Since March, many college students have found themselves rotating between the same pieces of loungewear, opting for comfort over style as they are only held accountable for their waist-up ensembles over Zoom. As people grapple with the substantial impacts of the pandemic, many mourn the loss of trivial daily routines now considered extremely significant in hindsight. Particularly, the simple act of getting dressed up.
As the 5C community adjusts to the reality of an entirely virtual college experience, students also lose out on the joy that comes from expressing oneself through style or even admiring that of other students.
Whether it’s clothes and jewelry made by peers or a thrift haul from the Village, fashion is an integral part of 5C culture: and now, PZ Threads is trying to replicate the experience online.
PZ Threads, the Claremont Colleges’ first sustainable fashion magazine, aims to provide a community for students — fashion-inclined or not — to get together to discuss style, sustainability and more. Through Zoom meetings, social media engagement and an upcoming first issue published online, PZ Threads hopes to keep the 5C fashion community alive while encouraging discourse about ethics in the industry.
Editor-in-chief and founder Natasha Gardiner-Feldman PZ ’23 explained that inspiration for the club came from the lack of a formal fashion community when she first arrived at the 5Cs last fall.
“I always had a deep zeal for fashion, business, sustainability and ethics in [the industry],” Feldman said. “I came into Claremont with all those interests and didn’t really see a community or even a selection of classes offered that had anything to do with fashion.”
The absence of this kind of community surprised Feldman, as anyone who has visited the consortium might immediately notice the diversity of style across the colleges.
“Coming into the Claremont Colleges, it wasn’t like we went to a boring school where everybody just wore sweats and hoodies,” Feldman said. “You walk on the Claremont Colleges’ campus, and you see such individualized style everywhere. It was apparent to me that so many students, and even faculty, had that interest.”
Feldman was determined to address this void herself and called upon members of the 5C community at large to start a magazine.
“I thought a magazine would be the best way to incorporate [interest from all over the Claremont Colleges] because it includes writing, photography, graphic design, fashion design, sewing and just general creativity,” she said.
PZ Threads’ team and individual members reflect this variety of talent and interest. Talya Kaltman-Kron PZ ’23, an editor for the magazine, explained how PZ Threads allowed her to step out of her comfort zone in terms of writing and editing.
“When [Natasha] told me she needed some editing support with her new magazine, I was ready to help,” Kaltman-Kron said via email. “As someone who is not inherently fashion inclined, PZ Threads allowed me to gain exposure to different styles, try new looks and step out of my comfort zone.”
Some members joined simply to find a creative community that aligned with their interests at the 5Cs.
“I joined PZ Threads because it was hard for me to find creative outlets on the [Claremont McKenna College] campus,” Sophie Doane CM ’22, a graphic designer, said via email. “I was looking for a safe community where I could practice designing to just experiment and have fun!”
In addition to creating content for their first issue, Feldman also highlighted how the main objective of the club is to create community and celebrate individuality. She then shared an anecdote about an impromptu photoshoot the club had earlier in the spring. In true 5C fashion, Feldman noted, she met the club’s would-be fashion photographer in Spanish class and asked if he would be willing to help out with the photoshoot.
“We had all these models, as in friends and members of the club, and everybody brought clothes they had made or thrifted, and we all met in the Grove House,” she said. “The [Pomona-Pitzer] football team was playing beach volleyball, and we were doing a photoshoot on the basketball court. Our whole entire club came together and made that happen.”
Community is also an essential aspect of PZ Threads’ mission to incorporate sustainability.
“Since PZ Threads started at [Pitzer College], we had the hopes to share the ideas of sustainability as a standard and help encourage the same standard of sustainability at the other 5Cs,” Sabina Eastman PZ ’23 said.
Feldman spoke about how by creating Sustainability Guides to post on the club’s Instagram, she and other members of the club have learned a lot more about sustainability and common conflation with ethics.
“All of this is self-education, so we are building that community within the club and on social media so that we can grow, learn and collaborate together,” she said. “There isn’t that education on sustainable ethical fashion at the Claremont Colleges to make smarter decisions about what [students] consume.”
Despite the now distanced 5C community, PZ Threads has been keeping members engaged through weekly Monday Zoom meetings, social media content via their Instagram and continuing to collaborate on their online first issue, to be released soon.
Flannery Daley-Watson PZ ’23 commented on club meetings and activities and said, “We have planned a lot of fun fashion-related activities we can do at home to ensure we are still building our club’s community,” she said. “Last week we asked everyone to show off their favorite thrifted ideas, which allowed us to get to know new club members in a fun and unique way.”
Sabina Eastman PZ ‘23 further commented on PZ Threads’ adaptability in reaching out to new students as we await the release of the first issue.
“I think that PZ Threads is thriving, even in this post-pandemic world” said Eastman. “Our leadership has been amazing at adapting and utilizing social media to engage a larger portion of the student body.”
PZ Threads meets on Zoom every Monday at 6 p.m. PDT to discuss business and hold activities such as sustainable hauls, sewing demos, online fashion shows and more. DM the club’s official Instagram page (@pzthreads) to be directed to Zoom meeting information, Slack and their shared Google Drive folder.