Curious about the history of Doc Martens? Wondering what constitutes a “gem tone?” For answers, Avant-Garb (AVG), Bowdoin’s student-run fashion and culture publication, is returning online this week to bring awareness to contemporary fashion, film, food and more.
The publication is relaunching online after a hiatus due to Covid-19, and members are excited to share their opinions and art with the Bowdoin community.
Editor-in-Chief Gail Saez-Hall ’23 noted that the content of the relaunch will include fashion op-eds and photoshoots, but also much more than its advertised scope.
“[The content] really does run the gamut, but that’s kind of the beauty of it,” Saez-Hall said. “Whatever students are interested in and whatever makes them tick, they can go out and really pursue that more.”
AVG’s Executive Stylist Sarah Byars-Waller ’22 echoed this notion of diverse interests.
“We’re not just … looking for the coolest people on campus who have the nicest clothes,” she said.
Rather, AVG focuses on a broad range of culture-related topics. The upcoming content, for instance, will feature interviews with a Bowdoin filmmaker and a local Maine designer, in addition to various opinion articles and photoshoots ranging from TV series reviews to a photo series entitled “Life in Color.” In everything, AVG prioritizes student creativity and expression.
“It’s easy to get into your own routine and kind of overlook all the creativity that exists on this campus,” Saez-Hall said.
AVG hopes that revamping their website with new content will bring a newfound appreciation for creativity on campus. Members hope that by solely pursuing the website, rather than doing so in conjunction with a printed publication, there will be a greater exploration of student expression.
“The thing we keep on saying is, ‘We’re not trying to spread ourselves too thin,’” Saez-Hall said. We want to be realistic and actually produce something that we’re all proud of.”
Byars-Waller stated that AVG hopes to renew interest in the publication through their relaunch.
“Right now, we really just want to invest in creating really exciting representations of Bowdoin that will draw attention back to our publication.”
AVG plans to publicize itself to the community through social media. Previously, AVG engaged with the Bowdoin community through “Fresh Fit Fridays,” Instagram posts documenting students’ fashions and “This or That” polls surveying campus preferences on Instagram. Saez-Hall noted that AVG encourages student participation in many forms.
“We actually had posted a Yik Yak encouraging students to DM us with any outfits,” Saez-Hall said. “It can even be your own if you’re feeling particularly fresh one day.”
In addition to showcasing students’ “fresh fits,” AVG’s website will provide insight into the general cultural views circulating campus.
“You just learn about people’s different interests and how they perceive the world, whether that’s through fashion or through a TV show that they are just obsessed with,” Saez-Hall said.
Byars-Waller observed that the field of fashion has evolved and offers greater individual expression as the world emerges from a period of quarantine and endless Zoom calls.
“During [the pandemic], there was this revamp of fashion and I think so many interesting styles developed,” Bryars-Waller said. “I think, especially the younger years, like first-years and sophomores, really brought that to Bowdoin and inadvertently challenged the culture of wearing Patagonia jackets, jeans and Birkenstocks all the time, which is totally fine, but [the new style] is just a lot more visually interesting.”
Besides this visual component, AVG members believe that fashion goes beyond the superficial, providing avenues to explore identity and self-confidence.
“Personally, my body and my physicality were always so criticized that, when I was younger, I really wanted to draw attention away from that. Especially in high school, I didn’t really invest time in my appearance,” Byars-Waller said. “[Fashion] really helped me to have some agency over the way that people perceive me.”
AVG encourages students who have a passion for fashion and culture to join their team, which is looking for new members since its relaunch.
AVG members expressed their eagerness to showcase their hard work—both new content and archives from before the pandemic.
“It’s always really exciting to see your love child, project-wise, start to come to life,” Byars-Waller said. “It’s so exciting to be able to be back.”