Ditch the fast fashion: 12 sites for sustainable shopping in Detroit

Ditch The Fast Fashion: 12 Sites For Sustainable Shopping In Detroit

Photo courtesy of Not Sorry Goods via Facebook.

By Lisa Green

April 10, 2024

From thrift shops Macklemore would love to the most #aesthetic downtown fashion boutiques, here’s who’s leading the pack in Detroit’s emerging sustainable fashion industry.

Detroit might be known for its car manufacturing past, but these days, the Motor City has a new manufacturing trend — the sustainable fashion industry.

According to a 2020 analysis by the Detroit Regional Partnership, Detroit’s apparel manufacturing jobs increased by 71% between 2010 and 2019. And a lot of these companies place emphasis on more ethical fashion. Whether it’s called sustainable fashion, ethical fashion, green fashion, or eco fashion, sustainability efforts in fashion focus on reducing environmental impact like pollution and waste, cutting carbon emissions, addressing overproduction, and ensuring safe working conditions and fair wages for garment workers.

And there are a lot of reasons fashion-forward folks, as well as Detroiters, would care about “going green” with their fashion brands. Recently, fast fashion brands, such as SHEIN, have blown up in popularity. An abundance of “haul” videos have shown up on TikTok and Instagram, with social media influencers celebrating consumerism with large buys from fast fashion companies. But fast fashion production is notoriously fast and cheap, with rapid production and distribution, so consumers get the latest fashion trends as quickly and cheaply as possible.

These methods have drawn a variety of criticisms, many about their environmental impact. Fast fashion is the second-biggest consumer of water and is responsible for about 10% of global carbon emissions. An overreliance on cheap, toxic textile dyes makes the fashion industry one of the largest polluters of water; it’s responsible for about 20% of industrial water pollution. The fashion industry also requires 93 billion cubic meters of water, and the abundance of polyester and other synthetic garments contributes to the amount of microplastics in the ocean. Around 35% of microplastics are caused by the microfibers from synthetic fabrics, released whenever a synthetic garment is washed or even worn. Fast fashion also has significant labor concerns, as labor is often outsourced to impoverished countries with lax labor laws, creating concerns about fair wages and safe work environments.

It’s also estimated the fast fashion industry creates 92 million tons of textile waste annually. That’s a big deal for Michigan, which according to Statista, was the U.S.’s highest-ranking state for waste sent to landfills in 2022, at 66.5 tons of trash per person.

Fortunately, consumers such as Gen Z have picked up on these disturbing global industry trends and adjusted their buying habits accordingly. Gen Z, a generational cohort of those born in the late 1990s and the 2000s, shows consumer trends toward thrifting, as well as vintage and resale fashions. According to the online secondhand platform Thredup, the global secondhand market is expected to increase rapidly, with estimates of up to three times the rate of the global apparel market by 2027. And who’s driving this industrial surge? Gen Z.

According to Thredup, 75% of all consumers have shopped or are open to shopping for secondhand apparel. But Gen Z is higher than the average, with 83% of consumers who have shopped or are open to shopping secondhand. These trends are primarily about finding discounted clothes, but also a way for Gen Z folks to wear one-of-a-kind items and distinguish their personal fashion from their peers.

If you’re a savvy thrifter, you already know the big names like Value World, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Plato’s Closet. But if you’re ready to support real Detroit and Detroit Metro eco-friendly fashion brands and secondhand stores, we’ve got a few suggestions.

Not Sorry Goods (Ferndale)

22963 Woodward Ave, Ferndale, MI 48220

Not Sorry Goods is a 100% Women, Black, LGBT, and Latinx-owned lifestyle retailer, focusing on eco-friendly apparel, upcycled and reworked vintage, and ethically sourced goods. Its array of products curates a collection of women, queer, and BIPOC designers and artists.

Not Sorry Goods is built on a foundation of helping people live unapologetically as themselves, with “NOT SORRY” being the brand’s frequently-embroidered signature mantra. There are a few variations, such as “DETROIT NOT SORRY,” “BLACK NOT SORRY,” “QUEER NOT SORRY,” and “ASIAN NOT SORRY.” This came from co-founders Dy-Min Johnson and Jess Minnick, who met in a kickboxing class, deciding they were “done saying sorry” for who they were. The “NOT SORRY” label was first embroidered onto a crop top design, and eventually, became the name their brand would be known as.

Products are centered around embroidering or screen-printing vintage and upcycled items, so everything is eco-conscious. Generally, products are arranged by color, not by gender or size. Not Sorry Goods also offers personalization services, with custom embroidery for clothes or home decor you already own.

