THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BEAUTIFUL

Inspiring others to live with self-awareness has always been the plan for Lilly Alexander. The founder and creative director of Goodshop Badshop talks elevated vintage basics, American Heritage brands, and conscious living.

Text_ ANNIE DAHL

Lily Alexander, founder of Goodshop BadShop

Lilly Alexander is the founder of Goodshop Badshop, the Minneapolis-based vintage destination for pre-loved essentials. Her naturally cool-girl style and high-quality taste is reflected in all that she curates for the shop, making her collection stand out against the masses. It’s not only Alexander’s eye that makes her curation so special, it’s also her desire to bring awareness to the climate crisis and the inextricable link between oneself and the environment. After returning from a trip to LA, we sat down with Alexander to get the low-down on Goodshop Badshop.

DISPLAY COPY: Welcome back from LA! What were you doing on the West Coast?

Lilly: It feels so good to be back. I do some sourcing out there because the thrift stores here have been depleted for a couple of years now. Which is nice because the stigma around second-hand shopping has definitely lifted and it means people are really getting into it.

DISPLAY COPY: When did you get into thrifting?

Lilly: I've always been an avid thrifter. Growing up in Minneapolis, thrifting was something that we could do as kids to find more unique clothing options and stand out in high school. It wasn't until 2015 that I started to see it as a business opportunity. I started on Depop to get reviews and establish customer trust and then I moved to selling on Instagram—it just kind of took off from there. It was really fun but it also wasn’t sustainable because I had to be on my phone 24/7. So, I built a website and took business there. 

DISPLAY COPY: How would you describe the GSBS style?

Lilly: I have three major requirements when sourcing: the fabric, the feel, and the color. And then the style of course. My sourcing started out that way and it's still that way today. It's just something that aligns with me. The collections are very personal—I would wear everything that I pick out.

DISPLAY COPY: How does being based in Minnesota shape your curatorial style?

Lilly: It's a very practical environment here. The seasons change dramatically and it’s rare to see someone decked out in full designer. It's more about quiet luxury I suppose. The basics resonate with me because they're good, practical and I can wear them every day. The environment and what you’re doing on a daily basis definitely shapes your style. For me, that's vintage shopping—which is not super glamorous—so I need my high-waisted denim and a tee shirt. 

DISPLAY COPY: Have you always been interested in fashion?

Lilly: I grew up in a really big family with three sisters who were quite a bit older than me. They were really into fashion trends before I even understood what that was. Baggy jeans and little crop tops and thin eyebrows and a heavy burgundy lip. They really rocked that Gwen Stefani, TLC style. But I wasn't allowed to wear anything like that. Later, I got into making my own clothes. Christina Aguilera was huge and I had a hard time finding low-rise jeans that fit, so I would sew the sides of pants to make them really tight and then cut the top off and put a little band around it. They were dangerously low! [laughs] 

DISPLAY COPY: Where do you get inspiration for your collection? 

Lilly: I love looking at fashion campaigns from the 80s and 90s, especially J. Crew, Banana Republic, and Calvin Klein. A lot of American brands. One pattern that I picked up on pretty early is that if an item was made with nice material, there's probably going to be more thought put into its construction. So, a more expensive material like silk, cashmere, linen, or wool will typically have a nice silhouette. 

DISPLAY COPY: What’s a must-have item in your closet?

Lilly: My personal style is definitely what you see in my collection. It's high waisted jeans and a nice silk blouse or an oversized sweater with trousers. It's elevated basics. A must-have in my closet is definitely a good pair of jeans, of course. I don’t have a ton of clothes actually. I get more excited about sharing my finds than keeping them. I don’t know if you can do what I do and be super attached to clothing in that way.  

DISPLAY COPY: Sustainability is obviously a huge part of your business. Can you share some insight into your perspective on sustainability and the fashion industry?

Lilly: I’ve always felt like it's my customers that create this ‘need’ and then I come along. I think that’s the best approach, rather than marketing something to people and saying, “you need this.” When in reality, they don’t. 

This concept of super cheap clothing is relatively new. It used to be totally normal to mend a sweater, sew a hole, patch up an elbow. Clothes were passed down from generation to generation. My interest in sustainability is completely intuitive on that level. I don't like looking “too perfect” or “too polished.” I just think it's very human to act on the level of circular fashion; things get passed down, reworked, undone, and remade. Vintage is clothing that was made so well that it actually lasts.

A lot of American brands used to market themselves as Heritage Brands; something you could pass down—and they were right. From the early 80s until now, 40-45 years later, those pieces are still here and a lot of them are in excellent condition. So, I do feel like I'm passing them down to people. There’s not a single “throw away” item in my collection. This idea of planned obsolescence is completely unnatural. 

DISPLAY COPY: What do you wish consumers would stop buying new and instead seek out second-hand?

Lilly: Leather jackets and jeans. They used to be made so much better than they are today. I have such an aversion to new jeans! I don't mean to dog anybody, it's just my opinion. If you’ve ever seen The Dirty Truth Behind Luxury Leather or The True Cost, you see how labor intensive the process is. It’s toxic to the environment and involves dangerous working conditions. There’s deforestation, loss of biodiversity, water pollution and carbon gas emissions. The toll is unfathomable! The policies in place to regulate the industry are very poor. But, leather ages like a fine wine, it only gets better with time. And there’s so much of it already out there! If only people could see what I see. [laughs] 

DISPLAY COPY: How do you see your business evolving in the years to come?

Lilly: The vision has always been there. It goes beyond just curating vintage but actually curating a lifestyle towards conscious living. The plan is to inspire others to live with self-awareness, caring for themselves and the environment; two things that are inextricably linked. For me, it's an entire ethos. It's about artful living. It's about living with intention and escaping the 9-5 paradigm in order to cultivate a meaningful life that’s not just centered around work, but centered around growth. For me, it's about embracing who you are and being unapologetically caring and kind to yourself and others.

DISPLAY COPY: How are you planning on wearing vintage this summer? 

Lilly: Timeless essentials, of course, that’s the backbone of my collection. I sprinkle in fun trends that I see too. Summer dressing for me is always about breezy cotton sweaters, floral dresses, denim skirts. I also love this 90s office thing happening. Fitted blazers, cute cropped tank tops and mini skirts. It’s so up my alley, oh my gosh. [laughs] I'm a Capricorn rising! 

“I have three major requirements when sourcing: the fabric, the feel, and the color.”
— LILY ALEXANDER / GOODSHOP BADSHOP

“I just think it's very human to act on the level of circular fashion; things get passed down, reworked, undone, and remade.” — LILY ALEXANDER / GOODSHOP BADSHOP