AVANT-GARB Spring 2018 Vol. 1 No. 1
Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder Hailey Wozniak
Creative Director & Co-Founder Darius Riley
Creative & Photography Director Kayli Weiss
Styling Director Amani Hite
Graphics & Illustrations Phoebe Nichols Raine Raynor Dalia Tabachnik Zacaria Wilson
Rebecca Marrow Scout Gregerson
Rebecca Marrow Raine Raynor Ashley Williams
Vanessa Apira Zoe Duran English Department Marc Berson
Allison Hupper Osa Fasehun Lexie Freund Evan Marrow Andrew McGowan Chris Ritter Matthew Williams
Emma Jacobs Chris Ritter
Miles Brautigam Devon Garcia
Katherine Chi Jono Harrison
Visual Arts Department
Lisette Watters Matthew Williams
Lauryn Dove McKenna Thomas-Franz
SWAG Center Bowdoin Magazine
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear Reader, One chilly autumn evening last semester, Hugh Mo â€˜17 suggested that I meet with a student who was known for his photography. A few days later, Darius Riley and I spent a two-hour long dinner bonding over our passion for creative projects. We shared a desire to create a new Bowdoin experience that allowed for greater expression of culture. I left our first dinner with a sense of excitement and anticipation about the possibilities of our ideas. In the months following, we met in the common room of Howard Hall, scribbling ideas and sketching designs in our black Moleskine notebooks. We decided that a publication would best provide students with an outlet to express their creativity. Despite being repeatedly told that fashion held no value on this campus, Darius and I persisted and eventually, Avant-Garb Magazine was born. Creating this magazine together has been more meaningful than I could have imagined. In December, we brought on Amani Hite, who helped us focus the aesthetic of the magazine. We then recruited Kayli Weiss, who contributed her expertise in photography and web design. The four of us trudged through multiple snowstorms to meet, filled whiteboards with ideas, and spent hours collaborating to lay the foundation for the magazine we present to you now. To our delight, our online magazine launch in February received an enormously positive reception. During the spring club fair, the Avant-Garb Magazine booth attracted a non-stop stream of sign-ups. Since then, the magazine has evolved into a staff of twenty dedicated students across four different departments (Production, Editorial, Media, and Styling). Our staff has conducted interviews with fellow students for Whatâ€™s in Your Closet? articles, designed and photographed editorial-style lookbooks, and written analytical pieces about popular culture. Little did Darius and I know during that meal last fall that we would end our year with a print version of the magazine. Avant-Garb has grown into a creative community, and more importantly, an outlet for students to express themselves through fashion. At Bowdoin, we come from vastly different material and cultural experiences; we hope that this magazine reflects the unique styles and traditions of our campus. Avant-Garb would not be possible without the support of our friends, classmates, Student Activities Office, faculty, and our team of dedicated producers, stylists, writers, editors, and photographers. Thank you for reading, sharing, and inspiring our work. Fashionably yours,
Hailey Wozniak Editor-in-Chief
ON THE RUN Where are you going when you donâ€™t have a destination? What causes you to stop somewhere along the way? How do you find a sense of belonging in a foreign place? Do you embody the spirit of your surroundings to express yourself, or become imperceptible in a sea of familiarity? Maybe you will like belonging. Maybe you will want to return where you started, or realize you never knew where you started at all. Wonder and circumstance will lead you to a place where you will learn to love uncertainty. You are on a journey. You are on the run.
Photographer: Kayli Weiss HMUA & Stylist: Amani Hite Models: Alana Morrison, Alex Uys, & Hideyoshi Akai
Avant-Garb Magazine interviewed Isaac Greenawalt ‘19 who shared about conformity, gender, and self-expression. Hometown: Wayland, Massachusetts Interview by Miles Brautigam Photos by Chris Ritter MB: What’s in your closet? IG: I am in a style transition right now, and I’m a little late to the game. I have a mix of some old stuff that’s vaguely preppy, ranging from the Bowdoin-flannelly-bean boots style to women’s cardigans. The feminine garb is growing, while the more conventional Bowdoin stuff is getting phased out. I’m trying to figure out what I want and what I like. MB: What inspires your style? IG: I’ve been experimenting with a more androgynous look and feminine style. I’ll wear a beard and some makeup for a classically clashing look. Last time I was at Salvation Army, I tried on some skirts. I was like, “Hm! This could be an avenue.” MB: Is there a particular item that you consistently wear? IG: Earrings. When I first started wearing earrings, I noticed that I could have some agency regarding my style, how I look, and how I present.
