All posts by Jazmine Sanchez

Get Crafty

To some, sewing may be something that you picked up as a child. For many others, it can become a tricky task to pick up. That’s where this gal comes in.

The first thing you notice about 24-year-old Amy Castañeda is her vibrant locks of hair; A deep plum shade of purple fades into a hot pink hue, making this Youtube ‘Do it Yourself’ star pop while on camera. Standing out is key when making weekly Youtube videos about creating such things as handbags, skirts, jackets, wallets and more!

“I’ve always liked making things when I was younger,” she says.

“I started to sew when I was thirteen and then when I went to high school, that’s when I started getting into making clothes and other things.”

 

Some of her more recent pieces that have gotten a lot of attention are her original design vinyl bags. Experimenting with structures and colors, Castañeda has made bags in the shape of a watermelon, a vinyl record, and multiple logos, such as the famous Instagram camera. At one point, someone complimented one of her bags, asking if it was a Kate Spade piece.

“In general I love making bags,” Castañeda says.

“There are a lot of vinyl bags out there, and I decided that I wanted to make my own. The cool thing about bags is that when I’m done making them they look like you bought them from the store!”

If you’re looking to make a new handbag made out of vinyl, or a watermelon printed skirt, then Amy’s account has it. Her main focus is to get people to sew more, explaining that a lot of accounts on YouTube dealing with learning how to sew are usually aimed to an older crowd. Since she is young, she likes to make her ideas fresh and new to attract younger audiences. She loves to make her videos fun and enjoyable by making it easy and rewarding for anyone to do. She goes into complete detail when it comes to making a piece, from the measurements you should have, to the materials you should be working with to complete the piece.

 

“I usually get comments that are like, ‘your videos are the only ones that are fun.’ I guess that’s what makes [my page] unique because it’s coming from me, a new generation.”

Currently at more than 100k subscribers on YouTube, this savvy artist has already built a following for herself. So how does she obtain all of her followers? According to her, it’s because of the different variety of videos that she puts out there.

One of those followers is 24-year-old social media influencer and YouTuber herself, Andrea Reyes, whose channel usually consists of beauty and lifestyle videos, daily vlogs, challenges, and reaction videos.

“Honestly, she’s great at what she does, and yes, she’s a DIY YouTuber, but she’s so creative and one of a kind.” Reyes says, “DIY’s are all over YouTube, but something about her makes her super unique and there are not many people on YouTube like her, so she definitely stands out!”

Reyes says a good tip for people who want to start making YouTube videos is to, “…never start it for the money, you have to really want it and love creating content. It’s honestly my favorite thing to do – I don’t have many subscribers but the numbers don’t matter to me as long as I’m happy uploading content I love and it’s a passion and if I can help one person on this journey it will be worth it,” she says.

Amy’s journey on YouTube began in the 2012. When she first started she got a shout-out by a YouTube channel called Thread Finger, who noticed her for sewing videos. After that shout-out, she started to become more known which boosted her followers. They are now one of the channels she looks up to.

One thing she says is that most YouTubers have trouble with when starting online is coming up with consecutive ideas to put out for your viewers. In order to keep herself from not making the same videos, she usually gets her ideas from what she’s interested in at that moment.

“For example, I’ll be watching a movie or see a new character from a show and I’ll become inspired to make a piece dedicated to them,” Castañeda says.

Through her quirky and animated choices in designs, at the end of the day she enjoys seeing how her fans recreate things through her tutorials. All the love she gets from her fans and the recreations they make mean alot to her. At the end of the day, her fans are what ultimately pushes her to keep uploading more video content each week.

Another one of her fans is 19-year-old Maegan Bishop, graphic design student at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles who also freelance models. Not only did Castañeda inspire Bishop to become a better designer, but it also inspired her to design a pair of shoes that she’s been wanting to make.  

“I’m a type of person that totally takes in positive energy from people and when I started watching her videos I could see how happy she was making them and it’s just so beautiful,” Bishop says. “I love it when people are so passionate about their work, it just pushes me to become a better person and put all my energy into what I love to do and become a better designer.”

Amy graduated from San Francisco State University in the spring of 2017 as an Apparel Design & Merchandising major. While taking classes at SFSU, she was featured in the annual fashion show held by the department, where she showcased modern pieces derived from Mexican culture. Her inspiration for these pieces came from the 50’s and wanted to make them wearable for today through Mexican detailing such as floral embroidery.

The Apparel Design & Merchandising department at SFSU offers students a variety of courses from fashion illustration to product development for apparel. Connie Ulasewicz, department chair of the Apparel Design & Merchandising program at SFSU, says the program offers students the idea of designing things in order to solve a problem.

