Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Fans of ModCloth’s retro dresses, swimsuits, and shoes let out a thousand sighs when word filtered out in March that Jet.com, owned by Walmart, had purchased the site. Sure, we understand the nature of commerce, but this felt like a slap in the face — the once proudly feminist, independent, body-positive shopping website submitting to Walmart? I’m so disappointed.
Since its founding in 2002, ModCloth was a place to indulge the quirky individualist in many of us; the girl who declared “I need that rainbow kitten T-shirt.” Or that ladybug-print sundress, steampunk-influenced brooch, or pinup-style bathing suit, without regard to age, size, or social status. And because ModCloth sold items from smaller brands, it was possible to support independent designers without a ton of digging around the internet. Like most good things, I guess it had to end. Thanks, Walmart.
If you prefer not to buy your kooky sundresses from The Man, here are a few alternative shops that sell clothes, accessories, shoes, and home goods with a retro, colorful, kitschy feel.
Based in Stockholm, Gudrun Sjödén is named after its designer, who still runs the label and its 12 stores worldwide (including one in New York’s Soho neighborhood). If you’re looking for cotton, linen, and silk knitwear with vibrant colors and prints in sizes up to XXL, you’ll find all that and more here.
The brand doesn’t have quite the retro feel of ModCloth — it’s more like a less-expensive Marimekko, with prices remaining mostly under or just above the $100 price point — but it does have a great carefree attitude and inclusion of different ages and sizes. Aside from women’s clothing, Gudrun Sjödén sells fabric, linens, and dishes with the same exuberant sense of style.
What to buy: If you like bright solids or prints, try the “Bölja” dress.
ModCloth always dedicated a segment of its real estate to unapologetic, feline-lovin’, rockabilly fashion, and the Tonawanda, New York-based Cats Like Us has positioned itself as an independent alternative.
The shop has a wide range of sizes — from XS to 6X — in women’s clothing, which includes retro-sexy lingerie, pinup-style bathing suits, and fit-and-flare dresses with cats, tropical florals, and nautical themes. There’s also stuff for men, too (think nifty bowling shirts and hot-rod tees). Prices for dresses range from $48 to $126, and T-shirts and tops span from $18 to $52. Over in the accessories section, there are a ton of cute cat-eye sunglasses for $6.99.
What to buy: Cat dresses, of course.
Bookworms in the crowd may recall that Out of Print T-shirts used to be sold on ModCloth, although we don’t see them there now. But it doesn’t matter, because you can also buy them from the source.
I love that the shirts feature original covers of books that are important to a lot of readers, both male and female, like Charlotte’s Web, The Handmaid’s Tale, Breakfast of Champions, and many others. (Every time I wear my tomato-red A Clockwork Orange shirt, I get compliments for my nerd cred.) Also, the site offers V-neck women’s styles (running a bit small, so size up if you want a slouchier fit) and men’s/unisex tees at $28, unless they’re on sale.
What to buy: I’m feeling this Midsummer Night’s Dream shirt.
ModCloth’s footwear section was always a big favorite for me because it somehow feels safer to take fashion risks below the ankles than above. If you like suede mules and strappy sandals with block heels, the Los Angeles-based Seychelles is a good place to look.
Seychelles shoes aren’t cheap — flat sandals start at $60, and boots go up to $330 — but there are plenty of retro-y choices around $100, like these red suede laser-cut platform sandals, these light pink scalloped edge d’Orsay flats and dainty ruffle wedge sandals.
What to buy: Take a look at these pewter peep-toe shoes.
Another appeal of ModCloth’s shoe department is its range of vegan footwear. So now, let us look to Sacramento Valley-based Lulu’s Fashion Lounge. Its basic party dresses and boho clothing is not exactly ModCloth-esque, but the vegan shoe section offers many options, whether you want espadrilles, cloth sneakers, or lace-up sandals. Lulu’s vegan shoes run for less than $50, while Steve Madden’s vegan footwear sold on the site costs between $79 and $129.
What to buy: These blush suede flats with ankle straps. Fun!