xiaoxiao and yi have enriched their free time by starting a style blog together. they took the time to capture a few stylish beacon's shoppers for us and break down the evolution of their blog.
what was the inspiration behind starting to z: ?
xiaoxiao: in my application to nyu, i mentioned wanting to record new yorkers’ style. the first time yi and i hung out, i realised she was a very good photographer. i introduced the idea of starting a street style blog: i could talk to people and she could do the photography.
yi: when i was an undergraduate, i read the sartorialist by the street snap guru scott schuman. i was so fascinated by the photos and stories of the fashionistas he met on the street in various cities around the world. at that time, i was kind of wishing i could do the same thing. so when xiaoxiao brought up the idea of doing streetsnaps, i agreed at once. we both wanted to do something special to fully immerse ourselves in nyc. people here are more brave than anywhere else in the world to be themselves. you can sense this directly from what they are wearing. it’s extremely inspiring to me and i want to convey the message to “be yourself” to more people through capturing new yorkers’ styles.
how did you two meet?
xiaoxiao: we both went to nyu. the first time i met yi was at an event held by our school’s student association on the first day of class. i believe we both went for the free food rather than to meet new people. at the event, i learned that yi actually lived across the street from me and the rest was history.
yi: we didn’t get properly acquainted right away, even though she just lived across the street from my place. it was in the first winter break that we thought we should hang out and get to know more about each other since we lived so close.
what is the meaning behind the name 'to z:'?
xiaoxiao: when we started to z, we wanted to include our names in it. the first initial of my name x and yi’s y are right next to each other alphabetically. so i said “i would like to call our target audience z. this blog is from x and y to z.” z stands for the those who appreciate what we see and what we record, and who share the same thoughts with us when it comes to styles, which is “being cool means being yourself.”
yi: we’re writing letters to our audience. we are friends and our content is like the letters to tell you what we’ve recently seen and felt. of course, we hope we can get “letters” back too! ;-d
xiaoxiao: we see colors, prints and textures, we see cultures, and we see people who wear their personality. i believe if an outfit makes a person shine and confident from the heart, that is the right outfit. the power of a right outfit can be felt.
as you are both grad students her in ny from china how did you get into shopping second hand? is thrift shopping something that's available where you're from?
xiaoxiao: the first vintage store i ever heard of was actually beacon’s closet! i realized then you could get an item that nobody else could get at a much lower price. somebody like me just doesn’t like the idea of having things that many people can have. i had never heard of thrift shopping before coming to new york. it is a very new concept that has only recently become accepted by young people in china, perhaps only young people with living experience abroad. my mom still can’t accept second-hand clothes. i think about the fact that we used to give our childhood clothes to our relatives’, and that shopping second hand is sustainable, and i don’t see why she’s against it!
yi: xiaoxiao was my “mentor” who got me into shopping second hand. haha. but i was not as unfamiliar with vintage. i love reading japanese comics and vintage is often mentioned by the heroines in these books, though i didn’t shop second hand myself at the time. those who are influenced by japanese culture or lived overseas before may not find vintage shopping a brand new concept. however, when i started to find out more about it, i found vintage shopping very enthralling. every piece is like living history and contains the culture and unsayable stories from its previous owners. i have a vintage italian bag from the 60s. could you believe it now belongs to me, someone who’s living in 2018 in nyc? it’s very magical. it’s like a conversation with the past. to be honest, it’s not widely-accepted in china. but i feel like it gets more and more popular among the younger generations. there are not ubiquitous thrift stores in china but some young people shop second hand online or through mobile apps similar to ebay. i think one of the reasons why thrift shopping is relatively inhibited in china is some negative media coverage about the sources of second hand clothing.