Upon arriving at Wake Forest’s campus, the first thing you might notice is our beautiful buildings or perfectly manicured lawns. You might even spend a moment admiring Wait Chapel, listening to the Carillion toll. After that, you move to looking at the students. While WFU is known for being one of the best looking campuses in the country, we’re also known for having a rather homogenous look. On a daily basis, I personally witness more Patagonia pullovers paired with leggings or khakis and Bean boots than one could even imagine possible. Name brands like JCrew, Vineyard Vines and Ralph Lauren are seemingly plastered to the bodies of the majority of students on campus. After a while, the uniform look of our campus gives the impression that we’re a homogenous crowd, not the most diverse or accepting of varying styles and the underlying cultural differences they represent.
In 2012, Sean Wilkinson and Kovi Konowiecki decided to show off a different perspective of our Wake Forest through Forest Folk, a Tumblr street-style fashion blog that seeks to find the underrepresented cultures on campus and bring them to the foreground. Now that Sean and Kovi have graduated, the blog has been handed down to sophomore Zack Chan. I sat down with him to get the scoop on the project.
Zack describes The Forest Folk as a “student run blog aimed to expose or share the alternative culture at Wake Forest.” His depiction of the WFU underground is manifold. Sure the blog explores the many amazing, stylish students that traverse our campus on the daily, but also helps to expose how different we truly are. On a given day, the blog features Greeks, athletes, artsy-kids, intellectuals, skaters and everyone in between. Forest Folk does not only showcase what they wear, but also implies the differences that underlie an individual’s self-presentation. So, when I asked him if he felt his blog was a fashion blog or a culture blog, it seemed only fitting that he described it as a “mesh of both…we want Forest Folk to be one-of-a-kind, something you can’t put your name on…something different than your average style blog.”
The breadth of content on the blog is truly remarkable. Although all photos are taken by Zack, the content remains fresh due to his unique eye. His subjects vary from bohemian to urban, preppy to practical.
Zack himself is a bit of an icon. You’ve probably seen him walking around, crossing the paths of our many quads. He’s the one with the amazing half-shaved, half pony haircut, and a camera hung from his neck. His style is often urban-inspired, with graphic prints and large text. His sense of layering and composing an ensemble is a personal strong suit, often featuring daring silhouettes and bold lines. Despite his own well-defined style, he manages to find and appreciate a broad definition of ‘stylish’ on our campus.
When asked how he manages to find such an eclectic range of subjects, Zach responded, “I look for how someone’s outfit complements who they are and what they’re around. I do look for fashion. I look for something that’s out there and outrageous. I still also look for things that look interesting. You can wear ripped jeans, and a shirt and just make them look interesting…Fashion is versatile. It’s interchangeable. I look out for people who play with those things.”
Ultimately, Zack sees this project as an opportunity to bring attention to under-celebrated aspects of campus life at WFU.
“Our main goal is to photograph as many people as possible and reach out to Wake Forest students and show them you can be different. You can be who you want. We want people to be risk-takers. We want to bring positive conversation and impact on campus.”
– Julia Sawchak