It’s no secret that consignment shops can be fashion gold mines. “Is that a Dolce&Gabbana dress for $75?” Yes, dreams can come true. But beyond the wallet-friendly style porn of such establishments, the conversation is turning to the eco-chic side of vintage.
Fashion pathfinders have been going in this direction for a few years now, to reduce waste and introduce mission-focused elements to the way they conduct business, or the products they sell. Betabrand, among others, has a policy of creating creating seasonal, one-time products with any fabric that’s left after making clothes, rather than letting it go unused. The fundamental environmental plus-side of consignment shops, however, is rather intuitive: Recycling.
That seems to be the bottom line of Greene Street, a quintessentially SoHo-esque boutique that emphasizes, above all else, the ecological benefits of consignment shopping. Though Greene Street has several tri-state area locations, it’s this one, with its brick exterior and close proximity to the likes of Chanel and DSQUARED2, that truly stands to make eco-chic effortlessly fabulous. “When you shop at Greene Street,” states the retailer’s blog, “you’re finding one of a kind, quality pieces and helping to eliminate the estimated 68 pounds of clothing that can be discarded by the average person yearly.”
Stylistically, there isn’t much that sets Greene Street apart from others in the consignment space. The model is simple: Bring in your high-quality, used items, and earn 40 percent on whatever is sold. It is, however, unique in its emphasis on eco-fashion, especially in this lower Manhattan neighborhood. In large part, SoHo carries what some describe as an aspirational character, embodied by the super-wealthy shoppers that frequent the area. Greene Street, however, leverages its adjacency to such a coveted setting, to advertise an opportunity for consignors to make a profit for good. It speaks to the “quality, not quantity” philosophy echoed by designer Vivienne Westwood. If clothing is made and treated well, as high-end pieces often are, it benefits both the buyer and the seller: The former, because it lasts longer (at a discount, no less), and the latter, because it’s more likely to resell. Either way, because this practice reduces the need to procure newly-furbished clothing, the planet comes out as a clear winner.
It could be said that Greene Street, which was established in 1997, is something of a pioneer in the green consignment space. While similar shops are beginning to appear, at least two of which contain “EcoChic” in their names, few seem to really emphasize the environmental benefits of consignment quite like Greene Street does. It paves the way for further mission-focused opportunities, such as partnerships with like-minded social enterprises, and a model for retailers, new and existing alike, to follow.
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