The Alex gown by Dallas designer Tish Cox
Of the many species of shoppers, we examine Exhibit A: The Treasure Hunter. Each item in the Hunter’s closet was painstakingly selected, some having taken great lengths – and miles – to procure. Garments are hung proudly like works of art; the wearable results of tireless searching, thoughtful editing, studied appreciation, and thrilling dashes of luck.
These rare breeds are known for their confident, individual styles and thrive on the one-of-a-kind, constantly being asked: “Where did you get that?”
Shoppers of this ilk now have an online destination to call home thanks to Natalie Bloomingdale, who might as well be their queen.
“I am a highly specific type of shopper – I don’t buy anything that is mass-produced, for example, and I have no problem going to extreme lengths to seek out one-of-a-kind, distinctive pieces,” says Bloomingdale, who adds that she almost ruined her honeymoon trying to track down a particular pair of sandals.
The Texas native recently launched The SIL (short for Stuff I Like), an e-commerce destination for likeminded individualists and the exclusive online retailer for Dallas designer Tish Cox, whose cult of followers can also find her designs at local boutique Cabana.
“She does limited runs of pieces and only cuts so much fabric so it’s kind of like a feeding frenzy when she comes out with new styles,” says Bloomingdale. “All of her fans want everything that she’s ever done – because she can do no wrong. She’s a genius.”
Bloomingdale, who now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, James, first came across Cox’s work when she saw a photo of her interior designer wearing it in a magazine. And so began the hunt. “I emailed her immediately, asking ‘what is this top with the beautiful bow on the front?’ She said, ‘It’s Tish Cox. It’s going to be hard for you to find her. Good luck.’ I stalked her.”
Bloomingdale quickly became one of Cox’s “rabid fans” and would have the designer send her boxes of new designs from her limited releases. “I basically cut her a check for the things I kept – which was always everything,” says Bloomingdale.
She also became inspired by Cox’s partnership with the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, through which she trains and employs visually impaired sewers, cutters and pressers to produce her designs — a first for any fashion house. “It’s so inspiring to walk in there — it just gives me chills,” says Bloomingdale, who has made multiple visits to the facility.
As the designer-and-devotee relationship grew and Bloomingdale was repeatedly “stalked” whenever wearing Cox’s clothes (she says she had one woman wait for her outside of a bathroom just to ask who made her dress), Cox’s absence from the World Wide Web became increasingly apparent.
Bloomingdale, who co-owns Nash & Lee — a fashion PR firm that focuses exclusively on female designers — took things into her own hands. “I basically got so frustrated with not having anywhere to direct people to find Tish that I decided I was going to start a website for her,” she says.
While The SIL was born out of Bloomingdale’s love for Tish Cox, it fills a gap in the saturated, ‘me-too’ world of online shopping, where there are countless sites but more and more of the same product. “What’s on The SIL can’t be found anywhere else on the Internet,” says Bloomingdale. “I see it as a movement away from the influencer and toward the individualist.”
Other designers available on the site include Ariana Rockefeller — a dear friend, Hayden Lasher (whose great uncle was Henri Bendel), Melissa Bui, Cassandra King Polidori, and Martha Medeiros – whose handcrafted designs are sold in Brazil’s most upscale boutiques.
Bloomingdale says she hopes to add more designers and products to The SIL’s roster, but they have to meet her simple criteria. First, she has to love it. And second, it can’t be available anywhere else. Fellow Treasure Hunters would agree that nothing less will do.