Has garment guilt stifled your eagerness to shop? THIS IS A SPACE is here to help

By Madison Patterson.

Despite a pyrotechnic boom in demand for sustainable fashion, options for the would-be ethical consumer are still slim pickings. But with multifaceted shopping-education-community platform THIS IS A SPACE, finding guilt-free fashion is easier than ever.

Created by Peyton Inoff in 2019, THIS IS A SPACE is a curated fashion site that promotes mission-driven and sustainable clothing, shoes, and home goods. Instead of the neutral colors, granola textures, and uninspired silhouettes that are often synonymous with ethical fashion, Inoff wanted to offer a more jubilant perspective on what good fashion means.

“I really tried to curate kind of avant-garde, edgy clothing brands,” she says. “There’s a wider range of styles out there that can be very responsible … that don’t compromise on design and aesthetics in order to achieve something really great.”

The result is a selection of have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too brands, all at once chic, constructive, and thoughtful.

The brands that do make the cut, like Ganni, Chelsea Bravo, and Baggu, are tested against a 14-item checklist, which requires that they be size-inclusive, produced locally, and diverse in creation and representation. Although very few brands can check every item off, Inoff says the list helps her maintain standards of quality that the fashion industry usually pays no mind.

Inoff’s zeal for responsible fashion began with a revelatory viewing of The True Cost in 2015. Then, after studying fashion at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, she decided to be proactive about her passion and launched the site, though at the time it was one of many projects she took on. Once the pandemic hit, with an abundance of time and very little to do with it, Inoff poured more and more energy into THIS IS A SPACE, making it “more of a resource than a shopping hub.”

Beyond physical commodities, THIS IS A SPACE offers information to give consumers access to facts they need to know before making a purchase or participating in the industry. These include social media accounts to follow, books to read, lectures to watch, and email templates to send brands regarding their business practices.

Its model is a purposefully drastic departure from big brands (like Net-A-Porter) with itty bitty sustainable shopping categories (like Net Sustain). “I eyeroll at [those brands] so much, that’s almost like a backhanded compliment. ‘Hey, we can throw on some brands that are ethical or sustainable … but also here are all the other brands that we know nothing about but we just like,’” she says of big brands’ sustainable efforts.

So, when Inoff was finding her path in fashion, she chose to carve out a new space rather than try to modify an existing one. “If I’m going to join this industry, I don’t want to just blindly do it,” she says. “I want to do it in a way that is raising consciousness and raising awareness and calling to action.”

Five years from now, Inoff would like to see THIS IS A SPACE grow, as sustainability and mission-driven companies move out of the fringe and into the mainstream. “I’m hoping that what I’m doing will be the baseline,” she says. In the meantime though, she reiterates the words of Slow Factory founder Céline Semaan: “You can’t buy your way into sustainability.”