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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Island Style
Geek chic look is clean cut

Details of the look

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

There's a new style emerging in Hawai'i high schools and colleges, but the proponents would rather we didn't know about it, for fear too much attention will cramp their development. It's underground, independent and elite, they say. It's called "emo" — and, like most youth fashion movements, it's an outgrowth of a musical style.

After Advertiser Fashion Forum members turned us on to the emo look, Island Style prowled the Kaka'ako coffee shops to find out more. While several guys who fit the pattern agreed to be interviewed, none would allow us to use their names, much less take their pictures. The girls who hang out with the emo guys don't seem to follow the clothing styles.

Goth it is not. While goth is characterized by head-to-toe black punctuated with piercings and chains, emo is more like Mr. Rogers. This is a far cry from hip-hop, too. While hip-hop features the baggiest pants manageable, emo duds are decidedly form-fitting. No grunge, either: A more clean-cut look is hard to imagine.

On a recent shopping trip the father of an emo high school student was surprised (and delighted) when his formerly goth son wanted a V-neck sweater, white button-down shirt and fitted jeans. And for Christmas? He asked for a narrow necktie.

To understand emo (sometimes called "emocore"), the music must come first. Emo is an arty outgrowth of hardcore punk. It's less macho and aggressive; the lyrics often address idealistic experiences and impressions — frustration with hypocrisy (or bad luck in love), an appreciation for beauty (as well as the absurd). Emotion is OK. In fact, the emo ideal is authentic, deeply felt emotion.

While Rites of Spring is credited as the first emo band, Washington, D.C.'s Fugazi played a bigger role in defining the genre and being recognized in the media for their uncompromisingly anti-commercial attitudes. Other emo bands with a big following include Weezer, Texas is the Reason, Built to Spill and Jawbreaker.

Do you know an emo kid? Intentionally unshowy, these guys often ride bicycles, keep diaries, write poetry and hang out at coffee shops. They prefer art films to Hollywood blockbusters and frequent independent music stores. They are usually shy and introspective.

The prototypical emo follower has long black hair, thick glasses, a V-neck sweater, messenger bag, fitted jeans and sneakers. Though Advertiser Fashion Forum member Nathan Mochizuki's personal style is more '50s-tinged, he agreed to model the look.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Details of the look
Emo is a look a mother could love. Wholesome, clean-cut and, well, almost nerdy. These folks shop at The Gap, Diesel and second-hand or thrift stores.
 •  Hairstyles: A throwback to 1970s Donny Osmond: Long, shaggy and black. (If they're not born with black hair, they dye it.)
 •  Glasses: Buddy Holly-thick black-rimmed geek glasses are a must.
 •  Shirts: Shirts are tight, whether a small T-shirt or oxford button-down dress shirt.
 •  Sweaters: Yes, preferably V-neck.
 •  Other layers: Tight hooded sweatshirts. Tight-fitting denim jackets
 •  Carry: Messenger bag with a row of little buttons promoting emo bands.
 •  Jeans: Jeans are fitted, flat-front and often cuffed.
 •  Shoes: Converse All Stars or high-top sneakers, and Adidas Sambas.