Object Apparel (Detroit)

1577 Ash St, Detroit, MI 48208

Object Apparel is a Detroit-based independent sustainable fashion clothing label that isn’t happy about all the plastic that goes into fashion, so it’s committed to reducing plastic wherever possible. Object Apparel uses GOTS (Glocal Organic Textile Standard) certified organic fabrics with plant-based dyes and water-based inks, which means it’s generally considered safe for those with sensitive skin and allergies, even babies. Not to mention, unlike the fast fashion favorites, Object Apparel uses absolutely zero plastic packaging. They primarily focus on handmade organic cotton underwear and t-shirts.

Founders Mike Sklenka and Mollie Decker have unlikely backgrounds in art and architecture, but that’s part of what helps them create environmentally conscious clothing. All items are made-to-order too, so there’s no textile waste.

Ditch The Fast Fashion: 12 Sites For Sustainable Shopping In Detroit

Photo courtesy of Object Apparel via Facebook.

Spectacles (Detroit)

230 E Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

If you’re invested in the trendsetters of Detroit’s fashion and music scene, you’ll love Spectacles. Nestled between Comerica Park and Ford Field in Harmonie Park, Spectacles has been a leading authority on what’s “cool” in the D for four decades. Founder and owner Zana Smith is considered Detroit’s “godmother” of Detroit’s cultural and retail scene and has promoted Detroit techno since starting her store. The shop has had many famous visitors, including the late Jam Master Jay of the trio Run-D.M.C., MC Hammer, Kid Rock, Derrick May, and Jeff “The Wizard” Mills.

Spectacles has a variety of trend-setting statement clothing, with even big brands starting as underground hits as Spectacles. The store was one of the first stores to sell merchandise from Spike Lee’s production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks. Each item in the store has a story, from the T-shirts with profound messages to the innovative CDs from local musicians. The clothes and accessories all have an edge, designed to help customers make a “spectacle” of themselves.

Ditch The Fast Fashion: 12 Sites For Sustainable Shopping In Detroit

Photo courtesy of Spectacles via Facebook.

Good Neighbor (Detroit)

1435 Farmer St #115, Detroit, MI 48226

Good Neighbor is a clothing store for those who are “tired of brands with no roots.” With additional locations in Chicago and Indianapolis, the store highlights brands with a purpose and focuses on mindful sourcing and ethical manufacturing.

The Detroit original first opened in 2018. Since opening, owner Carli Goltowski has hand-picked a collection of modern brands hip to trends, with everything from graphic tees to Red Wing boots. She specifically focuses on sustainable fabrics and American brands. The boutique offers styles for both men and women, with the women’s sizes ranging from 0-22. That’s what we call being a good neighbor.

Ditch The Fast Fashion: 12 Sites For Sustainable Shopping In Detroit

Photo courtesy of Good Neighbor via Facebook.

Mama Coo’s Boutique (Detroit)

1701 Trumbull, Detroit, MI 48216
Mama Coo’s Boutique may have only opened up in Corktown in 2016, but the woman and Latinx-owned shop is one of Detroit’s most popular resale and vintage shops. The shop emphasizes owner Lana Rodriguez’s Mexican-American roots, with products in both English and Spanish, as well as Milagros, or good luck charms. The shop features an eclectic selection of clothing, art pieces, and home furnishings, ranging from South America to Africa.

Most items are apparel and accessories for women, but there are some items for me, like ties. Owner Lana Rodriguez makes weekly rounds to yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores to curate her collection of things that appeal to her own personal taste. But don’t worry about the sticker shock — Rodriguez is committed to keeping prices inclusive and affordable. Check out the store’s Instagram for all the latest get-’em-before-they’re-gone favorites.

Fun fact — even the building itself is a family affair. Rodriguez’ Mexican immigrant grandparents first moved into the apartment above Mama Coo’s in the 1940s.

Ditch The Fast Fashion: 12 Sites For Sustainable Shopping In Detroit

Photo courtesy of Mama Coo’s Boutique via Facebook.
BORO (Detroit)

BORO (Detroit)

2857 E Grand Blvd Suite 103, Detroit, MI 48202
BORO is one of Detroit’s top consignment shops, conveniently located in Eastern Market. Aside from borrowing style cues from eras bygone, BORO also lets you borrow clothing items for rent, with rates determined by number of days. BORO has a trendy blend of both modern and vintage clothing and accessories, as well as home decor. The result is designer labels at thrift-worthy prices.

The high-aesthetic modern-chic shop has black iron clothing racks against white walls, vaulted archways, exposed brick, and a circular iron staircase. They host a variety of events ranging from repurposing your old clothes to community yoga.

Ditch The Fast Fashion: 12 Sites For Sustainable Shopping In Detroit

Photo courtesy of Boro Detroit via Facebook.