MB: How has your style changed over time? IG: I didn’t begin thinking about my clothing choices until the end of high school. In my affluent Boston suburb, people either wore sweats and sports gear or preppy clothing. I started leaning into the preppy look, which consisted of collared shirts and khakis. Once I got to Bowdoin, I noticed that it was cool to wear the “salvo flannel look,” so I started moving closer
to that style. Dressing in typical Bowdoin men’s clothing, I felt a pressure to perform “Bowdoin dude,” whereas now with my close friends, I can be more flamboyant, weird and feminine. In the past year, I’ve realized that I can decide to do my own thing and I’ve made my style a more accurate reflection of my personality. MB: What informs your outfit choices? IG: Weather, a lot. I try to switch it up. If I just wore a certain outfit, I try to wear something different. When I dress for going out, I wear something a little more fun and free. And of course, I gotta be able to dance. MB: Do you have any fashion faux pas? IG: Baggy pants are out of the question for me. Not only do I look bad, but they’re not what I’m going for. This semester, I’ve worn barely any flannels, probably because that item of clothing is so charged here at Bowdoin. Flannels are such a trope of white guy style, especially in art circles. Secondhand flannels in particular. While those were present in my post-preppy phase, I’ve moved on now. But wearing them was a necessary step. MB: You’ve mentioned earrings and makeup. Is there a place for other new items in your wardrobe? IG: I’m trying to integrate headbands and bandanas, just to spice things up. Dying my hair blonde last semester opened the door to new possibilities, so I’m thinking about dying it again. I also found it fun to re-appropriate athletic clothing, like the baseball tee and the letterman jacket. There’s a cool aesthetic to some of these pieces, since they’re traditionally masculine items that have bright colors. The sports gear can serve as a jokey allusion to the masculine - feminine contrast.
MB: How and why should fashion be discussed? IG: I think there are people more qualified than me to discuss fashion, and it might mean different things to other people. People should be able to express themselves in any way. If that’s art, then that’s art. If that’s fashion, then maybe fashion is an art form. I think that mainstream fashion can pressure diverse personalities to conform to a certain style. If people are able to play around with fashion and find their own style, maybe they will feel more confident, feel like their truest selves, and feel like they’re being read how they want to be read. If fashion allows that, it’s a beautiful thing.
“Fashion is an expression of personality, and identity informs personality. In those terms, especially at Bowdoin, where it feels safe to be who I want to be, it’s a nice way of letting people know about myself, without having to let it out slowly.”
MB: Why is style important to your identity? IG: Fashion is an expression of personality, and identity informs personality. In those terms, especially at Bowdoin, where it feels safe to be who I want to be, my clothing is a nice way of letting people know about myself, without having to let it out slowly.
“Dressing in typical Bowdoin’s men’s clothing, I felt a pressure to perform ‘Bowdoin dude,’ whereas with my close friends I can be more flamboyant, weird and feminine.”
Adidasâ€™ Crown Jewel
Why the Adidas Superstar is Still Relevant Written by Evan Marrow Illustrations by Phoebe Nichols
When Adidas first released the Superstar sneaker in 1969, the intent was to deliver peak performance to athletes on hardwood. The German brand’s motivation for creating the Superstar model originated from a defect in their first low top basketball sneaker called the Supergrip, which was unable to withstand the intensity of high-level basketball. Since the Supergrip’s midsole and toe box wore down over time, Adidas opted for a shell toe on the Superstar. Several NBA greats of the era including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rocked the Superstar, which provided cutting-edge protection for its time. Yet eventually, the sneaker’s functionality became outdated on the court and its sales stagnated as well.
“the sneaker’s longevity cannot solely
be attributed to celebrity endorsements, but rather to the design’s innate ability to satisfy the physical demands of a multitude of lifestyles.”
It was not until 1986 that the shoe transitioned into a lifestyle icon with the help of rap group Run DMC. The trio of Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, and Jason Mizell made Adidas their own, rocking track tops and sporty sneakers on the streets instead of the courts. Their impact was so profound that Adidas established their Originals lifestyle branch in 1992 in order to expand the company’s newfound prominence within street style culture. Run DMC was not the only musical giant to endorse the shoe. The 90’s ushered in a new wave of artists such as the Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, and Puff Daddy who all had love affairs with the Superstar. Today, the silhouette continues to top the sales charts as a bestseller for both men and women. However, the sneaker’s longevity cannot solely be attributed to celebrity endorsements, but rather to the design’s innate ability to satisfy the physical demands of a multitude of lifestyles.
