Luna Zhang on How to be a Good Thrifter

Thrifting? It’s easy as 1,2, only $3.00- I’ll buy it!

“Let’s go thrifting” is a daunting proposition to many. What do you buy? How do you get the cat pee smell out of the clothes? There are just a million questions. Luna Zhang, however, is one of those people that knows all the answers when it comes to buying second hand goods. With an unmatched style and a passion for fashion, Luna is a go-to when it comes to seeking advice before diving into the bargain bin. Show us the way Luna!

Tell us about you Luna!

Hi everyone! My name is Luna Zhang and I am currently a senior at Babson College. I am studying Operations/IT but looking to pursue a career in fashion. I was able to work in the fashion industry this summer through an internship with Converse/Nike, and loved every second of it. I am obsessed with all things clothes and shoes and love to express my creativity through my outfits. Some of my other hobbies besides fashion include painting, working out, and listening to music.

Why thrifting? 

 My thrifting journey started through going to Estate Sales with my parents. They are really into antiques shopping and eventually, I started going to actual thrift stores and thrifting on my own.  I would say around 80% of my clothes are thrifted.  While a lot of people find thrifting to be overwhelming, I like the treasure hunt aspect of it because you’ll never know what you’ll find! Personally, I find shopping at malls to be uninspiring because the selections are all the same and pretty bland.  However, when thrifting, you can find the most random pieces that you have to think about how to style.  It’s more work but totally worth it in the long run! The only thing I don’t thrift are shoes because I like the feeling of getting a new pair of shoes in the mail. Nothing beats the adrenaline rush of unboxing a new pair of sneakers!

Is sustainable fashion important to you?  

Sustainable fashion is definitely important to me-I have been slowly trying to make the commitment to stop buying fast fashion due to the waste impact it has to our world.  I think the biggest thing that companies need to understand is that sustainability is not a “trend”, and I hope that retail companies will start to implement more permanent sustainable practices in their business models.  As someone who is looking to pursue a career in this industry after graduation, I hope to be an advocate for sustainability and use my voice for good.

Style inspiration?

I am really vibing with vibrance at the moment-think Jaden Smith’s newest album cover. I love the way he experiments with loud colors-his style is bold and kinda funky.  I’ve definitely I love outfits that inspire me to go out of my comfort zone when it comes to styling my own clothes. My favorite moments are when I see someone’s fit and think “oh wow, I would not have thought to style that piece that way” because that different perspective inspires me to try new things too.

My current style inspiration is definitely Emma Chamberlain. She is so so underrated and I feel like people don’t take her fashion seriously because she’s “just a youtube girl”. I love how her style doesn’t necessarily fit into one category because she’s always trying out different looks. She also defies the concept of gender segmented fashion through wearing traditionally “masculine” styles. I honestly feel like she was the girl to start the sweater vest trend-people gave her so much crap when she started wearing them because they are traditionally for men, but now every girl on the street pretty much wears them now. Go figure! I remember I used to always be afraid to wear my favorite outfits out because I’d think to myself, “you could never pull that off” or “why are you trying so hard”, or “that’s not girly enough”, but I think having a role model like her pushed me to stop overthinking and have the confidence to wear what I want out. 

Favorite recently thrifted items?

 I remember I was on my way to thrift with some of my friends and I passed by this girl who had these BEAUTIFUL green pants! I thought to myself, “I need those pants”, and when I need something I usually won’t stop until I find it.  Luckily, I was actually able to find a very similar pair of pants that very day! Crazy how things work out sometimes :).

Pieces that you are on the hunt for?

Screen Shot 2020-09-29 at 9.14.30 PM

I always keep a running list of pieces I am looking to thrift/add to my closet. Some items that are on my list at the moment include: oversized thick cotton shirts with cool graphics, sweater vests, and tie dye nike socks. Keeping a list helps me stay organized and in the right headspace while thrifting-sometimes thrift shopping can get overwhelming because you have to sift through so many clothing racks, but I find that keeping a list makes things a bit easier. It also keeps me accountable because I have a bad habit of buying random things I don’t need!

Screen_Shot_2020-09-29_at_9.15.24_PM-removebg-previewHow do you get that icky thrift-shop smell out of the clothes?

Honestly, I wash them twice before wearing sometimes! You have to get a strong detergent for sure, but I generally don’t have many issues with this. I will say that leather, cashmere, and thick denim retain scent for longer so those types of pieces will need to be washed more frequently to get the smell more (not sure if you can even wash leather). My general rule of thumb is that if a piece needs more TLC than what it’s worth, I wouldn’t buy it. For example, if I saw a sweater I really wanted, but it had some holes and bad stains, I’d probably pass on it because it’d take more work to fix it than what it’s worth.

Favorite places to thrift? 

While I would absolutely loveee to share my favorite spots with everyone, a good thrifter knows to never disclose her favorite locations. If I told you all where I shopped, all the good pieces would get snatched! However, I’ll recommend savers to anyone who is looking to start thrifting, and for anyone looking for an iconic Boston shop, I’d start with The Garment District.

Who are some style icons and people you look up to?Screen_Shot_2020-09-29_at_9.15.16_PM-removebg-preview

Some of my favorite icons include: Aimee Song, Sofia Coelho, Maxine Wylde, whowhatwear, Princess Diana, and Alexis Sablone. All of these women are unapologetically themselves and it clearly shows through their fashion. Aimee Song is probably my #1 icon because of the fact that she is a huge Asian American female role model for me. She started one of the most popular fashion lines (Song of Style) that is sold on sites like Revolve. She’s basically a bad bitch who’s running her own fashion empire, and to be able to have such a solid female role model who is also Asian has been monumental for me. Seeing her success gives me hope that one day I’ll make it big in the industry too!

