Zarah [Castaway #1]

This is the first exchange in what will hopefully become a long series of same such conversations where I poke and pry into closets to unearth their seven most treasured items of clothing. One of the three basic necessities of human existence, some may have plenty, some may have few but there will inevitably be those items which have become cornerstones along the daily course of living.


Choosing the first castaway is a pretty momentous decision. I wanted to start off on good footing with somebody whose attitude towards style is one I respected and unique enough that I could really learn about a different cogitation on garment, style and fashioning. Meet Zarah.

We met at the tender age of 5 in first grade. Our shared surnames meant that we would go around class duping our peers into thinking we were twins and somewhere in those moments we forged a friendship that has spanned childhood, puberty and now young adulthood. In the eighteen years we’ve known each other, she’s become a basement artist, bass guitar player of an all girls indie band called Hooves, and the editor-in-chief of CREEP magazine all whilst maintaining a 4.0, pocketing a business degree and travelling most of Europe. The past couple of Christmases we’ve shared have seen us dressing up for party after party and nobody I know is a more ferocious proponent of ‘you do you’ than this girl. With one of us in London and the other in Vancouver, the interview has been conducted entirely via Facebook. It’s the 21st century and I can have a heart to heart on the internet if I wanna.

Zaneta Cheng

Ok so let’s start. Ready?

Zarah Cheng


Zaneta Cheng

k so i am aware that i am not allowed to use the h word in this conversation so how about you describe your style to me?

Zarah Cheng


Zaneta Cheng

and your general approach to clothing

Zarah Cheng

you are correct

ummmm i dunno i never really think about how i approach clothing. comfort is a huge factor. that’s why i never jeans.

cuz i always feel suffocated when i wear jeans

hold on i have to flip my frittata

Zaneta Cheng

would you say that your preference for comfort drives your clothing choices then or is there something about comfortable clothes that attracts you to them?

i guess in other words it’s not about looking comfortable as opposed to being/feeling comfortable? or is it a hybrid of both?

Zarah Cheng

ya i’ve always preferred more loose clothing just cuz i’m usually walking a lot or just not sitting still, so it’s a hybrid i guess

i’m definitely conscious about what i’m wearing

Zaneta Cheng

what are you conscious about?

Zarah Cheng

i wouldn’t say i follow fashion, but i’m always noticing what people wear. either someone i pass by on the street or someone on instagram

i know it’s kinda dumb, but i just want people to take me seriously. i think that drives a lot of how i dress. cuz i’m a goofy person and i talk about weird things a lot. like my alien theories or whatnot, so i think i’m more drawn to black clothing cuz it’s kinda like a balance between my desire to look polished and still be able to talk about batshit crazy nonsense

Zaneta Cheng

tell me about your first item of clothing

Zarah Cheng

oh the fur jacket!

Item 1: Fur Jacket

ya i just got that at aritiza a couple of days ago

i’ve always loved faux fur cuz my mom has all these awesome fake fur jackets and i just kinda grew up playing dress up with them

because i’m usually wearing black, i can kinda get away with wearing crazy jackets

plus i feel bo$$y when i wear faux fur jackets

Zaneta Cheng

what sort of bo$$y are we talking about

Zarah Cheng

ya i mean i’m not intentionally trying to do that

like i don’t think about how all black with a fur jacket is going to be interpreted as

but if i had to rationalize how i dress, that would probably be what i’m doing subconsciously

Zaneta Cheng

so like is it something you’d wear to play a concert?

Zaneta Cheng

i’m so into interpreting the subconscious

Zarah Cheng

bo$$y as in kelis bossy

Zaneta Cheng

wtf is that

who is kelis?

Zarah Cheng (Kelis featuring Too $hort – Bossy)

Zarah Cheng

oh and back to ur concert question, ya i would totally wear a fur jacket on stage if i could

but i’m usually moving around a lot and it gets HOT up there with the lights and stuff, so the jacket would probably be off by the first song

Zaneta Cheng

that’s true actually

oh this song is pretty strong independent woman-y


Zarah Cheng


ya it is

Zaneta Cheng

like your band

Zarah Cheng

ya we aren’t really playing shows anymore cuz we’re all in different cities but i’ve always loved playing music

Zaneta Cheng

oh that sucks

i really liked the music

Zarah Cheng

aw thanks!

