Photos by Daniel Sarche
“New season, new fashion” seems to be the motto nowadays. We are well into spring and almost into summer, so it is time to throw those thick wooly sweaters and thermal leggings into the crusty underbelly of winter storage units. The advent of warmer weather calls for more exposed legs, thighs, midriffs, backs, arms, and shoulders and the fashions of the season follow suit.
However, the seasonal variation in fashion trends inevitably leads to the question, “where do I go to buy new summer clothes?” There are usually two straight-forward answers: local fashion boutiques or chain department and clothing stores. (We will table the discussion of e-commerce for another day.)
In most cases, people pursue their nearest run-of-the-mill chain clothing stores like Macy’s, Columbia, North Face, or Anthropologie. This is mainly because these stores and brands are well-known for the products they offer in addition to ease of access at many neighborhood suburban malls. They also tend to be cheaper compared to local boutiques because their clothing can be mass-produced in large factories abroad, though this is not a strict rule.
Also, chain stores often offer promotions and discounts that will knock down the price tags of their clothes significantly, especially at the end of a season when brands try to liquidate outdated inventory. Additionally, some brands like North Face have a reputation for the quality of their products, which encourages people to buy their outdoor gear.
Nonetheless, while chain clothing and department stores are standard places to shop due to the advantages they supply, many people are not aware of the benefits that shopping at local fashion boutiques provide, not only to the consumers themselves, but also to their communities. For instance, small fashion boutiques tend to be more customer-oriented both in service and in style. “I think one of the main differences is the customer service that you get at a smaller boutique,” said Cammie, a sales associate at local boutique Terra Verde. “We have a certain clientele that we’ve worked with. We’re going to be selling to them for our 25th year here at Terra Verde. So, we know a lot about the clients that come in and they get great customer service.”
In addition to the quality of customer service, smaller fashion boutiques also tend to be more creative with the styles of clothing they carry when compared to chain stores. “We also hear a lot of people say that have come in from different areas around the United States, and they say ‘Oh, you really have unique pieces. I’ve never seen a store like this’ or ‘I’ve never seen clothing like this; it’s one of a kind,’” Cammie said. With the onset of spring, Terra Verde’s clothing has started to incorporate a fun and distinctive use of florals. Despite this overlying theme, each dress, blouse, and skirt are different both from clothes that originate in chain clothing brands and from other items within the same boutique.
While the argument that shopping at local fashion boutiques is often more expensive and therefore inaccessible to lower-income individuals is valid, it could also be argued that the attire in these stores is of a higher quality than the clothes of an inexpensive clothing chain like H&M. “We find pieces that are good price points too,” said Cammie. “We try to have a variety in the store. I know Old Navy and H&M and very inexpensive. If you think in a more global picture, a lot of those things are made in China.
We have a few pieces that are made in China, but we have a lot of things that are made in the USA and Canada that last a bit longer. The fabrics are nicer and wash nicely. So, it might seem cheaper [to buy from inexpensive chains] at first, but in the long run, if you pay a little more for nicer clothing, it will last longer.” Another silver lining to paying a higher price is the accompanying support to the local economy by buying from local businesses and advocating for their business practices.
Altogether, the fashion boutiques in Colorado Springs, including Terra Verde, are a great place to explore your sense of fashion and discover new styles while promoting local businesses. You never know what awesome things you can find.