From ripped jeans to basic hoodies to full-on pizza onesies, Brandeis students sport a wide variety of outfits and fashion types across campus. As a well-rounded and unique student body, it’s no surprise that a platform like Brandeis Closet has been formed to showcase the various outfits that have been worn by students.
A passion project that sprung from a Sociology of Celebrity class in spring of 2020, the Instagram page with the handle @brandeiscloset has grown into a safe space for students to present themselves through their style. From the very beginning, the platform’s intention was to let students digitally express themselves through their individual fashion and showcase their creativity. Today, nearly half a year later, Brandeis Closet has accomplished just that. The platform is filled with posts of all kinds of Brandeis students showcasing their various outfits and looks. As an open, public page with nearly one thousand followers, members of the Brandeis community can use the platform to understand more about their peers through the outfits that they choose to wear.
However, Brandeis Closet isn’t simply about the visual aspects of fashion—it also dives deeper into the meaning behind each piece of clothing that the students select to wear. The caption of each post captures the conversation that occurred behind it, which allows students to explain what the post means to them and how clothing impacts their lives. Whether it be about where each student’s outfit is from, or what fashion means to them, Brandeis Closet shines light on the extensive significance behind the clothes people wear. These conversations have been enlightening not only for the followers but also for Ryan DelVasto ’21, the current administrator of Brandeis Closet. “Talking to students about fashion inspiration and what it means to them was an enlightening experience.” DelVasto said. “Style can be used not only as expression but also resistance, showing solidarity and raising awareness.”
Brandeis Closet has brought attention to how style is not simply a visual or aesthetic choice––it is also about the control that students have over their appearance and the message that they choose to display. In a post uploaded in late May, a featured student named Amy Thao ’20 , tagged as @chaomies, speaks up about what fashion means to her. “It’s not always about what you wear but how you carry yourself. Fashion is an attitude.” In the photos that are included in her post, Amy wears off a v-neck dress layered over a white tee. “Personally, sometimes I find that my clothes give me courage. Wearing my favorite outfit makes me feel invincible on days when I don’t feel cute.” Amy’s story is unique and individual to her––but her interpretation of fashion is not uncommon to see on the Brandeis Closet Instagram page. It’s filled with individual stories like Amy’s, detailing how the meaning of fashion differs for each and every person.
Brandeis Closet had to change their way of operation when the coronavirus pandemic emerged. After the start of the pandemic, Brandeis suddenly shifted to online learning. Although at first it was strange and a bit difficult to switch to a remote operation, Brandeis Closet quickly adapted to operating from online, as the platform was already operating on social media. In this period of uncertainty and fear, Brandeis Closet was a platform that students could still interact with and post on from home. The main challenge that Brandeis Closet faced was stimulating engagement from the student body without being in person or on campus to do so. From then on, online submissions, which usually occured through Instagram direct messages, were the primary way of curating new posts. As viewers can see, the captions of each post contain a quick and encouraging message about how participants can get featured on the Brandeis Closet page by sending the admins a private message. As the platform’s following grew, more and more students became interested in the page and in submitting photos.
Although this switch to remote submissions may have been a little tricky to navigate in the beginning, it ultimately became a blessing. As quarantine went on, Brandeis Closet became an inclusive and fun way for Brandeis students to engage online. As DelVasto put it, “during quarantine with students at home, it meant that fellow Brandeis students could exhibit their styles from home, taking advantage of a comfortable environment. It felt that sometimes this allowed people to feel more comfortable expressing themselves.” Even now, students both on campus and studying remotely are able to submit and post their outfits to Brandeis Closet—whether it be their pajamas from their bedroom or what they wore to pick up their coffee from Dunkin at Usdan Student Center.
As the school year progresses in a time of COVID-19, Brandeis Closet is an active and thriving page. The platform hopes to gain more exposure, and, as it is run by someone who is studying Creative Arts and Social Transformation, they believe that “clothes and style can be pillars within this subject. There is enough depth in fashion to have all of these meanings at once.” The platform is also looking to add a few people to the team, since, after another member graduated, there is currently only one admin behind the platform. The page believes that a small group with different roles would be greatly beneficial, so students who are interested are more than welcome to head over to @brandeiscloset on Instagram and send them a message.
In the end, Brandeis Closet is a visually and mentally stimulating platform that encourages students to express themselves through their clothing. Whether you are someone who loves fashion or not, the page provides a safe space for individuals to creatively express themselves through the outfits they wear. This platform is a vital part of Brandeis’s online community and presence. No matter what kind of student you are, it’s definitely worth a glance.