“If the problem is that there’s an industry that creates a lot of ways, how do I design garments with that in mind?” she says. “I make sure that I use all the fabric I have, or I design something from a product that already was. Whatever it might be, remember your understanding that design and garments help people function in the world, that’s their purpose, people learn that along the way here.”

With platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, you’re bound to find someone designing their own clothes and selling them. So, how hard is it really to get your clothes on the window of Saks Fifth Avenue or displayed in Milan? Ulasewicz says that in order for someone who wants to start their own clothing line, you should “learn on somebody else’s dime.” In other words, work for someone else first.

“It’s a very difficult business to get started in,” she says. “You can be working with someone else and at the same time be absorbing the way they make decisions or whatever their mission is and how they’re getting it out to people. The people who do that, I think become more successful because it’s challenging to find what your message, image, vision is in a manner that you can afford to do so.”

Amy has done just that. She currently works for a company in San Francisco called Jolie Coquette which offers minimalist inspiriting clothing. Here, Amy helps with making the clothes and designs as well. In the future, Castañeda wants to continue to make her own designs and one day put out her own label. Most of the clothes she plans on designing will be inspired from the 50’ and 60’s. For this, she gets most of her pieces from thrift shops, where she turns unwanted clothes into something new. For now, she will continue to make DIY videos in hopes to inspire people to get out there and sew.

If you’re en route to designing clothes and making a brand out of yourself, it is not impossible. For example, Judith Rothman-Pierce, 28, owner of the clothing line Rusty Cuts started an Etsy account in 2009 making dresses from vintage fabric and bedsheets. With over 17k. followers on Instagram, Pierce encourages people to start their own fashion designs.

“Do it, practice makes perfect-ish,” she says. “Give stuff to your friends and just see what works and what doesn’t. I think of my clothes more as a craft and not as much a fashion line, so it could be different for everyone.”

Her own clothing line, something Castañeda hopes to achieve in the future, is a dream she plans on making a reality.

Although the fashion industry is a cut-throat world, this fashionista doesn’t plan on giving up on her dreams anytime soon.

“When it comes to sewing, just go for it,” Castañeda says. “Don’t look at something and believe you can’t make it, you’d be surprised as to what you could make, we’re all capable of so much more!”

 

Photos by Jazmine Sanchez.

We are a Culture, Not a Costume

The time has come where society once again shows us how absurd their choice in costumes can be. Sadly, it hasn’t gotten any better throughout the years. We’ve seen things from misinterpretation of the Native American culture, to blackface costumes, to your “typical” Mexican in a sombrero.

Let’s get one thing straight, none of these things are okay to ever wear. Speaking for all races and cultures, we are not a costume.

Every culture has its own unique history, and with that, a lot of it is carried on through what they wear. Fashion has been a part of our lives for centuries, and not only does it distinguish one culture from another, it also offers a cultural background for others to learn about.

When it comes to Halloween, dating back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, it used to be a day where the Celts believed this was the day the dead would return. Through time, it has become a day where people dress up in their choice of costume and collect candy. The biggest problem here though is the choices of what to dress up as.

More and more costumes continue to pop up each Halloween that ultimately bring up questions like ‘do people not think about the statements they are making?’ ‘why would this ever be put out on the market?’, and ‘what, if any, cultural research has been done?’

Where does someone draw the line between whether they are misrepresenting a culture? Does wearing a slutty version of a geisha make you culturally smarter? Does wearing an Anne Frank costume labeled as Child’s 1940s Girl Costume make it OK to represent a historic figure? According to 21-year-old Broadcasting and Electronic Communication Arts major Hannah Pack, no.

 

“I don’t understand how or why someone would want to dress up as something that symbolizes a sad part of the world’s history?” Pack questions.

 

“Maybe the thought process of this costume was to commemorate Anne Frank and those affected by the Holocaust. However a child’s Halloween costume is not the right way to do so. To me, Halloween is about dressing up as something fun that you like. The Holocaust does not match this description.”

 

This isn’t the first time companies have put out costumes aimed for children that in the end show a lack of cultural education. Among these costumes we can find such things as the popular Disney film Moana, Maui costume which sparked up a controversy among islanders. The costume was featured on Disney.com and according to the Huffington Post was removed. The costume featured a brown-skin body suit covered in traditional Polynesian tattoos.

“Let’s face it, our symbols and our emblems, who we are as a people have been used by western society for their pleasure, not for ours,” says Paul Kevin, a hula instructor from Hawaii.

