BY TRACY ZOLLINGER TURNER
In an era of cheap, disposable, and environmentally unsound fast fashion, many consumers are seeking out the sustainability of well-crafted boutique clothing, handbags, and shoes. The apparel at Relish has always embraced that ethic, says Sharon Fugate, who owns the downtown Bloomington store with her husband, Brad.
The clothes and accessories at Relish are selected from a wide number of small, independent labels around the country, and Fugate adds new selections to the floor every week — sometimes every day. She seeks out high-quality fabrics that are made to last for years and fit and drape well on all body types, she says. The palette is largely focused on gray and black, but there are also prints, muted solids, and sometimes unusual color combinations. Shoes, she says, tend to have an edge, but Fugate “test-drives” them herself to make sure they are comfortable.
“Our pieces are archival,” she says, noting that some of her clients build their wardrobe one piece at a time with each new season “Most of our clientele love apparel not in a sense of vanity, but with a sense of confidence and self-expression. Their goal is not to dress like everyone else. They are individuals first.”
Designers may be represented in a variety of pieces, such as the dresses and separates by San Francisco’s Porto, which employ twists, pleats, and asymmetrical lines. Or Fugate may select as few as one or two pieces by a vendor.
“I think we go between the layers and seek out things that are classic but a departure,” says Fugate, adding that, like the store’s contemporary home furnishings selections, “it’s about form and texture and drapery and an aesthetic.”
Shopping for clothes today is rarely the personalized experience it once was, notes Fugate. “But our staff is incredible. They provide a lot of one-on-one attention and sometimes do some gentle nudging to help people think outside of their comfort zone,” she says. “They’ve seen these things on countless bodies, so they are very knowledgeable.”
For more information visit relishbloomington.com.