Photography by Eythan D’Amico

This Designer Created An Entire Lookbook Entirely from Bunz Trades

"In the beginning I was doing up to 8 or 9 trades in a day."

For the uninitiated, Bunz Trading Zone is a Facebook group – now an app – where the denizens of Toronto barter their unwanted goods, from couches to leftover pizza, in a slightly-more-commonplace version of the paperclip experiment. (In 2006, a guy bartered his way from a red paper clip to a house in Saskatchewan.) The unofficial currency of Bunz is tokens and tall cans, yet I’ve literally seen someone attempt to trade their old dreadlocks for a banjolele. Graphic designer and illustrator Ryookyung (Jenny) Kim, 25, thrives in this weird bacterial culture of trades. To celebrate the release of Wes Anderson’s latest film Isle of Dogs, Kim managed to put together an entire Wes Anderson-themed lookbook using only unwanted items around her house.

View the lookbook below and scroll down for our interview with Ryookyung on how to be creative on a next-to-nothing budget.

Tell us a little more about how the lookbook came together?

I was looking at places to stay for a vacation in Prince Edward County and a listing came up for an AirBnB that had a Wes Anderson theme. I didn’t end up staying there, but did keep it in the back of my mind because I thought it would be an amazing backdrop to shoot in.

What drew you to Wes Anderson as a subject?

Well I’m a designer and illustrator by trade and we studied some of his films in school. I was aware of how meticulous he is with the overall aesthetics in his films and that really resonated with me; especially as a person who loves to experiment with colour in my work. I thought it would be great to pay homage to his visual aesthetics and what he’s done in his career. The overall aesthetic of the lookbook is a mishmash of every movie he’s done.

Why did you want to create a lookbook using only Bunz trades in the first place?

I heard about the Bunz Flea Market through Facebook and decided to apply as a vendor because I also make postcards, tins, and things like that. From there I met the marketing director who worked for Bunz at the time and she asked me to contribute to their blogging channel. I thought it would be a great idea to source clothing from Bunz and do a lookbook with it. For me it was not just a fun way to source outfits but also to draw little illustrations and art-direct the whole thing.

What appealed to you about Bunz?

There were a ton of things in my house that I felt were in a grey area: I couldn’t really sell them, but I didn’t know where to donate them. Like a board game. That’s mainly why I started using it. In the beginning I was getting things like tea and clothes, just to get rid of things I didn’t need. I started using it on a more regular basis when I started doing these blog posts.

How did you source all the clothing for the lookbook?

I had to plan out what I wanted beforehand because it made finding things a lot faster. For example, I would look for a yellow skirt because I knew it would match the colour scheme I had in mind. Posting things I had and waiting for people to respond was way more stressful. A lot of the time not everyone has what you’re looking for, because its so specific. In the beginning I was doing up to 8 or 9 trades in a day. People would flake or somebody wouldn’t be there on time so it was very stressful coordinating that many trades in a day.

What was the weirdest trade you ever participated in?

Somebody had a hat I wanted for the photoshoot and the person trading was asking for a bar of milk chocolate. I found it weird because it was so specific. I was like, ‘Is there anything else you want? Tea leaves? Coffee? Alcohol?’ And she was like, ‘No, I want a chocolate bar.’ I try not to go out of my way to buy something for a trade. I try to do the best I can with what I have at home, which is kind of a challenge. I didn’t want to go out and buy a chocolate bar just to get this hat, so I ended up not trading for the hat and getting something else instead.

Did most people just want tokens or alcohol for the items they were trading?

I tried to not trade for tokens unless it was something I absolutely wanted for the shoot. For something of higher value I would do bulk trades – putting together things that are not high value on their own, but bundled together you sort of level the playing field. A lot of people wanted consumables: paper towel, toilet paper, toothpaste, bottles of wine. I had a lot of alcohol on hand because it was my birthday. This one fantastic coat I got for the shoot, the person just wanted a couple bottles of alcohol, so I just told them what I had, they picked out a few and it turned out well.

You traded your birthday presents for a coat?

Well it was a birthday party and people had brought alcohol so there were a couple bottles we didn’t end up drinking. I’m also not a huge drinker, I don’t pop bottles when I’m at home.

What did you end up doing with the clothing once the photo shoot was done? Did you trade it again for more stuff?

There are a couple pieces I still have, and there were a couple I donated away because they weren’t in the best condition. Some of the other pieces I’ve traded for things around the house, like a paperweight. Bunz is great when you’re sick of something you’ve owned for a little bit. You can go through things you’re not really into and get something new for it.

What kind of advice would you give to make sure you’re doing a good trade, one not one where either person feels ripped off?

I just found the best way for me is to be as up front and honest as I possibly can. If somebody messages me and there’s nothing I want, I just tell them, ‘Nothing catches my eye, but if you have any more offers let me know. Sometimes they’ll come back and say, ‘Well I have this thing that’s not on my profile’ and send a photo and often times that will work.