 

“These companies should really ask themselves, what are we trying to do? I’m not saying don’t be funny, but you have great license to pick and choose things and deal with it. If they can’t be more creative than that, then they can’t be creative at all.”

 

 

With all the commotion cause by our current President, it’s no surprise that many costumes this year are showing a wide range of racism seen in our day-to-day lives — like dressing up as a border control officer.

Yes, you read that right, this year Spirit Halloween thought it would be ok to advertise this costume as “fun.”

According to Gothamist, the costume was being sold next to Donald Trump masks. However, just last month, it was officially banned. The only problem is that the “sexy” border babe female version of this costume still exists, and it has sold out online at Spirit Halloween.

Recently, the LA City Council replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, according to the LA Times  they were “siding with activists who view the explorer as a symbol of genocide for Native Peoples in North America and elsewhere.” A tremendous step forward for the Native American culture indeed.

With all these changes going on, why is it that people still choose to dress up in what they believe is Native American attire? If you look at any online Halloween store and search “indian costume” you’re guaranteed to find things that, if you’ve done your research, has nothing to do with the Native American culture.

Sherri Chiappone, 46, is Native American and originates from the tribes of Karuk, Yurok, and Shasta in California. She states that what her culture wears includes tons of necklaces, usually abalone, shells, accompanied by deerskin leather apron skirts filled with shells. What Halloween stores display as “Indian” is simply a slap in the face to their culture.

 

“I do not appreciate people not understanding cultures and thinking that it’s ok to dress and imitate what they think is another culture’s look,” Chiappone says.

 

“It hurts, as a Native American, to see that and I feel that kids and parents aren’t taking the time to understand or learn about our culture. That’s not who we are, that’s not what we look like.”

 

What is “blackface?” It refers to a non-black performer using character makeup to make themselves look black. This dates back to the seventeenth century when usually whites were entertained by those of dark skin. One famous performance in 1830 is that of Jim Crow, where a performer by the name “Thomas “Daddy” Rice, blackened his face with burnt cork and danced a jig while singing the lyrics to the song, “Jump Jim Crow.”

One recent show that targets this issue of blackface costumes is the hit Netflix series “Dear White People,” which all begins with the story of a group of white students at an Ivy League college putting together an offensive blackface party. The story then follows four black students on their journey to change these offensive acts.

Emenet Geleta, a 21-year-old student at San Francisco State University and a member of the Black Student Union feels that these companies are selling cultures in the most stereotypical ways.

“They get away with it due to the lack of cultural awareness. People get ridiculed for showing pride in their own cultures yet others want to turn around and dress up like them for a day. And that’s my problem with culture appropriation,” Geleta elaborates.

 

“Others want to wear braids and bindi’s, for example, to look “cute” or “trendy,” and those who are actually from those cultures get judged for it by going against the social norms of dress, or get stigmatized for showing their cultural pride.”

The main point is for everyone to have the decency to respect cultural appropriation on different races and cultural backgrounds, this especially includes Halloween stores. Here are some tips on how not to get yourself jumbled in the mess of offensive costumes:

  1. If it represents a certain culture, don’t wear it.
  2. Ask yourself, is this appropriate?
  3. Do your research.

How To: 6 Styled Looks Any Gender Can Pull Off

Growing up my mother believed that pink dresses were going to be a staple in my baby wardrobe. Boy, was she wrong. As the years went by I came in contact with this thing called “comfort”, which then became what was going to define my style. I hated dresses, heels, or anything that society threw at me to try and define my gender.

I do identify myself as female, but my that doesn’t mean my closet has to have a gender. Feminine attire mixed with stud-like apparel makes up my closet. To make this simple, I see clothes as materials that I drape on myself that make me who I am.

Most of my shopping is done at thrift stores, if not that, you’ll find me searching through the endless online sale sections. When I look for clothes, whether it’d be male or female, I pick what I think will pair right with something else. Whenever I’m in the men’s section, I usually get asked if I’m shopping for my boyfriend and I respond with, “No I’m shopping for myself.” They usually say things along the lines of “That’s cool!” or “You have great taste in fashion.”

What would it be like if things were switched? What if I was a male and found myself in the women’s section? What kind of responses would I get? I’m more than positive that most people wouldn’t respond to me with the same kindness. So why does gender have to play such a big role in clothes? Yes, we wear it, but does it have to define us?

I took it upon myself to search through the piles of clothes that I own and decided to style two volunteers that let me do so. My point here is to show you that any gender is capable of wearing whatever they want. Someone who identifies as a man can wear a complete female inspired outfit, and vice versa, as I have done so with these looks. My male model is wearing only female clothing and my female model is wearing male inspired clothes.