Through Run DMC’s profound influence on the Superstar, the sneaker’s popularity quickly disseminated to other cultures besides just hip hop. When the Beastie Boys became associated with the shoe, the group sparked the sneaker’s following within the skate community. The shell toe and herringbone traction pattern features met the durability standards that skaters required. Aesthetically, the Superstar also offered a fashion statement that other skating shoes could not provide, which furthered its appeal. As a result, the Superstar is considered one of the top skating shoes of all time, a feat that Adidas certainly did not expect to achieve when the sneaker was first released. The Superstar’s flat herringbone sole caters to courts and boards, but also lays the foundation for a minimalistic silhouette that the sneaker’s durable coated leather upper completes,
inviting people to make the shoe their own. Run DMC’s rendition involved removing the laces and popping the tongue, while the B-Boys swapped the sneaker’s stock laces for extra thick ones. Other designers and artists have viewed the shoe as a canvas, applying bold patterns to the upper to reflect their own personality and branding such as Missy Elliott’s signature model from 2002 that features a vibrant purple upper. In 2015, Pharrell applied a similar design to the shoe when he released his “Supercolor” pack that featured 50 different monochromatic colorways of the Superstar. Various streetwear brands have reimagined the Superstar as well, such as BAPE in 2004, which dressed the upper in its signature camo. In recent years, trends have reverted back to the simplicity of the shoe’s black and white colorway. The Superstar fits into today’s society within the popular wave of athleisure, which embodies styles suitable for both casual lifestyle and athletic purposes. Leggings and track pants serve as perfect complements to the sneaker, which create a retro and sporty aesthetic. With its minimalistic design of a signature white base with black accents, the shoe can seamlessly integrate into almost any outfit. Within the past decade, sneakers have ascended from their origin of athletic and casual wear to gracing runways and red carpets. Designer brands such as Balenciaga have served
as catalysts for this movement, rebranding items such as “dad shoes” for people to embrace as fashion statements. The Adidas Superstar is no exception to this evolution as an ever-growing number of A-list celebrities are spotted with the shoe, reflecting the Superstar’s newfound role in the upper echelons of style. Despite their impressive rise, sneakers’ humble beginnings enable them to remain accessible, while also providing a level of high fashion. Another contributing factor to the Superstar’s popularity is Adidas’ return to prominence in North America. In recent years, Adidas has rebranded their Originals branch to appeal to upscale fashion customers. In addition to releasing new models, the company reformed their approach to advertising through utilizing social media and streaming services in an effort to reach a greater audience of teenage consumers. Benefitting from the brand’s revitalization, the Superstar remained the steadfast core of the Adidas, continuing to flourish among its shifting counterparts. Although a profound effort was made in North America to boost sales, a similar movement was not required within the German brand’s home continent. The three stripes and trefoil are commonplace on European streets, especially amongst teenagers. The Superstar is so prominent within the age group that seeing a teen that doesn’t own a pair is a rarer occurrence than seeing one who does.
Despite the potential limiting factor of an $80 pricepoint, the Adidas Superstar remains an icon among shoes, gracing the feet of people from a vast array of demographics. The sneaker’s rubber shell toe and leather upper provide physical durability which combines with its unisex design to produce an ideal “everyday” shoe. The Superstar packs the status symbol of celebrities while still remaining minimalistic, enabling it to not only integrate into, but enhance most outfits. Adidas’ crown jewel has undeniably asserted itself as a superstar of fashion for nearly 50 years, and with every three black stripes, provides customers with both a timeless shoe and a long history of wear.
Photographer: Kayli Weiss HMUA: Amani Hite, Vanessa Apira, Matt Williams, Devon Garcia Illustrations: Phoebe Nichols; Models: Caroline Kranefuss, Jeonguk Choi, Elizabeth Growney, Cecile Roche, and Brianna Moore
For Us. By Us. 18
BLAck: A word that goes beyond color. HISTORY: a long tradition of strength, Black: power, resilience, and wisdom. MONTH: a commemoration of greatness and empowerment. ForUsByUs is not just a lookbook. It is a movement that celebrates authenticity, identity, and beauty within all forms of blackness. From Diana Ross and Grace Jones to Kendrick Lamar and Jean-Michel Basquiet, blackness and fashion have served as multifaceted platforms to challenge the doubters through artistic expression. ForUsByUs provides a mix of versatile style, taste, hues, and perspectives. This lookbook is blackness in its purest form. we made it #ForUsByUs. Photographers: Darius Riley, Amani Hite, & Kayli Weiss HMUA & Stylist: Amani Hite; Directed by Darius Riley, Amani Hite, & Kayli Weiss Models: Matt Williams, Jaden Dixon, Lisette Watters, Naomi Jabouin, Isel Fitzgerald, Yeujay Reeves, Chaz Phillips, Darius Riley, Alana Morrison, Neoma Daniel, Anaralys Baez Sanchez, Robert Adams, Dani Hove, & Ivy Williams
â€œNever underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.â€? -wilma rudolph 23
THE BOYBAND OF RAP
Written by Chris Ritter Illustrations by Zac Wilson
In August of 2017, critics didn’t know what to make of BROCKHAMPTON. The 15-member music collective had just released their second album since June, with rumors of a third by the year’s end. The group released a total of nine lo-fi music videos over the three month span, showing members of the group rapping in parking lots, the backs of golf carts,