CEO Sit Down: Kathleen Sheppard on Tiller Swim

A company transforming the swimsuit industry one suit at a time.

Photos taken from Tiller’s Instagram

Finding a good bathing suit can be tough. Finding a sustainably made one can be even tougher. That is where Tiller Swim comes in. All of the swimsuits made by Tiller are made out of sustainable, fully regenerated nylon and are reversible. Yes- you are hearing me correctly- Tiller is giving you a sustainable, two for one deal on swimsuits in this summer’s most flattering styles. I sat down with CEO of Tiller Swim, Kathleen Sheppard to give you some exclusive insights as to how her company came to be and what the future has in store for all you Tiller fans.

Kathleen, tell us about yourself!

I graduated from Babson College where I concentrated in entrepreneurship and marketing. After graduating, I started working in advertising for a Boston-based media company, while simultaneously beginning the early stages of Tiller. After dabbling with brand ideas for a couple of years in school, I began more seriously planning for launch once I began working full-time and ultimately launched Tiller in April 2019 with a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve since moved to Los Angeles, California, where I still work full-time in media while running Tiller.

What was the inspiration behind Tiller Swim?

I grew up by the water, spending the majority of my time sailing and swimming competitively, and ultimately teaching and coaching both, so I’ve always had an affinity for spending time in and around the ocean. Since my time in water was spent doing activities in a swimsuit, I wanted to create swimwear that was high quality, versatile, comfortable, and actually good looking (easier said than done!). Once I started designing the suits and looking into production, I couldn’t help but be disgusted with the woes of the fashion industry. Not only are people working in fashion being exploited for their labor in horribly unsafe working conditions and barely making enough money to survive, but the fashion industry is one of the top contributors to waste and pollution. It wasn’t even a choice for me to center Tiller around sustainability- it was definitely an obligation. Tiller now prioritizes the treatment of people and the planet in everything that we do and plan to continue innovating our processes and partnerships now and in the future.

What has been the biggest challenge in starting your company?

The biggest challenge is that there’s absolutely no playbook for starting and running a company (especially right out of school!)- every brand or organization is 100% unique and no two experiences are alike. Because of this, any advice and “how to’s” need to be taken with a grain of salt, something that may work for someone else may not work for Tiller (and vice versa)! With that said, running a one-man show with no previous experience is so rewarding and every experience is a learning opportunity.

There are tons of other women’s swimsuit companies that pop up on the marketplace every day. What makes Tiller Swim stand out?

Tiller currently uses recycled materials in our swimsuits, which is something that is still overlooked by many other swimwear brands to this day. Some people have a tainted image of recycled clothing, but our fabrics will definitely change your mind about any preconceptions- they are super high quality and buttery soft but hold their shape to be the most flattering. Additionally, almost all of Tiller’s suits are reversible, which allows for multiple ways of wearing each piece, ultimately extending the life of all of our products.

What was the motivation behind creating suits out of sustainable ECONYL® thread and that are reversible?

Ultimately the best way to be a sustainable consumer is to not be a consumer at all, but we’re helping to be the next best thing. ECONYL® thread is fully regenerated nylon that has been broken down to its original state. It is created from things like abandoned fishing nets, post-consumer goods, industrial carpeting and plastic bottles, so it’s allowing for fewer resources to be used in the creation of our fabrics while simultaneously cleaning up landfills and oceans. As for the reversible designs, this is our way of extending the life and usability of each piece. Looking for a staple suit? We’ve got you covered- the first side is a solid timeless color. Trying to stand out and be completely unique? Also got you here- the second side is a unique and fun print! Best of both worlds.

Is it hard to find manufacturers and partners that align with your mission of sustainability and giving back?

It is extremely hard to find people to work with that align with sustainability and being conscious members of the industry. With that said, awareness of sustainable productions and operations is on the rise and it seems that production facilities and partners are waking up to this huge realization that change starts with us and it starts like…right now.

What is your advice for consumers who are looking to make more informed and sustainable decisions in purchasing?

Do the research and start with the small steps! In the beginning, it feels impossible to start living more consciously, but once you know what to look for it gets easier. Transparency is a huge tell of sustainability so reach out to brands and ask questions (FAQs, email, Instagram DM, any form of communication works!). If a brand is willing to share how and where a piece was made and what it is made from, that’s a great start. Some have a “Sustainability” or “Transparency” section of their site which can really help as well. Breaking it down even further, you should learn what fabrics are good and bad. Main rules: natural fibers are the best for clothing and recycled or repurposed for swimwear and activewear. If you can’t abide by those two rules, then really think about how the piece you’re buying will serve you. Ask yourself:

  1. Is this good quality/will it last me a long time?
  2. Will it serve a purpose that something I already own would not?
  3. Would I be able to resell it once it no longer serves me?
  4. Was it made in a responsible manner (i.e. sustainable, good treatment of workers, etc)

If you cannot answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you’re just buying something to buy something. This is usually a good indication that you should keep moving honey!

What does the future of Tiller Swim look like?

The main initiative we’re focusing on is shifting to using biodegradable fabrics (and no it will not biodegrade on your body). This is something that we’re passionate about to reduce our footprint and negative impact even more, so look out for that in 2021! Additionally, we’ll be expanding into some other product lines later in 2020 (i,e. clothing, accessories, upcycled pieces) to give you a reason to shop with us all year round.

And, just for fun, what is your favorite suit that Tiller sells?

Oof, this is a tough one! I’m pretty obsessed with the new Topanga Top & Surfside Bottom in Sky & Swirl reversible, but my tried & true go-to is definitely the Laguna Top & Lido Bottom (really in any color, it’s so flattering and just the perfect swimsuit!).

Laguna Top and Lido Bottom (left), Topanga Top and Surfside Bottom (right)