Thrifting, upcycling, and generally sustainable fashion choices are all the rage (and incredibly necessary in the face of climate change) these days. This has been a grassroots movement inspired by everyday fashionistas who say style doesn’t have to be expensive—and it certainly doesn’t have to be unsustainable. The rise in popularity of thrifting and online resellers like Depop and ThredUp has been the Millennial and Gen Z response to the detrimental effects of fast fashion on the environment. (Even this year’s Met Gala featured some high-profile examples of upcycled and sustainable looks, as seen on stars like Billie Eilish and Camila Cabello.)
One of the trailblazers of this movement, the Duluth-based stylist-turned-entrepreneur Kate Lindello, is taking the next step to expand the world of “slow fashion” with her new online peer-to-peer resale platform, Noishaf Bazaar.
The name Noihsaf Bazaar may already be familiar to fashion fans because the site is an extension of Lindello’s popular resale Instagram page, noihsaf.bazaar. The account, which now has over 46,000 followers, was originally created to sell some of Lindello’s old clothing after the birth of her daughter in 2013. Since those early years, the world of Noihsaf Bazaar has grown to include pages dedicated to vintage styles and beauty products and has become an online haven for fans of indie designers and slow fashion.
“I have always loved fashion, but had been heavily involved in environmental and socio-economic issues since high school. To be able to combine them like this really blows my mind,” Lindello told me in an email. “It’s been really fun to see the conversation of ‘sustainable fashion’ become more prevalent in the mainstream. Albeit, there’s a lot of greenwashing with it, but the fact that more people are paying attention to fashion waste, investing in smaller designers, and more open to buying secondhand is pretty cool.”
To accommodate the Instagram account’s rapid growth of followers and newfound community, Lindello decided to create a separate platform where she and her small team manually curate the best of the best when it comes to independent designers and brands. Noihsaf Bazaar has finds from all over, including some Minnesota-based brands like Hackwith Design, Maria Stanley, Winsome Goods, Hazel and Rose, and Scarf Shop. Similar to the Instagram pages, the site offers vintage designs, home furnishings, and colorful styles for women, men, and kids.
“Now that we have our own online platform, we finally have the opportunity to really become a part of the growing resale market and scale,” Lindello says. “We have room to grow and foster the robust community that has been there from the start, while also welcoming a whole new audience.”
The tiny but mighty Noihsaf Bazaar team operates out of a new office in Duluth, overlooking Lake Superior. “Our largest market is in NYC and LA, and most of the people in the industry are always shocked to know I am in northern Minnesota,” Lindello says. “I think we will see more of that in the future though. The digital age is really changing the landscape.”
Indeed, the digital age has made entrepreneurship and sustainable online shopping more accessible to people around the world. The new resale website combines the benefits of shopping small with the ease of online thrifting by finding and presenting hidden gems. The site is especially well-adapted to today’s retail world because, although fashion has long been a form of artistic self-expression, buyers today want to express their values through their purchases too. According to the website, Noihsaf Bazaar focuses on lesser-known styles and designs that reflect the values of the slow-fashion community.
For example, one section of the site gives visitors an inside look at many woman- and BIPOC-owned independent brands and designers that have found a home in this online marketplace—including size-inclusive options—making it easy to find and wear clothes that reflect one’s values.
“We like to see ourselves as an introduction to those who want to try out a smaller, more obscure brand that not everyone has access (financially or physically) to,” Lindello says. “We are often told Noihsaf serves as a tool for discovery, not just a site to buy and sell.”
Lindello notes that the company is starting to partner with some brands “because they not only realize resale is here to stay, but they want to be part of it in a way that’s exciting and fun.”
Noihsaf Bazaar is also an excellent resource for inspiration and information, especially for people just beginning to explore sustainable practices and what personal style means to them. The website’s blog features musings from fashion writers, spotlights on designers and resellers, profiles on artists of different media, and interviews with Instagram’s lesser-known sustainable style influencers.
According to Lindello, the Instagram community has taken to the new website quite well, with a majority of the original buyers and sellers using the site. This has correlated with an uptick in sales on Instagram, she says, indicating that Lindello’s efforts to include more people in the world of slow fashion seems to be working.
“There’s been a lot of lessons I’ve learned, especially over the pandemic, that have made me pause and self-reflect,” she says. “As someone who is in a privileged position, I try to use my voice and our platform for good. We have standards in how we operate, hire, and who we support. This directly correlates to the brands we carry, and the resale market in general.”
Since its humble beginnings in the early 2010s, that name—Noihsaf Bazaar—has taken on a lot of meaning. At the time, Lindello chose Noihsaf (fashion spelled backwards) because it felt sophisticated to her. But the name has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, inspiring followers and fashionistas to take a “backwards” approach to fashion and abandon the idea that the end-all and be-all of style is on high-fashion runways in faraway places. Instead, style can be found in the creativity of independent designers, in the discerning eyes of resellers dedicated to ethical fashion, and in the closets of momtrepreneurs like Lindello and climate-conscious shoppers around the country.