and even a bathtub full of Fruity Pebbles. BROCKHAMPTON material was as plentiful as it was outlandish. In just three months, the group had released enough material to fill a short career. “I think what we’re doing hasn’t really ever been done before,” said BROCKHAMPTON’s de facto leader Kevin Abstract, a 21 year-old Texan artist best known for his indie-inflected rap on albums mtv1987 and American Boyfriend: a Suburban Love Story. Abstract spoke to music/ culture mag The Fader of the group’s dynastic ambitions as a boyband as well as a media company and ad agency, building a brand that defies the limits of the “band” title. Still, music is still the central money maker for BROCKHAMPTON. The group released the mixtape All-American Trash in 2016, but didn’t gain substantial attention until their debut album SATURATION arrived in 2017. A sprawling work, SATURATION meticulously attempted to introduce 15 distinct characters to a world that had met almost none of them. For a group of 15 men, BROCKHAMPTON is about as diverse as a “boyband” can get: the multi-racial cohort includes rappers, producers, and visual artists who are straight, gay, and rep anywhere from Northern Ireland to Grenada to Connecticut. Though tracks like “SWIM” highlight Abstract’s
indie-pop tendencies, the eclectic group earned the most praise from critics for its tag-team verses on “STAR” and “GOLD,” gaining them comparisons to Odd Future and other rap groups. But “rap group” isn’t their preferred title. Much has been made of BROCKHAMPTON’s insistence that they be called a “boyband” instead of this more obvious label. With each SATURATION album, the group seems to draw from an increasingly mixed bag of genres, but nearly every voice you hear on the SATURATION trilogy is that of a rapper, or at least someone who raps. At face value, the “boyband” claim could be seen as a shallow attempt to differentiate BROCKHAMPTON from predecessors like Odd Future or competitors like Flatbush Zombies, but that would miss the essence of BROCKHAMPTON entirely. While far from the Beatles or One Direction, it is easy to draw parallels between BROCKHAMPTON and the personal branding that has historically made a boyband a boyband. Though BROCKHAMPTON doesn’t have a “sweet” one or a “flirty” one, as USA Today has dubbed members of One Direction, they similarly accentuate members’ personalities. On “STAINS,” a single from SATURATION III, Ashlan Grey (one of the group’s photographers) interrupts a verse to shout, “Y’all motherfuckers made three albums still talking ‘bout the same
shit— the one gay, the one selling drugs, the one that’s tryna act like ‘Lil Wayne…” It’s a selfdeprecating quip, but at three albums in, it hints at the boyband aesthetic BROCKHAMPTON has worked so hard to perfect. At their worst, the 15 members and 6+ voices of BROCKHAMPTON can sound frenzied and disjointed, especially within albums exceeding 15 tracks. But even as members clash, distinct personalities shine through. While Kevin Abstract’s affinity for M.I.A. style vocal effects can be overbearing at times, it serves him well on the hook of “GUMMY.” As Abstract sinks into cool disinterest: “Cash don’t last, my friends’ll ride with me,” Merlyn Wood echoes the sentiment in all caps: “CASH DON’T MEAN SHIT SHIT! CRIED MY LAST TEARS, BITCH!” Wood, a 21 year-old rapper from Austin who dropped out of architecture school to join the group, is undeniably abrasive, but that’s the point. Every time Wood enters a song at maximum volume or yells “MERLYN!” unprompted during an interview, fans of BROCKHAMPTON are in on an inside joke that connects beyond music, and furthers the boyband branding that’s brought them into the national spotlight. The same can be said of JOBA, a Houstonbred singer whose falsettos range from tender to downright psychotic, displaying the full range on SATURATION III between “BLEACH” and “BOOGIE.” JOBA’s emphatically mediocre dance moves are a live show favorite, inspiring chants of
“Go JOBA,” as he flails his limbs centerstage. It’s almost a shame that the group’s boybandish antics distract from the sheer skill of several of the group’s rappers, notably Abstract and Ameer Vann, whose stone-faced flows often contain the richest lyricism of the group. “JUNKY” contains a candid recount of addiction from Vann, with bleak lines like “My acts of desperation, I’m on an empty stomach / So fuck the consequences, I ain’t running from them.” But even he has his meme worthiness. Vann might be the first ever rapper to rhyme “dank” with “Secret Agent Cody Banks,” as he does on “STAR,” but he’s also “the one selling drugs,” as Grey refers to him, rapping so much about his dealer days that he’s inspired fan memes about it. Band members having their own distinct styles isn’t anything new, but the BROCKHAMPTON brand reaches far beyond music. While BROCKHAMPTON visuals contain a certain degree of ridiculousness, they’re filmed casually in bedrooms, parking lots, and empty streets. BROCKHAMPTON merch, which sells out in minutes, is just as nonchalant, donning phrases like “boys make me sad” in all lowercase. It’s a kind of aesthetic that breeds inclusivity, conveying a sense of understated specialness among members that’s easily extended to fans. Abstract, self-dubbed “dumbass” on Twitter, interacts with fans almost daily,
congratulating them on college acceptances and laughing with them at videos of straight men reacting to his gayness. With so many personalities to keep track of, BROCKHAMPTON can be a challenging group to follow, both outside of their music and within it. The group has earned better reviews with each SATURATION album, improving their music as quickly as critics are catching up. But their complexities have made them successful from the beginning. While their sales have been as middling as their reviews (their top track has a modest 18 million streams on Spotify), the BROCKHAMPTON brand continues to thrive with a cult-like energy. The band doesn’t have the broad fanbase of past boy bands, but BROCKHAMPTON fans have no trouble showing the same hyper-enthusiasm: they have been filmed showing up hours early to shows, clad in signature BROCKHAMPTON blue face paint, giggling to interviewers about their favorite members. Major label RCA recently took note of the brand-driven success, signing the group to a $30 million record deal. Despite the pay raise, Kevin Abstract says that the group won’t change their DIY aesthetic. Three albums and $30 million in, it’s hard to imagine why they would.
