Micah Russelll, a 28-year-old personal shopper thrifters and stylist from Oklahoma City, has shopped for over 370 clients since March 2023. She has never actually interacted with any of her clients or even seen their faces on video calls. As an alternative, Russelll works entirely from a distance, asking her clients to give her measurements and a Pinterest mood board of their ideal look to help her create what she calls “sustainable style bundles”—packages of second-hand clothing that are specifically chosen to meet each client’s needs.
Who would entrust their dream closet to a complete stranger they met online? Evidently hundreds of young women. A new breed of personal shoppers are marketing their services by sharing videos of the bundle-building process on TikTok under the hashtag “stylebundle,” which has received over 197 million views as of right now. Numerous customers also document their initial thoughts in well-known “unboxing” films, the majority of whom include the supplier of their shipment in complimentary remarks. A style bundle search on the Depop app for secondhand sales returns more than 98,000 results.
On a vision board, typically made on Pinterest, the customer’s fashion inspiration is first pinned down. Images can be as particular as a picture of the Fall/Winter 1999 Prada runway or as abstract as a picture of a model taking a selfie while off duty wearing a T-shirt and jeans. Then, using just used items, digital personal shoppers try to duplicate what they observe. Style bundles can build a full wardrobe in one go, depending on how much you’re ready to spend. Russelll promises between 24 and 31 things of apparel for $500 (her $150 package has no more than 10 items). Some vendors provide shoes and accessories as well as clothing, but the mix is unexpected. This is the antithesis of rapid fashion, with a one to eight week wait for your new style.
In the previous four months, Russell, who has “tried to be a stylist” for the past five years but has struggled to make ends meet, believes she has built between 30 and 60 bundles per week, the bulk of which are for clients between the ages of 18 and 24. They express their sense of style using terms like “coquette,” “clean girl aesthetic,” and “whimsy goth,” which to the uninformed eye look like a mess of syllables but to digital natives are a collection of precise signifiers. Russell spends the majority of her days searching estate sales, local markets, thrift shops, and online auction sites like eBay and Poshmark for clothing that might work. She hired two aides in April to help her handle the demand.