Kaden Luna is pretty much a typical 19-year-old living a post-high school life. He still lives with his mom in the small city of Kyle, Texas, he works at Target, and plans on moving into an apartment with his cousin soon. While Luna is very much born a Gen Z kid, bred a digital native of an extremely online generation, he’s living a life set in the past—specifically the 80s.
Much like his generational kin who are obsessed with early 00s scene kid aesthetics and fashion from that unfortunate era of style (I can say that as I lived it and am still haunted by the dresses I wore over super low cut jeans), Luna has a passion for a bygone era that gave us Rubik’s cubes, acid wash denim, and the War on Drugs.
“My family has quite a few home videos,” said Luna. “I like to watch those and see how they lived and how they dressed, which is weird to think considering no one in their right mind would want to look like that since collectively as a society everyone thinks it’s pretty tacky. There’s definitely some questionable fashion choices and hairstyles.”
But where Luna’s obsession for the 80s truly takes a mesmerizing turn is in his closet: he collects sweaters worn by the late Princess Diana. He’s amassed a huge following (153k and counting!) on his TikTok account, where he shares videos of his room, which looks as if you were actually transported to the past via DeLorean, and of his Lady Di-inspired sweaters. He and his cousin have even both agreed that their apartment will be “fully retro” once they move in together.
VICE spoke to Luna about his infatuation with the 80s, the Diana sweaters, and his life as a teen who purposely remains off-trend.
VICE: I came across your TikTok a long time ago and it just was so funny to me to see such dedication to an era and aesthetic. I just thought it was really amazing. What has drawn you to this time period?
Kaden Luna: I'm not sure if I could pinpoint it. I guess I've always liked older stuff since I was little, like older movies and older cartoons like The Smurfs. I still watch like modern TV all the time. Maybe like my sophomore year of high school, I started to thrift clothes more before Depop was a huge thing. It was pretty easy to get good vintage clothes for a good price. And then I guess it just snowballed from there.
It originally started with the clothing. I just liked how it looks, like higher rise pants and the way they fit. Same thing with t-shirts. I like the cut and the pattern of the shirts. It’s a lot different than how things are currently made. I guess also, for me, fast fashion plays into it because I try to buy from small businesses and local shops rather than places that just constantly keep up with the trends. And then also, I like the idea of not ever having to try and be trendy. I feel like everything is eventually a fad and then it goes out of style and getting thrown away, and no one wants it anymore. But at least with this I don't have to worry about recycling my wardrobe or throwing it away to make room for what's next.
I saw some TikToks of your room and it’s pretty incredible. How far does the 80s obsession go?
I think as far as I could take it. My first thing was always clothes because it was cheap and easy at the time to get old clothes. And then the next thing was, after I got a job and I started getting money, I started to redo my room. Prior to the way it is now it was like completely modern furniture; it was like a model home. It was the complete opposite of how I liked things. So I slowly started to accumulate stuff within the last year and a half through eBay, Etsy, and Facebook Marketplace. I just wanted it to be a reflection of me since that's where I spend most of my time. After that, the goal was to do a car and I tested the waters on that but decided that although I'd like it, it’s not for me. I did actually buy a car from 1986 about a month and a half ago that didn't work out. Older cars have so many problems and crappy gas mileage.
What does your mom think about all this?
She doesn't really think too much of it. She’s indifferent towards it. She thinks it's cool, I guess, since that’s when she grew up, but she's not overly interested in it or not like it.
I didn't quite live through the 80s but so many pieces I’ve seen in your videos I remember from my house. It’s funny to see this generation admire something we actively thought nothing of.
I know what you mean. It was probably considered junk at the time as soon as it became old to keep up with the times. My mom actually helps me with some of the stuff, like at the thrift store. If there's something I don't know about, she’ll be like, Oh, just so you know I had something like that when I was little. And it’s like, well, now kind of have to get it!
I totally get it. When I was a teenager I was obsessed with the 60s and 70s and so I had like a bunch of stuff from that era and still have a lot of it now, and some of it was stuff that was my dad’s or grandma’s.
Some of the things I have in my room are actually from my grandparents or people in my family. Like some of my cassette tapes are from my grandma that she gave me, and then I have some jewelry from the 80s that was originally my grandparents’, and I have an old camera that was my grandpa’s that he bought in the late 70s. It's just cool to think, I wasn't alive when they were but it's something that they had.
Now the Princess Diana sweaters. What made you want to recreate so much of Princess Diana's iconic looks?
I didn't really know much about her. I want to say I learned the bulk of what I know within the last year or so. I think it started when I saw an article about Harry Styles channeling Princess Diana through an outfit he wore, and he was wearing a blue sweater vest and it had little sheep on it. Then the article had the side by side comparison to her red sheep sweater. I was like, oh that's pretty cool, I like that sweater, let me see if I can find it. Also, I work at Target so I figured I can wear it to work. So I started searching. I found a couple of things that were outrageously overpriced. I think there's one still online that's an old original sweater for like $1,000 or a few that I saw that were like $300. But then I found the one that I have on Depop and paid $60 for it. It's not exactly the same. It’s more inspired by the sweater, but it is vintage and it was all I could get at the time so I bought it. That was before Rowing Blazers came out with a recreation of it. Pretty pricey. Again, it just snowballed from there. I would see pictures of her and think, that's the cool sweater, let me see if I can find it. It’s fun to try and track it down. It just starts with that and then I'll go through each shopping website, like eBay, Etsy, Depop, Mercari, and I'll search key terms.
I figured out some brands she liked to wear a lot, brands she was photographed in multiple times. I’m pretty sure she was a big fan of Ralph Lauren, a lot of her sweatshirts that she was photographed in were Ralph Lauren. Another brand called Mondi, and another called Escada. They’re all three brands that I've come to find out that she had worn like on multiple occasions. That helped me find some of the sweaters that I have.
At this point, how many of them do you have?
I have a couple more being knit right now, but once I get all of that I think I‘lI have 14.
What do you mean by you have some being knit right now?
So there's some that I could not find anywhere. I searched all over, but I found the knitting patterns for them so I commissioned two different people on Etsy and I'm having a couple of them knit for me right now using the patterns. I asked other people, and they're like, no that's too hard. But one of them, I found his account because he already had a couple of her sweaters on there. He knit a similar version of the sheep sweater, so I messaged him. This one has a koala on it, and little bamboo and little circles on it. So I messaged him and he was like, yeah I can do it if you send me the pattern. He lives in Ukraine. I bought the pattern book off of Etsy and I mailed it to him. I took like a month to get to him, and then he let me know when he got the book and started knitting it. If I've looked everywhere and I can't find it, and I still want it out, I try to find someone to knit it for me. Usually they turn out pretty well.
Do you have a favorite sweater?
I would say my favorite is probably the koala sweater. It's definitely like up there for me. I just think it's the epitome of ugly, itchy sweater, but so ugly that it's cute. It's ugly without trying to be ugly, if that makes sense. I feel like a lot of modern takes on ugly sweaters are just trying so hard to make it look bad, whereas this one's a cute ugly. It's just so bizarre. I like it a lot.