585’s green fashion scene
Rochester’s fashion scene is experiencing a green renaissance through vintage clothing stores and consignment pop-up shops. This “recycled” way of styling an outfit and designing a room is not only eco-friendly, but it also allows fashionistas to score unique items on a scaled-back budget. From clothes to furniture, four vintage entrepreneurs share how their businesses are setting a new precedent for thrifted fashion.
Sarah Pavia, founder, Second Look Styling
Sarah Pavia is very involved in Rochester’s second-hand clothing scene. Not only is she the founder of Second Look Styling, a fashion consulting and thriving thrift store business, but she’s also the marketing director for Goodwill of the Finger Lakes. She personally hand picks everything she sells and recommends to her clients, all while showing enormous restraint by not taking home every cute item she finds.
How did you get into thrifting?
I have always been a bargain hunter and thrifter, into garage sales, estate sales, curb hunting—you name it. Everyone would put their nose up at it, and I kept hearing myself say, “Just take a second look and see what you can find.”
What does Second Look have to offer?
I began personal shopping for clients of mine, decorating homes and events, and decided to offer a larger selection weekly in an online and mobile shop. We have a large emphasis on present and new-age styles but have grown into the vintage realm too, with clothing homewares and furniture.
Why is the sustainable fashion movement important?
Sustainable fashion isn’t just about sustainable brands (i.e., brands making clothing from recycled material, sustainable processes, etc). Sustainable fashion can be as simple as friends going through each other’s closets and swapping clothes—rather than throwing them in a landfill. It takes 1,800 gallons of water just to produce one pair of jeans—insane! Buying them secondhand or borrowing them is literally a lifesaver. And, it’s really on-trend.
What are some staple items of a vintage wardrobe?
Definitely a white button down—any era these are always trendy and perfect for pairing with a vintage wide leg pant or trouser. There’s also the circle skirt, pleat, and pencil skirt too. High-waisted denim and bell bottom jeans are always a must, an oversized blazer (think tweed), a long overcoat, and of course, the right shoes. Top it off with some jewelry—all which can be found at your local estate sale or thrift store (or better yet raid your mom’s and grandma’s closets!).
What’s the vintage clothing scene like in Rochester?
Vintage is having a hot moment right now—especially with events like the Lucky Flea Market (new this summer), which has brought out plenty of individuals to explore the vintage world. It’s been great to have lovers and collectors come together to showcase their pieces. You’ll also see that vintage is trendier in everyday street style—I love sitting at a coffee shop and seeing everyone’s unique flair.
650 Whitney Rd., Fairport
Nancy Loughran, volunteer
What started out as a yard sale/fundraiser more than twenty years ago has grown into a thriving thrifting business, all in the name of charity. Sweet Charity sells donated furniture, home décor, and jewelry, with all the proceeds benefiting the Advent House, a home serving people who are in the last stages of terminal illness. The shop is filled with well cared for items that are ready to be used as is, or that can be upcycled into something unique.
What’s the story behind the name Sweet Charity?
Sweet Charity was chosen as the name since it reflects the mission-based nature of the shop in that it benefits Advent House, and it is an acknowledgement to the countless sweet volunteers through the years who have provided the gift of caregiving to residents.
What are some of your favorite items that have come through the shop?
Mid-century modern bureaus, original watercolor paintings, pedestal tables, vintage mirrors, unique stemware and serving ware, and the amazing eclectic Christmas decorations!
Why do you enjoy volunteering?
Hearing people reminisce with those they’re shopping with, or share a memory that a piece reminded them of is special. We are happy to provide some joy, thanks to our incredible donators who value their treasures enough to find them new homes.
Little Shop of Hoarders
131 Gregory St.
Monika Ludwinek, owner
Monika Ludwinek’s aspirations to own her own business were so strong, she had a shop name picked out before her business plan was fully created. Little Shop of Hoarders, located in the South Wedge, offers a wide range of vintage styles spanning back to the 1940s and a wide variety of styles for both the serious vintage clothing collector and the novice thrifter.
What does sustainable fashion mean to you?
Sustainable fashion means that it will last longer than one season. Clothing should be of a quality and durability worth maintaining, that is how it stays sustainable (and also, that is literally the definition of sustainability). Vintage clothing, especially anything made before 1980, is made to last, and therefore, defining it to be sustainable fashion.
Did the pandemic change the way you did business?
Yes, it finally got me to sell online, which is something I had been trying to do since 2017.
How do you find the items that fill your shop?
I have consignment agreements with people who bring loads of clothing every month, and I also have arrangements with pickers who sell me clothing. I go picking on my own as well, so I don’t have much of a budget when it comes to walk ins who are looking to sell stuff. Donations are always welcome. Whatever I do not use or sell is donated to specific charities.
Favorite items to sell?
My favorite things to have in the shop are true vintage items, i.e., ’40s-’70s era. Although I do have plenty of vintage from the ’80s and ’90s, something about the way a t-shirt from the ’70s feels and hugs the body, to the fascinating ingenuity and fashion forward designs of the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s very much intrigues me.
The Op Shop
89 Charlotte St.
Jo Carroll, founder and owner
Jo Carroll has an incredible love for vintage fashion, and she wanted to share her passion with like-minded consigners. She rents out space in her clothing co-op, the Op Shop, to everyone from career second-hand sellers to people cleaning out their closets, with the goal of providing sustainable fashion to the masses.
How does your shop differ from other consignment stores?
Every rack is a different vendor who sells vintage or handmade pieces. All our vendors are from the local area and pop up on a month-by-month basis. Vendors rent out a space to then “pop up” a display/rack of clothes, accessories, or handmade goods. We accept donations and save them for our free clothing swap sales or for fundraiser events like our most recent outdoor pop up with @thrift2fight.
What changes have you experienced since opening your shop?
The vintage clothing scene is definitely growing! From back to when I opened the shop in 2018 until now, with the help of social media (Instagram and TikTok), vintage has continued to gain in popularity and has had a resurgence like never before! People are seriously considering the ethics behind the fast fashion veil and their direct impact while more accountability of businesses and their owners is being asked for by customers. The future is a feminine (not female) economy built on cyclical growth, collaboration, sustainability, care, integrity, resourcefulness, and an abundance of consciousness, and the Op Shop reflects these values.
What does “upcycled” fashion mean to you?
I’ve been using that word a lot lately! “Upcycled” is certainly trending after “sustainable” or “green.” To me, upcycled is taking an existing garment and altering it in a capacity larger than a repair or mend while preserving its original quality through creative production or sometimes (especially now in high fashion), even enhancing its original value. One could argue styling a vintage piece in a trendy way can be upcycling fashion.
Who are your typical customers?
I couldn’t say! We get a wide range of styles and sizes and eras, so it brings a broad range of folks. We love especially when multiple generations of the same family come through! Mothers, daughters, grandmothers all together shopping and finding something. It’s really sweet. All are welcome, and we try to make that clear, so we meet a lot of different folks!