Students showcase diversity at cultural fashion show

Renowned for their culture-driven events around campus, the International Student Assembly and the Asian Pacific American Student Assembly collaborated to present a fashion show displaying male and female traditional clothing at Ground Zero Performance Café last Friday. ISA’s vice president of public affairs, Angela Lin, helped spearhead the event.

“I wanted to create an event where students can present their cultures without boring the audience. I came up with the idea of a fashion show because fashion is a strong representation of a person’s identity,” Lin said. “It can be both cultural and personal, and it is something many people are interested in, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for students to have fun while displaying their cultures.”

There were plenty of incentives for students to participate in the fashion showcase and for culturally curious viewers to show up to the event. The first 40 attendees were promised a free Ground Zero milkshake, and the winner of the fashion show would receive a $100 Nike gift card. There were a total of six contestants, representing various ethnic backgrounds including Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean heritage.

During the fashion show, contestants were judged based on aesthetics, individuality and the cultural twist to the outfit. The event was modeled after the tradition of beauty pageants, as each contestant was given a chance to model their outfit and then answer various questions from the host. These questions addressed the cultural inspiration for each contestant’s outfit, why they believed their attire stood out to the audience and the outfit’s overall significance.

Under the dimly lit ambiance of Ground Zero, the contestants drew from their cultural background and described the impact their culture had on them, expressing sentiments widely shared among international students and Asian Americans.

Coco Lu, a sophomore majoring business, displayed her traditional Chinese qipao and explained how the garb symbolized not only her Chinese roots, but also her connection with family back in China. For Lily Hoang, a junior studying communication, her purple ao dai, a Vietnamese traditional garb, highlighted the culture she is extremely proud to represent.

Next was freshman Yunji Lee, a South Korean student studying computer science. She sentimentally described how her hanbok signifies her childhood memories and serves as a symbol of her acceptance of her Korean heritage.

Out of the six contestants, Brian Dinh, a freshman majoring in fine arts, won the fashion competition, donning a bold long blue coat over white silk pants and a tucked-in shirt. Dinh has been designing his own outfits for many years. He exudes a bold and unique vibe within his fashion that encapsulates his personality.

Dinh described fashion as an outlet for his cultural philosophy.

“I’m creating a manifestation of the mentality of the Asian and American identity. My philosophy is to not live a day in the past, so I don’t like to repeat outfits,” Dinh said. “Every outfit is a bookmark for a day’s sentiments and memories and every outfit is individualized.”

As for the winning outfit, Dinh referred back to his Asian roots and how his heritage influenced his fashion choice.

“Since the theme was originally East Asian and traditional clothing, I wanted to stay true to that name and the event parameters, so I chose a look that really was a composite rather than just trying to show off an individual piece,” Dinh said.

For Lin, she hopes that individuals can walk away with a higher awareness for the diversity that exists at USC, even within Asian culture.

“There is a story behind every design, and for traditional cultural clothing, it is especially important to understand the concepts behind the fashion,” Lin said.