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Local boutiques promote sustainability
For Stephanie Doucette, putting together an outfit each morning is as essential as that first cup of coffee.
“Clothes say so much about who you are,” says Doucette, a designer who owns a women’s boutique bearing her name on Main Street in Cold Spring. “There is so much power in choosing what to wear every day.”
Doucette’s designs not only boast color, flair and quality; every garment she makes is sustainable, meaning it is designed, manufactured and distributed in ways that minimize environmental impacts.
After decades working in the fashion industry, Doucette says she had seen enough of the waste produced by mass-marketed clothing. In 2005, she launched a line of “rescued” fabrics and timeless silhouettes custom-made in the garment district of New York City. “I know every hand that touches each garment,” she says.
In the years since, she has noticed a steady growth in clientele (70 percent of her customers are return buyers) and competition.
Just across the street in Cold Spring is Jacqueline Azria’s boutique, Paulette, which opened in early 2020. Azria says she prioritizes sustainable brands, noting that “customers are starting to pay attention to the story behind my products.”
One of her most popular suppliers, Altiplano, is based in Guatemala and manufactures garments using recycled materials and natural dyes. The company also funds local education and nutrition programs.
The brand is a bit pricy, but “my customers develop a connection to the story and the mission, so they feel confident spending a little extra money,” Azria says.
If price is a deal breaker, some residents have adopted another strategy to promote sustainability: thrifting. Maeve Allen, an artist, says she cares about her fashion footprint but has found sustainable brands are usually out of her price range. So she developed “a knack for finding gems” at thrift and consignment shops.
“There is so much pollution caused by polyester and other synthetic fabrics, so I’ve stopped shopping for ‘fast fashion’ as much as possible,” Allen says. She frequents Blackbird Attic, a consignment store in Beacon.
Another thrifter, Jason LaRochelle, shares an affinity for Blackbird Attic, which has a men’s section. He’s happy to splurge for a sustainably made item once in a while. “Money comes and goes, so put it toward the better choice,” he advises.
Judiann Romanello joined the movement in 2020 when she opened Damn Aged Vintage in Cold Spring, which stocks higher quality, secondhand finds. “I dig through people’s basements to rescue clothing that would otherwise end up in a landfill,” she says.
Before opening, Romanello had developed a following on Instagram, where she sold seasoned treasures from her Manhattan apartment. Opening a storefront was a triumph, she says, because it gave her more space and creative agency, allowing her to reach customers in what had been her favorite Hudson Valley locale.
Romanello notes that her business is more than putting decades-old garments on a hanger. She selects inventory that will hold up over time and restores, deep cleans and repairs each item.
At Hyperbole in Beacon, owners Andrea Podob and Carolyn Baccaro stock an impressive collection of vintage and thrifted pieces, along with sustainable brands. “Sustainability can mean a lot of things, but for us, the question we ask when searching for unique products is, ‘Was this thoughtfully produced?’ ” says Baccaro.
Making sustainable choices can be intimidating, Podob says, who compares it to the rigors of detox. Avoiding fast fashion “is like switching your diet from junk food,” she says.