Everyone has a story. Everyone has been through a journey. Everyone has some crucial part of them that makes them unique. Some choose to keep that locked away, but many express who they are-both culturally and personally through the very clothing they wear.
I decided to uncover more than just the cloth on people’s backs but the fundamental reason people present themselves the way they do. I examined patrons at Mariachi plaza and compared them to college students to examine what drives how different people express themselves.
“Fashion is an outlet for me. I use what I wear to express what I’m going through. There was a dark time my father passed away and I wore all black. Other times I’m lighter and happier but you know it just depends. I keep up with the latest trends though, I think that’s important,” said Isabel Berns, a junior at Chapman University.
Michelle Crane is a student at FIDM who lives and breathes fashion. However it is not the latest trends that illustrate what is important to her-but rather a message that she believes fashion can send. “I wear this bracelet everyday. It says don’t judge. My bother he is autistic and I hate people judging…Yeah style is important and all but this is the most important thing I wear everyday…it’s a part of me.” She said.
Crane hopes to go into fashion to create more meaningful clothing.“I love the no h8 campaign and stuff like that. I want my own line to send a message. What you wear matters.”
However in Mariachi Plaza not one person mentioned style nor trends. Many had sentimental items or cultural inspiration behind their clothing but no one mentioned being fashionable.
One 28-year-old lady expressed her self through several symbols. A tattoo and a necklace provided a slight glimpse into her soul “I have this tattoo, it is a gay pride flag. It means um a lot to me. My brother is gay and this shows my support for him,” Jessica Gomez said. She also wore a cross on her neck symbolizing her religion. She said that for many the two conflict, but for her it is all about acceptance.
Mario White also had a story. Below the piecing’s and tattoos stood a golden watch. A watch that had been passed down through generations. This watch was a family heirloom. “My dad finally gave it to me when I turned 25. It was a right of passage. He gave it to me when I finally got my life together.”
For others still their style represents their culture. One mariachi player says that he enjoys dressing up everyday because he likes to show he is proud of who he is. He wears traditional Mexican clothing from head to toe, and feels that the Mariachi attire helps keep culture and music alive and well.
These people’s snapshots show the significance clothing, accessories and tattoos have. The people I talked to at Mariachi plaza were vastly different than the college students I spoke too. However like all human beings they all had deep reasons for their actions. While the college students cared a little more about fashion, both the Mariachi plaza residents and college students used their style to represent themselves and things that were important to them. Regardless of status, location or age, it is clear that everyone expresses themselves through appearance.
While the age old status “don’t judge a book by its cover” has great relevance and should be listened to, a book has a cover for a reason. People too have an appearance for a reason, and beyond the brand names and expensive brands is a story waiting to be told.