When you’re strolling down the hallway of King Constructing, you’ll doubtless turn out to be enveloped in a clashing cacophony of vibrant prints and crunchy Carhartt neutrals. Oberlin’s trend scene has lengthy been a powerful issue of scholar life; experimenting with outfits is embraced as a medium of self-expression. For some Obies, constructing an outfit is only for enjoyable, whereas others use their clothes to precise deeply necessary identities of race, class, gender presentation, sexual orientation, and extra.
“[For] the ‘conventional’ Obies, I see much more assertion items, just like the actually cool sample pants, or actually cool shirts, sort of like the blending and matching patterns,” School second-year Iyanna Lewis stated. “I additionally see an equal quantity of sweat pants.”
Oberlin fashion usually transcends clothes selection — for a lot of Obies, outfits are a full-body course of.
“Oberlin trend may be very distinctive,” stated Brendan Aleman, OC ’21, “Individuals often put a variety of time into their ’matches is what I spotted. You’ve gotten matching the attention shadow with the footwear, with the sneakers, with the socks and loopy stuff like that. Very in-your-face, daring, ‘That is who I’m.’”
For different college students, how they gown is deeply impacted by which micro-communities they work together with at Oberlin. School second-year Iyanna Lewis, who’s on each the volleyball and monitor and discipline staff, appreciates the wedding of sportswear and trend when she works out.
“I really feel like weight room trend is sort of a vibe,” she stated. “I’d be like, oh, your leggings look actually cute. Like, ‘Oh, the place’d you get that? Like, the place’d you get that shirt?’”
Being a scholar athlete is just not the one factor that Lewis sees impacting her fashion on campus.
“When it comes to the Black neighborhood, we now have some very fascinating trend,” Lewis stated. “I believe a variety of us actually faucet into avenue put on, … however there’s additionally a variety of selection.”
Inside this selection, one encounters the trendy-niche, with some Oberlin college students intermingling period and area to emulate very particular seems to be. School second-year Theo Canter named a pair he had observed.
“There’s like a bunch of people that sort of all gown like ’90s LA, off-SKA, skater-ish,” he stated. “There are some who [dress] Brooklyn techno-gothy.”
Canter additionally talked about that college students are nonetheless welcomed if trend isn’t an curiosity of theirs.
“I heard somebody say once I first bought right here, like, it’s good to not have to fret anymore about what they put on, like the way it seems to be,” Canter stated. “Since I heard that, I’ve actually recognized with that. I believe I fear much less if my shirt and pants match.”
The big vary of fashion is basically a product of certainly one of Oberlin’s hottest traits: thrifting and reusing. Angelo Passaro, OC ’21, stated that for him, the follow of sustainable clothes consumption not solely outlined Oberlin’s fashion, but in addition his personal.
“I believe it’s completely different for everyone, however I believe that one thing that basically unites Oberlin trend is recycling different individuals’s clothes,” he stated. “The idea of the free field may be very integral to Oberlin trend to me. And having a neighborhood of individuals, like in my co-ops who would praise me or ask me like, do you need to go to Volunteers [of America] collectively? … was actually encouraging for me to experiment and exhibit various things.”
Together with thrifting’s recognition at Oberlin, its prevalence comes with a bigger moral dialogue about socioeconomic class and fairness.
“I really feel like you possibly can say that a variety of thrift shops are theoretically meant for low-income individuals to have the ability to afford these varieties of garments,” Canter stated. “I imply, that’s a complete debate … I believe a lot of the children who I do know who’re at all times like, oh, I bought it at Volunteers, they come up with the money for to have a elaborate automotive to drive themselves to Volunteers … which I don’t assume is an outright sin. The shops are there, and there’s loads of garments. However I suppose there’s the deeper query: How can we obtain solidarity whereas acknowledging our variations?”
As a first-generation and low-income scholar, Aleman stated that the distinction between his pals’ thrifted look and thrifting out of necessity led to some uncomfortable conditions.
“Having cash, however then taking part in down that you’ve cash to somebody who’s low-income might be troublesome within the sense of serving to them navigate white areas and giving them company,” Aleman stated. “As a result of for instance, there’s been loads of occasions the place I’ve gone out with individuals who I initially thought have been from related backgrounds as me, and so we at first bonded over that. After which they requested me to exit each different weekend to love the Feve or go on fancy journeys on spring break. And I’m similar to I don’t have cash to try this. After which they’ll be like, ‘Oh no, however I’ll pay for you.’ It simply makes me really feel slightly bizarre having different individuals pay for me, as a result of it is a reminder for low-income college students, like this house isn’t essentially meant for you.”
The keenness for thrifting and experimentation can even result in cultural appropriation in trend — one thing that Lewis has observed occurring sometimes round campus.
“Streetwear may be very well-liked proper now and never acknowledging that that got here from Black individuals, and understanding that, though traits are recycling, not listening to the place they got here from might be very detrimental as a result of should you do it incorrectly otherwise you attempt to declare it as your individual, it may be seen as very offensive,” stated Lewis. “We will’t police it, which is basically exhausting, as a result of if one thing have been to be really dangerous, I personally don’t know the best way to tackle it. ’Trigger I might simply go up and be like, ‘Hey, what you’re sporting is just not cool in any respect,’ but in addition typically, I’m not that confrontational of an individual.”
Including gender and sexuality onto questions of tradition and sophistication standing makes these conversations much more complicated. As somebody who has lately transitioned, Passaro is actively grappling with the best way to gown in a manner that clearly expresses his gender id to different Obies.
“Until individuals perceive your gender presentation, it’s actually exhausting for individuals to know appropriately the way in which that you’re attempting to current one thing,” Passaro stated. “It’s a tricky downside as a result of as a lot as trend is about expressing your self, you’re at all times serious about an viewers … and that’s not likely in your management more often than not.”
For some college students, the conversations that Oberlin college students have about trend can really feel a bit like gatekeeping. Aleman encountered a second when, in a gender research course, somebody instructed him that the flannel he was sporting was solely acceptable for for homosexual ladies to put on.
“Having communities police what sure communities can put on, being like, ‘LGBTQ+ communities can solely put on this,’ or, ‘You possibly can’t put on this should you’re cis[gender]’ — It’s slightly problematic, however I perceive it,” he stated. “I believe typically if you lack illustration you sort of need to maintain onto the one identifier that you’ve.”
Obies like to make artwork from the quotidian, and trend affords a way of merging inventive aptitude with self expression. However many Obies say outfits ought to be handled with the intentionality of artwork, and the boundaries of cultural appropriation and sophistication obfuscation ought to body our outfit curation. Lewis suggests we take a second to step again and take the time to actually take into consideration our ‘matches, and what they might be speaking.
She says, “I believe it needs to be on extra of a person foundation of constructing positive, like: ‘Hey, is there any chance of what I’m sporting, being offensive?’”