Avant Garb Mag interviewed June Lei ‘18 who shared about buying fabric in Shenzhen, unsentimental jewelry, and herfather’s influence on her style. Hometown: New York, New York Interview by Kayli Weiss and Holly Hornbeck Photos by Kayli Weiss HH: How is fashion defined in your life? JL: Fashion plays a large role in my life. I have always dressed a certain way to construct my own personal image. Especially at Bowdoin, fashion allows me to reconfigure others’ perceptions of me and mitigate stereotypes about race and culture. I am Chinese American and I think there are stereotypes of Chinese people being either hyper sexual or completely devoid of sexuality. When I get to make these creative decisions, I have a say in the way people automatically perceive me. HH: Has your fashion changed over time? JL: When I came to Bowdoin, I concentrated more on comfort than visual sensibilities, which has been a very experimental process. As my body and preferences changed, and I exposed myself to various forms of art, my self-perception changed. I definitely present myself differently than I did before. KW: What takes up the most space in your closet? JL: Probably this fur coat that I used to wear. I’ll wear it occasionally to parties. I really like cheap faux fur coats. The best time to buy them is during the Summer when they cost $10 at Goodwill and nobody wants them. Then, when December rolls around, everybody will asks where you got your coat.
“When I shop and I see an expensive item that I like, I try to replicate it myself, which becomes a creative challenge.” KW: Do you have an item with a special meaning or story? JL: This skirt that I made, which has a pretty simple pattern. Its fabric is from a mall in Shenzhen in China, which I visited when I was studied abroad in Hong Kong. I bought many other fabrics at that mall because they were inexpensive. I learned how to sew when I was 13, and I make a lot of my clothes. When I shop and I see an expensive item that I like, I try to replicate it myself, which becomes a creative challenge. Making my own clothing also helps me escape from the restrictions of class in fashion. My pieces don’t really look like anything else, so it’s hard to use them to generate class distinctions. KW: Tell me about your accessories. JL: I am a big proponent of unsentimental jewelry because I always lose jewelry. In general, I don’t like wearing anything fancy or expensive because I’m afraid that I’ll ruin it. I do have these heart earrings that I got in Japan at a store called WEGO, which has cool and inexpensive accessories. I loved the earrings so much that I got 5 more pairs of them when I was in Hong Kong. They break all the time and fall out, but that’s why I have 5 pairs.
“In my family, style was as valuable as trustworthiness, frugality or other things that your parents try to teach you.” HH: Is fashion accessible to everyone? JL: Anyone can make active decisions about their appearance, but that requires time and various resources. Some people say that you don’t need to be rich to be fashionable, which I agree with, but you still need to purchase clothing. There’s symbolic value attached to high priced items that cost little to make but there is also status that comes with being thrifty. HH: Where do you find your style fitting in or sticking out at Bowdoin? JL: People often comment on what I wear, so I think that my style sticks out. The way I dress feels normal to me, but I wouldn’t say that it’s considered normal by many people here since there are many different philosophies about clothing. I think that Bowdoin students are making active decisions about their appearances for social gain as well. I do that to a degree, but not in the same way. HH: Have you felt constrained to dress a certain way? JL: It would be hard for someone to say that they have never felt that way. Good style has been a very important part of my life. I tend to use the word “style” over “fashion” because it’s broader, and also because of the way I grew up. My father, who’s a photographer, taught me and my siblings that dressing yourself meant that you had control over your presentation. In my family, style was as valuable as trustworthiness, frugality or other things that your parents try to teach you.
An Anthropological Look AT Black Panther's Wakanda 30
Written by Andrew McGowan Illustrations by Zac Wilson
Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, the latest superhero film in Disney’s highly successful Marvel franchise, is undoubtedly a progressive film. A black protagonist, a group of empowered women warriors, and a slew of African themes are not only original aspects in the superhero genre, but very forward-thinking elements for any Hollywood blockbuster. One of the more conspicuous narrative and visual elements of Black Panther is the setting: a fictional African nation called Wakanda. While the
rest of the world sees Wakanda as one of the poorest countries on the map, Wakanda’s citizens only uphold this façade to shield their actual advanced utopian society. Considering this setting through an anthropological lens adds complicated and compelling layers to how viewers can interpret Black Panther and appreciate the progressive representations it offers on the silver screen. Likely in an attempt to keep the film simple and accessible, Black Panther does
not thoroughly explain the inner-workings of Wakanda’s economy or culture, but from what the audience can discern, the disguising nation relies on egalitarianism and sustains itself on a hunter-gatherer economy. From a typical Western perspective, a society that embraces such practices might appear primitive, always on the brink of survival, and in constant need of colonial assistance. However, anthropological evidence tells us that such Western notions of tribal societies are not only short-sighted, but fundamentally incorrect. In 1972, anthropologist Marshall Sahlins published a groundbreaking essay titled “The Original Affluent Society.” Using evidence from field studies on the Kalahari Desert’s !Kung tribe, Sahlins discovered that people in societies that lived off of the earth’s bounty actually worked fewer hours per day, had longer life expectancies, and lived comfortably without stressing over their resources running scarce. Even though these civilizations did not have industrial or institutional signs of “Western” progress, they were very affluent. They had everything they needed at their fingertips and their modest culture ensured that everyone got their fare share. Applying Sahlin’s work to Black Panther raises two possible interpretations of Wakanda: one more positive and insightful, and the other more problematic in its depiction of tribal African nations.
