If you want to use your online shopping addiction for good and support small businesses, look no further.
The addition of the shopping tab to Instagram was met with ridicule in November 2020. Creators like James Charles saw the move as confirmation of their belief that social media platforms are now more concerned with profit and sales rather than user experience and supporting creators. This wasn't exactly helped when the shopping feature took the place of the likes tab, which many see as more integral to the app.
Watch this video from James Charles' Instagram story about the introduction of Instagram's recent changes here.
Despite the complaints, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think shopping on Instagram presents a unique opportunity to support small businesses over lockdown. Small businesses have been hit hard, while others who have lost their jobs or hours have opted to set up their own small businesses to supplement their income, so when I was tasked with looking at Instagram boutiques to review, I thought it was best to look at smaller accounts rather than the shops everybody already follows.
Best for jewellery: Meri Pola
When deciding which boutique to review in terms of jewellery, I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of choice I had, so I decided to look to Instagram trends for inspiration. As many are ditching layered necklaces in favour of one chunky chain, I decided to invest in my own.
I ordered the Chunky Figaro Chain, and I was pleased with my purchase. The stainless steel means the necklace doesn’t tarnish, but it isn’t too expensive at £17. Despite the thickness of the chain, it isn’t too heavy on the neck, and it doesn’t hurt when it moves around, nor does it catch on the skin. The clasp is incredibly easy to use because of its size, while the design is unique but versatile.
Overall, Meri Pola has a good range of designs, including necklaces, chokers, bracelets, and rings. It is worth a look if you want to try the chunky jewellery trend. There are both gold and silver designs that will suit every skin tone.
Best for vintage: Sensible Clothing
For this boutique, I was only its sixth customer ever and this was my first attempt at buying designer vintage. I fell head over heals for a cream Burberry cardigan. It’s violently 80s, with puffed sleeves and large gold buttons with a tiger design.
It is in remarkably good nick, considering the colour and age, and there wasn’t any damage or staining. The piece is "Made in Scotland", 100% cotton and amazingly soft. I genuinely think this is a piece that I will have for the rest of my life if I treat it well. It cost me £50 and it was obvious it had been well looked after and wrapped before delivery.
Sensible Clothing has a great deal of quality clothing in each of its drops. There has clearly been so much care put into curating these pieces, so if you want to invest in some good quality vintage, this is the place to go. I also think it is great value for money for what you get.
Best for loungewear: Isn’t It Pretty
I first came across Isn’t it Pretty in a moment of crisis. I didn’t have a great deal of loungewear to get me through lockdown, and living in a student house with shoddy heating made it kind of a necessity. I was intrigued by the fact that all the pieces were handmade, so I ordered a set.
I picked a grey set made of a warm but breathable cotton-lycra mix. There was loads included in my £40 purchase - a long-sleeved off-the-shoulder top, a sleeveless crop top, some shorts, tapered track pants, a scrunchie and a headband. The use of thick elastic in each piece made it comfortable and flattering. I am a straight-up-and-down kind of girl, which is why I tend to avoid loungewear, as it tends to not look right on me, but these looked great on me, which was a welcome surprise.
Isn’t It Pretty is an excellent boutique for lockdown loungewear and is good value for money. Their minimal yet colourful designs look good on every body type and skin colour, and their handmade pieces are well-constructed and comfortable.
I would definitely recommend shopping through Instagram as a way to shop small while we’re still in lockdown. If, like many of us, you’ve developed a slight online shopping addiction, use it for good and support small online businesses.