Teddy Bears and Spider-Man: The impact of social media influencers on UPA students

Junior Naomi Abtew enjoys spending her free time browsing social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, gaining inspiration from influencers and finding new fashion trends that help her express herself.

Abtew attributes her love for fashion to Emma Chamberlain, a Gen Z fashion icon who collaborated with brands like Louis Vuitton since gaining over ten million subscribers on YouTube. Emma Chamberlain made certain clothing pieces trendy, such as sweater vests, dad sweaters, Dr. Martens, shoelace belts and even scrunchies. The pieces Chamberlain wore in her photoshoots and YouTube videos caught Abtew’s eye, inspiring her to incorporate these garments into her everyday style.

Junior Naomi Abtew poses in front of UPA’s front office after school on Sept. 23 in her favorite pair of mom jeans and argyle-printed tank top. (Photo courtesy of Naomi Abtew.)

“She wore this teddy bear backpack that she posted on her Instagram story,” Abtew said. “I have never seen anything like it, but I am completely obsessed with it and would want to purchase it. She got me into fashion because growing up, I thought fashion was just supposed to be one set thing that is acceptable to wear, but now I experiment with different pieces.” 

Because of the constant change in fashion on different platforms that is deemed “trendy,” Abtew is constantly collecting new outfit pieces to switch up her style.

Abtew also loves to find new inspiration from model and actress Zendaya Coleman. She collaborated with designer brands such as Valentino and Versace to wear their pieces during red carpet premieres. The dress Coleman wore during the premiere of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” designed in collaboration with Valentino, quickly trended over many social media platforms.

“I really love Zendaya’s style,” Abrew said. “She has a way of dressing very feminine and masculine.”

Abtew’s style evolved throughout the years, and the inspiration she gained through social media influenced her own wardrobe continuously.

“When I was younger I would mimic trends, and I really didn’t like that,” Abtew said. “I would wear skinny high-waisted jeans with a sweater and vans, which was very bland. I never really cared about fashion as much as I do now.”

“As I got older, I realized that fashion can be very diverse,” Abtew said. “I now focus more on what I like such as trends with bootcut jeans, oversized sweaters and bucket hats which make me feel really confident and enjoy what I wear.”

Junior Claury Saint-Surin has a strong passion for fashion as well, not only from making dozens of Pinterest boards or actively shopping at the mall; she feels that fashion is a way to express herself.

Saint-Surin recently transferred to UPA for her junior year and believes it has affected her style.

Junior Claury Adlah-Darley Saint-Surin poses on her couch in her home on Feb. 1 wearing her dark-wash bootcut jeans, white turtle neck and fur cardigan. (Photo courtesy of Saint-Surin.)

“I dress the same, but since I’m new to the school and I don’t know people too well, I choose to be more to myself, rather than pop out with my style,” Saint-Surin said.

Saint-Surin also gained style inspiration from her favorite influencer: rapper Cardi B.

“I like how people can look so feminine with their makeup,” Saint-Surin said. “I like Cardi B’s confidence, and her style reflects this.”

Cardi B is a songwriter who is known for her performances and extravagant award show outfits that she documents to her 121 million Instagram followers. She has done many collaborations with brands such as Fashion Nova and Balenciaga and has a chic outgoing style that has impacted social media platforms.

Although Saint-Surin adores fashion from her favorite celebrity, some days she would rather dress down rather than dress up.

“I feel like your style has to compliment your personality or the woman you aspire to become,” Saint-Surin said.

Each person expresses themselves differently through personality or aspiration. Whether it is how they feel or how they want to convey their passion, fashion and style remains a crucial part of Abtew and Saint-Surin’s everyday lives.