Wema talks the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, finding herself through her style and how traveling the world impacted it.
Byron: We’ve got Wema today. You got the fresh fit. Tell me about your outfit head to toe.
Wema: I got the Nike 98’s on. They were a gift for graduation. I thrifted the pants in Brooklyn and that’s the first time I stayed in New York for a good amount of time. This top is from Urban. I got it on sale.
This scarf is thrifted from Goodwill. I got the green and white body suit on sale at Forever 21 which I don’t want to promote because I’ve been doing more thrifting now than any other shopping. I want to do less fast fashion and I honestly think my style has gotten better because of the change.
Byron: Tell me more about thrifting.
Wema: It didn’t really start until high school. That’s when I started thrifting more because I have more freedom now and it’s easier to move around. I went to a boarding school so it was harder to go places and do things. I’d always buy things on sale. I try to put it together the best I can because my high school had a dress school and we couldn’t wear a lot of things. We had to be business casual most of the time so I’d always try to find loopholes and show who I was through my style.
Byron: You’re an international student correct? Your sense of style didn’t develop until you came to the U.S?
Wema: I’m from Kenya, but my family lives in Eritrea. It’s in Eastern Africa near the Horn. I had style in high school … In fact I feel like I diverge from the norm quite a bit. But now, I’ve had more of a chance to build on it and make it more stylized and find what I like and what I don’t like.
Byron: How do you diverge from the norm?
Wema: What even is the norm? I don’t know. I’ve just always felt like I’m out of place. Not in a bad way.
It’s just, I’ve been moving around so much. We left Kenya when I was twelve and we’ve been living around the world since. So I’ve always felt like I’m always on the outside, kind of. Like I don’t spend enough time in places to become part of the place. So I feel like my style somewhat reflects that.
Byron: So you left Kenya when you were twelve and then where?
Wema: I went to Guyana, South America. Lived there for 3 years. Then moved to Lesotho, which is in the middle of South Africa. And now my family is in Eritrea. But then I moved to the U.S for high school. So I moved when I was fifteen and I went to high school in Ohio.
Byron: How would you say your style changed going between those different places?
Wema: It changed in the way that my perspectives were broadened. You have your tween fashion when you’re 12, 13, 14. It’s not the same. It changes. But I think with the times it’s also adapted.
Byron: What influenced what you’re wearing today?
Wema: The 90’s. I think the 90’s is the period that influences me the most. There’s not one Will outfit in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that I haven’t wanted for myself. Everything he wears – it’s always so cool. I think that period– it’s what I’ve seen my parents wear too. And I’ve always been inspired by that. And I recently in the summer–we got all out stuff out of storage in Kenya and my mom had all these old clothes and I got to have some of them.
Byron: So when you wake up, how do you pick your outfit?
Wema: It goes with the vibe I want to give off. Or the mood I’m feeling. Or what I’m trying to convey. But also it’s for me. I’m not a good communicator verbally. But I feel like I communicate in other ways. There’s this balance between in air quotes masculinity and femininity and I like to play with the different spectrums of that. There’s days I want to be boyish. The other day I wore these same jeans with a button down shirt and a belt. And that was more masculine. But today is more feminine. It’s edgy. It’s a balance between both. It meshes.
Byron: How did your sense of style change when you went to DePauw?
Wema: I feel like I’ve been able to be more myself on this campus than when I was in high school. Because my high school wasn’t very diverse. I was trying to be the same thing. Anything that diverged or wasn’t uniform didn’t fit in. Coming here – people have said I’m beautiful and people have said I’m actually valid and my style is valid and my views and opinions are valid. So I feel more able to be myself.