more creative edge as well. The Creative woman is generally fantastic at thrifting because of her sharp eye for choosing any item, regardless of its maker, and creating something fantastic out of it. In fact, vintage shopping tends to be one of her hobbies. She is original without having to try that hard.
Thankfully, there seem to be more and more designers with a creative edge who fall into the safe to shop category. Rentrayage is a recent discovery for us and creates one-of-a-kind pieces from vintage clothing, fabric, and dead stock. All inventory is made in NYC/Brooklyn, so you know their street-style vibes are on point. Maggie Marilyn is another designer who, while a bit pricey, is a worthwhile investment. Their pieces are uniquely designed, with fun shapes, silhouettes, and colors.
Sustainable shopping for the Gamine
Even more so than the Creative, the Gamine is all about the vintage. Like, actual vintage. Pieces from the 60s and 70s resonate with this archetype completely. The Gamine is a little bit naughty if we are being honest. Rules, what rules? For her, there are literally none. Pattern mixing to the max, bold color combinations and statement-making pieces are key. She is interesting, to be sure. When shopping preowned, the Gamine is going to shop both masculine and feminine clothing, and would easily gravitate towards unheard of brands from decades gone by, but would also find vintage-inspired brands like ModCloth worth exploring. Some pieces from Boden could be good, as their patterns tend to be bright and bold.
For new options, Stella McCartney wins hands down. Her designs are bold and show-stopping, perfect for a Gamine. While you can buy her designs new, safely, we would also seek out preowned items as her goods can be a bit up there in price. Also how would we not talk about designer Katie Jones?! Her brand is all about bold colors and CROCHET! Can we talk about The Granny Sweater, please?! We should also mention House of Sunny, which in the past did not meet adequate sustainability standards but appears to be swiftly moving in a better direction. Their designs are daring enough for a Gamine, to be sure.
Sustainable shopping for the Ingenue
The epitome of all things sweet and charming is the Ingenue. This archetype is the quintessential girl next door. Trustworthy and accommodating, you can be sure that this gal thinks of literally EVERYTHING. Through her appearance, she communicates that she is restrained, delicate, and straight-up lovely. For pre-loved finds, she should look for & Other Stories and Sezane (brands who, we hope, will get it together). Their clothing tends to come in soft fabrics, with small details and prints. If you are a petite Ingenue (which quite frankly is a common occurrence) Petite Studio pieces would be good options, so a search on Poshmark would be the way to go there.
Christy Dawn is a brand that an Ingenue could definitely shop new. Their clothing has the sweet details and small-scale print that this archetype is drawn to. (To go a step further, if you are a Natural Ingenue, this brand is an excellent fit.) Alchemist is another great go-to for the Ingenue. With soft, modest shapes, Alchemist’s pieces convey the level of delight and elevated “girliness” required for this archetype.
Sustainable shopping for the Romantic
Last but certainly not least, is the Romantic archetype. She is all about those BIG FEELINGS. This woman is expressive, magnetic, and can be as glamorous as old Hollywood. Intimate dates and pampering appointments go a long way here. The first thing that comes to mind when shopping secondhand for a Romantic is the classic Carrie Bradshaw fur coat. Speaking of feelings, it’s worth stating that we do not condone the new production of fur with the exception of articles made by/for Indigenous communities. However, when it comes to vintage fur, we think it is absolutely worth saving as few materials are both as durable (when cared for) and biodegradable as fur.
Anthropologie often has items that fit within the Romantic realm, with rounded shapes, plunging sweetheart necklines, and full of those feelings. If you want to go designer consignment, check out Johanna Ortiz. Her dresses are Romantic without a doubt!
For new purchases, we love Gaala for this archetype. Their designs evoke feelings of French femme romance, and even better, are made from luxurious, upcycled fabrics. The founder saw the need for elevated, romantic, vintage-inspired clothing and she really hit the nail on the head. We could definitely live out our Parisian fantasies with this wardrobe. Espresso for two? Reformation is another great choice, as their designs include sexy, shape flattering dresses for day and night. They even have a line of bridesmaid and wedding wear dresses.
Let’s Go Secondhand
It goes without saying that we are huge advocates of shopping secondhand. While we did identify some brands and designers who are doing things right now (or working on it), we still believe in the power of a great thrift store, or mid-range to high-end consignment store. It is just as important to buy lightly loved as it is to buy new items that fit the future of what we want the fashion industry to look like. We know it can be difficult to know where to begin, which is why we put together this fantastic list as a jumping-off point.
If you find yourself wanting more, fear not. Audrey’s brick-and-mortar consignment store, Found, has the most fantastic service for those of you who loved the idea of Stitch Fix or other mail based shopping services. Let me introduce you to – STYLE BOXES. This service was launched *days* before the pandemic shuttered our stores and has allowed us to provide on-demand, sustainable, and size inclusive style to womxn across the country! When you sign up, you receive handpicked items from an actual stylist who gets to know you, your fit preferences, favorite brands, and ideal price range. We can create a preview video with styling suggestions or send you a bag of surprises! You’ll have a full seven days to try out the pieces we include, chat with us about fit or style questions, and send back anything that doesn’t work out. You’re only charged for the items you keep! It doesn’t get easier than that! Click here to order yours.
It Gets Better?
To make it even sweeter, you can have Audrey administer her Style Archetype Questionnaire virtually. Whether you’re looking to feel more empowered when shopping on your own or are ready to take the plunge into working with a stylist, this signature service will lay the foundation for shopping success! If you find yourself wanting your style to be more cohesive with a wardrobe full of sustainably sourced items, you’ve come to the right place, my friend. We are here to help. Let’s chat!
x, Shelly & Audrey