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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Lewkk showcases campus fashion, celebrates fashionistas

Amari Diaw, founder of Tufts fashion Instagram 'The Lewkk,' is pictured.

It isn't often that people stop to notice others' outfits amidst the daily grind, but Tufts' own Instagram fashion blog The Lewkk (pronounced "the look") is casting a spotlight on students' personal styles and fashion choices.

For The Lewkk’s creator Amari Diaw, fashion has always played an important role in her life.

“Especially for me, why I’m drawn to [fashion] so much is [that] as a woman of color, people are often deciding who I am or what I believe or what I’m like before even talking to me … and so fashion has always been a way to take that power back and speak for myself … I think it’s one of the most powerful tools for expression that we have,” Diaw, a sophomore, said.

Diaw had started a similar project in high school as part of an internship program for Nordstrom and decided to do the same at Tufts. She began The Lewkk in September 2017.

“I had always wanted to replicate it in college, but coming in, I kind of assumed there would already be some kind of fashion club presence,” Diaw said. “Then, when I realized that there wasn’t anything, I thought it was a good time to try to create something.”

Diaw explained the inspiration behind the name of the blog.

“It’s a term, like ‘It’s a look.’ It’s ... a saying referring to clothing. I wanted it to be L-E-W-K, but that was taken, so I added another K. The idea of having it be 'The Lewkk' also kind of stemmed from the fact that there would be so many different kinds of people and so many different kinds of looks on the blog.”

For Diaw, it is important that a diverse array of fashion styles be represented.

“One of the things that bothers me most about fashion is this idea of a one, standard ‘this is how you need to look in order to be beautiful, in order to feel good about yourself,’” she said.

Diaw also defies that standard by making sure a diverse group of students is featured on the blog.

“Definitely the representation of people of color that are on it was a big part of it for me,” she said. “Not necessarily making it only people of color, but definitely giving people of color a space that they often don’t get in predominantly white spaces like Tufts.”

She started by asking some of her friends to be featured, and eventually expanded beyond this to include students she had never met before.

“When it was warmer out, I started doing kind of impromptu shoots. I would sit outside of Tisch Library for an hour and just photograph people whose outfits I liked as they walked by and ask them," Diaw said. "That was a really cool way to incorporate people that I didn’t see all the time and didn’t know.”

In addition to the impromptu shoots, Diaw also uses other means of choosing people to feature on the blog. She occasionally features students from other schools.

“Now, primarily, I do suggestions a lot of the time,” Diaw said. “People will suggest their friends [by] anonymously messaging me on Instagram. I also go through the followers list a lot and kind of check out peoples’ pages and see different people whose styles I think are cool or different.”

Diaw does most of the photography herself. She chooses different places on campus to do the shoots and purposely gives vague instructions when directing people on how to dress for the shoot.

“I generally just say, 'Wear whatever makes you feel the most like yourself, or what outfit you think best represents who you are, or whatever you feel the most comfortable in.' That’s kind of what I go for, because I’m trying to capture their essence as much as possible,” she said.

Sophomore Andres Almanza was featured on The Lewkk this month. He explained the process of choosing an outfit for the shoot.

“For me personally, I didn’t want to be like, ‘What’s the absolute coolest thing [I own],' because I knew it’d be up eventually, and when other people saw me they’d be like, ‘Whoa, that’s not what he usually wears.’ So for me, it was something like I’d normally wear, but I just decided to add layers on top,” Almanza said.

Almanza was very pleased by the reaction once the post came out.

“A lot of people were hyping me up, and that just made me feel really great,” he said.

Similarly, Alexandra Strong, a sophomore, described the process of being featured on the blog.

“I know Amari [Diaw] through a couple of mutual friends,” she said. “I think it was over winter break, she messaged me [asking if I wanted to be featured]. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, yes!' After the fact, I was like, ‘I’ve wanted to be on this Instagram for years now!’”

Like Almanza, Strong was very pleased with the reception after she was featured on The Lewkk.

“I know a lot of underclassmen, but after that post came out, a ton of friends of first-years that I know that I had never met were like, ‘Oh my God, I saw you were on The Lewkk. Hi, I’m so-and-so.’ I made a ton of friends,” Strong said.

Strong also explained the way that The Lewkk has changed her perception of fashion on campus.

“I do feel like either more people are experimenting with the way they dress … or, because The Lewkk now exists, I’m just noticing it more because there’s a platform for it,” she said. “But honestly, I think that campus as a whole is starting to dress a little more in a rad way, in the hopes that Amari [Diaw] will reach out to them and be like, ‘Hey, can I take photos of you?’”

According to Diaw, more than 60 people have already been featured on The_Lewkk. She hopes to continue featuring as many students as possible.

“The more people [that] can know about it and be featured, I think the better,” she said.

In fact, since its inception, The Lewkk’s presence on campus has only increased.

“For the first few months, I had like 200 followers, and now I have just over 1,000, which has been really cool,” Diaw said. “I definitely did not expect it to be as well-received as it’s been."

Diaw has also found a personal passion in curating the blog.

“It’s a lot of work, but I really enjoy it, so it doesn’t seem like work, and that’s awesome. I wish I could do it [for] life,” she said.

Diaw hopes to expand The Lewkk beyond Instagram to have a physical presence on campus in the future.

“I want to eventually turn it into a club -- that’s something that a lot of people have reached out to me about,” she said. “I want to have a fashion show, I want to do a lot of things. I want to just grow it and see how big of an impact it can have. I’d love to have a magazine. I kind of want to materialize it more and have more concrete products.”

For now, Diaw plans to continue her work on the blog and hopes that The Lewkk keeps brightening up everyone on campus.

“It’s supposed to be this kind of release, or a break from all the things we have to deal with on campus. I hope that people continue to support it and recommend their friends, and I want to keep getting to photograph people,” she said.