BLOG ABOUT SWITCHING UP
SOME PEOPLE GOT MAD AT ME AND TOLD ME I WASN'T WOKE FOR USING THE TERM CODE SWITCHING IN THIS SO I CHANGED THE NAME OF IT BUT THE IDEA IS THAT YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND YOUR ATMOSPHERE AND ACT ACCORDINGLY.
Code Switching is a term that I had to memorize for a midterm paper in my Intercultural Communications class. But, I guess it was a term that I memorized and learned about through my life, I just hadn't known the term.
It's a noun. By definition it's
the practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties of language in conversation. (thanks google)
But I took that word and understood that it was an underlying factor in my life, and it meant much more than that textbook definition.
This past weekend I spent my time in New York for Fashion Week. If you didn't know, or didn't read the College blog, I do go to college. And when you buy stuff off this website, me and my friends do ship it out of my college dorm room. I set up my schedule so that I only have classes tuesday wednesday thursday so I can travel and work on OHKAY during the weekends. So this week my little weekly world tour took me to the concrete jungle for Fashion Week.
I guess I looked at code switching from a real intense point of view, and that's why it's worth writing about.
Code Switching is the ability to adapt your personality to your enviornment. For me, this was important during Fashion Week.
One hour I was in an office at Pier 59 Studios walking through the room they're having Yeezy Season 5 at with a guy I intern for. The next hour I was out to dinner with my friends. The next, in line for the Fendi after party and a few hours later sleeping on some random couch in an apartment owned by some girls who i've never met. The thing is, it's important to know that you don't act the same way at the studio as you do at the bar. You're not pleasing the same people. You're not satisfying the same crowd.
You need to analyze every situation. Think about the room, then the people. If you're not the
person in the room, that's cool. that's totally fine. but you need to understand that, then you need to understand that it's important to be able to spot out which person is. Maybe it's a group of them. Maybe ASAP Rocky is at the same party. I've been there. I've also not walked up to him and dapped him up, like I would to a random kid at a party back in Boston. Because i know my environment. I get what is going on around me, because I understand Code Switching.
Think about the attire of the people in the room. Are people wearing Supreme and Bape? Or are they wearing Raf and Rick? Maybe they're in suits. Maybe gym wear. Analyze it. See what the vibe is like. Then learn to act accordingly.
If you're going to a rap show, you should probably know to dress in some streetwear clothes and know the words to the songs that are going to be played. If you're going to dinner with a client, or a boss, wear something pretty, look nice, feel nice.
I always say it, and I think it's so true, you are what you wear. Your clothes depict your attitude. In the morning or before I go out, I base my outfit off the attitude i'm imagining i want to give off when I get to my destination.
So back to walking into the room and seeing who is who. Let's say that you're good at talking to people. You need to get ready for the event with your homies (hypothetically). You listen to the new Post Malone album, you joke about inside things, you dance around, you put your clothes on, you switch off time in the bathroom. It's personable, you enjoy chilling. But then you go to the function. A lot of important people are there. People you want to impress. Or, not even impress, but just people you want to get to know. You need to look at how they're interacting. Is it calm? Is it in a mosh pit (not calm at all)? Are they sitting? If they are, are they on their phone? If so, you can instantly tell they're either making new plans, or they're just bored. If they're bored, go talk to them. Get them off their phone. Give them a reason to look up. Strike conversation. "Those shoes, what year are they from?". Pretend like you like them. Say your friend has the same pair. Make them put their phone in their pocket. Adapt to the environment and take it all in, then become part of it. Be like a chameleon.
But it goes beyond that, too. The idea of being able to do a lot in a little amount of time.
Like yesterday. I switched up a bunch. I'll describe my day in full.
I woke up in Time Square in this beautiful place. A friend of mine had gotten a nice hotel and we stayed there. I woke up casual. I showered, laughed with my friends, got ready, then we checked out. We walked around New York for a bit. We were free, just being ourselves, nothing to worry about, no reason to not yell and talk about whatever we want.
We got on the train and took it downtown to SoHo area. Now, when we got on the train, I noticed I code switched. I didn't even mean to, but I did. I got on the train, analyzed it, and became the chameleon. People were sitting in seats pretty far from eachother, not really talking loudly, most on their phones. I went from being loud and jumping around to sitting quietly, and falling victim to the endless scrolls of the phone. I adapted to what was going on around me without even knowing. I switched my code. I didn't mean to, it just happened.
