“With time, I found the courage to reveal and express myself through the pieces I was finding and styling.”
I discovered the wonderful universe of Raluca Rosu around this time last year. I got my first print magazine feature, it was an interview in Beau Monde. The piece was about 6 female voices who are challenging the online and next to my page was this brunette who looked as if she was a cutout from a vintage Vogue. She had short black hair and wore this oversized polka dotted dress with huge shoulders, synched with an impressively thick silver belt. She (understandably) caught my eye and I plunged into her interview. We officially met a month later at the Digital Divas competition and after we got talking we realised we had more in common than I initially thought.
People generally think of Raluca, or The Daily Tutli-Putli as that vintage girl. She is well known for having an impeccable style, comprised solely of vintage & thrifted pieces. Personally, I find that a little sad, since it’s incredibly reductive – Raluca is also very smart, creative, a hell of a writer, an activist, a feminist, she’s working on a PhD in Philosophy and I could go on for a little longer, however I think I’m going to let her do the talking.
1. The basics
I am Raluca Roșu, 27 years old, born in Resita, Romania and I currently live in Bucharest. I am a Philosophy PhD student in my second year at the University of Bucharest. I focus on dailytutliputli.com as well, a very personal project and hopefully my future full-time job in fashion. I am a writer at core, with published poems and personal essays in both Romanian and international magazines (print and online).
2. You’ve brought thrifting to the level of an art, I might say. Did you always prefer second hand shops over fast fashion?
Thank you. I merely try to show people that style does not necessarily mean financial wealth. Also, I started dailytutliputli.com as a space for my daily outfits, created almost entirely out of thrifted items – some of them being simply previously worn, others being true vintage treasures. I have been a „treasure hunter‟ in second hand stores since I was 16 to be honest. My small town started to be filled with second hand shops and I discovered both the joy of repurposing fascinating garments and styles and the challenge of simultaneously revealing and hiding my fragile teenager body to a tough and often cruel audience. You see, my small frame was not very popular amongst my classmates, so at first clothes helped me cover my so-called „flaws‟. With time, I found the courage to reveal and express myself through the pieces I was finding and styling.
3. When was the moment when you stopped buying fast fashion altogether and why?
The transition was smooth and I never looked back somehow. Fast fashion is something I still stumble upon and sometimes give into, but only as a temporary and lackluster experience. Technically, I never stopped completely, but I guess I have been favoring almost exclusively second hand stores for at least 8 years now. Nothing compares to the element of constant surprise you get upon entering a thrift store, combined with the satisfaction of buying quality over quantity at a ridiculously low price. It‟s not primarily about cheap stuff and not even about great bargains though. I get a whole new world with each garment, I trace its history with my open heart and bare hands. I then get to rewrite a whole new story when I create an outfit. It comes naturally, it‟s organic. It‟s life for me.
4. What are your favourite thrift shops in Bucharest?
A very dear thrift shop is one very near the place I lived upon my return from New York in 2013. I found love in Bucharest with my fiancée and partner Vivian Dünger. Near our place at Piata Obor there is a store from the chain Monda and I got to start a whole new wardrobe along with my new life in Romania. I recommend this particular store and the chain as well, but I am always happy to find nameless and singular spaces where clothes seem to be hidden and the challenge of sorting through them is even bigger.
5. Give us some tips on how to find hidden gems in second hand shops.
My first tip would definitely be patience. My second and almost as important as the first one is not to underestimate any store, no matter how bad it looks from the outside. Lastly, don‟t go for labels. Sure, brands give you quality most of the time and that‟s great. If you shoot only for that though, you will surely miss those spectacular diamonds in the rough which really tell a story. I often find myself building a whole shooting around these kinds of items. Not only do they not carry names, but they often don‟t even have a tag.
6. Besides supporting sustainable fashion, what other causes are you passionate about?
I am a feminist for sure, but there are so many nuances to this statement. I am all for gender equality as long as we talk within a system of dichotomies such as male/female. However, I am more passionate about abolishing the dichotomies altogether and fighting for gender fluidity. This way, one can cover a certain feminist agenda, but also go further and represent the voices, bodies, thoughts and feelings of people who do not subscribe to an artificial, arbitrary and restrictive male/female gender assigning scheme.
Discrimination however is always interconnected, and one should see gender, race and class as overlapping. Intersectionality helps us understand how fighting for women‟s rights, for instance, intersects with the race and class of the women in question. It is one thing to be discriminated as a white middle class woman or to speak from her point of view, and a totally different thing to be discriminated as a woman of a different race or class.
