Red Brick Runway: Sophomore Jaya Basu sews “genderful” fashion

By Grace Hogsten

Copy Editor

In an era of fast fashion and gendered apparel, clothes that are customized, well-made, and classic are rare.

Sophomore Jaya Basu’s personal style embodies all of these qualities. They sew much of their own wardrobe, creating unique articles of clothing that combine differently gendered aspects of fashion.

Basu learned to sew during the COVID-19 pandemic and quickly progressed from working on basic projects to making clothes that they could wear.

“We have an old sewing machine in my house that wasn’t being used, so I started sewing masks,” Basu said. “Then I would build up and do more and more things, so I sewed a pillow, and then I moved on to a shirt.”

They bought patterns on Etsy, where he could choose from an array of both recent and vintage patterns. He had fun experimenting with a new skill set and tackling increasingly complicated projects.

Basu began sewing as a creative outlet. They also wanted to curate a closet full of clothes that fit comfortably and allowed them to express their gender presentation.

“I really like playing around with both masculine and feminine articles of clothing, and sewing is really helpful because you can change the cut of a piece very easily,” Basu said. “As an [assigned female at birth] person, it’s difficult for me to find men’s clothing that fit me.”

By creating new pieces and tailoring existing items, Basu customizes their wardrobe. Mass-produced clothing often fails to consider sizing or styles that cater to consumers outside of a limited average, and sewing or alterations can be great solutions to these problems.

“I love making something unique that…you can’t find at a store,” Basu said.

Basu also enjoys experimenting with varying levels of formality in fashion. He likes making clothes that embody a more structured style, including vests, slacks, and button-down shirts.

According to previous Elm coverage, Basu notes that more formal clothes are often strictly gendered, which can create an excellent opportunity to combine feminine and masculine aesthetics.

Basu describes his personal style as “not genderless, but genderful.” Rather than presenting in a way that is devoid of gender, they prefer to embody different aspects of gendered fashion and types of gender presentation.

Sewing is a great way to create customized pieces the wearer can treasure and use for years to come. Though it can seem like a daunting skill to learn, there are many resources available for those who are interested.

Basu explains that plenty of simple patterns are available online for free, as well as video tutorials on sewing and using patterns that beginners can utilize to strengthen their skills without paying for lessons or how-to books.

The Essentials Club and Good Housekeeping offer helpful tutorials on YouTube, while Beginner Sewing Projects is full of in-depth guides perfect for newcomers.

Through creativity and craft, Basu brings new life to old styles or articles of clothing.

Photo courtesy of Jaya Basu.

Photo Caption: Sophomore Jaya Basu sews many of their own clothes.

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