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Local Couple Launches Inclusive Pop-Up for Plus-Size Clientele

Thique Threads centers affordability, sustainability and inclusivity in thrift

A photo of the owners of Thique Threads featuring Bennet on the left and Medina on the right side of their colorful business sign.
Beaux Bennet (left) and Angel Medina at their pop-up location on the patio of Summit Coffee on The Plaza. (Grant Baldwin)

All too often, one’s aesthetic is assigned at birth based on apparent gender; you wear pink or you wear blue. In an instant, we are assigned a gender to identify how we are to move in the world and how we are to be labeled within its social parameters.

That’s just the way it is and the way it will always be. Or maybe not.

In recent decades, more people have come to understand that, as time goes on, one decides who they are and who they want to become. As they grow and mature, their identity becomes more clear to them, shaped by their own visceral experiences, memories and cultural environments.

One’s identity shouldn’t amount to four concrete lines in the shape of a box. One shouldn’t have to suffocate when trying to blossom. One should have the room and space to fully grow into who they are meant to be.

In short, one should be allowed the space to be fluid in their identity if that means feeling comfortable within their own bodies.

“I think identity is such a fluid thing that you can identify as one thing, or you can identify as everything,” said Beaux Bennett, co-owner of Thique Threads, a queer-owned, sustainable, plus-size pop-up that operates in the Charlotte area.

“You can find your niche, or you can find all your niches, and you don’t have to be stuck in a box,” he continued. “I think a lot of people still feel like they have to be one thing or the other, but a lot of the people we’ve met this year have taught and reaffirmed to us that you can be everything.”

A big part of being comfortable within your own body means finding comfortable clothes to dress it with. The idea for Thique Threads was originally born from the experience of co-owner Angel Medina, who had a passion for thrifting at vintage markets around Charlotte during college but couldn’t often find clothes that went above XL.

Fellow co-owner Angel Medina first had the idea for the pop-up during college.

“I would feel left out from being able to support somebody that I would’ve liked to support,” he recalled.

Medina’s experience sparked something within him, as he began to consider the potential for a consignment shop that served plus-size folks in general — man, woman, nonbinary person, it would have something for everyone.

The start of Thique Threads

The idea remained on Medina’s mind until he and partner Bennett, his partner, hosted an impromptu exchange between a group of friends during the holiday season.

“One year for our Friendsgiving, we had a huge tote bag of clothes we were getting rid of and we just dumped the clothes out,” Bennett recalled. “We let our friends pick pieces and send us $5 for whatever they found.”

Soon after the gathering, the couple realized that the simple exchange between friends could be made into something much bigger. The two connected with Helen Moffitt, owner of Thrift Pony consignment shop in the Commonwealth neighborhood near Plaza Midwood.

Related: East 8th Vintage Quietly Builds a Base of Thrifters in Elizabeth

Moffit offered an opportunity to become a vendor at a monthly pop-up held at her secondhand, vintage resale store on Morningside Drive. They jumped at the opportunity, officially launching their new small-business venture on Instagram in February 2023.

They immediately got to work sourcing everything in preparation for their first pop-up: clothes, clothing racks, hangers, clothing tags, tables, etc.

As part of their early decision to prioritize sustainability, the two were resourceful in selecting their materials and products.

A photo of Medina and Bennet smiling in front of a colorful backdrop of a flower mural at a coffee shop in Plaza Midwood.
Medina and Bennet. (Grant Baldwin)

“We were pulling pieces from our closet, we went thrifting, we dug up old IKEA racks from our garage,” said Medina. “We borrowed a tent from a friend that she’s still letting us borrow to this day. We kind of pulled it together last minute, but everyone was like, ‘Ooh, what’s that? That’s kind of cool.’”

Their first market experience was one of learning. Looking back, they admit they have been overly excited to be part of their first market pop-up. They quickly picked up on the idea that their warm greetings weren’t appreciated by everyone; sometimes people just want to shop around without all the interaction.

