Common Threads: Taking off our Blundstones and Patagonia, How students make themselves at home in their clothes

Fashion is one of those irrevocable things that bind us to the fabric of the places we call home.

Home can exist across the ocean or it can exist in a fleeting moment that has worked its way into the fibres of your clothing.

How does clothing work as a means of self-expression work, if you’ve called multiple places home in the short period between when you were born and reading this?

How does one adapt to the Blundstones and Patagonia fashions that Vancouver is known for?

For international students, the change in fashion from home to Vancouver is an aspect of what Arya Subramanyam, a 3rd-year student from Mumbai, India, found the move to be a culture shock, especially as a result of the weather.

“The fact that the weather is so different, overall, was a part of the cultural shock that I was experiencing. People wear so many layers and [that] influences shoes everywhere. And the rain gear, too,” she said

Transported from her incredibly warm climate in India to the moody tones of Vancouver’s weather palette, Arya had an interesting time adjusting her closet.

“In terms of fashion, it's obviously hot. So you're not going to be layering up, you’re in shorts more often [and] loose, casual clothes,” shared Subramanyam.

In contrast to Subramanyam’s experiences with moving across the temperature scale, Thea Bergh Skeide had less of an issue getting her wardrobe Vancouver-ready.

Skeide, a 3rd-year student from Bergen, Norway, talked about how Scandinavian apparel prepared her for Canadian winter.

“Everything in Scandinavia is very informed by [the] weather. I would say that Scandinavians are a step above everyone, [we have] rainwear, winter wear... we have a lot more seasons to think of, and therefore probably a lot more clothes,” said Skeide.

For Skeide, an important part while curating an outfit is the chemistry between the tones of her pieces, something which she attributes to “Scandi” culture.

“I think the main principle of Scandinavian fashion is that you want everything to match everything because you have to dress for all the seasons. And it's very annoying if things don't match or add up,” said Skeide.

“That's why I think there's maybe the perception internationally that we dress very monotone, like a lot of mute colours, and usually a lot of black. Our ancestral traditional clothing is all very informed by it being very cold.”

Despite their vastly different fashion aesthetics, both Subramanyam and Skeide have found themselves assimilating into, and departing from, Vancouver fashion to some extent.

“My clothing sense is still pretty basic. The fashion that I see myself drawn to is in the fashion that I'm constantly seeing on social media from these influencers ... So it's still clothes that I'm buying from stores. But, and I think what's interesting, [is that] it’s rainy here and knowing the appropriate rain gear also helped me,” said Subramanyam.

For Skeide, being in Vancouver gave her an opportunity to connect to the city and her Norwegian roots.

“I feel like I made more of an attempt to dress more Scandi once I came here and I saw that I felt like Vancouver fashion was a little more laid back. I thought it would be very focused on rainwear, but it's really not,” said Skeide.

“I don't want to say that Vancouver style is just dressing in yoga pants, but it feels a little like it at times and I'm definitely comfortable with dressing relaxed outdoors in a way I'm probably not back home.”