Look out, Tyra—this isn’t just some “America’s Next Top Model” fashion show—this is Harvard formal season. Last Sunday afternoon, Styleta hosted its first Charity Dress Swap in honor of the upcoming formals season. The nonprofit takes donations of luxury clothing and accessories, sells them online, and gives the proceeds to charities. Founded by Yifan Zhang ’10 last spring, Styleta now has branches at Binghamton University, Indiana University, and NYU. “I wanted to revolutionize the traditional charity thrift store by focusing on designer clothing and making it available to more people at lower prices online,” said Zhang.
After collecting over 100 dresses during the past week, Styleta opened the doors to Lowell’s Junior Common Room so that Harvard students could borrow dresses from their peers. Browsing the racks filled with short, long, and sequined numbers, yells of “Are you getting it? Are you getting that purple dress? I want it!” and “Maybe it’s from Asia where the sizes are really small?” could be heard throughout the room.
For every piece a student loaned, she received $5 off from the original $10 borrowing fee. Zhang hoped to put some of the money collected from the dress swap towards funding women’s initiatives as well as the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and other local causes.
Charities benefited from the dress swap, but borrowers and lenders did as well. When asked if she had had any success, Anna E. Pritt ’11 said, “Yeah, I found a really cute dress. I didn’t know if I’d find anything but I definitely did.”
Looking for a dress to wear to the Adams formal, Amy M. Yin ’13 explained, “I lent five dresses. I feel like you get more out of a dress when you let other people wear it. I just think the event is really awesome—I mean, it goes to charity.”