This brings us to my formation as a Philosophy student. I am not only passionate about Philosophy or about Psychoanalysis as a theory and practice. I am passionate about dialogue first and foremost. A sound line of thinking, constantly debating ideas and problems with others help me understand the world better. The more I understand, the more I feel the need for change. I try not to be satisfied by debating ideas only. I am not passive, but meditative. I take action and people who are familiar with my writings and projects know this. I also go out in the streets when necessary.
Some people think that the only sign of activism is standing out in the streets. I will never say yes to staying home waiting for the world to end while talking about the futility of any human intervention. That would be naïve. However, activism should always be as informed as possible. Get out in the streets, but also read, think and debate as much as you can whenever and wherever.
I write every chance I get: poems, personal essays, fiction. I read any chance I get: poetry, personal essays, letters, fiction, journalism pieces. I need music, paintings, sculptures, movies, photography, art installations, art performances: always and forever.
7. Why do you think we need feminism in Romania?
We need feminism in Romania as a first step. This happens because the male/female dichotomy is so deeply rooted in the mentality of the majority of its population. Before rooting for gender fluidity, I feel people need to understand the importance of gender equality. You cannot skip steps and if gender fluidity is highly debated and fought for in other countries, there is still a lot of work to be done in Romania when it comes to an obnoxious and general gender inequality. Of course, this should be linked to problems of racism and classism.
8. What would you tell someone who disagrees with you?
There is a strong current against feminism in Romania, for sure. This happens at an international level as well. What makes me really sad is that many women put down other women, finding a great deal of satisfaction in considering themselves superior just by comparison. Both men and women in Romania have to understand that gender equality is crucial for a civilized society. There is no room for thinking that someone else is inferior based on their gender. A person who disagrees with the fact that we need feminism in Romania is someone with whom I wouldn’t like to talk. However, dialogue is important and I would try to convince them that discrimination and violence against others is simply unacceptable. Everybody should be free to pursue their dreams and goals, provided they have the necessary skills. It is very difficult to define womanhood, so trying to limit the possibilities of someone who happens to have a womb or ovaries or breasts or a vagina is ridiculous if you come to really think of it. Discussing this subject is still very delicate in Romania. It is not only the general public I am talking about. Highly intelligent men and women here are held back by prejudices about what a woman can or cannot do. The fight is difficult, but definitely worth it.
9. You’ve spent 10 months in the USA. What are the main differences between our culture and theirs? What would you change about the Romanian society?
I lived in New York for 10 months and got the chance to visit Orange County and L.A, West Virginia (Fairfax) and Washington D.C, Reno (Nevada) and Philadelphia. I spent most of my time on the East Coast. My experience is very particular, as not only did I live in NY, but also in Manhattan. There are so many differences if you go 10 blocks up from where I lived, not to talk about the cultural difference between New York and the other cities I‟ve seen. I will tell you about a certain feeling I had and this was the same for most of my time in New York City. I experienced a very specific type of freedom, that of not being judged by the people on the streets. They say New York is a violent city and they have the statistics to prove it. I am not saying the statistics are wrong. I just felt safe at home during my 10 months stay as a Philosophy graduate student living in a dorm on the Upper East Side and spending my days and night in the West Village or certain parts of Brooklyn as well. I am giving these details because they are crucial to this feeling of safety and freedom. I was rarely bothered or harassed, I did not experience dangerous situations and people admired my outfits, smiled or even offered compliments without invading my personal space. I made great friends and memories for a lifetime. Coming back to Romania was a shock even after only 10 months and there is so much work to be done, as I‟ve already had the chance to point out.
9. If your house were on fire, what are the 3 things you’d take out with you?
If we are talking strictly about innate objects, there is nothing truly indispensable or irreplaceable provided that you have a safe place to go and the rest of the world is not on fire. Giving in to this mind experiment though, I‟d take our original copy of the album The Velvet Underground and Nico. It is irreplaceable because it is a present from a dear Romanian friend who sent it all the way from New York and it was a surprise gift we both got Vivian for his birthday. I would take my “Marry Me‟‟ engagement ring for obvious reasons and because it was made to fit perfectly by a Romanian designer and friend. Lastly, I would not leave behind my special notebook. I always have a current “little black notebook” where I write poems and thoughts between „to do lists‟ which I forget to put online or anywhere else. I don‟t like to misplace or leave behind my thoughts.
11. Recommend us a book and an album to listen to while we read it 🙂
Read Albert Camus – The Stranger (*read it in French, if possible, although both the Romanian and English translations are fine) and listen to Soko‟s debut album „I Thought I Was an Alien‟ (2012). Camus is a French writer and philosopher born in Algeria and Soko is a female French artist born in Bordeaux.