I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What the Young People are Wearing

My son goes to a local high school that has no uniform, and that prides itself on its sense of style. It's in the heart of Carlton, a suburb close to the university, that was also settled by waves of Italian migrants after the war. It was also a kind of hippie enclave for several decades. The school has a no-uniform policy, and also prides itself on its artistic and musical and creative endeavours, as well as its strong academic record.

One of their former students is the photographer Christian Ghezzi. He's just published a sequence of photos of current students in the Benetton Colors magazine. Click to see what the funky young Carltonites are wearing - and seriously, this is what they do wear to school. They buy second-hand clothes from Savers and the Brotherhood. Don't they look amazing?

Of course, sometimes when I drop J off it's just a sea of jeans and black sweats, but I've certainly seen some remarkable ensembles. I love the way these kids are putting themselves together!


Jeffrey J. Cohen said...

It would frighten me if my children went to such a school: the pressure to be beautiful is unbearable!

Stephanie Trigg said...

Well, yes; and that's the argument that's often made in favour of school uniforms, isn't it? (Not that it isn't possible to ring a 100 calibrated changes on a school uniform, either.)

It's true it does sometimes take J a while to decide what to wear in the mornings, but because the culture of this particular school is all about diversity, it seems easy enough for kids who don't want to dress up just to wear regular jeans and tops. And I think the culture would also tend in the opposite direction away from expensive sports and surfing wear logos.

For the record, the school inspires tremendous loyalty among its students, and has extremely good attendance rates.

And, yes, parents really want to like their kids' schools!

LanglandinSydney said...

Stephanie you're such a good girl to resist pointing out that Joel is among the featured ones (for those who don't recognize, you can click a photo for a name)! He looks GREAT!
There is always pressure regarding looks, at schools and still at workplaces. Most of it is pressure NOT to look good, which is seen as something to be afraid of. "Why the tie?" someone always very aggressively asks me on those two or three days a year when I say to myself, "I'm sick of this pressure! Tie today." Then I feel warned: don't break the code again. Sigh. Those kids have opted for a WAY healthier approach!

[LanglandinSydney = Lawrence Warner]

Anonymous said...

Great photos. The teenagers look super stylish, and it’s wonderful to see young people expressing their individuality in this way. (I love the green-black dress with the speckled coat outfit.) Although, I have to admit, I’m not entirely convinced by this: “but because the culture of this particular school is all about diversity, it seems easy enough for kids who don't want to dress up just to wear regular jeans and tops.” I think teenagers have an excellent sense of working out the various gradations of coolness among their peer group, and establishing who has it and who doesn’t—it’s only natural that pecking orders will be formed, one way or another, even when their currency of what constitutes ‘coolness’ is the (inexpensive) inner-city look, achieved from putting together recycled, vintage clothes, as well as those bought from Salvos. Sure, no expensive branding here, but the look speaks a very definite and identifiable kind of style. I’m all for it: I now take regular advice from my teenage daughter who shops in second-hand stores around Fitzroy and Collingwood. (She will soon follow a well-trodden trajectory into Melbourne University Arts, or architecture, very likely, which, I think, is also part of the ‘stereotype’, perhaps ...) All very Melbourne, and very much aware of what’s ‘tacky’, what’s ‘stylish’, in that Carlton–Fitzroy–Parkville way. (This particular look, I think, would resonate well with similar audiences in inner Berlin, London, or any other European, American or Asian city.) I very much identify with the Carlton/Fitzroy Melbourne look, but I’m only proposing that the phenomenon is not void of complicated set of distinctions (not based on income or social status necessarily, but some other kind of aesthetic and intellectual set of values which are also, perhaps, middle class at its core, in some respects) and suggest that the schoolyard situation is a little bit more hierarchically and culturally complicated than this post, or the response to the post, might suggest.

anonymous editor

Stephanie Trigg said...

Yep, good points, AE. It's absolutely a middle-class style that's powerfully conformist in its rejection of brand-names, etc. And I agree: teenagers, like the rest of us, can calibrate style very finely.

As Lawrence suggests, style's incredibly sensitive to context.

J and I were walking in Parkville a few weeks ago, actually, and he copped some machismo abuse from some lads about his choice of jumper. So yes, it's a contested field!

Pavlov's Cat said...

If I were a lad I'd think twice about heaping machismo abuse (or any other kind) on J, frankly.