That’s Hot: SPEC Magazine keeps up with the hottest student trends

SPEC Magazine is a student-run fashion, culture and lifestyle publication, posting weekly articles and printing a magazine every semester. (Photo from Instagram / SPEC Magazine)

I grew up on the internet. At age 4, the family computer became my sanctuary, and dress-up games were my go-to. Once I reached age 12, I graduated from Stardoll, Jojo’s Fashion Show and and moved onto older, more sophisticated Tumblr blogs and Polyvore sets despite not meeting the distant age requirement of 13. 

Through social media, I found an appreciation for fashion and style that was far beyond the reaches of the J-14 magazine I hid in my parents’ grocery basket at Save Mart. It’s how anyone in the fashion world learns about anything these days — what better way to keep up on the latest trends than seeing them worn by real people in real time? 

At USC, we keep up with these trends whether we want to or not. We’ve all seen international students who look like a million dollars at their 8 a.m. lectures, acutely famous kids whose entire Instagram feeds are a flex and “Choose-Your-Fighter”-looking squads posted up at art shows. Recently, we even saw a viral post of anti-FILA Disruptor signs placed around USC Village. 

So who’s covering these trends, aside from humble columnist yours truly at the Daily Trojan?

SPEC Magazine: a student-run publication at USC that focuses on fashion, culture and lifestyle. Its blog is updated weekly, and the magazine is printed every semester. With three issues under its belt, its goal is to serve as a creative outlet for USC students interested in writing about beauty and style. With nearly 100 members, the club aims to be as inclusive as possible, an important consideration when most organizations on campus are extremely selective.

My first impression of SPEC was made when I stumbled across their Instagram page a couple weeks ago. Photos of students rocking denim on school bleachers, sifting through records, and sitting in front of murals wearing bold prints and platform boots gave me hope that taking pride in one’s style at this school isn’t dead. An edgier photo shows off a manicure with hands covering a woman’s eyes — the woman is biting on a gold chain.

The real star of the show, however, is the online version of the magazine. On the magazine’s website, you can find the Spring 2018 issue, which features a plethora of street style images, dorm room ideas, beauty products and even a piece on student activism at USC.

I spoke with SPEC’s president Bailey Boccia, a senior majoring in business administration, about the fashion trends she thinks are most relevant to USC students. She told me that SPEC photoshoots have played with themes from Neon Cowboy and The New ’90s to business attire with a Gen Z twist and “Euphoria”-esque makeup and to expect all of them in their upcoming issue.

“In our past issue, we did the ’70s,” Boccia said. “I kind of feel like those older trends are coming back in different ways.”

Every week, SPEC highlights a USC student to be its fashion icon of the week. The questions asked include how they would describe their style, pick their outfits and stay up to date on the latest trends.

“I get a lot of my fashion news from Instagram,” recent icon Elle Gennis, a junior majoring in communication, said. “I’d literally wake up and watch Instagram stories for hours to see all my favorite designers’ newest collections.”

Not all of their writing is strictly fashion-oriented, however. One of my favorite SPEC articles to read was titled “Compliment-Giving 101: A Guide to Proper Compliment Etiquette.” Although I must say there really is no better compliment than saying “that’s hot” in Paris Hilton’s unapologetically nasal voice. 

Culture and style journalism is important, especially to a generation of students like me who grew up taking fashion inspiration from hashtags and influencers. That’s why, in my opinion, SPEC Magazine is definitely hot. 

Copies of SPEC are available at its events and involvement fair booths, and the magazine’s Instagram is @specmagusc. 

Rachel Billington is a sophomore majoring in creative writing. Her column, “That’s Hot,” runs every other Wednesday.