An unsung NYU uniform is undeniably present and has appeared in varying ways over the years, yet ironically lives in the culture of a student population especially eager to embrace its individuality. The means by which such disparate concepts –a uniform and an emphatic sense of individuality – fuse translates differently for each student, but the fact of this fusion remains the same.
The traditional NYU aesthetic of “vintage” or “thrifted” has evolved in recent years, shifted by the influx of a student population that owns ACNE t-shirts and Opening Ceremony bombers. Consequentially, the preconceptions associated with the decidedly fashion-forward school have deviated from “obscure devotion to questionable Village thrift stores” to “pretentious luxury basics for 9:30 classes”.
While pinpointing a singular style to define the diverse NYU community is difficult, identifying the pieces that make up this uniform is much easier. White sneakers, preferably Stan Smiths, are ubiquitous in the same way that UGG boots were in 2004. Pants options vary between baggy light wash jeans either thrifted or grabbed off an Urban Outfitters sale rack –for twice the price and half the effort– and for the less adventurous, black skinny jeans ripped across the knees. Include a gray pea coat, denim shearling jacket, or a Canada Goose parka and you’ve encapsulated nearly the entire school population (except Stern students). Bag and backpack trends are somewhat less pronounced, but Herschel and Fjallraven Kanken seem to be favorite brands judging by their oversized branding making them most visible in classrooms.
The above pieces, being basic in nature, do not account for all of NYU style; rather, they function as a base upon which more individual items are layered. Breaking the mold eventually gets exhausting, and maintaining NYU’s status as College Magazine’s number one hipster university isn’t always effortless. Upholding this well-earned, longstanding reputation is sure to lend itself to the presence of such trends in the NYU student population.
Also important to note is that these observations do not ring true for the entire student population. Some NYU students have shed the protective guise of distressed luxury brands and openly flaunt their Cartier Love bracelets around campus. Others proudly bear the fruits of their thrifting labors, three-dollar cashmere sweaters displaying hours of shifting through bins of secondhand items at Long Island City’s pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet. Yet this uniform is dubbed such for a season. Just as Columbia University students are faithful to their Tory Burch flats and each New School student owns a denim jacket dotted with ironic pins, NYU displays a devoted adherence to these favorite pieces. Upending young adult apparel trends, or rather, setting them, requires a starting point and the NYU uniform provides just that.
Photo by Anna Letson.
Grace Dixon is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.