Roger Wu is a junior in the Medill School of Journalism studying Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences, Journalism, with a minor in Philosophy and pursuing the Kellogg Certificate in Financial Economics.
Responses have been edited for clarity.
What are you involved in on campus?
Nothing…? Well, I used to be involved in some Medill stuff, but now I am really just too lazy to go to any club meetings. Pursuing a degree in four things at the same time certainly didn’t help either.
Oh, I am still a DJ at WNUR, so catch me on some Saturday nights around 8 PM. It is fun to occasionally hop onto the radio and play whatever music I want to play.
Besides that, I guess I am not really involved in anything else. Talking with friends about sports and philosophy is something I absolutely love to do though, so I guess I am not that anti-social yet.
Could you describe your personal style?
Casual, comfortable and old school? To be honest, I don’t really know. I am pretty much into a lot of different styles within the streetwear category, as long as I think they look good on me. Sometimes I wear headbands, sometimes dad hats, and sometimes snapbacks. Streetwear is definitely my go-to though, because streetwear pieces are really individualized and are also largely related to hip-hop music, which I have been following for over ten years.
I don’t like too much layering, so you won’t see me piling up multiple pieces. Plus it’s summertime now, so a long sleeve shirt from Palace or Bape with some shorts from FOG Essentials should do it.
How does your cultural background play into your style?
Cultural background… that is a huge part of my style, and I certainly wouldn’t be who I am without all of my past experiences. I grew up in a city (Fuzhou, Fujian, China) and I loved to hang out in the streets back then when I was young. I got into skateboarding and graffiti at a very young age, and that probably explains why I am so enthusiastic about streetwear fashion. Most of my friends from childhood follow streetwear fashion as much as I do, and we absolutely love to talk about it. I don’t often see them now, but whenever we see one another, we always talk about what’s the upcoming trend, and sometimes we do get into hot debates!
And then, it feels like every place that I have lived in has added some flavor into my style. Sydney is a really laid-back city, and I guess that’s how I become used to wear casual and comfortable clothing items. Singapore is a really modern and trendy city, and so many of my “hyped” pieces come from there. And then, being in Philadelphia for high school has really given me this East Coast old school vibe that, quite frankly, can’t be found here in Chicago.
I fell in love with sneakers when I was in Philly, and I started to love all those heavy-looking, high-top Air Jordan retros - nothing can be more east-coast than those bulky joints. And yes: Air Jordan 1s are still my favorite sneakers now.
And then it’s Chicago…I don’t really know how to describe Chicago’s influence on my style because I feel like style-wise I haven’t changed much after coming to college. Well, I liked to wear a lot of loud colors back in high school, but now I am more resorted to simpler colors. And I hated black sneakers until my sophomore year, but now I can comfortably wear some black Yeezy 500s that many people think to be ugly!
How did you figure your style out; what was your style journey and how did you settle on what you wear now?
I am not the type of person to resist the influence of my surroundings, so I guess my style comes naturally to me from my past experiences. As I mentioned above, growing up in the streets with people who are interested in streetwear trends has shaped my general tastes. And following rap music and all those hip-hop related topics has given me a rebellious mindset towards a lot of things, of course including my style.
As for specific items, what I care about is how comfortable they are while at the same time, how they can make me stand out and show who I actually am. I think that explains why I love those neon green Yeezy 350s called the “Yebras”. To be honest, Yeezys are some very hyped-up stuff, and I am not someone who rides with the hype all the time, but they are indeed super comfortable. Most of my friends hate that specific colorway though. It doesn’t matter because I like its loudness. And same reason why I like some Supreme items that nobody is rocking, like this “Persistence of Memories” t-shirt. I like the whole rebellious lifestyle that Supreme represents, but I am not going to buy those box-logo sweatshirts. There is no rebellion in those pieces, only hype.
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?
Yes, my mom is rocking Yeezys and Off-Whites recently and my dad wears polo shirts from Palace and Supreme to work! I don’t really know since when my dad became a streetwear fashion follower, but my mom has been one for probably all my life, and that’s why my family has really really influenced my style. Back when I was really young, my mom was already buying me Nike runners and distressed jeans. She is definitely the flyest mom out there. Plus we come from a place where it is kind of hot throughout the whole year, so that’s why we wear a lot of short sleeve t-shirts and tank tops, and I guess that’s probably a big reason why I don’t like to wear multiples pieces at the same time.
Do you think fashion to you is a form of individuality?
Absolutely! Stay true, and always be who you are. At the end of the day, your style doesn’t need to make anybody feel good but only yourself. I have heard plenty of people tell me, for example, “this color looks so weird on you”, or even “you are too short to rock these denim overalls”, but honestly I just don’t give a f*ck because what I need from my style is not recognition from others but only an expression of who I am. One of my best friends once told me, because they have never gone through all that you have been through in these 22 years, they will never understand your vision, your ambition and your craft. I think that should go out to everybody as well. Indeed sometimes people can copy your style or even your vibe, but they will never be able to copy your soul.