Whilst some parts of the city are more conservative than others, and the average Londoner’s attitude is by no means representative of the country as a whole, should you frequent Shoreditch by day or Soho by night it’s unlikely that an aesthetic not in keeping with that of the general population would earn you a second look, let alone a shriek of abuse. Of course, not every student on University of London grounds adheres to the strict code of fashion, and why should they? But is an undeniable fact that the people walking around our campus use what they wear, even on days crippled by hangovers and essay deadlines, to display their personality.
This is an entitlement that, according to Luke, we perhaps take for granted. “If I attempt to dress well, I am definitely looked on differently, usually negatively. What I wear has to be slightly conservative in my current social climate. If I do dress how I want people typically don’t verbally respond, but they definitely stare for a while. I really don’t, and can’t, dress very avant-garde, but my mere acknowledgement of the fashion world – exclusive of their daily choice of offensively bright blue athletic get-up or pajamas - seems to catch people off-guard. Recently I even overheard my roommates talking negatively about my clothes and I just don’t feel like that’s okay. Most days I just wear a pair of utility boots, and in spite of the fact that they are in every magazine published, they are not seen on a single soul here! I don’t understand how people without fashion authority can comment on someone who at least has awareness. But then I am happy that they are at least exposed to someone like me, whether they like it or not.”
Despite being generally considered a fairly conservative southern state, with icons like Lady Gaga and countless fashion bibles at their disposal, it’s still shocking to think that our college-student counterparts over the Atlantic are yet to master basic levels of acceptance and, understandably, it’s hard on those in the minority. “There are definitely days when I am insecure; I might appear to be angry or upset. I can become very antisocial at times. I love days where I can just drink and read and be alone.” This alienation isn’t purely emotional; whilst Luke’s peers strive for muscle and live for sports he embraces the unspoken thinspiration that seems de rigeur in fashion’s many circles, seen in tweets that state “Sometimes I just open up Photo Booth and watch myself eating cookies” and “All of this heavy lifting is making me so scared I might actually get an arm muscle.”
Luke’s attitude regarding his situation – aphoristic in his desire to be set apart in Lexington but well-placed in London - is refreshing despite the moments of depression, and the combination has given him a new level of melodramatic, comedic cliché that further distances his mentality from his classmates’, and will make him even more at home in our very own fashion capital. “Fashion is said to be an extension of who you are. This phrase is tired but it holds truth; if everyone at my university is content is wearing the same thing then they must be content with all having the same life. Luckily that’s not who I am. I am happy to be different from everyone else. My fortune cookie yesterday said, ‘The kite rises against the wind,’ and I smiled as I knew this was true.” He ends with a dry laugh in a cynical drawl, more London than Southern: “I had also had a bit to drink so my smile was amplified.”
Follow @lukeaporco on Twitter for more cultural insights:
“An 80 year old man wearing purple leggings. The boundary has officially been pushed in Kentucky.”
“Since when was it acceptable for such a significant amount of the US population to leave the house in pajamas?”
“C’est Vendredi! Best day of the week. Make a fucking friend.”