Throwback photos stir up laughs, memories and—for denim heads—a wealth of vintage denim inspiration. This weekly column on Rivet asks individuals in the denim industry to take a look back and reminisce about a denim moment in time captured on film.
This week, Erin Barajas, director of communications and media for the Kingpins Show, looks back to a time when her fashion choices were a little more rebellious than they are now.
With a creative writing degree from the University of Southern California (USC)—the backdrop of this throwback photo—Barajas, began her career in media writing about business and fashion. Nowadays, she’s busy helping solidifying Kingpins’ position as a premier denim event that attracts mills and industry leaders from around the world.
Erin Barajas, director of communications and media, Kingpins Show/Olah Inc.
This photo was taken in 1997 during my freshman year of college at USC. I was with my roommate on the balcony of our apartment. This photo reminds me of two important things: First, denim plays a key role in subcultures. I grew up on the east side of Los Angeles in a primarily Latino, blue collar suburb and oversize clothing of any kind—especially pants (and especially Dickies)—were a non-starter in my home. They were considered a gang symbol, and gangs were my parents’ biggest concern when it came to my brothers and me. We could not, under any circumstances, wear obnoxious Dickies and neither could any of my friends or their brothers. It was a line in the sartorial sand that was infused with fear and violence and cultural politics.
To my roommate, who was white and grew up under very different circumstances, oversize Dickies were purely fashion and maybe a little bit rave-y. I remember when she insisted I wear her huge overalls, I felt exhilaration at breaking the rule that had made these garments so loaded. And I remember that wearing them out of the context of my neighborhood made them feel less potent. And finally, I remember feeling like the ultimate teenage nightmare: a poser. I never wore them again. There’s a really great book, “Cool: Style, Sound, and Subversion,” that goes more in-depth on style and subcultures.
And second, when I cut off all my hair, I look exactly like my brother.