Q&A with Serena Fallahi Tittl

The founder of the Collective Market talks about her fall pop-up, fashion sustainability, and fall styles she loves

A photo from a past Collective Market event. Photo courtesy the Collective Market.
A past Collective Market event. This fall’s pop-up promises to be the biggest one yet, and you can expect the same abundance in sizes, styles, and selections.

All photos courtesy Collective Market

About a year and a half ago, Serena Fallahi Tittl was on the phone to try and find a space for what would become the Collective Market, a clothing swap for designer apparel at crazy-reduced prices. At phone call No. 33, though, she was about ready to throw in the towel. She didn’t have grand plans to be an entrepreneur—she just wanted to encourage sustainable fashion. If this idea wasn’t going to take off, she would find another one. But the venue said yes.

Now a year after the Collective Market’s first event, Fallahi Tittl has moved her fall Collective Market pop-up to the Holden Room because it was getting too big. (Don’t worry, though. The event runs from Oct. 10-14, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore all of the goods.)

In the future, Fallahi Tittl can see the Collective Market expanding to three or four pop-ups in the spring and three or four times in the fall across the Twin Cities. As she puts it, the demand is there—it’s just a matter of time. She does have a full-time day job to keep up with, after all.

While she has worked in the fashion industry for about a decade at places like Kohl’s, currently Fallahi Tittl works on product development for luggage and bags in the motorcycle industry.

“I honestly got really burned out of the [fashion] industry,” Fallahi Tittl says. “I took this job in a motorcycle industry, which was a world apart from how I work and everything, but I think in moving industries, it gave me this space to reconnect with the fashion industry how I wanted to.”

Before checking out the Collective Market for yourself, get to know it and Fallahi Tittl a little more.

Serena Fallahi Tittl, founder of the Collective Market. Photo courtesy Collective Market.
Serena Fallahi Tittl, the founder of the Collective Market.

For those who haven’t gone, how is this organized? What should I expect?

For this one, we have over 100 sellers, so we’re just organizing it by category and size. … We see a ton of variety, and some people who are normally very preppy might have fun and explore some boho pieces. With designer pieces that have much more reduced prices than retail, it’s a little easier to play with risk in their style. “I’ve always been curious about this style; how can I incorporate it?” Try it! A piece might be 70 percent discounted.

How have you seen the Collective Market change from each event?

We doubled in size from the first to the second, and we’re anticipating doubling in size from the second event to this one.

We added mens’ at the second event. The space is twice as big for this event than the previous one, and it’s just been kind of fun. We work with volunteers, the people who are selling their goods and pieces, and we see at least 30 percent of the people continuing to resell season after season and keep coming back—it’s super great.

So many people are like, “I bought an item last fall, loved it, but want something new again,” or “I wore them once or twice, got my use,” so we’re promoting this whole cycle of sustainability than wear it once and be done with it.

Besides going to events like the Collective Market, do you have other tips to shop sustainably?

Be really thoughtful with what you buy. I’m a big advocate of buying better instead of more. There are certain pieces you can invest in. I have a great pair of boots that I’ve taken care of, they’re eight years old and they look brand new and go with every outfit. There are key pieces you know you’re going to need. Great jacket, great boots, and a couple pairs of jeans are so key, so invest in them because they pay back ten-fold. The nice thing is even if you invested, and your kind of style changes, events like the Collective Market lets you sell them and make some money back.

Going into autumn, what styles are you into right now? Where do you get inspiration?

I’m obsessed with texture. I’m still watching runways, and following fashion week last spring, I loved all of the English textures, the houndstooth, the classic twills and herringbones, all the way to “Give me all the sherpa,” which makes me look like a walking yeti sometimes.

I take a lot of inspiration from looks in real life, from street style, than traditional style icons. I think everyone can be great with a team of stylists, but it’s much more unique and fun to see how people piece things together on their on.

I have to ask—thoughts on the Twin Cities fashion scene?

With a bunch of new neighborhoods getting stronger in their identities, you kind of see it come to life in their look. In North Loop, I think people are really great at cool modern lines and playing with volume and proportion. I love going to Northeast; they’re super creative and artistic, and I think the style lives up to that. You have uptown, which is feeling more modern. In St. Paul, I love going down through the old neighborhoods. It’s super cool to see people blend vintage and traditional in new ways. I think we’re definitely growing as far as how we dress ourselves.

This interview has been edited for length, style, and clarity.

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