First Look: Spoils of Wear

On the surface, Spoils of Wear looks like any other hip Twin Cities boutique, with its racks lined with plaid shirts, Minnesota-themed tees, and hand-crafted jewelry. But a closer look reveals a deeper message. The St. Paul shop, which opens this weekend, specializes in sustainable fashion—anything that is handmade, fair-trade, organic, eco-friendly, or ethically manufactured. Located near the bustling intersection of Selby and Snelling Avenues across the street from the new Whole Foods, the industrial-chic storefront is filled with goods from small, independent brands sourced primarily from Instagram.

Owner Jill Erickson got the idea for the store last winter after participating in an Instagram campaign to raise money to fight human trafficking. She found herself being followed by a handful of ethically sourced, sustainable fashion brands and “I realized, this is a thing,” she says.

Brands include Brantree, a London-based company that manufactures apparel out of sustainable fibers such as hemp, bamboo, and organic cotton; Mata Traders, a fair-trade brand that employs women in India and Nepal for a fair wage; Roma, which donates a pair of natural rubber rain boots to a child in need with every purchase; and eco-friendly denim by Joe’s, which use 60 percent less water and 30 percent less energy than a regular pair of jeans. The shop also carries products by Minnesota companies, including leather goods by Solid Manufacturing and locally designed, fair trade–made accessories by Lion Heart Girl.

Because of the higher wages paid to workers and the higher quality of fabrics, sustainable goods cost more than fast-fashion—something Erickson kept in mind when buying goods for her store. She’s tried to keep her prices approachable by stocking lower-priced fair-trade goods and plenty of apparel that’s priced between $60 and $100, with most accessories and tees available for under $30. But some garments by brands such as Prairie Underground, which manufactures its organic cotton apparel in Seattle, are priced as high as $220. If it’s made in the U.S. and organic, Erickson admits, sustainable fashion “can be expensive—but it’s still worth it.”

1566 Selby Ave., St. Paul,