Zaneta Cheng

tell me about your second item

Zarah Cheng

oh that’s my other favourite coat!!!!


i bought that for $30 at value village. i was soooo stoked i found it

i didn’t even bother washing it cuz i knew that dry cleaning would cost more than the jacket

Zaneta Cheng

describe it to me in your own words

Zarah Cheng

it’s so warm and makes me feel like a boss

Zarah Cheng

hmmm ok that coat in my own words would probably be

drugdealer chic

not that i’m a drug dealer but if i was one, i would probably wear that coat to work everyday

Zaneta Cheng

what appeals to you about the chic-ness of a drugdealer?

Zarah Cheng

that coat gives me a perma attitude of “i don’t gives a fuq what u think”

HAHAHA i dunno if drug dealer chic-ness “appeals” to me per se, but that’s what that coat is to me

it’s like tacky

but makes me feel awesome anyway

Zaneta Cheng


what is it with you and the h word anyhow

Zarah Cheng

it’s kinda trashy but at the same time, i feel so confident in it!

ok my problem with the h word is that i feel like it’s a way for other people to criticize the way other people act

Zaneta Cheng

elaborate please

Zarah Cheng

to me, i would never want to be called a hipster because i do the things that i do because i’m passionate about them and i really don’t give 2 fucks about why other people think i’m doing it

i will watch shows about aliens cuz i genuinely think that aliens are real and i go to shows because i love music and i grew up playing the violin

it’s like the same reason why the basic bitch is such a huge “burn” right now

Zaneta Cheng

it’s a pretty difficult thing to do though, to not give two fucks. to cultivate it and then really live it in everyday life.

Zarah Cheng

like honestly, who gives a shit that these girls are obsessed with pumpkin spice lattes. i love pumpkin spice lattes. so call me basic

Zaneta Cheng

haha so true

fucking love pumpkin spice lattes

yeah it’s really irritating that society loves brackets

Zarah Cheng

ya exactly

Zaneta Cheng

compartmentalising people

Zarah Cheng

like i work(ed) in the advertising industry. i want to work hard and be good at my job. i don’t care if people think i dress weird. i just like dressing up. i wear clothes that make me feel confident! the h word is weird because i feel like people wanna intentionally look broke and struggling artist-esque haha. and that’s definitely not what i’m going for.

Zaneta Cheng

tell me about your third item

Zarah Cheng

ok third item is this bag that i’m OBSESSED with right now!


i got it at opening ceremony. it’s by a NY-based designer going under the name KARA

Zaneta Cheng

love oc

Zarah Cheng

ya me too!

Zaneta Cheng

what drew you to it

Zarah Cheng

well i was actually doing research for work on the CFDA Incubator program

and KARA was on it so i just fell in love with her bags

all the designs are super minimalistic and simple

which i love

and i love how it’s BIG

Zaneta Cheng

is it big?

picture makes it look pretty teensy

Zarah Cheng

i always have too much stuff in my purse so this is perfect

Zaneta Cheng

tell me about the stuff in your purse!!

i try to carry nothing

what do you carry?

Zarah Cheng

well it’s not massive, but it’s a backpack so just imagine a 90’s style backpack. like something the heathers would wear.

well i always carry a notebook and pen in my purse. when i was travelling a lot last year, i always had a notebook cuz there was just so much stuff to take in all the time.

so it’s kinda just become a habit

i always have at least like 2 or 3 packs of gum in my purse

and i just got an instax mini camera, so i throw that in there too sometimes

Zaneta Cheng

so a lot of stuff to help you capture life essentially

Zarah Cheng

ya i guess that’s a good way of putting it

Zaneta Cheng

what stuff strikes you the most

or has struck you the most

off the top of your head

Zarah Cheng

usually people

i love people watching

Zaneta Cheng

yeah, main style inspo right?

Zarah Cheng


Zaneta Cheng


what’s so fascinating?

Zarah Cheng

i love watching people interact too

i really don’t know haha

i just love watching people when they think that no one is watching them

i think i like inserting my own imagined stories into their lives

like if i see someone on the street, i try to imagine why they’re pissed or why they seem to be having a good day

when people think no one’s looking, they’re so totally themselves. it’s so interesting.

