Fashion spotlight: When Claremont hallways become fashion runways

Two young male students sit crouched on outdoor steps, wearing colorful clothes and looking at the camera
Alejandro Maldonado PO ’22 and Brian Bishop PO ’22 sit on the steps of Pomona College’s Studio Art Hall. (Luba Masliy • The Student Life)

5C students come from cities all over the world, bringing with them their favorite flag-patterned dresses, shoes worn-in from treks across burning concrete and outfits inherited from family or enigmatic strangers. 

For many of them, fashion is about more than just grabbing the cleanest shirt and running to class. Each clothing item is attached to a memory, like the chorus of a favorite song. Choosing the outfit of the day doesn’t become just another routine; it becomes a cherished tradition that they look forward to each morning.

Young student in purple t-shirt, gray sweatpants, and orange, green, and pink sneakers stands on an outdoor staircase and smiles. The sky is behind him, blue and partially cloudy.
Alejandro Maldonado PO ’22 discusses his style inspirations and how fashion acts as a creative outlet. (Luba Masliy • The Student Life)

Brian Bishop PO ’22 has a specific piece he treasures.

“So, I have this dope hoodie. It’s like a black pointed hood with two buttons, and it looks so majestic, with flowers on the front,” he said. “I look like a magician of sorts [when I wear it].”

The jacket has held a special place in his heart, reminding him of the time he worked at a summer camp in the middle of Maine. 

“On our day off, we went to this thrift shop and found the jacket. Then I would wear it every single time while playing ‘Magic: The Gathering’ with the kids. They loved it,” Bishop said. “And it’s cool that I have that memory attached to the jacket now.” 

Alejandro Maldonado PO ’22 uses fashion to represent his hometown: Brooklyn. 

“I feel like my barber from back home was a huge influence on my style … I still follow him on Instagram, and he tips me off on the best places to shop,” Maldonado said. “I feel like growing up in the city, you’re always sort of window-shopping. You can’t walk down the street without seeing mad stores and things to buy.”

Outfits on campus emphasize comfort, affordability and style. Several students said they find examples of street style through Instagram influencers, but are able to tweak them to fit their own unique image. 

“I wear a bunch of different things. One day, I can wear all black and then the next day, I can be super colorful,” Taylor Lehner PZ ’22 said. “Outfit choices represent your mood and who you are as a person. My main thing is I want to be comfortable, but still have style.”

Different trends have come and gone these past few years in Claremont, though some pieces like Birkenstocks, high-waisted shorts and distressed jeans have stood the test of time.

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“I definitely like the ‘90s look. I’m a fan of denim-on-denim,” Lehner said.

Strange or strategic choices can often be the most fascinating. 

“I try to design my outfits around a certain item, like a specific pair of pants or a pair of sneakers … Light-wash, tight, ripped jeans are a classic,” Maldonado said. “I used to wear button-downs all the time just because it was easy, but I try to not do stuff that’s that easy anymore.” 

Young student in black and white graphic t-shirt, a chain necklace, black shorts, and black sneakers sits on the steps of an outdoor staircase and smiles. A scooter is beside him, leaned on the steps.
Brian Bishop PO ’22 describes what fashion means to him and its importance in his life. (Luba Masliy • The Student Life)

When asked about how their style is influenced by past trends, students had mixed responses. 

“These sneakers are the same ones that Spike Lee wore in ‘Do the Right Thing.’” Maldonado said. “Of course I look to the past for inspiration. They were the first to do it.”

Bishop proposed a different take.

“I don’t look at anybody else. I just look at myself. I probably get influenced by some things, like I own a snapback,” he said. “But there’s no past, no present, no future; it’s just me and my clothes.”

Fashion makes students feel good about themselves, even if they aren’t thoroughly knowledgeable about the industry. 

“To me, good fashion doesn’t mean knowing everything about cuts and fits. It just means you’re able to express yourself,” Bishop said.

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