Say “natural clothing” to some people, and they’ll think hemp tunics, flowing caftans, itchy wool sweaters, and flowery dresses. Catheryn and John Snyder, owners of the new natural clothing shop Perpetua Boutique Organique, on South Fourth Avenue, mean to change that perception.

“So many people think eco-friendly means hippie,” Catheryn says, especially regarding items made from hemp. “That’s what we’re trying to get away from. We have a lot of very classic styles and everyday wear, things people can wear to the office. Eco-friendly and sustainable clothing…can be fashionable and stylish.”

Perpetua sells organic cotton, organic bamboo, and even vegan (no animal products) clothing lines, both brand new and “upcycled” from used items, like a line of belts made from recycled conveyer belts. “They look like nice leather belts,” Catheryn says, “and they’re very durable.”

Not everything in the store is made from organic materials–but the Snyders insist that their inventory come from a sustainable source and that it be fair trade. Sometimes they’re able to pull off all three in one product–but not often. “Not everything can be organic fair trade because at this point in time, there just isn’t that kind of stuff available,” Catheryn says.

“I’ve always wanted to be involved in fashion but also do something that felt meaningful,” says Catheryn, twenty-seven. After spending most of last year doing research into eco-friendly fashion, she and John, an automotive writer for the online magazine Winding Road, were ready to take the retail plunge.

“We have limited quantities of each thing but lots of different things,” Catheryn says, including shoes, handbags, men’s belts, shirts, pants, lingerie, skirts, dresses, and jewelry. Prices start at $20 for shirts and bags. Come fall, the store will start stocking jackets and coats that will cost more, but at the moment, their most expensive item is a handbag for $129. Catheryn says it’s up for an award for the best green bag of 2010. She hesitates, then adds, a little sheepishly, “It’s actually made of hemp, which is funny.”

Perpetua Boutique Organique, 209 S. Fourth. 222-9270. Tues.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. noon-6 p.m. Closed Mon.

Got a retail or restaurant change? Send email to or, or leave voicemail at 769-3175, ext. 309.