Selome by Ines Wittke

Selome Gizaw does it all. Currently, she is the Social Vice President of the Black Student’s Network, tutors kids in Montreal through the program Homework Zone, and is involved with the planning of the McGill African Students’ annual African Development convention. Despite all Selome’s impressive investment in her student community, I admire her ability to maintain a classy and flawless style.

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Selome shared that growing up in an extremely international environment has significantly helped to shape her style. To give you some background of the extent of her diverse heritage, she was born in Boston, lived in Washington DC before moving to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the age of ten; eventually at seventeen she arrived in Montreal to attend McGill University.

Living in Addis Ababa meant that she didn’t have regular access to shopping. As a result, whenever she would travel back to America, she would carefully plan which pieces she wanted to buy. This taught her the importance of timeless pieces in a closet. In addition, it made her appreciate thrift fashion in a unique way because she would pick items from her dad’s closet (and still does)! Most importantly, Selome learned how to incorporate culture in her everyday fashion choices. She describes that “I was inspired to incorporate features of Ethiopian fashion into my everyday wear. I definitely think this is the reason I love colourful clothes and fabrics and prints.”

In a sense, moving to such different cities, with various cultural nuances has helped to affirm her personal and fashion identity. Selome explained that, “It [moving] sort of forced me to own my style and be confident not only in my fashion choices, but also in my values”.

She explained further how she attributes a lot of her identity to Ethiopian culture and values. For example, she strives to embody simplicity, genuine love and support for those close to her, empathy towards both loved ones and strangers, optimism during trying times, and living life as the most open, true and unapologetic version of oneself. Despite the widespread poverty she witnessed while living in Ethiopia, the love and happiness that the people share has been deeply inspirational to her.

Apart from her fascinating background, Selome looks up to some notable fashion icons: Khelani (because she makes dressing like a tomboy cute), Princess Nokia (because she’s fearless, wears whatever she wants, and represents her city through both music and fashion), Tyler the Creator (because he boldly goes against the norm and wears really bright and colourful pieces), Aaliyah (because she was one of the pioneers of making dressing like a tomboy cute!).

Selome’s favourite places to shop are at Value Village, and other inexpensive thrift Stores, the men’s section at Urban Outfitter’s and Topshop. Montreal itself has also offered her a lot of inspiration, namely the famous Mile End, but more specifically, trends amongst pre-university students (CGEP’s) in the Montreal area: “It might sound weird but I just feel like they [CGEP’s] have this really cool vibe, they truly represent the youth and the city culture of Montreal.”

Moreover, she has derived major fashion inspo from the drama series, The Get Down (which is about the beginnings of Hip-hop culture in The Bronx in the late 70s, and the transition away from the mainstream Disco culture of the time).

To sum up Selome in a few words: she doesn’t fear what makes her different, she rocks with it and embraces it. Being constantly challenged by cultural clashes has helped her gain a sense of confidence which characterizes her fashion choices so well.

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