I have always been a big proponent for buying secondhand clothing. Any clothes that are put back into the world instead of thrown away can be given new love; they can be reworked, restyled, and upcycled. Clothes are items, but they also carry with them a life of their own. When we choose to buy secondhand, we also invest in the love of mindful shopping, the love of fashion, and the love of people. In a world where fast fashion is the norm, we forget that we can also repair and rewear our items until the end of their life. Although I have a minimal wardrobe, I try to keep a collection of items which have good intentions and good spirits, and try to give them as much love as possible. Clothes are more than possessions; they are also extensions of the people who make them and the people who once wore them.
On this issue of Shop Well, I interview Zoey Sterba, founder of secondhand clothing shop The Twittering Machine to learn more about the inspiration behind her brand and her take on sustainable style.
ISM: What motivated you to start The Twittering Machine, and what was the inspiration behind the name?
Zoey: I was motivated to start The Twittering Machine through both personal experience and awareness of my surroundings. Being a fashion major, we are constantly learning about the systems and processes within the fashion industry. In today’s day and age, it is clear that the waste created cannot be supported by the Earth – whether it is within the process of creating fashion items or the disposal of garments (AKA the ginormous landfills that are rapidly piling up). It is also clear that the factories that the majority of garments are being made in, are environments that are unsafe, unfair, and unacceptable. But I, being a college student, understand the desire to buy new garments on a budget. So I started The Twittering Machine for those who appreciate contemporary style and using their purchasing power to nature (& humanity’s) advantage! It is the new way to buy cheap clothing! We can buy a garment at low cost while also supporting the Earth, recycling, & making use of what we already have instead of creating more damage. The name of the shop comes from a watercolor/ink drawing done by my favorite artist, Paul Klee. There are many interpretations of the work but I like to see it as the mechanized movement of the Industrial Revolution which can be directly connected to the issues we are facing now within the fashion industry.
ISM: Buying vintage clothing is a great way to live a sustainable life. How do you view sustainable fashion through the lens of a world consumed by material possessions?
Zoey: Sustainable fashion is insanely paramount to the growth of humanity and the growth of the Earth. We are surrounded by a culture that wants more than anything – new items, more items, faster delivery, infinite access. We are consumed by the notion that more is better. This ideology – whether practiced consciously or subconsciously – has to end. And what ever happened to meaningful purchases? We should take pride in the fact that we have the power to control where the industry goes. If we stop supporting the countless brands that rely on exploitation for profit, we can dominate the market and make available only those that are creating thoughtfully. This is easier said than done, though, as I haven’t always thought this way. We all start somewhere and I only hope that consumers worldwide can begin to start asking the most basic, yet extremely important, questions when considering buying a new garment: Who made this item? Were they treated fairly? What is it made of and where were the materials sourced? And finally, is this a meaningful purchase? Knowledge is power and only then can you really understand the strength and longevity behind sustainable fashion.
ISM: Behind the scenes, how do you choose which items you collect for your brand?
Zoey: I choose my items according to a few different qualities: condition, comfort, fit, & style. I embrace contemporary style while also touching on a variety of other styles so that a myriad of individuals can find something they like. The majority of my purchases are earth-toned and I try to source as many garments made of natural materials as possible. I have found myself getting pickier and pickier as the shop evolves – which is both a good and bad thing. I would love to be a place where customers can visit weekly and find new items, but I am turned off of having to settle for less-than-great items just to meet a quota. After all, buying for buying’s sake is kind of against the whole idea, right?
ISM: What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned through founding The Twittering Machine?
Zoey: The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is to stress less about social media. I began the shop worrying about every little detail and would stress for hours about what to post next. I soon realized that the more stress given, the less authentic it feels. I don’t need the shop to be perfect or the next big thing, I just want it to be personable, relatable, and real. I’ll take 10 loyal and excited followers over 100 disinterested ones. I am also learning to find the amazing things within social media – like the opportunities I get with people like you. Social media is an amazing place to meet individuals and collaborate together to support a lifestyle we both love. It is our job to spread the word of sustainable fashion and we can’t do it alone!
ISM: How should someone get started in developing their style in a sustainable way?
Zoey: For me it has most definitely been the internet. I love shopping on Garmentory – a hub for indie boutiques/emerging designers. While not every designer is deemed sustainable, it is an amazing research source to find those who are. I also love all the amazing blogs, like yours, that are curating information and resources for consumers to use as a jumping off point. Of course, Instagram is also a great tool to find many shops that provide a plethora of sustainable styles. There are so many people out there doing good – we just have to find them! 🌱
Follow The Twittering Machine on Instagram @shopthetwitteringmachine.
I personally love the array of things Zoey has to offer at The Twittering Machine. She curates her items with a great aesthetic, and I had no problem finding lots of stuff I adored! Everything is very affordable, and it’s a great place to buy neutral staples for both men and women. The site is also extremely easy to navigate and presents itself well. Zoey kindly gifted me a slim black turtleneck sweater and a crisp, professional cream button down to review. Shipping was speedy and there were no problems receiving my order.
I loved how Zoey included a sweet handwritten note in my package too. Both were kept exceptionally well, and were delivered clean and fresh. Chic secondhand clothing. What more could you want?
Pictured in the lookbook below is the cream button down, styled with a simple belt, loafers, drop earrings, and culottes for a more tailored look.