Public Thrift (Hamtramck)

10237 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck, MI 48212

If your idea of sustainability is best represented through the ethical treatment of workers, you’ll love Public Thrift in Hamtramck. Public Thrift is described as a “worker-cooperative,” with employees paid above minimum wage and excess donations offered to mutual aid groups and nonprofits. Customers can become members of Public Thrift, which offers a 10% discount, $5 in-store cash every month, member-only sales, and more.

Visitors describe their selection as fairly high-quality, with thrifted finds like retro windbreakers and 90s sports jackets.

Ditch The Fast Fashion: 12 Sites For Sustainable Shopping In Detroit

Photo courtesy of Public Thrift via Facebook.

Flamingo Vintage (Detroit)

5449 W Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48209

What do you get when you take a retro Art Deco department store and decide to put a vintage store in it? You get an instant vintage aesthetic, that’s what. Flamingo Vintage in southwest Detroit has only been open since 2018, but has a selection so good that their finds have even been featured in movies.

At Flamingo Vintage, you can find high-quality vintage items from a wide variety of decades, all at affordable prices. Items are impeccably sorted and organized by color, then by size. You can find a variety of clothing, from secondhand Levi jeans to vintage cowboy boots.

Ditch The Fast Fashion: 12 Sites For Sustainable Shopping In Detroit

Photo courtesy of Flamingo Vintage Detroit via Facebook.

Eldorado General Store (Detroit)

1700 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216

If you love both thrifting and antiquing, then this shop in Corktown is the place for you. Eldorado General Store is chock-full of curiosities from eras long gone.

The store is housed in an 1870s flatiron building and sells a wide variety of items. You won’t just find locally-made vintage clothing and accessories, you’ll also find handmade jewelry, antiques, trinkets, and metaphysical items ranging from candles and crystals to herbal plant offerings and tarot decks.

Eldorado was started in 2013, the same year Detroit declared bankruptcy, which has affected its core mission. They wholeheartedly believe in communal positive change and seek to preserve people and the planet before profit to create sustainable, ethical, and fair-trade practices. Their shelves feature the works of local artists and makers, minority/womxn small business owners, indigenous artists, as well as nonprofits and other fair-trade companies. The road to Eldorado is a feel-good story.

Ditch The Fast Fashion: 12 Sites For Sustainable Shopping In Detroit

Photo courtesy of Eldorado General Store via Facebook.

Rat Queen Vintage (Hamtramck)

10031 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck, MI 48212

This rat-themed vintage store is self-proclaimed to carry “creepy weird sh*t.” From the pet rats to the discount items in the “bargain casket,” Rat Queen Vintage is about as eccentric as you can get in a vintage store.

The store is full of vintage clothing that’s never quite the same collection twice and ranges across styles, but is mostly 70s and 80s. Sizes are size-inclusive, including plus-size items. Owner Joanna Komajda-Smith is more than happy to make suggestions for you based on your “vibe.”

Ditch The Fast Fashion: 12 Sites For Sustainable Shopping In Detroit

Photo courtesy of Rat Queen Vintage via Facebook.

Eugenie (Detroit)

1400 Van Dyke St, Detroit, MI 48214

This women-owned women’s boutique in Midtown is all about stopping the speed of fast fashion; instead, they slow it down, with sustainable, responsible, and ethical products. Eugenie offers an array of clothing, accessories, and jewelry, as well as popular gifts and home goods like candles and essential oils.

Husband and wife duo Gretchen Valade and Kevin Steen started the shop during the COVID-19 pandemic and have persevered since then. And they know a thing or two about sustainability, considering Valade is the Director of Sustainability at Carhartt.

With every designer featured in the store, the team has had a conversation about sustainability and how it relates to the designer’s products. Eugenie carries products from local Detroit designers as well as designers from around the world, including from New York City, Los Angeles, and overseas.

Grace Centers of Hope (Multiple Locations)

Thrift store locations in Oak Park, Sterling Heights, Warren, and Waterford

Grace Centers of Hope is a non-profit Christian organization that focuses on changing the lives of “the unwanted, addicted, and homeless.” It is centered around Grace Gospel Fellowship Church and it operates Michigan’s oldest and largest homeless shelter in Pontiac. Funding from their thrift stores helps to support other programs they offer to help those affected by abuse, substance abuse, and homelessness.

Their four thrift stores in the Metro Detroit area carry a lot of clothing, shoes, and accessories, along with furniture and home items. Clothing prices range from $3.99 to $8.99 and shoes are $3.99 unless marked. The stores also offer regular sales and promotions, with additional discounts through their loyalty program.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Ditch the fast fashion: 12 sites for sustainable shopping in DetroitDitch the fast fashion: 12 sites for sustainable shopping in Detroit

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