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The making of My Modern Closet

Chilliwack graduate Chloe Popove has launched My Modern Closet, an online consignment shop fighting 'fast fashion.'
Chilliwack graduate Chloe Popove has launched My Modern Closet

Chilliwack-raised Chloe Popove is making a statement in Vancouver's bustling fashion scene.

This young entrepreneur worked her way through Chilliwack Senior Secondary and post-secondary studies at Kwantlen by working in the retail fashion industry. She continued to do so when she moved to the big city in 2014.

"People are people, they're going to shop," she said over the phone from her living room office. "But I've always been bothered by over-consumption," she added.

It was when she watched The True Cost - a documentary about the impact of the fashion industry on the people who make the clothing - that she became thoroughly motivated to do something to fight 'fast fashion.'

The term is used to describe the rapid cycle of disposable, "trendy" clothing that compromises ethical standards of production to keep costs low, and contributes to massive environmental pollution.

Chloe spent a week with her feet in Tofino sand, mulling over what she could do to make a difference. With a journal in one hand, and a beer in the other, the idea came to her.

She quit her full-time job and dove head first into her passion project, My Modern Closet. She launched the online thrift store in November, 2015 with the goal of making second-hand fashion the first choice.

My Modern Closet isn't just a place to get score discounts. It's a platform of education and a way to encourage mindful shopping.

"Fashion is art," Chloe said. "Consignment gives a second life to clothing. Someone's hard work gets to live for longer."

Those who want to cleanse their wardrobe can simply arrange a pick-up time online. Chloe will take the items back to her home studio for appraisal and photography, then list them at for sale. Her general rule of thumb is to offer discounts of 50 to 70 per cent off retail.

If clothing is pilled, stained, or has holes, she'll donate it to local organizations like Dress For Success, the Get Warm Project, or the Gordon Neighbourhood House.

Within 24 hours, she'll send the consigner 20 per cent cash back, and 20 per cent credit to shop with MMC.

People are evidently on board with the novel idea, pick-up appointments are already booked through the end of May.

MMC shoppers can browse through the growing inventory by size, article type, or by Vancouverite collection. The Samantha collection, for example, is a selection of pieces that fashion blogger Samantha Sito has consigned to MMC.

"They're all local women who are up to rad things," Chloe pointed out. "It's so important to highlight others in the community. Plus, it's cool to shop a girl's closet," she laughed.

She's also collaborating with stylists, business owners and photographers that inspire her on other projects like downtown pop-up shops, living room shopping parties, unique blogs and special events.

Whether you choose to shop at My Modern Closet, Chloe's favourite hometown shops like Lolly's Fashion Lounge or the Button Box, or second-hand stores like the Thrifty Boutique, this young entrepreneur's message is simple.

"Know the power that you have as a consumer."

She's not asking people to stop shopping. She's asking them to change the demand. Let's demand transparency and ethical, fair labour in the fashion industry. Let's create a cycle where women buy clothes second-hand. Let's shop mindfully.

Don't just buy the $10 dress because it's cheap. Ask yourself honestly if you'll wear it at least 30 times.

For Chloe, success cannot be measured in material things or a dollar amount. It's about happiness and authenticity.

Learning how to run your own business is a process riddled with challenges and mishaps, like organizing an inventory without a numerical system, Chloe has realized. But she's relishing in learning from those mistakes.

And as Chilliwack city councillor Ken Popove - Chloe's father - always reminds her, every fumble builds character.

Inevitably, character is what My Modern Closet is all about.

"I've never felt more like myself," she said. "What I'm doing aligns with every single value that I have."

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