In Your Closet: Alfi Muhamad’s Fashion Draws from Stripes, Bad Bunny, and Risk-taking

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Among the new, fresh faces on campus, there is one who makes clear fashion statements as he cruises around campus. Alfi Muhamad ‘23, who hopes to study Computer Science and Environmental Studies, joins the Swarthmore community from just a drive away in Harrisburg, Pa. He described, in an interview with Voices, his relationship with his family and where he draws his funky, cool fits from.

The youngest of four, Muhamad’s relationship with his siblings is strong, but sometimes they can’t seem to understand his decisions regarding fashion choices. “In terms of fashion, they don’t really see it. It sucks because they do have their own sense of style, especially my older sister,” Muhamad said. “They respect my interests, but sometimes my brother would question me like, ‘What are you wearing?’ and think of it as crazy when I think it’s just who I am portraying as one of my personalities. The thing is, sometimes even my brother asks me for advice in terms of ideas of what to wear. I think it’s funny.”

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One of his favorite pieces of clothing comes from one person in his family that clearly noticed his increasing interest in fashion: his mom. In high school, Muhamad started to realize that there would be the same image of boys in his school wearing the same usual thing: t-shirt and jeans. Challenging this stereotype, he began to take more risks with his clothing. His mother noticed this change, and showed her support by purchasing what is now his favorite piece of clothing, a brown, sherpa corduroy jacket shown to the right. 

“It’s my favorite because it holds meaning to me. For one, it’s thrifted, so that's one of the best parts. The second part is that my mom gave it to me in high school. She realized that that was the sense where I was developing my style,” said Muhamad. “She would always look at me from afar and just look at herself a little bit because I had few outfits where she would say, ‘That’s something I would wear in the 90’s.’ It’s so cool and so refreshing that she supports me and the clothing that I wear.” 

His fashion evolution helped him find his obsession with stripes. However, he has also developed his style from many influences, from the ‘80s fashion era with track jackets and cuffed pants, to current fashion trends and influencers. Muhamad mentioned three influencers that clearly have an impact on his fashion. The first is Zayn Malik because he admires his expression and choices with wearing non-traditional clothing, as Muhamad described. He also draws inspiration from Rihanna, idolizing her iconic Met Gala looks and her ability to stick with each of the Met Gala’s themes. Lastly, Muhamad has more recently drawn inspiration from Bad Bunny and his eclectic and gender-bending fashion style. 

“It’s a point in time where [Bad Bunny]’s one of the faces in the industry that is able to destigmatize clothing that are not traditionally masculine. He is a very good image that encompasses the idea of not conforming to traditional masculine values,” Muhamad said. “He debunks hypermasculine ideologies. Some of the stuff that he does – he paints his nails, he has a lot of piercings, he wears big clothing and other stuff that he is able to express himself and I really respect him for that.”

Muhamad reflects that he appreciates close friends hyping up his interesting and stylish fashion choices. He is very keen on people being able to take risks and be comfortable in the clothes they themselves decide to wear.

“People say that some stuff that I buy would look dope on me, but they couldn’t pull it off. I think it's the experiment part that people need to take a risk with,” Muhamad said. “People say it’s too much effort to choose the outfits you wear in the morning. It’s just whether you’re willing to put the effort, but also, recognize it’s a mind game, it doesn't take that much. It’s just being able to try something new and be confident in it.” 

Photos by Tristan Alston