“We’ve spread the gospel of sustainable fashion,” says Hallie Borden, the owner of Milk Handmade in Andersonville. “We’re not a trendy minimalist store with all-white fixtures and three shirts on a rack. We’re not the coolest kid at the party. But we’re accessible and warm.”
Borden, 31, left her desk job at a data company and opened the store seven years ago at the height of fast fashion, the trend of cheaply made, disposable versions of design-forward clothing. Alternatively, Milk features local labels like Sophia Reyes and Suki & Solaine. “Our designers are frequently stopping into the shop,” she says. “I get to visit our makers’ studios, talk with the people who are making the goods we sell, and share customer feedback to improve fit and style.” An in-house Milk collection, designed by Borden and launched last year, features items such as a satin floral blazer ($168) and joggers ($158). “I still get a little rush every time someone buys something I designed,” she says.
Jewelry—made by local favorites Michelle Starbuck, Lindsay Lewis, Cities in Dust, and Hvnter Gvtherer—ranges from $30 to $120. Bolo ties made by Chicago-based Minima Maxima, with geometric wooden and acrylic shapes that have a modern and earthy aesthetic, start at $60. Whimsical gifts and accessories include Im-peach-mint candles by Wulfka ($20; proceeds go to the ACLU); booze-scented soaps by Soap Distillery ($7.50); and hand-printed raw silk bandannas by Argaman & Defiance ($35).
Borden describes the typical Milk customer as a trendy 25-year-old or a professional 40-year-old or a mother or a retiree—in other words, all kinds of women. She loves how the neighborhood fosters small businesses and partnered with her sister, Dana Karlov, to open the bridal store Honey next door in 2017 for modern brides looking for an untraditional wedding dress. “Our brides are amazing women, and it’s such an honor to be a part of this exciting moment in their lives,” she says. “Lots of good vibes all around.” v