“At the end, we were just like, ‘Let’s just sit down.’ I think we were tired from yelling,” Medina said, laughing. “And then when we sat down, we saw people coming in and we thought, ‘Let’s just be quiet.’”

The two will be part of Thrift Pony’s upcoming two-day Spooky Thrift Market, setting up on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sustainability means affordability

Thique Threads has three core values: sustainability, affordability and inclusivity.

As for sustainability, that can have a few different meanings within the fashion industry.

One definition from Redress Raleigh explains, “Sustainable fashion uses textiles that are manufactured, constructed, and marketed responsibly and consciously that acknowledges and accounts for their environmental and socioeconomic impacts.”

The overall hope behind sustainable fashion is to use a piece of clothing for the entirety of its life cycle, and not produce more waste within the inexorably fast pace of the fashion industry — pushing back on the harmful practices of fast-fashion companies like SHEIN.

“Sustainability to us, and what our brand means is keeping clothing out of landfills,” said Bennett. “We are comfortable buying pieces that might not be in 100% condition when we get them and would otherwise go to landfills and be thrown away. It might be something as simple as a small tear or a stain, but we put in a lot of work to save those pieces.”

Medina’s family has a background in the laundromat industry. His mother taught him early the different methods to use to remove different types of stains from certain fabrics, so Bennett and Medina are able to launder many of the clothes they take in themselves, going the extra mile to salvage certain pieces.

For Medina, sustainability goes hand in hand with affordability.

“If something’s sustainable, it should be affordable for the person to be able to purchase it,” he said. “We have some of the cheapest prices we’ve seen in the market and it’s all blanket prices for us. Our t-shirts are $12-$15. Our button-ups are $15. Dresses are, like, $18-$25.”

For Bennett and Medina, it’s not all about making a profit, but about making someone happy.

A photo of Medina and Bennet helping customers purchase their items at their table with reusable bags.
Medina and Bennet interact with customers. (Grant Baldwin)

“No matter who you are, everyone needs clothes,” said Bennett. “That includes anyone of a plus-size stature; it’s hard for them to find these clothes just because of fashion trends sometimes. Sometimes they can only find it on fast-fashion websites or they can only get it from another reseller online that’s overcharging and they can’t get that.”

To further their sustainability efforts, the couple recently launched a line of linoleum-print tote bags for customers to reuse at their pop-up or elsewhere, giving a discount upon reuse.

Customers who use a Thique Threads tote or bring their own receive a 5% discount in recognition of their sustainable practices. “The people who are doing their part deserve a little extra,” Bennett said.

Inclusive clothes shopping

Aside from being sure to feature a wide range of sizes for plus-size customers, inclusivity can also mean something as simple as not pigeonholing a piece of clothing into a gender.

Bennett and Medina have become experts at referring to the niche style the clothes fit into or the vibe they’re giving without necessarily categorizing them as belonging to a women’s or men’s section, for example.

“We can refer to it as masculine or feminine without having to directly give it a gender,” said Bennett. “What mood am I feeling? Am I feeling a little bit more feminine? Am I feeling a little bit more masculine?”

The owners describe Thique Threads’ style as one that caters to everyone — from punk to cottagecore to NASCAR — the pair try to find the statement piece that everyone is searching for.

“People are looking for those pieces. When someone asks you, ‘Where’d you get that?,’ they could be like, ‘I thrifted it,’ or ‘I found it here.’ Honestly, sometimes the gloat is nice,” Medina said, laughing. “Nowadays, people are just trying to find who they are and try to find what they like and what they feel comfortable in.”

Clothing can act as protection for people and their bodies. It can serve in that way through a transition process by helping someone feel more comfortable within their changing body and identity. Sometimes people might buy an oversized shirt or bigger size because they don’t like how they feel in tight-fitting clothing.

“Some people will go through something with their bodies — whether that’s going through a transition of some sort, like body weight transition or gender transition or identity transition — we want to be there to help them with whatever transition they are going through,” Bennett said.

Thique Threads’ foundation is solid and their mission is clear. For them, identity does not fit into a box. But as for an open-ended, reusable tote bag, you can start with that.

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