By Jacqueline Loh ’22
People rushing into Malott before the sushi line gets too long, students chugging Motley coffee before a 1:15 class, the opportunities for people-watching during the lunch rush at Seal Court is endless. One can see people dressed in a variety of different styles. Students wear everything from the latest trends in magazines, repurposed vintage clothes to a blend of traditional cultural clothing with modern styles. One student stands out in particular for creating their own unique style with an innovative mindset.
Chiugo Rossi Akujobi’s SCR’21 personal style is punctuated by bright hues contrasted with black. When asked about where they get inspiration for fashion, Akujobi pondered for a bit and said they don’t really have a “fashion idol”, but Instagram provides a lot of inspiration for mixing and matching styles, such as blending vintage overcoats with popular fashion today. Akujobi joked about Rihanna starting a socks with shoes trend that has greatly influenced their own style today.
Along with seeing what’s trending on Instagram, Akujobi also turns to thrift stores for inspiration. Akujobi was able to get tons of stylish, vintage clothing for as little as three dollars in Houston, where they grew up. While thrifting is a more cost-friendly way for many students to get new clothing, it is also a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach to fashion. Many college students today shop at fast-fashion stores, such as Forever 21 or Zara; these stores often have a greater carbon footprint due to constantly shifting demands and use of unregulated sweatshops.
What stood out to me about the way Akujobi spoke about fashion is how they emphasized the emotional aspect of clothing. Akujobi reminisced about how fashion changed their life, and helped them feel more confident. “Clothes don’t define you,” Akujobi said, “but when you step out of the house loving the way you look, it defines the way you treat people that day.”
Recently, Akujobi has blended their love with entrepreneurship by offering styling sessions for students. Akujobi first gained experience with styling while modeling for a company, and styled all their own outfits for the shoots. Then, as more friends asked them for styling tips, Akujobi got the idea to turn their knack for fashion consultation into something of a small business. This altruistic new take on fashion seemed really innovative to me, especially the way Akujobi was able to blend their interest in style with their interest in business. This stands in stark contrast to the stereotype that liberal arts students don’t have real world skills. Akujobi, utilizing their strength in economics, and an interest in fashion, has carved out a niche for themselves while also making the world a better place, something truly to be commended.
Akujobi hopes their business acumen will help people feel more confident and happy with themselves. Something as simple as a nice scarf or accent piece could significantly brighten up someone’s day, and even boost someone’s overall confidence.