Walking into the Dark Horse Gym into the crowd of fashion influencers bobbing their heads to the catwalk tunes overplaying the chatter and whispers of casual conversation. It’s a full house. Lights spill on the walls and tops of heads with dangling jewelry flashing and lines of contour telling stories of the past. Chine Slender, the show’s architect, speaks on the microphone to notify that the show is about to begin. The lights dim as there’s a shift in music. A crew is gathering at the entrance. Silhouettes of models dance in the dark. The lights come on, and out come the first model as they step onto the runway. The 8th Lake Fashion Show on February 4th, 2022, was a night to remember.
Chinedu Emeahara, a.k.a Chine Slender, is a San Jose local who broke through the art world with his music back in 2018. (Read more about it in issue 13.3 Perform.) He says he’s always been interested in expressing his style through clothes. As he traveled around the country to conventional fashion hubs like New York, he felt inspired to take his experiences and put them into something he could share with others. Thus he was motivated to connect with local designers to create a fun show that stood for something. “San Jose, even though it’s far from being a fashion hub, has the population and potential to get more into fashion and use fashion to build community and connect with others. The rest of the world already knows of the Bay and how influential we are, but when it comes to fashion, it’s much harder to come by,” says Chine, recognizing the importance and power of fashion.
Chine looks at clothes like time capsules. They document the times and eras of a generation, social moments, and sometimes an individual staple. They reflect the times and capture what was popular and defining culture. “When it comes to south bay style, since it is such a melting pot, you’re going to get so many different looks and styles, it’s really when people step outside of those limits is when you start to get the outliers who are the ones who actually define the fashion,” says Chine. “How they’re wearing it is just as important as what they’re wearing.” Chine defines the south bay style into five categories. Chollo, hypebeast/streetwear, jazz cat, suburban, and skater. These are observations by Chine and how he and his community relates to them.
Fashion moves and shifts, and how we dress ourselves and interpret others’ attire is an exchange—a story of emotion, experience, and personality. I want to provide a space for us South Bayers to consider and express ourselves through the creative outlet of fashion and dress. We are a melting pot of cultures, which reflects through our style. Every day or week, a new trend can erupt, and the fashion industry can shift. Here in the South Bay, how we wear our clothes paired with how the wearer expresses their outfit defines our unique and specific style. Other factors contribute as well. Like geography, weather, what kind of social events people are attending, and what type of community we have. Fashion expression is a way to tell the world a bit about yourself- it shows us what you’re all about.
Through my journey of defining what South Bay Style looks like, I’ve encountered creative people who are pushing the fashion scene in San Jose forward. What individuals wear to events sets the tone for what’s in and what isn’t, which is why a fashion show has the impact necessary to stimulate brilliance and bind a neighborhood together.
Watch the full 8th Lake Fashion Show here and get involved.
Feel inspired to wear something that represents a bit about who you are. Have fun with it. In our next post about defining what South Bay Style looks like, I sat down with Araceli Vizcaino, who is the owner and operator of Thrill of the Luxe. We talked about the importance and influence of expressing your unique style and some of its difficulties.
Dead By Dawn: @deadbydawnnn
Bloodsport studios: @bloodsportstudios
S.O.S. Clothing: @s.o.s.clothing
Location: Dark Horse Gym @darkhorsegymsj
Chollo: Dickies, cut off, high socks, cortezs and a plain white t-shirt. Very narrowed color scheme.
Hypebeast/streetwear: Screen printed pants, shirt, and/or accessory. Including expensive t-shirt brands like Supreme.
Jazz Cat: Some type of vest blazer, collared shirt or v-neck, black skinny jeans and doc martens. Colors are usually on the darker end. Usually gray or black.
Suburban: an expensive tote bag, usually Gucci, Balenciaga, or Louis Vuitton monogram Louis, with some platform heels and a modern trench coat. And you’ll see them in hubs. Generally around the two big malls, Oakridge and Valley Fair. Where most people shop.
Skater: a combination of cholo, streetwear/hypebeast and jazz cat style. When they skate they’re comfortable. Cut jeans or dickies, with a supreme t-shirt and the somber and darker colors which all come from the other categories.)
These photos are meant to inspire and express what the fashion influencers of the South Bay are styling and dressing.