Friday, December 02
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Sustainable Chic

Vollective co-founders Christie Tyler and Melissa Aglietti sell vintage home accessories to customers with a conscience

Christie Tyler is a fashion influencer who creates content for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Givenchy, Tiffany & Co., Maison Margiela, and Yves Saint Laurent, among others. Her Instagram page features moody selfies in which she sports a handbag or a pair of trousers or boots from her clients’ latest collections. Tyler’s job is to photograph those coveted items, in her words, “in a way that feels true to who I am and that also highlights the product.”

Melissa Aglietti and Christie Tyler

When you have as big a following on social media as Tyler does — around 450,000 at last count — you have a ready-made pool of prospective consumers. Many influencers in her position would have gone the luxury e-trade route. Given the brands she represents and her sharp eye for detail and composition, capturing her bit of the luxury market would have been a logical next step. But Tyler wanted to sell things that were both sustainable and which had meaning.

As it happened, so did her friend and sister-in-law, Melissa Aglietti. Like Tyler, Aglietti had long been concerned about the deleterious effects of fast fashion on the environment. Aglietti had an idea: Why not start an online shop specializing in vintage wares? Tyler was game and so it was that two years ago the pair launched Vollective.

“Sustainability is a really big part of why we started the business,” says Aglietti, a jewelry designer and stylist. “We wanted to help people become conscious consumers, to re-think the way they shop, and to reduce their carbon imprint.” As a gesture in that direction, Vollective includes a string shopping bag with every order, the kind that shoppers in Europe have carried with them to grocery stores and food markets for decades.

In its earliest incarnation, Vollective was devoted to handbags and jewelry, which Tyler and Aglietti released as a series of ‘collections.’ But in the process of sourcing merchandise, Tyler and Aglietti kept stumbling across fantastic vintage pieces for the home: things you might find in your grandmother’s attic that chimed with the pair’s shared aesthetic. 

“One day we said, ‘Let’s do a test run and add homewares and see what kind of a response we get,’” recalls Aglietti. The collection sold out in a matter of days — as has every other collection they have released since — and from that moment on, the business focused on home accessories.

“Christie’s reach has been phenomenal,” says Aglietti, who is based in rural Connecticut — fertile hunting ground for vintage finds. It turned out that Tyler’s followers were attracted to the idea of reducing waste and furnishing their homes with pieces that have a past. 

Tyler and Aglietti release a new collection every six to eight weeks, the amount of time it takes them to source, curate, style, and photograph the fruits of their endeavors. Their website is understated and quiet — all neutral colors and earth tones rather than the bright saturated hues commonly found on social media.

Aglietti says they like to keep things “on the small side” — a typical collection is fifty to eighty pieces — “because we don’t have a ton of time to source.”

“We focus on pieces that are primitive and rustic-looking,” adds Tyler. “We like objects that have a peaceful feel and some sort of historical element. They’re not statement pieces so much as conversation pieces.”

Current infatuations include all things silver, from vases and pedestal bowls to candlesticks to full tea and coffee services. “We love the traditional aesthetic of silver,” says Tyler. “The fun thing about it is that with a little extra work the pieces are completely transformed into something better than you could ever have imagined.”

Recently, they commissioned a Texas-based blacksmith to fabricate limited-edition runs of wrought iron candlesticks, inspired by a cache of vintage ones that Vollective customers had snapped up. 

“So many people loved them!” says Aglietti. In keeping with their mission, the pair only produce a few of each item at a time. As Aglietti notes, “Everything we make sells at once. That way there’s no waste.”