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March 26, 2009 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-03-26

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Fashioning campus sty le
University students incorporate their unique backgrounds into creative clothing designs

Rediscovering our roots
By Whitney Pow I Senior Arts Editor

America has always been
nostalgic for Americans.
Beneath all the current
social, political and cultural ruckus,
there seems to always be an ideal-
ized America in our past that we
constantly try to revisit. We see this
urge to reconnect with the past in
our need to go to Encore to update
collections of already obsolete vinyl
records, to dirty our fingers on
typewriter ribbons while we tap on
manual typewriters, to pine for the.
apple pie we return to as a symbol of
America as much as a tasty dessert
- Don McLean would agree.
We can see this American nostal-
gia even more intimately through
the clothing trends we revisit.
There are closets full of styles that
have seen the light of day not once
but twice. These styles include
bleached bell bottoms, headbands
and long, flowing hair as well as

checkered shoes, skinny ties and
cheap plastic Ray-Bans.
Today, it seems like the newest
fashion trend revisits blue jeans,
plaid shirts, cowboy boots, high-
top shoes and red, white and blue -
Americana chic. The style surfaced
in the late '40s and early '50s and,
this time around, we are revisit-
ing Americana without irony or
kitsch; we are honest-to-god try-
ing to emulate the feel of that era
in our clothing and, of course, in
the way we view and try to present
ourselves.
Why are we attracted to Ameri-
cana? The look is rustic and work-
ing-class; it's earthy and grounded,
playing off the traditional patterns
and colors that symbolize an histor-
ical, ideal sense of individuality and
the preference of labor and utilitari-
anism over the more recently popu-
lar trend of cultural froth and foam

- everyone's 15 minutes of fame had
been spent on superficial carica-
tures on realitytelevisionshows and
drunken paparazzi photographs.
Our attraction to Americana
might reveal our efforts to connect
with the essentials of living with
manual labor and the land - things

to sustain themselves. This con-
nects people more closely with the
products they consume (don't eat
out - make your own food; don't
throw it out - reuse), re-iterating
a growing sense of self-awareness
and the individual drive to sustain
oneself.

F
A

By NORA FELDHUSEN
Daily Arts Writer
"Your insides are as important as your outsides. Never
forget to celebrate what's Beneeth." That's what Nikeisha
Nelson writes on the tag of each of her originally designed
and created pieces of clothing. Nelson, an Art & Design
senior. knows how to spell - Beneeth is the name of her
clothing line.
On track to graduate this spring, Nelson is already much
more than a student. A freelance graphic designer and fash-
ionista, she hasa fewgigs in Brooklynstartingin May. Luck-
ily for Ann Arbor, she's sticking around until then to finish
her degree, put on a fashion show on April 10 and exhibit her
work in one of the School of Art & Design's galleries.
As a child, Nelson - whose parents are both from Jamai-
See NELSON, Page 7B

JED MOCH/Daily
By TRINA MANNINO
Daily Arts Writer
Dani Schumaker isn't the average aspiring fashion
designer who turns to Vogue or fashion runways for inspi-
ration. Instead, the School of Education junior values func-
tionality and environmentally friendly practices in her
garments.
Schumaker's interest in clothes began when she needed
a prom dress in high school.
"My mom made a dress for me a couple years before,"
Schumaker said with a chuckle. "She said that she wasn't
going to do it again and that I had to do it. It was very '50s
and it was bad, but that's where it started."
After improving her skills, Schumaker has begun selling
her pieces online, in addition to taking custom orders. On
See SCHUMAKER, Page 7B

And perhaps our movement
toward Americana aesthetics has
been propelled by our dissatisfac-
ashiioning tion with the present. Maybe it's
Lm ericana. all a commodified form of our own
guilt after having lived in a notably
Starbucks- and cubicle-oriented
industrial society, where things
nt recession has caused us were made for us instead of by us.
nk not as a last option, but Our movement back to the roots
ver-present one. While an of individual work ethic due to the
ng amount of desk jobs in failing economy could be a way for
wers are being cut, more us to come to terms with past cul-
re people are planting veg- tural trends - an attempt to move
gardens and applying for forward, to change and be aware
n, lower-tier jobs in order of who we were and who we would

like tobe as a society.
We hope to embody the values
blue jeans and plaid signify by,
well, putting them on our bod-
ies. We look back to Americana to
find ourselves and our identities in
this current period; '50s America
is something of a role model - a
big sister we look up to as an ideal-
ized version of ourselves we have
yet to grow into, even if that view
is grounded more in unconditional
admiration than realism.
Fashion trends are more than
just an aesthetic statement; they
are a way for us to commune with
past cultures and future trends.
They are a way for us to reconsider
our values and reflect our changing
mentalities in the way we outward-
ly appear, manifesting our renewed
belief in America in our un-ironic
revisiting of blue jeans, cowboy
boots and plaid flannel.

By MAUREEN SULLIVAN
Daily Arts Writer
"Consume Information, Gain Knowledge, Find Truth."
This is the philosophy of student-run street-wear line
STROKE. The mantra reflects style as a mode of confident
personal expression.
"To keep it simple in life, you have to be able to enter a
situation, whether familiar or unfamiliar, learn from that
experience, and in turn develop your own ideas to improve
yourself or your work," said Business sophomore Michael
Sulaka, co-founder of STROKE. "In regards to STROKE,
we try to form our own distinct identity and create our own
path to success."
This identity is heavily influenced by current popular
media and trends. Hip hop is the primary source of inspira-
tion, and the creative businesses of music and fashion have
never been more interwoven than
they are now. Kanye West's line of
Louis Vuitton shoes, for example,
is almost as highly publicized as
his album releases.
Though music personalities
are launching fashion labels more
quickly than remixes, Sulaka and
his partner, Art & Design sopho-
more Justin Finkelman, believe
they have tapped into a unique
market in the Midwest through
their line of culture-conscious
PE T-shirts.
Rather than imitating musi-
cians, the STROKE team pays
tribute to the music that inspires
themthrough clothes. Their shirts
sport bold block lyrics of rap icons
like Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z,
juxtaposed with funky and col-
orful graphic design. Sulaka and
Finkelman view hip hop as having
Ladies the power to transcend and blur
v *conventional labels.
"People are looking for some-
B Drafts thing different," Sulaka said. "Kids
is l4ght who used to wear Abercrombie
and Fitch are now wearing fitted
hats and graphic tees. We're all
h Platters trying to be unique. There's only
4.995100 so much that Polo can say - that's
! IaWt boring."
The duo seeks to make STROKE
See STROKE, Page 7B

the rece
to rethi
as an e
increasi
ivory to
and mo
etable
hands-o

DIG
FASHION?
Write for our
Fine Arts staff.
E-mail
battlebots@umich.edu.

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