Tommy looked out the window for what must have been the hundredth time that day. “Jordan,” he sighed, “I don’t care where we go but we’re getting out of the house.” 

Introducing Tommy Foreign and Jordan Deery: best friends spending the summer inside, broke, and absolutely bored out of their minds.  “Fine by me,” Jordan agreed, “The Salvation Army on Nebraska Ave is huge, we could actually find some heat.” They had never gone thrifting before, but anything had to be better than sitting on the couch watching South Park reruns. Stepping into the thrift store, they were overwhelmed by seemingly endless racks and bins of forgotten clothes. Finding something worth buying felt like a hopeless task. “Wait, no way…” Jordan pulled a striped Tommy Hilfiger dress shirt off the rack. Little did they know, that first find would lead to a successful small business and lifelong passion for pre-owned fashion.  They went on to discover hidden vintage 80s windbreakers, graphic tees, and designer brands. The hunt turned out to be just as gratifying as the thrill of finding a rare piece. 

They grew their individual collections over time and defined their personal styles. Buying second-hand clothing is the easiest (and cheapest!) way to develop a completely unique closet. During one of his thrift hauls, Jordan came across a tan canvas belt. It was a piece he’d normally pass over but he threw it in the cart anyway. He borrowed his grandmother’s tiny sewing machine and started experimenting. Watching youtube video after video, he managed to get the machine roaring and produced his first-ever piece of custom apparel. Tommy dug a half-functional sewing machine out of his attic and developed his own sewing skills. Their newfound talent opened up a world of possibility: the creation of one-of-a-kind wearable art pieces. 

Their custom pieces were flashy, original, and in high demand amongst their friends. It was a natural transition to go into business together. Popping up at university markets, indie flea markets, and thrift con, Vintage Stock Reserve started generating massive buzz. While creating custom pieces for rappers was definitely exciting, the friends knew there was potential to use their platform for a greater purpose. Their main goal: make upcycled fashion more accessible to the mass market. After finding some commercial success they decided to expand their business into a new frontier: TikTok. VSR is now one of the fastest growing brands on TikTok of all time, featured in Vogue  and on influencers. With almost 2 million followers, they are now the second-most followed fashion brand on the entire platform, surpassing megabrands like Nike, Gucci, and Pretty Little Thing. Despite rating poorly on several ethics metrics (Forbes), FashionNova still reigns supreme as the most followed fashion brand on the internet, TikTok included. This points to a big issue in the fashion industry: people don’t know that fast-fashion companies hurt the planet and mistreat workers, or they just don’t care.

Here's what we're doing:

  • Advocating for knowledgeable consumption and eliminating gatekeeping of valuable information
  • Encouraging the development of your unique personal style and confidence
  • Popularizing DIY tips and tricks so you can upcycle at home
  • Generating open discourse on a variety of topics
  • Building a diverse community of sustainable trendsetters


April 22, 2022 — Alex Schuler