From there, my friend Byron and I went to go meet up with his friends. We went over Will Fry's house. I don't know if you know Will Fry but he's this incredible designer from New York and him and Byron are really close. He's a real designer. I really really look up to his work. So we pulled up and as I entered the apartment, I switched up. I got a little more quiet, I needed to feel the vibe in the room, in Will, in the apartment, in the conversation between him and byron before I broke out of my shell. I would never be like 'hey man love your work big fan let's talk design' because he doesn't want to do that in his living room with some kid he's never met. So I listened to what they all had to say. They were all friends mainly because they've loved fashion forever. They talked fashion, mainly new topics like upcoming Vetements releases and the new Supreme photos that just came out showing what is dropping this season. I jumped in at this point. I proved myself and switched to my fashion knowledge mode. I dropped sentences that proved that I know Vetements, talking about the designer Demna and my views on their last collection compared to their first, speaking on my outlook on it. I guess I wasn't noticing, but I was completely different in that small room compared to the small hotel room Serafina Byron and I started the day in. I spoke more softly, to match the aura in the room. My tone was quiet and my sentences quicker, since I was mimicking that of theirs. Not that I wasn't being myself, because I'll never act anything but myself, but i was creating a variation of myself that I knew would gain the instant respect of someone like Will and Alex. It was also cool because I've been a fan of Will's work since like 2014 when I first discovered this "fashion" world shit. In situations like that, you need to find a common ground, and attack it. Find something that someone seems interested in that you also know a lot about, maybe it's a sports team or a town or a piece of clothing or a brand, and just talk about it. Spill your information and prove to them that you share a common interest. There's no better way to gain someone's respect.
After a while we went to a corner store not far from their place to buy them cigarettes. This part gets funny. On the way there Byron was talking about how he hadn't seen "the store homies" in a while.
When Byron and I were in LA over the summer we were walking and we saw that dude YBM Bape (Banging on my chest)(Fuck Supreme)(Fuc Thuupreme)(The Ape Is Here) walking down Fairfax and he dapped Byron up. Byron told me "He's the homie from the corner store".
Ironically enough, we walked into the corner store and he was in there with his homies. I had seen him a few times before so he dapped me up, but once again I saw myself switch a bit. I was holding a bag from the VLONE pop up (it was a cool pop up shop) and Bape dude asked me about it. We talked for a bit and we talked about the VLONE after party. He said he couldn't get in. I was in a bodega with a bunch of dudes who rob kids for their clothes and steal to get Bape hoodies just for the flick. Not that i was worried about any of that because those dudes are all real cool with me, but I switched up a bit. I grew up with a lot of rapper friends and kids that weren't necessarily from all white neighborhoods, and I never grew up around prejudice or racism or any of that shit so I always knew how to be the only white kid in a room with a bunch of Harlem kids so that side of me came out as we talked. Nothing crazy, I just wasn't acting how I would at a family party. My gestures, tone, attitude, word choice, just not how it would be if i was out to dinner with my mom. That's the switch up you dont realize, but happens.
Afterwards I went to my friend Myles' and we talked about the fashion shows we had gone to over the weekend. We shared jokes and stuff. He's my really close friend. I guess I don't switch with him, because he's one of my few friends that really know me and respect me for the absolute most true version of me, and I know that walking into his place.
At 5:30 I had to be at Gotham Hall in Midtown. This designer Sherri Hill had rented out the entire hall and was having a fashion show there. I didn't know the details of it, I didn't really know her work, and I didn't know the demographic. Her grandson had texted me "yo pull up let's check out the hot girls that come and walk the runway". Her grandson is a very cool kid. I had met him earlier in the weekend, we have mutual friends out in Los Angeles. So I went (with all my bags and stuff). So I get out of the uber and walk in, and there was a forced switch of code. Instantly I needed to use my knowledge and street smarts to finesse this. I wasn't on the list to get in, so I needed to start name dropping. I became professional, but professional at finessing at the same time. Name after name until one worked. I got in and found Justin and my other friend John. We were in this giant place (you can see the live stream on Sherri's website). We went upstairs to the dressing rooms where all the models were getting their makeup done. It was crazy. I instantly was no longer a kid in the bodega with YBM Bape or Will Fry. I was ready to look, act, and be professional to fit the role. We were the only teenage males in that entire building. Hell, the only males in there in general, really.
I got to meet all the girls who were walking in the show, I got free food and endless free fruit. I got to be in a bunch of photos that were taken by people from the New York Times. I just switched my outfit to some designer shirt and nice pants and kept on my OHKAY collab Converse shoes (had to stunt one time) and just smiled with my chains out.
When it came time for the show, we decided we wanted to be sitting with the press at the end of the runway. So what did we do? We sat with the press at the end of the runway. I took this photo. I had my camera on me so I felt like it was only right to take atleast one good photo.
