In a rare collaboration between model and stylist, Depop darling Noah Carlos (@LoserThrift) and Sydney Rose Thomas get seriously pretty with only thrifted items. Their brave looks and ingenuity channel the spirit of the times.
PHOTOGRAPHY_ ANDy HARRINGTON
STYLING_ SYDNEY ROSE THOMAS /
Hair_ ADLENA DIGNAM
Makeup_ Miguel Ramos
Model_ NOAH CARLOS (IMG)
NOAH CARLOS AND SYDNEY ROSE THOMAS SIT DOWN TO TALK ABOUT THRIFTING, CONFIDENCE, GENDER IDENTITY, AND WHY THE HATERS WON’T GET THEM DOWN.
SYDNEY_ “Hating me won’t make you pretty?” What does that mean to you?
NOAH_ OMG! I found that quote during my Tumblr days, and I was like, that is SUCH a mood!
SYDNEY_ And it struck you because —
NOAH_ We’re a lot more open to new ideas in 2020, but growing up that was not the case. I had a lot of haters in high school and people would shade me. My friends would tell me not to listen to the haters but listen, we’re human; we care about what other people think about us. I try not to let the past be a thing though. It’s what I’m going to grow from. People say, ‘Forgive the haters,’ and of course I’m going to forgive them, but I won’t forget. The negativity I had growing up is what’s pushing me forward.
SYDNEY_ We’ve seen culture move and be more accepting in many ways, but you can still catch some friction in the day-to-day for not ticking whatever box people want you to tick.
NOAH_ For sure. In the town I grew up, we were all raised similarly, so we had similar ways of thinking. Now I’m so proud to be Filipino and Queer, but growing up I wished I was white. Today people tell their kids, “Just be who you are and be happy for who you are,” but growing up we never had that chance to see a person like me on the cover of this or that magazine.
SYDNEY_ Were there many gay kids in your school?
NOAH_ Openly gay, no. There were a few, but they would get bullied. I remember this gay kid would get messages and death threats in his locker. I was like, ok I’m not gay, because I was scared of constantly being bullied. Honestly, to this day I’m not sure what I am. People are like, so are you trans? And I’m like, I don’t think so, but I might be? I love wearing feminine clothes, acting feminine, whatever femininity means, but I’ve never felt like I’m in the wrong body. I thought I was asexual for a long time. Right now I’m just me. There’s no label to me. I’ll like who I want to like, I’ll wear what I want to wear — I’m just a fucking genderless alien. Low-key, I want to be booed up. We want a relationship, but I’m too girly for the gays, I’m too boy for the straights.
SYDNEY_ You’re too anything for anybody until you meet someone who gets you.
NOAH_ Exactly. That’s why I love the generation coming up because everyone is more open about what they want in life, and I think that’s the way it should be. People ask what are my pronouns, and I never answer that question because I don’t know. Sometimes they say “he” and I feel uncomfortable, sometimes they say “she” and I love it. But then sometimes they say “she” and I feel uncomfortable. And sometimes they use “they/them” and I’m like, am I not here?
SYDNEY_ Of course, for some people pronouns are really important.
NOAH_ Exactly. I always ask people what are your pronouns because I want to be respectful but for me they’re not important. I don’t care. Literally I just don’t know.
SYDNEY_ You don’t have to know!
NOAH_ Yeah. I don’t want to be put in a label. Just call me “That Bitch.”
SYDNEY_ It’s a default that we want to fit in and excel in whatever our environment is. At what point did that shift for you? At what point did you flip it and just say, no, I’m gonna do what I want to do?
NOAH_ Growing up I would always get stared at and I was tired of it, so I started wearing basic white tees and jeans but I still got stared at. At that point, I was like, people are still staring, so I might as well give them a show. I started wearing crazy outfits and not giving a shit. That’s when I started posting my outfits on Instagram too. Nobody related to my outfits until I started posting them. Then people were like, where did you get that?
SYDNEY_ And how did you start thrifting?
NOAH_ One Christmas I got a hundred dollars. I wanted something from American Apparel so bad, because American Apparel was the shit. In my eyes that was the epitome of being rich and being cool. I think these pants were eighty-eight dollars, so I literally spent most of my Christmas money on one thing! After winter break, school is practically a fashion show and everybody is in their new shit. I was like damn, I spent all my money on these fucking pants and I have nothing that matches them in my closet. So I started thrifting. At first my family was not into it. No matter how little money we had, they never wanted to thrift. We would go to Marshalls, Ross, T.J. Maxx — never to a thrift store. But you shouldn’t feel guilty about thrifting or feel like it’s a poor thing.
SYDNEY_ Yeah, there should be no stigma attached to thrifting.
NOAH_ That’s it. Growing up, if you thrifted, you were poor. That’s how I felt until I was fourteen or fifteen. Now it’s reversed. If you don’t thrift, you don’t have style. Let me be real: I judge people for not thrifting.
SYDNEY_ What’s your advice for people who are new to thrifting?
NOAH_ You just need to get out there and go through the racks. That’s my number one piece of advice to people who ask how to get a good style going. When you look at fashion online, what’s in front of you is what is trending at the moment.
SYDNEY_ And the brand is dictating those trends to you. I think people are so used to being shown what they should look like.
NOAH_ For sure. That’s the only reason you’re buying those things new. But those brands are looking through vintage pieces for inspiration! Everybody wants to be trendy, but you can find all those pieces at the thrift store for, like, six dollars! You should go to the thrift store instead. If something stands out to you, just try it, even if you’re not sure you like it.
SYDNEY_ Just take it home and see if it makes sense.
NOAH_ Yeah. Incorporate it into your closet. Take risks.
SYDNEY_ That’s what style is: curiosity and a willingness to experiment.
NOAH_ And that’s what confidence is too. I’ve gained a lot of confidence, but I was never confident growing up. Clothes gave me that confidence. I tell people to be confident and not to be scared of what society thinks of you once you leave the house. The only thing holding you back is fear. The way to grow into your style is by taking risks.
A philosophy of style in which the supreme power of expression is vested in the people.
Saskia De Brauw shows how items from yesterday are as relevant today as ever.