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Most shoppers’ eyes go straight to the price tag when considering whether or not to buy a new piece of clothing. Lacey Woodroof, however, opts to look at the informational tag — the one usually sewn in near the neck or tucked inside the sleeve. She’s not looking for the size or whether the garment is hand-wash only; she’s looking for something more telling.

A few years ago, Lacey decided to take a closer look at where her clothes were manufactured and in what conditions they were made. “You know how they say when you’re sick, don’t Google what you have because you’re going to find out you’re about to die?” Lacey says. “I kind of fell down a similar rabbit hole with the fashion industry.”

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Each item sold from basic. is carefully curated by Lacey, who makes sure the product is responsibly and sustainably made.

It only took a few mouse clicks for Lacey to uncover the dark underbelly of the mass-produced fashion world. Sweatshops in third-world countries overflowing with workers enduring dangerous conditions, harmful chemical byproducts being pumped into public water sources … these were just some of the grim facts Lacey came face to face with during her research.

In a culture obsessed with having the latest fashion trend, clothing has become the most labor-dependent industry on the planet — and a major contributor to global pollution, Lacey says.

“The average American throws away 65 pounds of clothes per year,” Lacey says. “Is that not horrifying?”

Armed with this new knowledge and the desire to offer women a curated source for wardrobe essentials, Lacey began laying the groundwork for basic., an online apparel shop that offers responsibly made clothes that are both versatile and classic.

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Aside from online, basic. can also be found at pop-up shops and at Winslet & Rhys, which has become a small hub for local artisans looking to sell their products to a demographic that cares about the process in which their clothes were made.

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All of basic.’s apparel — clothing, handbags and shoes — Lacey says, is made from high-quality material designed to last.

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Before opening basic., Lacey worked as a financial advisor for several years. While she enjoyed her former job, opening basic., she says, fulfilled a personal desire to make a difference.

“I don’t ever want to own, run or represent a business that is doing anything other than trying improve the lives of the people who touch the product,” Lacey says, adding, “Whether that means the people who make the clothes or the customer who wears them.”

While still working as a full-time financial advisor, Lacey began reaching out to designers (most of whom she found on Instagram) who fit her criteria of producing responsibly made apparel designed to last. After assembling a list of designers, Lacey launched basic.

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According to Lacey, it’s all about versatility when it comes to building a wardrobe. “My goal has always been for basic. to be ageless, timeless, season-less and occasion-less,” she says, and for the most part, Lacey has always had just a few basic pieces of clothing that she keeps in a steady rotation.

After seeing the potential of what basic. could become, Lacey decided to leave her 9-to-5 job and pursue her newfound passion full time.

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Lacey says that setting up shop at Winslet & Rhys in Avondale was the perfect move for her growing business. Since the store’s inventory is artisan-driven, basic.’s philosophy seamlessly fits in with the shop’s other products.

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Most of basic.’s clothing comes in neutral tones that can be worn in formal or casual settings.

“It’s been such a cool learning experience,” Lacey says of getting basic. off the ground, noting that her husband had a heavy hand in building the basic. website. “I always say that when we started this, it was like throwing darts in the dark, because we truthfully had no idea what we were doing.”

Other than being responsibly made, basic. apparel features a modern aesthetic that is both timeless and edgy. Almost all of the items can transition from formal wear to weekend wear. And Lacey’s goal is for customers to feel as if they’ve made a small investment in their wardrobe each time they purchase something from basic.

“I really want the collection to support the work of small- and medium-size designer labels,” Lacey says. “I want it to be very artisan driven. All the designers I work with, even though they’re all making ‘basics,’ they all do it in a very distinct way.”

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One designer began making clothes after noticing her work wear wasn’t holding up. “She was living in New York City and was really frustrated with the fact that during her commute into the city, her clothes would get disgusting and wrinkled,” Lacey says. “So she decided to start designing clothes from her apartment in Brooklyn, and now she personally owns a manufacturing facility in her hometown of China where she employs her family.”

It’s stories like that, Lacey says, that remind her why she started basic. Even though most people still don’t know where and how their clothes are made — through basic., Lacey says she can make a small impact on a growing problem.

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Opening basic. was Lacey’s way of making a small dent in the world’s mass-produced fashion problem. By offering responsibly made fashion that’s both durable and beautiful, she hopes to leave a lasting impact.

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Despite the shop’s name, Lacey says the clothes she curates are anything but basic. Because they’re made by designers who took time to consider the quality of the product, each item, in some way, is a work of art.

“My biggest goal for 2018 is to just continue growing the brand and really growing the education behind it,” she says. “Because I really think that given the knowledge, people will generally make good choices.”

basic. can be found at Winslet & Rhys in Avondale, located at 400 Third Ave. S., Ste. 105, Birmingham, AL 34222. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To learn more about basic. or to catch one of the pop-up shops around town, visit abasicshop.com.

Thank you to Eileen Design for today’s beautiful images of Lacey Woodroof curating her basic. display at Winslet & Rhys.

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