The positive interpretation invites viewers to see Wakanda as a symbol of Sahlins’ findings which challenges Western assumptions of developing nations. As aforementioned, the Western nations in Black Panther fallaciously understand Wakanda as desperately impoverished. This is allegorical to the colonialist perspective of most non-Western cultures; just because these civilizations do not fare well in a global economic sense, or their social practices appear primal, Westerners often assume that these cultures carry some sort of unsophisticated despair. Sahlins, however, proves this interpretation erroneous by revealing these nations as places of plenty. Wakanda’s utopia, which is hidden from the rest of the world, physically manifests Sahlins’ argument. Wakanda is rich in vibranium (a fictional precious metal that helps power the entire nation), but they keep their abundance discreet and remain isolationist. Hence, the rest of the world deems the nation impoverished and resource deficient. Western countries are blind to Wakanda’s actual wealth in the movie, just as our literal developed world often accepts superficial vantage points when looking at less industrialized societies around the globe. Wakanda can therefore serve as a critique of Western perspectives and a representation of the latent abundance that tribal nations hold.
“Western countries are blind to Wakanda’s actual wealth in the movie, just as our literal developed world often accepts superficial vantage points when looking at less industrialized societies around the globe.” 32
“Black Panther is a pioneering movie, and using anthropological frameworks to analyze the story only widens the scope through which audiences can watch and learn from it” On the other hand, the possibility for a viewer’s problematic interpretation of Wakanda comes from its traditional Western representation of wealth in the film. The society that Wakanda’s citizens keep secret from the world is a futuristic metropolis with advanced technology, towering skyscrapers, and revolutionary efficiency. The wide shots capturing the country’s landscape are remarkable works of cinematography and CGI that depict the society as one that has industrially excelled beyond the rest of the world. However, it is this very emphasis on technological progress that warrants concerns about the film’s portrayal of tribal African nations. Ultimately, the film intends for Wakanda to embody the qualities of a near-perfect society, but their portrayal of such contradicts one of the key takeaways from Sahlins’ research. The !Kung tribe in Sahlins’ work exemplifies how hunter-gatherer societies do not need modern materialism to be affluent and that associating progress with prosperity is a distinctly Western ideology. Thus, illustrating Wakanda with so many signs of material wealth paradoxically buys into a narrow-minded Western perception of the developing world. In the end, perhaps viewers can make a compromise between these two theories that produces a positive, yet rational explanation for why the film takes the direction that it does with Wakanda. Because Black Panther is an American-
made movie with a primarily Western audience, its viewers may have had a hard time recognizing Wakanda as an ideal society without the Western signifiers of fortune and development. Thus, the filmmakers (and the comic book writers from whom Wakanda originated) must have knowingly bought into the Western image of utopia in order to make Wakanda’s success apparent. Simply defining Wakanda as a huntergatherer society and explaining its real-world benefits would be far less compelling for viewers and thus, the film would likely fail to get its progressive message across. Each viewer will have his or her own interpretation of Black Panther, but the concept of Wakanda encourages audiences to broaden their minds and consider new ideologies unprecedented in the superhero genre. Black Panther is a pioneering movie, and using anthropological frameworks to analyze the story only widens the scope through which audiences can watch and learn from it. Hopefully, Hollywood will produce more films that raise discussions like these, so that such cultural phenomenon will become more noticeably prevalent in the movie-going public’s consciousness.
Avant Garb Mag interviewed Megan Retana ‘19 who shared about the influence of her Chicana and Mexicana idenity on her fashion and love for bold colors. Hometown: Brownsville, Texas Interview by Hailey Wozniak and Darius Riley Photos by Darius Riley HW: What’s in your closet? MR: It depends on the season. During the spring, I’ll usually have many sundresses or skirts in there. I’ve never really had a good winter wardrobe but I’m trying to accumulate one. I like wool skirts and funky sweaters from thrift stores. I’m also starting to get into matching sets. My mom was always into having things match for me. I used to think that was uncool but now I’m starting to embrace that. I also have a lot of shirts with Mexican designs and off-the-shoulder tops. HW: What inspires your style? MR: I’ve been riding on the trend train of chokers, platform sandals, and crop tops. I like the late 90s early 2000s look. I have some basic things that I always come back to like this red dress that my sister had when she was in high school. I believe in having staple items and I love red. I like having stuff that is so ugly that it’s cute. Most of my traditional Mexican stuff comes from what I’d wear in elementary school during Charro Days, a parade in late February that celebrates two border towns, Brownsville and Matamoros.