Although stores are lacking a great diversity, from what I’ve seen, I want to ensure you that it is possible to create such looks. Through the looks that you’re about to see, the models are wearing clothes that belong and have been styled completely by me.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

In the first look, 22-year-old Aliguas Paningbatan is wearing an oversized jersey from Urban Outfitters. It’s paired with an oversized male inspired denim jacket from Forever 21. Accessories include a pair of black Yeezy sneakers from Adidas and a mustard yellow beanie from Forever 21. Wearing oversized shirts as dresses is a key to expanding your wardrobe.

The second look dives into a fall look with warm tone colors, such as green and brown. She’s wearing a patterned, forest-green top from Urban Outfitters. The camo-green army jacket was thrifted, and so are the jeans that I cut up myself. A nice pair of comfy black-and-white vans with a forest-green beanie from Forever 21 ties the outfit together. A tip I like to give when wearing men’s button-ups is buttoning them down halfway and then tying the other half into a knot to create a cute crop top.

My last look is serving west coast vibes to the max. She is wearing a pair of black sweatpants from ASOS, matched with a white cropped top that shows just the right amount of skin. Paired again with a black-and-white pair of vans, long white socks, and green beanie to finish the look. I love creating a laid-back look that you can also wear if leaving the house.

When 24-year-old Jonathan Marquez volunteered to let me dress him, I couldn’t have had been more excited. I had to find outfits in my closet that would tailor his body, and at the same time, make him look damn good.

In the first outfit, I styled him in a black velvet button-up that my mother passed down to me, paired with a multi-colored bomber jacket from H&M. A sleek pair of ripped black jeans, and a pair of combat boots from Charlotte Russe bring the outfit together. For accessories, I had him throw on a black boater hat from H&M and a copper-coined necklace to add a bit of flavor in the mix. All-black outfits are my favorite and they make it easy to bring to life with either bright jacket or vintage jewelry.

In his second look, I put together a pair of thrifted black chino shorts with a floral peplum collared shirt from Forever 21. A thrifted leather jacket and a black beret with tall green socks make the look edgy and inviting. A pair of high-waist shorts are my go to especially when pairing them with a bold shirt.

In his final look, I went with sizzling colors that made the look rich and perfect for the fall. A burnt orange off-the-shoulder shirt from Urban Outfitters layered with a paisley patterned jacket from Topman go hand-in-hand. Coral skinny jeans, tan slip on booties, and vintage sunglasses from Amazon make this a head-turning look that screams comfort. When choosing a color for an outfit, it’s best to start with a colored shirt and add on clothes that fall along the lines of that pigment. If you want to wear one color all over your outfit without drowning in it, it’s best to have a solid item to begin with and then add prints on top.

In Their Shoes: Challenging Gender Norms Through Androgynous Apparel

Once upon a time there was a world where any gender could walk into a clothing store and not have to worry what sex they were shopping for. As amazing as that may sound, for now it can only remain a dream that can one day hopefully become a reality. Don’t give up yet, there are still options!

When it comes to apparel now-a-days, I can say that I’ve seen it all. Women dressed in tailored suits, men in chiffon skirts, and kids in non-gender clothing. I grew up as a tomboy, so wearing my brothers big shirts and oversized pants were easy to obtain. This memory led me to question what it would’ve been like for me as a young boy trying to fit into my sisters clothes. The truth is, I probably wouldn’t of been able to fit any of it due to the way my body was built. Is this what goes through the minds of men who prefer to wear women’s clothes?

After interviewing some students from San Francisco State University, along with faculty and people from the San Francisco community, they said yes. The three main issues that were brought up the most when asked were the main audience being focused on women and femininity, the lack of sizes, and clothing stores sticking to the regular boy/girl sections.

 

Monét Panza, 19, Poses in Vans and
baggy windbreakers. (Left and Right)
Photos: Jazmine Sanchez

What really defines androgynous apparel?

For people like Aaron Steinfeld, 25-year-old graduate student at Sf State, and LGBTQ youth advocate at the Family Violence Law Center, androgyny means an ambiguous gender identity or gender representation, which can deal with either someone’s internal sense of how they think of themselves and or how they present that to the world.

“There definitely seems to be more gender/queer presentation in fashion, but I think that there’s a difference between gender identity and gender presentation, and someone who might have an ambiguous or androgynous gender presentation, and might as a cisgender person,” Steinfeld says.

“I’m trans and I like presenting feminine in society to lure the rest of the world, and how putting on clothes everyday feels very important to me to display an accurate representation of myself to the world.”

