StylingSeries: Anna Gray

Anna Gray – founder of resale marketplace Object Limited – discusses sustainable fashion, the joy of leaving nothing behind, and her favorite pastime of finding ‘new’ trends in past pieces.
StylingSeries: Anna Gray

Have you always taken a sustainable approach to fashion? 

I worked in fashion proper for a long time. I was modeling. I was writing. I was producing events. I tried everything (gotta make rent, you know), but I slowly started to realize how wasteful it all was/is. Whatever part of the machine I was in, I kept returning to the same questions: Why are we racing to get another collection ready? Why are we making clothes just to make clothes? 

I’ve always worn and loved vintage but it was when I took a trip in 2018 that I really became aware of how infinite the secondhand supply is. I went on a two week cross country road trip with a friend. We went to every thrift store and antique mall, just stopping anywhere that looked interesting. We started at Brimfield Flea Market and ended up in southern Arizona. I don’t even know how many places we stopped. It was a very fun trip, but it was also really eye opening to see how much stuff is available. It’s mind boggling – and a little depressing. Why should we ever buy something new once we’ve seen how much has been made and is waiting on a shelf for a new home? Clothes, electronics, appliances, home decor, furniture. Everything can be found secondhand (except maybe bras and underwear depending on your bravery and penchant for old school shapes!). 


Will you tell us more about Object Limited? 

We’re a resale marketplace where anyone can buy and sell vintage and secondhand items, mostly clothing for now. Community is hugely important to us because, in a way, we’re a far-flung coterie of people sifting through thrift stores around the world, trying to find new homes for all of these still beautiful, still wearable/usable items. Our customers become vendors all the time. In the world we live in, we’re constantly inundated with the idea that buying stuff will make us feel better (hard to rewire that psychology instantaneously) but we can keep things in the ecosystem of want and wearability and out of landfills. 

COVID-19 has made for an interesting time. We used to host in-person multi-vendor Vintage Bazaars in New York and Los Angeles. We’d bring together customers and vendors to talk about the circular economy, how to style vintage pieces, shop, hang out. I’m extremely grateful for our tech team and our app so we could maintain the business online, but these strange times really make you appreciate the luxury of being able to give someone a hug, try things on, make new friends over a shared passion. 


How would you describe your personal style?

I’ve been answering this question for a long time, and still don’t have an answer. If you asked me twelve years ago, I would have said that I want to wear sparkles all the time. My style has toned down as I’ve gotten older. I prioritize comfort, but like looking finished. 

I live in New York, though, so my style totally depends on the weather report and how far I’ll be walking. Is it raining? That truncates my shoe options to a quarter of my collection.

Though you’ll rarely catch me in sequins these days, those early experiments in self-expression were basically research years that led to a better understanding of what I want to wear and why. What feels good and actually makes sense for the life I lead as a human that moves around a lot by foot. The years of heels and frivolous adornment allow me to make intelligent buying decisions. I buy extra responsibly now but if you want that sequin dress, buy it secondhand and put it back in the ecosystem once its presence in your life has run its course.


How can we harness purchasing power as activism? 

We can see – in Object Limited’s engagement numbers since the start of COVID – that people are becoming more and more aware of their personal impact on the planet and what their consumer options are. Purchasing power is a form of activism. Where and why we spend our hard earned money says a lot. We’re all constantly inundated with the instruction to consume, but that knee-jerk desire for retail therapy doesn’t have to be environmentally detrimental. There are so many brands and options for better, thoughtful consumerism. If everyone stopped buying fast fashion, there would be no more fast fashion. Brands respond to demand. 


What does sensuality mean to you? How does it influence your style? 

Sensuality, to me, is the tactile experience of clothing on the body. Different fabrics - silk, cashmere, leather, something stretchy - and they way they inform movement is interesting, sensual. Slightly too small vintage levis evoke a different sensorial experience than a loose silk 2-piece set. Satisfying in different ways. Sybaritic, indulgent, affirming. 


What does your creative process look like? 

I love playing dress-up. We have an IGTV show, How To Wear Stuff, that is just me trying on themed outfits (print on print or monochrome magenta, for examples). Experimentation is playful, informative. Fashion trends are cyclical. They swing back around every few years and everything is derivative. I’ve been seeing brands play to the seventies lately. We can definitely find a suede fringe jacket or bell bottom jean in a vintage store. I like to examine and understand why fads come back into style. Why do we wear this pant with that sweater? Where did vests come from? There’s so much nuance in the research of clothing, costumes and history! Adornment is anthropologically fascinating (to me, anyway).


How did you style look #1?

This sheer Bode shirt is one of my favorites.  Here I have it paired with a navy CUUP bra, B Sides jeans, (a brand that reworks vintage denim) and vintage silk mules.

How did you style look #2?  

I love these pants! They are handmade, using an old Marrimeko fabric. They fit me like a dream. My colleague Maggie found them on Etsy and said: they are you. And she was right, they are. The pink mules are vintage, too.

How did you style look #3?  

This is a very amazing tie-front ruffle shirt from vintage vendor Lola Mayy. I found it at Seven Wonders, a vintage store in Brooklyn. I’ve paired it with these handmade genie pants from an Object Limited vendor (Lucent Vintage) and leopard bra. Great for a date. 


What legacy would you like to leave behind? 

Well, nothing. I don’t want to leave anything physical behind. Okay, maybe a really nice house for my kids. But I want everyone to consider not buying new stuff unless they have to. To be conscientious and, of course, to be kind. 


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