Zaneta Cheng

what about your fourth item?

Zarah Cheng

i realize that what i’m doing is kinda creepy, but i can’t help it!

oh those are the most comfortable leggings in the world from american apparel


Zaneta Cheng

specialest memory in them please

*most special

Zarah Cheng

they’re like this awesome shiny nylon materials so they’re super cold in the winter, but whatever

Zaneta Cheng

literally have heard you go on about leggings for i can’t even figure out how many years

Zarah Cheng

omg i can’t even think of a special memory in them cuz i literally wear them everywhere

like it’s borderline gross

i’m a pretty hygienic person but i’ll wear those pants for a month straight without washing if i have to

Zaneta Cheng


these ones especially or leggings in general?

Zarah Cheng

i’m sure i must’ve done that for a bit in new york

i literally hate jeans. i can’t wear them. they’re so uncomfortable. so i pretty much only wear leggings if i have to wear pants

no like this pair haha

i wear them to work, i wear them to the bar, i wear them to run errands

i just love those leggings so much

Zaneta Cheng

so much to weather extreme winter?

is it because they’re shiny?

Zarah Cheng

omg when i was studying for exams, those leggings and a knit sweater would be my uniform

ya the shininess definitely helps haha

Zaneta Cheng

tell me about the next item

Zarah Cheng

and i mean, vancouver never really gets THAT cold

Zaneta Cheng


Zarah Cheng

k the next one is a bodysuit i got at H&M

H&M bodysuit

Zaneta Cheng

so why’s it so special to warrant desert island status?

Zarah Cheng

i wouldn’t wear that with the leggings cuz it would look like i’m wearing a full body leotard

but i love wearing that with dress pants for work or with a skirt if i’m going out

it’s just super comfortable

and it’s flattering for literally every human being

i’ve never seen anyone look bad in a black leotard with a cute skirt

Zaneta Cheng

and the sixth item?

Zarah Cheng

oh that’s just a basic oversized black t-shirt

Item 6: black tshirt

cuz everyone needs one of those

it’s comfy and goes with everything

Zaneta Cheng

so it’s a pretty solid trend

this comfort thing

Zarah Cheng


Zaneta Cheng

does it bear any relevance to your decision to start a magazine?

and if so in what sense

and if not in what sense not

because your magazine is really entrenched in fashion and i guess the subcultures that really affect dress

Zarah Cheng

well i started creep to kill time basically…..i had a few months in that time between graduating and moving to nyc

so the first issue was just my friends and stuff i was really interested in

Zaneta Cheng

but it has a definite angle

Zarah Cheng

and i think in general, the magazine does reflect my interests

cuz i’m reaching out to artists and bands or whatever that i like

Zaneta Cheng

so i want to know what factors culminated into what ended up being presented

Zarah Cheng

and so i guess subconsciously, it took a fashion vibe

Zaneta Cheng

because you are definitely interested in fashion

i remember when we wrote letters as kids and i found one a few years ago where i wrote to you about trying to find my own style

and you were consoling me telling me that i wasn’t to worry that i definitely would if i carried on being who i was

which is pretty deep for a ten year old

Zarah Cheng

ya i guess i am haha. i don’t know designers super well. like stuff from the runways. but i’ve definitely always paid attention to fashion as a way of expressing myself.



i can’t believe i said that haha

Zaneta Cheng


i’ll find it and show you

Zarah Cheng

omg please. that is so awesome.

i think that’s kinda how i always approached fashion

Zaneta Cheng

but it begs the question as to when and how you were so sure of yourself and your identity

Zarah Cheng

just like finding ways to express who i am

Zaneta Cheng

and if it really is as consolidated as it seems on the surface

Zarah Cheng

oh it was definitely a bumpy road along the way

i used to dress like a clown

i dress in a lot of black now

but for most of high school and even university, i wanted to wear as many colours as possible. at once.

like the pictures from high school were BAD

i mean i definitely have insecurities. every girl does. whoever says that they’re 110% comfortable in their own skin is either a liar or olivia wilde.

so i wouldn’t say that i’ve always been sure of myself

but i was definitely never afraid of experimenting until i found something that i was comfortable wearing

i think high school me just wanted to be different

i would wear mismatched socks and plaid pants and a t-shirt of a clown puking a rainbow cuz at the time, that was how i interpreted “unique”

Zaneta Cheng

so what’s unique to you now?

and what’s your seventh item?

