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Students bring international style to campus

Wearing a plaid button-up shirt, jeans and a backwards baseball cap, India graduate student Krishna Mehta said the hat is one of the new additions to his wardrobe since coming to the United States.

Some international students said Western trends have become popular for young people in their native countries.

Mehta, who is studying fashion merchandising, said his home on the west coast of India generally follows Western styles. He one day aspires to start a brand that combines Western styles with Indian styles to create a new look.

In Bangladesh — home to graduate student Shuvo Kundu — people generally don't pay as much attention to fashion, particularly in villages. Still, Kundu said young people in cities are following Western trends.

“Nowadays, men are wearing mostly pants,” Kundu said. “Young men are using shirts and jeans. Most of the young men and women are following the western cultures.”

Kundu said saris are the traditional dress for women in Bangladesh. Some women wear burkas, which cover the face. Some women wear a niqab, which is the term for a hijab in the Bengali language and covers their hair. 

“There’s no stitch on (a sari), (women) just wrap it around their bodies,” Kundu said. “There are a lot of saris in my country from cheap to very expensive, very artistic.”

Kundu is a fashion merchandising major and wants to create his own ethical brand that doesn’t use cheap labor. Fast fashion, he said, is bad for people in Bangladesh and other countries because laborers receive little money for the clothing they make.

Islam is the prominent religion in Indonesia, so most women wear a jilbab, which is the Indonesian term for what many people know as a hijab, said graduate student Imas Istiani. Some women also wear gamis, which are long gowns that cover their bodies.

“I wear casual clothing but some Muslims who want to cover all of their body, for their body parts aren’t shown," Istiani said. "If I’m wearing these jeans, you can see the shape of my legs. If they don’t want the shape of their legs or other body parts shown, they wear gamis.”

In Indonesia, people dress up more on campus and wear more colorful clothes in general. Otherwise, though, Istiani said there’s not much difference between the style in Indonesia and the U.S. for young people.

Indonesia has 30 tribes that each have their own traditional clothes, she said. However, because Java Island is the most populated island, the traditional clothing worn by people there, called "kebaya," is considered the traditional clothing in Indonesia. She said kebaya is mostly worn for special occasions, such as weddings. 

Clothing in India varies, Mehta said, because India is a diverse country with 29 states, hundreds of languages and many religions. 

Hindu women might wear a bindi, which is a dot in the center of the forehead. In the region Mehta is from, Mehta said men might wear a traditional top with jeans, while in the southern region, he said people wear the full traditional outfit. 

He said a major difference between Indian fashion and American fashion is that in Hindu culture, white is typically worn for funerals, while in American culture, white is worn for weddings.

Indian graduate student Vyuha Chalasani said saris are the traditional clothing for women in India, and dhoti and kurta are the traditional clothing for men. The way the clothing is draped depends on the state, she said. She's from South India and said young women there prefer wearing punjabi suits, which include tops that go to the knee and loose pants, instead of saris. 

China senior Yukun Wang said she wears traditional clothing more now than she did in China because as the president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, she wears traditional clothing at events to teach others about her culture. She said people in China might sometimes wear a small symbol or the color red, which is the national color, but on a day-to-day basis, young people dress similar to Americans. 

Daniel Chen, a freshman from China, said it’s common for people to wear holes in their jeans and for men to roll up their jeans. 

“The styles in China are not as casual as they are here in America,” he said. “But mostly, we share the same styles as there are so many American clothes brands in China and we love it. There are actually more things in common now than differences.”