Manic Pixie Thrift Creates A Personalized Shopping Experience

Photo by Jackson Davis

Sydney Swing got her first taste of fashion when she lived in New York City and worked as a freelance model. In order to minimize how much money she spent, she would often find herself styling her own photoshoots. It wasn’t until moving back home to the Midwest that she discovered her true passion for thrifting. Following her newfound obsession, she and her friend started selling on Depop when their business began to take off. 

It was then Manic Pixie Thrift was born. 

The name Manic Pixie Thrift is inspired by the song “Manic Pixie Dream Hurl” by Thank You, I’m Sorry, along with the nostalgia of a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” According to Swing, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a group of 90s main characters, who are often female leads. Swing likes what a Manic Pixie Dream Girl represents — someone that people gravitate towards not because they are the most conventionally attractive but rather because they are fully and completely themselves.

“I wanted everyone to have that feeling of being a powerful female lead in the 90s,” Swing said. “The name felt good because it was vintagey but it also felt fitting for why I started my brand which is to help people feel empowered in what they are wearing.” 

A huge part of Manic Pixie Thrift is the style bundles. Swing curates the style bundles by having clients fill out a form. There, they can add Pinterest boards as their inspiration for what they want their closet to look like or clothes they enjoy wearing but want to be more sustainable. From there, Swing spends one to two hours sourcing her clothes at various thrift stores and then styles them from home. Once the pieces are gathered, the client meets with Swing at Show Pony for a fitting. 

During a fitting, Swing brings a huge rack of clothes for the client to go through. She said that she wants her clients to have as many options as possible so that no matter what they are leaving with at least one piece of clothing.

“I make it very clear to them, don’t just leave with stuff because you think that this is your only session, you’re always welcome to come back and I will comp the styling fee if we haven’t met the styling amount,” Swing said. 

One of Swing’s biggest struggles with style bundles is figuring out the sizing. It’s because of this that she is moving away from online style bundles where she would pick pieces and then send them to her clients. According to Swing, sizes for vintage vary so when someone thinks that they are a four, they might actually be a two. 

“I never wanted to offer a service that people didn’t think was actually benefiting them,” Swing said. “The whole point of sustainable fashion is to get you something to wear that’s not going to just sit in your closet but at the same time I want to give people stuff that’s unique.”

Swing finds that getting people to feel confident in what they wear and trusting her is the biggest challenge. However, she said that she’s honest with her clients and will make sure that they don’t leave with a piece that they don’t like.

“I think that someone who is shy or introverted or who doesn’t believe in themselves as much, that’s what they need,” Swing said. “Clothes are the number one way to tell somebody how you’re feeling, how you want to be approached or how you want to be taken in general without having to speak.” 

In addition to styling clients, Swing is also a vendor at ThriftCon. She enjoys the high volume sales and exposure ThriftCon provides but finds growing her following and connections more effective in smaller markets. However, that’s not to say Swing doesn’t love the benefits that come with being a part of ThriftCon. 

“I think it’s an epic and amazing event,” Swing said. “I think that the dichotomy in markets where you can do these really big and elaborate events and make really good money is much needed for smaller businesses because we need that confidence to be like ‘wow, I can make a sustainable living and they help our community.’” 

READ: ThriftCon, The #1 Vintage Clothing and Collectible Convention, Hosts ThriftPop

As Swing continues to grow Manic Pixie Thrift, she hopes to one day open a store with a partner. Although not in the near future, Swing is feeling patient and enjoys the opportunities coming her way. In the meantime, she is grateful for places like Show Pony where she can have a sustainable income and gain a following while learning how to maintain her business.

“I think there’s a lot to learn before you open a store,” Swing said. “You see that happening all of the time, where people think that they are ready because they’re good at the thrifting element but there’s more to it.”

Swing said growing up she didn’t have much confidence but turned to clothes to express herself. Often, a lack of confidence lives in a lot of people and though clothing may seem superficial, it’s the best way to take risks.  

“I think that clothing gets misconstrued as superfluous or extra and that to me is like your armor or shield,” Swing said. “I just hope more people are open to the idea of dressing a little bit more fun and taking risks in areas that aren’t super risky.”

Schedule a fitting with Sydney here or shop her clothes at Show Pony located at 2025 S University Boulevard, Denver.

All photography by Jackson Davis.

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