In fashion, androgyny has been seen more and more on the catwalk by designers like Gucci, Kanye West (and many more), and most recently at New York Fashion Week, Maison the Faux. So it’s no surprise that non-gender clothing has been making itself a big debut. According to 44-year-old Health Education Professor at SF State, Ivy Chen, a lot has been driven by the acceptance of it through Millennials and the new Generation Z.

“Millennials and Generation Z are much more open and accepting of all different kinds of identities, and therefore those types of attitudes about discriminating and feeling like you only can be this and that, those attitudes will die out,” she says.

Students like 18-year-old Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts major, Karla Orozco, feels that androgynous apparel is in fact favoring the female sex – that it is easier for women to find male clothing than for men to find female clothing.

“If it’s going to be something that’s for everyone then it should be for everyone you know? I think that’s definitely something that has to change in the industry,” Orozco says.  Another student like Rosa Gutierrez, 20-year-old Biology Major also agrees. “I do agree that it’s harder for men to find clothes which usually leaves them without a section to look into,” Gutierrez says.

Aaron Steinfeld, 25, in pink velvet mini-dress.

The facts are that the “rules to fashion” have continued to change throughout the years and we’ve seen this through many advertisements, and also, on the fashion runway. But the real question here is has the industry limited itself to a certain audience?

“Millennials and Generation Z are much more open and accepting of all different kinds of identities, and therefore those types of attitudes about discriminating and feeling like you only can be this and that, those attitudes will die out.”

Of the bigger community, when seeing sizes range from only small to large, it shows that these clothing companies are limiting themselves and not serving the whole audience.

28-year-old graphic design professor at California College of the Arts, Juan Carlos, feels that fashion has always been portrayed for the skinny community.

Juan Carlos, 28, Graphic Design Professor at California College of the Arts

“A lot of the clothes that androgynous apparel companies make, and I’m happy it’s being made, fits mostly models that are super skinny, and when you’re bigger you have more restriction on what to wear, and it’s a lot harder to find clothes that fit,” Carlos says.

When shopping in the women’s section he is usually a size 10 or 12, and because of his size, he feels that thrift shopping offers a wider variety of things for everyone.

I find myself doing the same thing. As a hip-hop dancer, I’ve always enjoyed wearing slouchy clothes because of its comfort. I hate wearing tight clothes that don’t let me breathe, and because of my figure, I find myself making my own clothes. The same thing goes for Juan Carlos and many others.

Drag queen Jordan Isaac, also known as “Kiki Krazier,” finds himself making his own women-inspired clothes for his performances due to the lack of sizes being offered to him.  

“Most of my clothes are made, but if I do have to buy something, it is a bit unflattering on me,” he explains.

“For example, I have to make a dress out of an oversized shirt because I can’t fit a store bought dress. They don’t have that for men, they do not sell dresses for men. Most companies who say they want to offer androgynous clothing mostly focus on women. The truth is, if you want something that is tailored to your body, you either make it yourself or get it made for you.”

Companies like Target have already jumped on the no-gender apparel bandwagon by switching up their Boy and Girl sections to just Kids. Is this what is going to pave the way for families to open up their mind on allowing their children to wear whatever clothes they feel comfortable with?

Chen explains that companies like Target are being very inclusive.

“For example, in the past you had a kid who would identify as a girl and you would only stay in this one section, and you’ve never even seen the boys section, that’s a whole half that you actually don’t browse and don’t have the opportunity to buy from.”

As a company, Chen feels that it is a smart financial move that will allow customers to see everything the company has to offer rather than just a single section.

Clothing companies like Kipper Clothiers in San Francisco have made a statement by offering women tailored suits to those who want it. Other companies like Sixty-Nine, based in Los Angeles, offer clothing that doesn’t fall under labels, simply clothes for anyone to wear. And there are many more following suit – the only thing is that although it is such a great movement, there are people that feel companies are still lacking on the aspects of gender, sizes, and clothing stores conforming to boy/girl sections.

The more we open up, have more visibility, and mainstream non-gender clothing, could possibly change what these companies are lacking to serve all sexes. An array of clothing items being displayed, ranging from multiple colors and sizes that anyone can pick up and take home, is a dream, for some, waiting to be seen in retail stores. The fashion industry has a lot to offer, and hopefully through time, it will be capable to offer this as well.

 

Featured Photo: Aaron Steinfeld, 25, dons eye-catching lipstick and
eyeshadow. Aaron is a LGBTQ youth advocate at Family Violence Law Center 

All photography by Jazmine Sanchez