Zarah Cheng

i’m not sure what i would consider unique now

i don’t really think i think about it too much

i went to a high school where we had to wear uniforms, so dressing in “street clothes” was a bigger deal to me then than it is now

me now**

my 7th item is a ripped crop top


i actually got it in hk with u!

i don’t remember the name of the store

it was that korean place beside muji in that mall

Zaneta Cheng

in hong kong?

omg love that place

like a korean topshop yeah?

Zarah Cheng


well it wasn’t as glossy as topshop

but definitely some classy shit in there

Zaneta Cheng

what did you like about that shop

Zarah Cheng

it was colour coordinated

which was AWESOME

i remember so clearly the giant room with all the coats. it was just racks and racks of colour-divided coats.

plus i just like korean fashion in general

i like the minimalistic aesthetic.

one of my favourite stores ever is this placed called oak+fort. they’re from vancouver. and most of their designs are korean.

Zaneta Cheng

tell me more about preferred aesthetic

and also about your last piece

Zarah Cheng

well i definitely prefer a minimalist aesthetic.

not just with clothes but just with design in general

Zaneta Cheng

in what sense

Zarah Cheng

i don’t like patterns. i like clean lines and neutral colours and white space.

my future home designed à la pinterest has a lot of white space

i just love a clean and simple look

Zaneta Cheng

with a crazy coat thrown in

Zarah Cheng

lawwwwl exactly

Zaneta Cheng

so last item?

Zarah Cheng

my creepers!!!

Item 7 creepers

Zaneta Cheng

explain enthusiasm pls

Zarah Cheng

the equivalent to my abuse of my shiny leggings in shoe form would be honed into my creepers

i wear them errrrrrwhere

they’re like 3 inches high but surprisingly comfy

Zaneta Cheng

creepers are so weird on me

i am definitely not a creeper girl

Zarah Cheng

i got them in milan last year and have just been obsessed with them ever since

dood everyone is a creeper girl

Zaneta Cheng

i don’t get them

Zarah Cheng

they look so punk rock on whoever wears them

plus they make me taller

Zaneta Cheng

i’m so not punk rock enough

you are punk rock



three inches make a difference

Zarah Cheng

lawl u can always get the 1 inch ones too

they’re not as dramatic haha

Zaneta Cheng

when did you understand creepers?

why are creepers punk rock?

Zarah Cheng

well u know how i’ve always been fascinated with punk culture!

i remember the first time i visited london with my family, i was probably 13 or 14.

that was back when “punks” would let tourists take pictures of/with them in picadilly square

Zaneta Cheng


omg you totally went up to them and asked them didn’t you

Zarah Cheng

and they always wore crazy platform shoes!

my creepers are by this brand called underground and they definitely have a punk rock feel

no i was too scared!

i thought they were so cool!!! and i couldn’t make myself approach them

even though my parents were totally encouraging it

Zaneta Cheng

your parents are so awesome

so good for letting you be you

Zarah Cheng

ya they’ve always been super supportive of my eccentricities

so i’m glad they let me dress like a clown as a kid

Zaneta Cheng




on this island

you’re given a bible

and a complete works of shakespeare

of the two volumes you can choose to replace one with another book

and you are allowed to bring another book of your choice with you

what would you do and what will you bring?

Zarah Cheng

ooooo this is a good question

ok well the book i would bring with me would be dorian gray by oscar wilde

i have to read every paragraph like 5 times in that book

but it’s just such a dark story on sin and immortality

i love it!

and then honestly, i’d probably replace the bible with the complete series of harry potter

just because harry potter.

can i do that? does the series count as one book?

Zaneta Cheng


and one luxury item

which i take to be any item in the world that you want on this desert island

Zarah Cheng

tv with netflix fa shoooooo

i haven’t figured out the logistics of getting an internet connection on this island

but the netflix will be working

Zaneta Cheng



that’s it.

thanks so much

Zarah Cheng



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