Styleta: selling designer clothes for charity

| Scene Reporter

Courtesy of Yifan Meng

Styleta was started by Wash U junior Yifan Meng as a local chapter of a national nonprofit organization that focuses on selling designer clothing as a way to fund charities.

Community service at Wash. U. is getting a makeover.

Yifan Meng is the current campus director of Styleta, a nationwide non-profit organization that sells designer clothes to benefit women’s initiatives. Meng, a biology major and Danforth Scholar, is helping to launch the group at Washington University this year.

“I don’t think there’s a student group on campus that combines service and fashion,” Meng said. “I think this is a creative idea to use business for charity.”

Styleta collects and sells designer clothing both on campus and online. The group’s efforts support women’s initiatives such as Dress for Success and Volunteers of America.

Styleta was founded by Yifan Zhang, a 2010 graduate of Harvard University and friend of Meng’s from high school. Zhang acts as the organization’s national CEO, while Meng is Washington University’s campus director. The organization currently has chapters at Harvard, New York University, Indiana University and Birmingham College.

“We are actually a very tightly-knit national group,” said Meng. “In five years, we hope to have over 50 college branches.”

On campus, the group has approximately 35 members who meet weekly to plan upcoming events and work toward being recognized by Student Union in order to receive funding. The executive board, headed by Meng, also works with Styleta members from the other university branches.

By the end of next month, Meng hopes to have hosted a clothing drive to collect designer items from students and community members on campus. The clothes will then be sorted for quality; some will be sent to local shelters and others will be sold online at www.styleta.com.

“There isn’t a market for charitable designer clothes,” said Meng, who also volunteers at the women’s shelter Lydia’s House. “I think it can be very successful on the Wash. U. campus, just because we are so service-oriented.”

The clothing drive will be followed by an event called Fashion Night Out, which will include a fashion show featuring donated items, a silent auction and a dance party to cap off the night. A final date has not yet been set, but Meng hopes to hold the event before Thanksgiving as a prelude to New York Fashion Week.

The fashion show will feature items collected in the clothing drive as well as limited edition pieces donated by a modeling agency in New York City

According to Meng, she and other members are trying to spread the word about Styleta by advertising in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and forming partnerships with local businesses

“We want it to be more than just a Wash. U. event,” she said. “Our goal is to be the Goodwill of stylish pieces. Mostly, I just want people to know [about it].”