Interview with Charcoal Stylist: Ria Wang
Written by Stella Ikuzwe
Ria Wang is a BU student who describes her style as “edgy with a pop of fun.” Ria spoke with Charcoal’s Stella Ikuzwe about her inspirations, style evolution, closet staples, and her hopes for the future of the fashion industry.
Starting off, how would you define fashion and style? Are they similar or different to you?
They are intertwined, for sure. Fashion is more of a commercial type-thing or an expression of a community. Whereas I think style is more personal but is ultimately derived from fashion.
So was there a moment or an outfit that inspired your own personal style?
I grew up in Los Angeles, so a lot of my personal style comes from observing other people on the street, especially because Los Angeles has such big characters. Everybody has such a different and unique style, and they’re unafraid of mixing patterns or creating new silhouettes. That's what really gave me the confidence to develop my own style - growing up there.
There are some good fits that I've seen in the past years, but I don't know if there’s one particular one I can pinpoint. Even just being at BU and seeing everybody’s style evolve in the last few years and being among friends, helping them with their style has inspired my style. The evolution aspect of style is what really inspires me. Also layering from your childhood, like seeing my mom dress me when I was younger, her saying I should be unique with my style is a big inspiration for me as well.
Have you always been very expressive with your style?
When I was younger, I always thought of church as my fashion show. I went to private school my entire life, so it was always uniforms. Therefore, on the weekends I really had the opportunity to stunt. I remember going to church and pulling up in really wacky dresses, usually something completely different and maybe sometimes even something my mom wouldn’t approve of. I think that's why I always knew that I was unique in the way that I held fashion to a higher standard than others, because I valued the moment and stuntin’ honestly.
Do you think your personal style is easily accessible to the everyday person? In terms of being able to acquire and feel confident in clothing you like on your body?
As for my style, I think it's pretty accessible. I tend to draw inspiration from old fashion shows. I really love the late ‘90s early 2000, and mixing those two. My style incorporates a lot of ‘90s trends –pretty edgy and grunge– and the 2000s trends, with the Y2K stuff, so I like mixing the two together. I usually thrift, for sustainability reasons, but also because I love the hunt of finding something unique.
Thrifting has grown in popularity, what is your perspective on how much of a trend it has become?
I think the part that doesn't sit well with me is people finding pieces for so cheap at places like Goodwill and then rebranding it on Depop as something that is more than what it actually is. I do have a Depop, and I will usually tweak something or upcycle it in a way to make the value go up rather than just sell something for economic purposes.
What's the most experimental outfit you've ever worn?
My friends have noticed that I'm very into jackets and outerwear, especially since coming to Boston, and I like to mix patterns and textures with my pants. One of my favorite casual outfits so far are thrifted “I Am Gia” pants, that are lavender purple zebra print, which I mixed with a white mesh top and a corset tank over it and white platform, almost boat shoes.
That sounds so bold and like a whole fit. What's the go-to outfit that you feel is just the most "you" thing in your closet?
Patterned pants of any sort or anything with crazy designs. I like a basic jean with a crazy design or a crazy silhouette. Definitely pants are a huge defining staple in my closet and then definitely shoes
What do you think are must-haves for any closet?
A good pair of baggy jeans, a nice basic tank top, a good pair of tennis shoes, and a nice leather jacket.
Those are definitely classic pieces. What would you say to someone who thinks they can’t be “stylish”?
Everyone can be “stylish” because style is a personal thing. To anyone who thinks they can’t be, you should just think of it as an extension to your personality. Whatever your personality is, you’re going to dress in that way or turn it into your own. Dressing yourself every day should be one of the most personal things to you and you put a lot of thought into how you dress.
What do you hope for the future of the fashion industry?
My hope is that more up-and-coming designers will get the recognition they need. We all know these household brands like Gucci and Prada, and they are always getting the same feedback and upping their prices, and people keep going back to them because the industry holds them at a high standard. But there are so many young designers with so much creativity and they aren’t getting the clout they deserve because these large fashion houses are overshadowing them. I hope to see young up-and-coming designers have more of a voice and more inclusivity.
Can you give us the name of some up and coming designers?
What do you hope for in terms of your own style?
I want to be bolder with my style. I want to experiment more with upcycling, making my own clothes, and buying pieces from small businesses. I also stopped buying fast fashion which is a great step.