Adrian Wan is a sophomore from Shenzhen, China in the Medill School of Journalism studying Journalism and Economics.
Responses have been edited for clarity.
What are you involved in on campus?
I’m super involved in a dance group called Refresh, and we have a big show every single quarter. We have auditions, rehearsals, then tech week...I spend a lot of time with Refresh, that’s my biggest extracurricular commitment. This quarter particularly, I’m working downtown with CFS at Novel Coworking as a marketing intern three days a week, so that’s also a big commitment for me. For the rest of the time, I go to the gym and hang out with friends.
What does being on a dance team entail?
We have open class every Tuesday and, this quarter, we’re preparing for our spring show. For each piece, there’s one rehearsal every week. I’m in two sets this quarter so I have two hours of rehearsal every week, and I’m choreographing as well so I also have to spend time coming up with choreo.
Could you describe your personal style?
I’m not sure if I have a distinct style. I wear a lot of colors, but not bright colors, like burgundy and dark green. I really like Korean style; I’m Asian, so Korean style is more relatable to me.
Is there a certain person that embodies Korean style to you?
I don’t think so, but usually when people think of Korean style...I might be biased, but I usually think of Adidas trackpants, white shoes and a white shirt, usually plain, with a denim jacket on top. I think that’s a common Korean style to me.
How do you think, then, being Chinese and thinking about style: how does your cultural background play into your style?
This is such a hard question! I think for Chinese fashion style, we don’t have a distinct style. When people think of Chinese style, they think of traditional Chinese style, like really retro and old-fashioned clothes. But that’s not how young people in China dress. So I don’t know; I feel like a lot of people prefer brands like Bape, Supreme, those kinds of street style brands. People are just following the trends, and I feel like Korean style has more variation. Sometimes it’s like young people in China are trying to emulate rappers who usually represent street style, like hip hop culture, and sometimes they can’t pull it off, so it feels awkward for them to wear those brands. So that’s why I usually go with Korean style more.
How did you figure this out; what was your style journey and how did you settle on what you wear now?
I remember in high school, I went to high school in China and we could use Taobao at any time so we used it for all our shopping. So I started experimenting with different styles. I had a chance to try out different styles, and I thought maybe street style isn’t a good fit for me. When I started wearing Korean style, people started saying, “Wow, that fits really well on you.”
Who was saying these things to you?
Seems like your friends are really supportive!
On the other hand, do you think your family has influenced your style at all? What did you know about style growing up and did they influence anything about what you wear?
I feel like, for my dad, he’s really...in my opinion, he has really bad taste in fashion, so I don’t trust him in terms of fashion. He’s one of those people working in a big corporate environment...think about a wealthy old white man, that’s how he dresses every single day. I don’t like that.
My mom also always bought me oversized shirts because she said that I look so hip-hop in oversized shirts. It’s so weird, in high school I wasn’t that tall, and the shirts were so long that they would cover my butt. I looked like such a short person in that kind of outfit. So I started buying clothes for myself. I told my mom that I would spend money on fashion more strategically.
Knowing that you’re in Refresh then, how do you think the community that you’ve built in Refresh and at Northwestern influences how you think about fashion?
There are a lot of Asians on Refresh and I made a lot of Asian friends on Refresh; we have similar styles in terms of fashion, and it’s kind of reinforced my opinions about style. I would say our ethnic identity plays a big role in terms of how we think about fashion and how we think about style.
On another note: I feel like, at Northwestern, a lot of people wear fratty shirts with Greek letters on them. They look the same...I’m not trying to be anti-White, but it’s so easy to imagine what a quintessential white frat guy looks like. That kind of image really stood out to me, and I feel like you have to personalize your own style and not be one of those frat boys on campus. That’s why I chose to distance myself from that type of style in terms of clothing.
Do you think, then, fashion to you is a form of individuality?
The way you dress definitely relates to your own personality, and I feel like it’s kind of up to you to personalize your own style because it shows what kind of person you are, because I don’t want to be part of a group of individuals who are not distinct. As individuals we have to customize our fashion style.
So, style is how people see you.