The line between fashion and culture

Illustration by Amy Czachowski

The diverse community at NAU allows for all sorts of culture to be introduced to the campus. The different languages that are spoken, the variety of people on campus and the different ways of living are all a part of the community. One thing that may stand out to some people is the different fashions students choose to wear on a daily basis. With certain forms of clothing, students can embrace many different cultures and modern styles all at one time.

Certain styles around campus, including band tees, stemming from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds and fashions from modern culture have been embraced by people all around campus. Shirts that include bands such as Metallica, Def Leppard, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin and many more are continuing to grow in popularity around campus.

Freshman Marina Shapiro said some students wear band tees as a part of being included in the modern fashion trends, while others wear them for the aspects of music culture. She said that while many people wear band tees just to wear them, others have different reasons.

“Some wear them just because it is what’s popular, but other people wear them for the cultural part,” Shapiro said. “One of my friends who I talked to about this said he wears them because it is the music he grew up on and it reminds him of his childhood. He also said his dad showed him some of this music, which makes it even more special for him.”

Shapiro also said that she likes to see people embracing music culture in fashion around campus.

“It is really refreshing,” Shapiro said. “I like when people wear band’s T-shirts for different reasons.”

Another place where fashion and culture are prominent is at the International House on NAU’s campus. The International House allows students from across the globe as well as students who are interested in global cultures to live together. The variety among these students allows for a mixture of fashions and cultures to be examined and celebrated. Coordinator of the International Pavilion Georgia Wagner has observed international students who occasionally wear cultural clothing, as well as international students who try to embrace modern clothing styles too. She said that international students will usually try to wear more traditional clothing only around certain celebrations within their cultures.

“Most students, when they arrive, wear clothes that are similar to the clothing that the domestic students wear,” Wagner said. “Just like our domestic students, many international students are interested in current U.S. trends, but during certain celebrations, students will wear more traditional and cultural attire. Examples of these celebrations are the Lunar New Year in Chinese culture, Dussehra in the Hindu religion and Diwali, which is a Hindu and Sikh festival of lights.”

Fashion and culture can also be seen among the students from Hawaii and what they wear around campus on traditional or everyday occasions. They embrace their cultures through their clothing, while also being a part of modern fashion at NAU. These clothes come from modern brands that also shed light on the culture it is modeled after. Senior Alyssa Ablao, president of NAU’s HAPA Hawaiian Club, said many Hawaiian students at NAU wear brands from Hawaii but also wear traditional clothing on some occasions.

“Manaola, Manuheali’i and more are known for being modern-day Hawaiian lifestyle brands that students wear more casually,” Ablao said. “Merrie Monarch is a festival that is held every year and is a festival that focuses on the perpetuation of hula and the Hawaiian culture. At and around events like these, people are more inclined to wear traditional clothes.”

Ablao also said students dress traditionally to show off their backgrounds and style.

“Students dress with the style of their culture for both fashion and cultural appreciation reasons,” Ablao said. “We love to represent where we are from whether we are of Hawaiian ancestry or not.”

All around campus, students are showing a little bit about themselves through styles of clothing. Whether it is modern pop culture or ethnic and religious backgrounds, students show who they are through their traditional styles.