Everytime I'm in a situation like that, I just laugh knowing that for me, it's just another casual Monday but this is the dream of so many thousands of teenage girls to sit at their favorite designers' womanswear show in a spot reserved for people who write and shoot for New York Times. But that was a code switch in itself, too. I had to look and act important to feel as if I fit the role. When I looked at people, I looked through them as if they weren't more important than me. I stayed on my phone quite a bit, capturing the moment, and I just smiled and enjoyed the hard work that Justins' Grandmother put on to make this come to life.
The show ended and all the important people hung out on the runway for a bit. I'm not saying I'm important but I was certainly hanging out on the runway. I had met a lot of the pretty models before the show so all of us were exchanging information and talking about how we're all going to hangout when we're all in the same state sometime. I was wearing some Bianca Chandon shirt and everyone kept asking to take my photo in it.
I'll be honest I didn't even shower that morning so my hair looked all wild but this girl Josie is really cool and super genuine and I think this photo is somewhere on some New York Time website somewhere out there. Regardless. My code switch had happened. I was acting the role. I knew the room, I knew the people, I knew the caliber of "fame" and "potential" I was around, I understood that this was a place to be seen at, to network at, and to get photos taken of me at. I knew that it was important to be with the designers' grandson and to enjoy the free food and to smile and shake people's hands when I meet them. I knew it wasn't appropriate to snapchat every minute of it, because that makes you look immature. Selfies make it look like you're a fan. Stay away from those.
After the show ended, most people cleared out and we headed back to their hotel. That kid John that I was meeting up with at the show, he's going to play a cool role in my life in the future I bet. I had just met him two days ago. Well, we've texted for a while, but just met in person. He goes to school in Chicago, too. He's 4 years older than me but he's from the same area outside of Boston that I'm from. He does video for Chance and Post Malone and a bunch of people. Really cool homie. Turns out we both had class tuesday so we needed to get back to Chicago monday night. Him and I were on the same flight. So we went back to their nice pent house suite in the Marriot downtown, courtesy of Sherri, and chilled for a bit. They told me all their stories about driving around LA with Rich the Kid and Famous Dex shooting music videos and just kicking it. Sounded really cool. At that point, I was just focusing on being myself. I had stories to tell, too. Just like I tell you. Different things, different explinations and elaborations. Different tales and different memories.
John and I flew back together and sat next to eachother. We talked the entire trip home. I didn't even open my laptop becuase we were too busy plotting the future. We could be a real good team, him and I. He thinks its smart for me to move to LA this summer to meet people. I think he's right. It was cool. I never fly with people, always alone. One time I flew to LA with Johnny but he was working on something on his laptop the entire time. I didn't even know this dude John, but we came from nearly the same place and had so much in common. We filled the two hour plane ride with endless stories and thoughts about the past, and how we can shape the future. It was unique. I really appreciate this dude. I doubt it's the last I speak about him because I'm going to really make it a point to maybe intern with him or something so I could work on some visuals and creative direction for Post. Who knows. But I made sure that i was the purest form of myself, exactly how I am around serafina and myles and johnny and byron, because if i'm ever going to work with someone I want them to want to work with me, not a fake me that I put on for show. You get what I'm saying?
I got off the plane around 3 and got back to my dorm room around 4am. i slid into bed, didn't wake my roommate up, and resumed my college life.
Because the most important part of all of this, is understanding that you need to be able to have a nuetral code, and that's the school code. The wake up for class on time, have your homework done, be ready for the lesson, make it to class on time, be in your seat for attendance, and do your absolute best to learn as much as you possibly can from every class. The most important part of all of this should be that yeah, I live this rockstar life and I travel anywhere I want and sleep on random couches and hangout with random models and kids that you probably think are "famous". But at the end of the day, we're all just kids. And most of us go to school. And there's no more important part about being a rockstar than being a rockstar with an education. If you can't fly in before your flight and make it to class on time, ready for the exam, you're a fake rockstar. Because once this "life" ends, and instagram models learn that they can't make it off posting fit tea ads, and all the kids who dropped out of highschool to persue their "vine fame career" realize it, it'll be too late. I always knew that no matter what, I would stick to school. The internet is the best phase, ever. And it's in the best prime that it'll ever be in. The internet allows me to be whatever code I want. I can create my own code. You think of me and the brand OHKAY in a certain way because I've developed the code for it. Through captions, the way I post stuff, what I say, it's all formulating code. But once that online coded life runs out and there's new platforms, the kids with no education are going to be scrambling to figure out what to do with their life. Because they're fake rockstars and washed up internet stars with xanax and coke addictions wishing they didn't drop out of senior year...... of highschool.
I woke up at 11, ordered an uber from my bed, went to my ebroiderer, dropped some stuff off, then made it to class for my 12pm class. A lot can happen in 24 hours. A lot of different mindsets, enviornments, emotions, scenes. You just need to know how to adapt to each and every one while still being the best form of yourself that you possibly can.