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Image / Style / Irish Design

Irish Design Spotlight: Agité Closet


By Sarah Finnan
23rd Apr 2023
Irish Design Spotlight: Agité Closet

In the market for some pre-loved vintage gems? Agité Closet is a treasure trove of good finds. Here, founder and owner Monica Martinez Bermudez tells us more about her vision and why she wants her brand to be remembered as a movement.

Tell us about you and your brand/shop
My name is Monica. I’m originally from Barcelona and I’ve been working in the fashion industry for more than 15 years – mostly in the Spanish fast fashion giant INDITEX (Zara, Stradivarius etc.). Over the course of these 15 years, my love for fashion and my creative skills grew. I was offered the opportunity to work in Ireland and that has led to my life’s journey here. The pandemic gave me the opportunity to reflect on the impact the fashion industry was having on the environment. I realised that I wanted to change my consumption habits and my line of work. I founded Agité Closet to give people the chance to buy clothes that are both fashionable and sustainable. My passion for fashion has always been a driving force in my life, and Agité Closet has allowed me to continue working in the industry that I love while making a positive impact on the environment. It’s the perfect combination of both and the brand reflects my own personal values, and what I believe in.

What is your mission?
Our mission is to promote sustainability in the fashion industry by offering second hand clothing of the highest quality. Our main sources are Italy and Spain. We hand-select each piece in person, always looking for the best materials and the best quality. We sell timeless pieces that are in excellent condition, and we offer customers the opportunity to return the item if it doesn’t fit or it doesn’t tie in with your own existing wardrobe. By doing this, we encourage people to reuse clothes and make fashion more sustainable. At Agité Closet, we believe that fashion can be both sustainable and stylish. Our selection includes high-quality items that are not only in line with current trends but are also made to last. We offer unique pieces that are not available elsewhere, and we take pride in the fact that our business helps to reduce waste in the fashion industry.

Did you always know you wanted to work in fashion?
I always stand out in my life. From a very young age, I always chose what I was going to wear to school the night before and left it by my bedside so that in the morning, there wouldn’t be an outfit crisis! I am a very creative person and dressing up every day allows me to express that creativity and the emotions I carry inside me.

What kind of items do you stock?
Most of our pieces come from Italy. For us, the most important thing is quality and durability and pieces made in Italy are on another level. We focus on selecting timeless pieces that are easy to incorporate into your wardrobe and can be styled with the clothes that you already own. I think the most important thing is that the piece is worn as many times as possible.

Was money/funding a concern when starting out?
Of course, and it still is! I started my company with the little savings I had and all the profits I collected throughout the year, I reinvested in the company to grow Agité Closet, little by little. Even today as the company continues to grow, it is a challenge to have a fixed salary at the end of the month.

Best business advice you’ve gotten
The best advice I have received for my business was from a career coach. When we started working together, I was very focused on growing fast and having lots of customers/followers but she taught me that it is better to have quality than quantity. It’s no use having many customers or followers if your audience is not connected to your brand and they don’t believe in its values or cause. So now I focus on taking care of the customers/followers that are already part of Agité and the new ones will come in time.

My favourite people to follow online for second hand style inspiration are…
@izzy_manuel – love her colourful outfits. @secondhandhuns – I love how Verona can make an amazing outfit out of things she found in charity shops. @imsarafedz – Sarah is a stylist in Miami who only buys from second hand or department stores.

Best fashion purchase
A leather jacket that I picked up last winter in one of the second hand stores in Italy. It’s a parka with a hood and it goes with everything… I can honestly say that I’ve worn it more than 30 times this winter alone!

Best city for second hand shopping
That’s a difficult question! Most of the European capitals have so much choice when it comes to second hand shopping, but if I have to choose one, I would say Berlin. There are a lot of second hand shops all around the city and the charities there are on another level. I think the culture they have around being sustainable is much more developed.

Other Irish brands you love
Badydoll Vintage, located in the Stephen’s Green shopping centre, is one of my favourite Irish brands. They have an amazing selection of dresses. Collected Treasures in Temple Bar is another one. You can find really nice curated collections there.

My style in three words:
Casual, chic, colourful.

My relationship with fashion is… fashion is a big part of my life. It’s a way of expressing myself and is very present in my day-to-day life because of my line of work. A good outfit can change your mood!

Most useful learning since setting up a business
One of the things I have learned since setting up my own business is that you need time, passion for what you do and perseverance to grow your business – there can be no success without that combination of things. You can’t get to the finish line without running the race.

Proudest moment so far
My greatest achievement so far is having created my website and being able to sell through it. I come from a retail background and had no idea how to sell online. So even to this day, it is still one of my biggest achievements and it is still a challenge every day. Our new preloved spring collection launched online just this week.

Biggest misconception about shopping second hand/thrifting?
Generally speaking, I think when people hear the phrase ‘second hand clothes’, they think of old, worn-out pieces that are in bad condition. That’s not always the case though – sometimes we buy clothes that we never wear or we only wear a couple of times before passing on. At Agité, we always take care to select garments that are in near-perfect condition… to the point that when a customer buys from us, they can’t believe that someone has used it before them!

Best thrifting tips?
The first thing you have to do is go through the whole shop and all the sections – including the men’s section… you never know if you might find something you like. Once you have picked out a few pieces you like, try them on to see how they fit. After that, it’s important to think about your existing wardrobe – do you already have something similar? Do you have garments that you’ll be able to match this new-to-you piece with? Before you buy anything, check the quality and that the piece is in good condition.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CpviUhMA88j/

I got into second hand fashion because…
I started buying vintage as a teenager. From a very young age, I loved popping into this type of shop and rummaging through all the clothes to find something that was different and unique. I liked differentiating myself from other people in the way I dressed. Nowadays, it’s a way of life for me. I believe we can live with less and in a more sustainable way and buying second hand gives me peace of mind in knowing that I am supporting this. I would say that around 90% of my purchases are second hand.

I want my brand to be remembered for… I want my brand to be remembered as a movement. What I try to get across through my videos on social media is that we can we can be more conscious consumers, second hand is an option. Wearing second hand clothes is also fashionable because fashion is cyclical and trends always come back around. If we can give clothes that are in good condition a second life, that prevents them from ending up in landfill. It’s important to reduce our consumption and dependence on fast fashion shops as their overproduction is destroying the planet and the environment.

Agité Closet is hosting their next pop-up shop in Rathmines on May 6/7 from 11am to 6pm. Follow them on Instagram to keep up to date with upcoming events.