HW: Do you feel like you have a part of your home with you when you are wearing your Mexican-inspired clothing? MR: When I lived in Brownsville, I wore some Mexican-made shirts around. It wasn’t until I went to boarding school in Massachusetts that I became aware of standing out. Throughout my courses in high school, I learned more about Mexican history, the Chicano movement and Chicana feminism. When I read more about Chicana feminism, I found a movement that I identified with. I felt like Chicana feminist authors really spoke to me. That’s when I started wearing way more traditional Mexican attire. I feel empowered when I do and I think it’s so pretty. I also love Frida Kahlo. I love her art and all of her accessories--it’s all very colorful. People should wear more color.
HW: Did you notice a standard mode of dress when you came here? MR: Definitely. People aren’t really into colors. The Bowdoin uniform, if it were written down in the handbook, would be leggings or sweatpants, bean boots, a flannel, a sweatshirt, and Chelsea boots. HW: Did you feel pressure to adjust your style? MR: I expected it at a liberal arts school in Maine but I didn’t feel pressure to adjust. At the beginning of my first year, I would dress up for class and people would be like “Oh wow! You look so fancy.” I think I have a different definition of formal, fancy attire than other people do. Even for parties, I love getting dressed up. That’s half of the fun of going out! I want to have a fun time and have a fun outfit.
DR: How do you choose your outfits? MR: I usually go by the weather but a lot of times, I’m completely off. I have a hard time figuring out what I’m going to wear. There are times when I try on five different outfits. If it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t look right. I’m also a bit neurotic about how things fit, so if shoes don’t fit perfectly or a skirt doesn’t fit right, I don’t wear them. Comfort usually isn’t one of the first things I consider. I like wearing something that has color. I like to construct something cool out of the clothes aren’t really special on the hanger but go really well once they’re put in an outfit if that means combining patterns or colors or layers. I like to make a statement too. But there some days when I wear jeans. I love denim. I have three denim dresses, several pairs of jeans and denim jackets. And sometimes I’ll layer denim. DR: What do you want to tell people with your style? MR: With some of the pieces, specifically the ornamented, colorful Mexican pieces, I want to convey that I’m a Chicana and a Mexicana and I’m proud of the effect that it has a on a campus that doesn’t really express themselves through fashion. I think wearing bold colors or particularly interesting pieces gives me some confidence. Maybe some people feel that by dressing like everyone else gives them a sense of comfort and confidence which is great but I definitely think that when I dress differently I gain a sense of identity and confidence. HW: Where do you normally draw your inspiration from fashion wise? MR: I have different people and sources throughout my life. My grandmother was a fashionista. She had very cool vintage jewelry and I think she was my first source of inspiration. I then started going to vintage shops and looking at 50s, 60, 70s style vintage clothing and throughout time that has changed. My sister is older so she would always get more grown up clothes and fashion is definitely important to her but we’ve diverged on our styles. I guess now I’m really inspired by the women of Chicana feminism. Unapologetically brown, loud, colorful, proud. Also, I love looking at clothes on different Instagram accounts. Mostly thought vintage stores and thrift stores. There’s this one in Maine called Dreaming Tree Vintage that I’ve gotten so many things from.
“With some of the pieces, specifically the ornamented, colorful Mexican pieces, I want to convey that I’m a Chicana and a Mexicana and I’m proud of the effect that it has a on a campus that doesn’t really express themselves through fashion.” HW: Why do you think it’s important to talk about fashion? MR: I think a lot of the critique on fashion is misguided when people say that caring about fashion is elevating or privileging wealth or luxury over people who may not be able to afford certain brand name items. That’s not really thought through. I found that fashion connects people. With the women of color on campus I feel like that is a population that doesn’t adhere to fashion norms on campus. They wear colors, they wear heels, they wear jewelry. So in my experience I can just be walking on campus and see someone or some other girl sees me and she’s like “Oh I love your outfit!” and I’m like “Damn girl you look fine” and so we’re connecting because of what we’re both wearing. It’s really cool because it happens a lot with other women of color so then we’re also connecting on that level. HW: Are there any pieces of yours that have an interesting origin or are particularly special to you? DR: Is there anything that you’re too scared to wear? MR: I think that I’m adventurous but sometimes I’m not sure if I can wear something here. I have a lot of clothes that I’ve put away because I don’t really wear them. It’s very easy for me to be comfortable in wearing Mexican fashion because I grew up on the border and I’m brown but sometimes when crossing cultural fashion trends is a sensitive subject. This is a beautiful dress, I got it at this thrift store back home and I got it tailored and everything. I see many African-American women wearing similar patterned dresses or headwraps around campus and I’m not sure if it would be wrong of me to wear this. It’s beautiful and I definitely appreciate it. I’m not scared to wear it but I wonder if I have the right to be concerned about wearing it. Probably my favorite favorite is this beaded dress. It was really inexpensive when I got it and I’m pretty sure that every single sequin was handsewn. HW: Can you tell us about your accessories? MR: I love earrings and accessorizing. I don’t really have a lot, I wish I had more. I’ve lost a lot while traveling. I really like Mexican-style, dangly and funky earrings. I mostly get my jewelry from thrift stores or Salvo and I have a few from a farmer’s market in Brownsville. My favorite style of earring is like Mexican inspired. I love gold hoops and super big hoops. Big gold hoops are so cool and can go with anything. I like chokers and also layering gold necklaces. I think that I definitely wear gold more than I wear silver. I want to get more into rings.
