“Dope fashion for dope minds,” reads the Thriftqueened “Who We Are” page on their website. Vara Ayanna, Thriftqueened creator, up-cycles and reconstructs clothing for the
greater good. This greater good goes two ways in the eyes of Thriftqueeners: One, save the planet, and two, look great while doing it.
The clothing company makes new clothing out of recycled materials, like 100 percent post-recycled cottons and fabrics.
Thriftqueened takes clothing from all over the spectrum: new, old, thrifted, even recently purchased, and gives them a unique, eco-friendly spin. Ayanna says her main role in the company is, “designer, designer and designer.” She uses pre-existing resources to create her street fashion.
Before she started the company, her friends had already dubbed her the queen of thrifting. She decided this year she would take the meaning of thrifting to a different level that could change the world.
Thrifting, a word made more mainstream by the recent release of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ track, “Thrift Shop,” is simply the act of reusing and discovering previously used or otherwise donated clothes and items, usually for cheap prices. Another important term to know when it comes to Thriftqueened is up-cycling.
Up-cycling is similar to recycling, but it gets a bit more creative than those blue containers sitting on the curb. Up-cycling refers to taking something that has already been used, or would be thrown away, and giving it a greater purpose by renewing its “soul” as an item. Ayanna and Thriftqueened do just that. The fashion is “fresh, street style,” as she refers to it.
Recently, Thriftqueened graced Tempe Buffalo Exchange with the honor of being “Kinged/Queened.” Thriftqueened styles and products will now be featured at the Tempe location of Buffalo Exchange. Ayanna had her foot in the door with this one, as she used to be an employee at the company.
Candace Gaskin, store manager of the Buffalo Exchange off University Drive in Tempe, was welcoming to Ayanna and the Thriftqueened team. Gaskin explained that at least once a month the store tries to showcase “local talent,” in their store. From music to fashion, the Tempe location is a proud supporter of the local scene.
“It’s a great way to look at everyday clothing,” Gaskin said of Ayanna’s designs.
Thriftqueened does not just stop at fashion. Ayanna describes this company as more than style. It is a movement. The importance of art and reusable fashion as a brand is something that Ayanna and her team believe is growing exponentially. The vision for Thriftqueened includes becoming a “family” type of brand that caters to all people, no matter size, shape or attitude.
“I feel like we cater to different demographics, and all types of people,” Ayanna said. “So for a company to be diverse and have eccentric products, I think it holds well to what we want to portray as an emerging lifestyle brand.”
Being a relatively new company, Ayanna and Shanice Malakai, chief commercial officer and creative media officer, are still focused on the goal rather than the cash.
“I really wanted to start this brand, because we are all a naturally wasteful beings,” Ayanna said. “For people to see how important it is to recycle and re-us, is an amazing thing.”
Ayanna added that Thriftqueened will be about charity, re-using, up-cycling and teaching others that fashion can be ethical while continuing to be “dope” as it helps reduce our carbon footprints.
“Fashion, in general, is so wasteful,” Malakai said.
The website lists the fashions as “wearable art.” Aptly named as most of the designs have that original, one-of-a-kind feel. Ayanna struggles when listing her influences as a designer. A true tell of any artist is when they are inspired by more than just the visual aspects.
“I am inspired by people, and feelings and music … nature and other cultures,” Ayanna said. “I love indigenous cultures, and the feeling of diversity they give off. I’m also very inspired by people and their words, poetry, architecture, traveling.”
Malakai took time to say that Ayanna is humble enough not to brag about what she does, but it is obvious that both women know where they want to be with the company.
“I want people to be able to feel comfortable in their own skin,” Ayanna said.
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