Photo by Jay Paul
In the wake of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, Deborah Boschen is putting the finishing touches on a local boutique that will sell ethically and sustainably made women's apparel and accessories.
"People want to know where their clothing is coming from," the 58-year-old says of Verdalina, a "slow fashion" women's boutique at 325 W. Broad St. She plans to open in mid-August.
A Mechanicsville native, Boschen has family ties to downtown retail. Her great, great grandfather opened Boschen Shoes and Luggage in 1852 on the property that later became Miller & Rhoads. He operated the shop for 75 years. "Opening a store downtown felt like the most forward retail move I could make," Boschen says. "I think it's certainly time for retail to come back downtown."
The 1,000-square-foot shop will carry boutique brands that pay workers a fair wage and are made from sustainable materials. Slow fashion, a term coined in 2008 by design consultant Kate Fletcher, encourages consumers to buy less and reject mass-produced clothing.
"The consumer I have in mind prefers timeless pieces to passing trends," Boschen says, adding that most of the clothing at Verdalina can be worn in any season. "The brands I'm looking for are those made with lasting quality using fair-trade, organic materials and low environmental impact."
In addition to clothing brands Raquel Allegra, Burning Torch and AG Jeans, the shop will carry artisanal accessories and beauty products. The emphasis on sustainability will also extend beyond the merchandise. Salvaged doors separate the dressing rooms from the sales floor, and a ladder propped along the wall will display scarves and jeans. "I tried not to buy anything new," Boschen says about the shop's décor, referencing the windows chicly draped with old drop clothes and the antique desk to be used as a sales counter.
Less than a year after leaving Pink, the Carytown boutique she had owned since 1987, Boschen says she is looking forward to introducing a new fashion concept to Richmond.
"I feel like it's time for me to strike out on my own and put forth my own fashion vision," she says.
For more information, call 788-8800 or visit verdalina.com .