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Small Business Spotlight: The Unlady Shop

Alice Durning (@angel.tramp) curates her vision of what fashion should be through The Unlady Shop, an online vintage boutique of apparel, accessories, and jewelry.

Image via Instagram

In The Unlady Shop’s (@theunladyshop) collection of vintage and second-hand clothing, you’ll find quality statement pieces from across the decades. From 60s a-line skirts to 70s flare pants, to 80s sweaters, even early 2000s t-shirts, everything can easily and uniquely be styled into your own wardrobe. “Anything that I source has got to be something fun and standout,” says Alice.

Fun, creativity, and inclusivity are key to the shop’s aesthetic and styles. “There’s a lot of binary gendering in fashion when it comes to creative expression, especially in vintage.” Because of this, Alice intentionally sources more inclusive pieces that deconstruct ideas and images of gender, age, and body type.

“Being a lady holds a lot of power.”
Image via Instagram

So what is an Unlady?

It’s a word and expressive identity that Alice came up with inspired by her journey in embracing her own femininity. She explains how femininity can be explored and presented in many different ways.

Being a lady doesn’t always mean you cross your ankles and sip your tea quickly. It means you are kind and empathetic... That you have a lot of self-respect."

So Alice took the title and made it negative, taking away any culturally preconceived notions of what a lady can or cannot be.

Alice gained that power of expression when she moved from her rural upstate hometown to New York City for college. She had always been interested in fashion, but moving to the city allowed her to learn about the industry. She learned more about dressing oneself, building a background in design, modeling, and how styles and trends evolve.

“NYC is the one great place to get that hands-on experience.”

Image via Instagram

Two of her biggest influences right now are fashion blogger Courtney Trop (@alwaysjudging) for her versatile style and mood; and French designer Michèle Lamy, who duos with her husband, Rick Owens.

In early 2019, Alice started an Instagram to essentially clean out her camera roll of fashion and art inspiration photos. With some push, this evolved into her own business. She took a clothing rack from her job, started a Depop account, and began reselling clothes she sourced from thrift stores, pay-per-pound warehouses, and online retailers like eBay. From there, Alice leveled up to her own website and blog to grow The Unlady Shop into a trusted brand for quality vintage fashion.

"Shopping vintage is a very physical experience. It's important to handle clothing; Touch the denim, feel the leather, look at the knits. So you have to have someone you really trust selling it to you online."

Image via Instagram

While The Unlady Shop lives online, it feels alive and interactive because of Alice’s brand owner presence. “The shop is its own moving person that has to come with me everywhere,” she says. Alice currently resides in upstate New York, working daily to restock, organize, measure, model, photograph, and catalog her huge rack of inventory.

“People like a brand because of who runs it… I am the shop and the shop is me.”
Image via Instagram

In the future, she plans to take The Unlady Shop to more in-person retail spaces and events at pop-ups, artisan fairs, and flea markets.

"Anyone can be an Unlady, no matter your gender, age, shape, or color you can feel incredible and hold your head up high, like a lady!"

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