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  • Samm Stein Website
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Master of Arts in Design


Streetwear, both in fashion and social settings, operates as a form of assertion of one’s own culture.

The question my work explores is if this is a conscious effort on the part of the consumer, or if it is a choice the designers are making for them. It is worth noting that streetwear cannot operate outside of hegemony, popular culture, or consumerism though.

Regarding streetwear and identity tools such as other types of fashion, music, art, social groups, and biases, it is hard—if not impossible—to see it as something outside of the culture and spaces it exists in. How we opt to present ourselves is one such fragment of our identity. Physical appearance operates as a nonverbal form of communication as well. Clothing choices can operate as a tool to communicate a large range of values, beliefs, and symbols—all of which are fluid.

If we acknowledge the contradictions and general messiness of maintaining a true expression of whom we believe we are, we must also acknowledge that “authentic” identity is formulated through a series of business models, designs, and efforts to fit into a culture while adhering to our own morals and beliefs. We will never see the whole picture at any given moment.

A single authentic identity is impossible. Instead, we can use streetwear to showcase a version of an authentic identity that has been calculated either by the consumer or by the designer and business.

What my time at KCAD meant to me

KCAD has challenged me to look beyond my comfort zone and find new angles to approach problems. During my time here, I’ve noticed myself grow to consider perspectives of people that I often, unknowingly, was negligent of. These are life skills that exceed my growth as a cultural theorist and designer. I intend to carry these skills into wherever I go and whatever I do.

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