Written by Jono Harrison Illustration by Phoebe Nichols
Chambers of RefLection: Mac Demarco, Vaporwave, and REsurgent Nostalgia 36
There’s something strangely alluring about Mac Demarco’s dusty, unkempt aesthetic. With an affinity for public nudity, unabashed drunkenness, and lewd performative acts, his behavior is an unexpected complement to the wistful, deeply introspective nature of his music. In the past several years, Demarco has stumbled into the spotlight of popular music, performing sets at big-name festivals such as Coachella and Governor’s Ball. Amidst a lineup typically dominated by hip-hop and EDM acts, Demarco’s folk-inspired, “slacker rock” sound makes him a unique headliner at these events. With over 43,000,000 plays on Spotify, “Chamber of Reflection” is one of Demarco’s most defining works. An honest rendition of the title, the synth-driven melody reverberates around the fringes of the song, delivering an echoing effect. The repetition of the vocals “alone again” in Demarco’s pensive drawl further amplifies this audible circuity, the two words orbiting around each other until the order of the phrasing becomes jumbled and ambiguous. Despite being a widely recognized signature of his musical style, the synth hook is a noticeable divergence from Demarco’s usual signature acoustic guitar. In fact, the melody is a re-recorded rendition of “ザ・ワードⅡ / セキトウ・シゲ オ,” a 1975 song originally written by the Japanese electronic jazz artist Shigeo Sekito. In contrast to “Chambers of Reflection,” Sekito’s original version evokes atmospheric tones in a more sedate context. The tempo moves at a slower pace, and lacks any intentionality or urgency in its direction. Sekito’s signature instrument, the Yamaha electric organ, known as the electone, elicits a more
clean and crisp sound. His jazzy solo riffs that intercut the melody feel reminiscent of old Nintendo game theme songs, and would fit well in the universe of Zelda or Mario. If Demarco’s interpretation propels us into some faraway location in space, then Sekito’s original sits upon a distant planet where time operates under different constraints. Biographical information about the Japanese electro-jazz artist is surprisingly elusive, and not much internet mention of him exists beyond his affinity for Yamaha electronic instruments and the infusion of classical jazz into new electronic synth sounds. The enigma enshrouding Sekito and his career provides for an intriguing sample, and leads us to wonder what motivated DeMarco to pull this song from such realms of obscurity. Combined with the sluggish, nostalgic connotations of the song, the usage of a dated and vague sample characterizes “Chambers of Reflection” on the periphery of the vaporwave movement. A genre that arose from meme culture colliding with electronic music, vaporwave usually features sloweddown, chopped-and-screwed mixes of 1980’s era elevator jazz. Often associated with a sardonic critique on consumer capitalism, the genre blends satire and nostalgia to elicit a complex, oxymoronic sense of sentimental apathy. This emotional oscillation fits well with DeMarco’s persona, who once jokingly labeled his entire style of music as “jizz jazz.” Sekito’s sample has arisen in a variety of other songs, including a feature on Travis Scott and Quavo’s most recent collaborative project, Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho. The lyrics to the album’s “How U Feel” are fairly unremarkable, detailing generic commentary about lavish lifestyle and heavy drug usage. Is this an intentional evocation? Is the vaporwave-aesthetic transplanted as a commentary on consumeristic superficiality in the sphere of hip-hop? This is a difficult question to answer, but it is indisputable that Sekito’s melody appears to hold significance across a broad spectrum of genres. It is sampled across a variety of lo-fi beats, including the song “Viola” by Eevee. Wiz Khalifa’s “Smoke Chambers” uses a direct sample of Demarco’s version with the vocals included. The hook appears as a motif across these genres, infusing the resurgent internal mechanics of the wispy, dreamy electronic synth into new contexts. The “vaporwave” aesthetic of the sample brings distant memories to the forefront, weaving a thread of lonely nostalgia that spans from Demarco’s slacker rock to niche underground lo-fi beats to new age trap.
Lilac drips over sweet honeysuckle beds baby April, come March and sing, come play and love, come grow and swing. Come May, listen to equinox jazz and soft soul sunrays. Springâ€”a time for rebirth, revival, and return The flowers remember their pain yet still forgive They paint a forgotten field, empty of care, with color and celebration. We are the pink petals in the wind, filling the sidewalks with gentle love. Poem by Katherine Chi
Photographer: Kayli Weiss Stylists: Hailey Wozniak, Lisette Watters, Ashley Williams, & Kayli Weiss HMUA: Amani Hite, Matt Williams, & Lisette Watters; Production Assistants: Chris Ritter & Zoe Duran; Models: Dana Williams & Kayla Kaufman