Rags to Britches

Forget about Lincoln Road or Coconut Grove. The funkiest clothing store in Miami is at 4600 N.E. 2nd Ave, on the edge of Little Haiti and the Design District. It's tucked upstairs from a row of shops, in a converted apartment.

Rag Trade Happy Clothing Co. opened Saturday with a full house and a great concept: bring clothing to donate, get credit for said clothing, then shop. The idea is unique to Miami but common in places such as New Orleans, San Francisco, and Austin (the very excellent Buffalo Exchange runs on a similar concept). The success of Saturday's grand opening shocked even the owner, 22-year-old Stephanie Spiegel. While fashionistas rifled through the packed -- and quality -- racks of clothing, Stephanie was busy taking in more consignments.

"She worked unbelieveably hard on this," said Stephanie's dad, Paul, who sat on a couch in the middle of the showroom during the party.

Despite her tender age, Stephanie seems to have things under control. She has a few rules for donations -- clothes must be freshly laundered, in good condition, no stains or funky smells. Most of the used clothes on the rack are brand name, and the store also carries some new stuff, including totes by WandaBeast and local designer Adrianne Ruffin. The store itself is worth visiting for the ambience -- it's part Haight Ashbury and part Romper Room. (For the opening party, Stephanie had a DJ, wine and cheese, and a bounce house). She's planning some other soirees, including a "Give Back Fur" event, where people can donate furs to shelter animals.

The best part, however, are the prices: most items are under $25. -Tamara Lush

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