Quad Style: Mia Jo Fierberg
Meet Mia Jo Fierberg, a 4th year majoring in Global Studies and French Lit. She's MODA’s Design Director and led the Designer Boot Camp Program this year. She also does JStreetU, and she's pretty sure she's the longest serving student worker at the Reg Circulation desk. She's graduating soon so come say "hi" and get a book before it’s all over!
How would you describe your personal style?
It changes a lot, but I think through everything it remains lighthearted. Worrying about how your body looks and whether your colors match is so 2010 for me. It’s all about having fun and being comfortable.
Where do you find style inspiration?
Menswear is a treasure trove for me, especially because I love playing with unconventional silhouettes. I also love looking at what babies and toddlers are wearing. Baby clothes are all about fun and colors (and gender assignment… but I’m not here for that part). I do also get a lot of inspiration from my Instagram explore page. That algorithm has me figured out and I’m ok with it.
Where do you like to shop?
I almost exclusively shop at the Village Discount off Argyle. Modes of garment production have changed a lot over the past few decades, so the clothes you find at resale stores can often be better made than newer stuff you find at places like Urban Outfitters and H&M. On top of that, Village Discount has an incredible selection and caters really well to my preference for oversized clothing. When I want something that Village Discount doesn’t have my go-to is usually Uniqlo.
What are you wearing for this shoot?
I’m wearing my Plant Daddy t-shirt (designed by illustrator Adam Ellis), and a pair of second-hand jeans that I ripped up and embroidered. I’m actually super proud of these pants. The embroidery represents a lot of time that I intentionally took away from school work in order to focus on crafts that make me happy and help me relax. I wish I had taken more time like that in college.
The shirt is both autobiographical and aspirational. I am a Plant Daddy, and am working every day to be an even better Plant Daddy. The next step is to move to an apartment with decent light so that I can actually get a plant. Major Key: you don’t need to own plants to be a Plant Daddy.
I try not to take myself too seriously when it comes to fashion. I’m pretty convinced that no matter how creative and ridiculous the outfit, nothing will look truly stupid as long as I carry myself with confidence and a sense of humor. In this outfit I look like a mom who’s trying to be cool around her teenage daughter’s friends from camp. But I am clearly rocking it, so it looks cool and effortless. Another Major Key.
For my other look I’m wearing a dress that I made in the spring of my second year (shout out to Sam Hoffman who brought me the black fabric from Turkey). I really love this dress, it makes me feel like a crafty meadow nymph whenever I wear it. It’s a dramatic silhouette but a lighthearted palette, and I get a lot of compliments from children when I wear it.
I really really love wearing my own work, and that kind of helped guide the outfit choices that I made for this shoot. I learned how to sew second year in DBC, and since then it has become such a joy to wear my art and show it to the world. This dress is one of the first wearable garments that I ever made for myself, and it’ll always have a special place in my heart.
Do you have any fashion regrets?
A spectre is haunting fashion–the spectre of consumerism. The depth to which unhealthy consumerist habits have sunk into fashion and into the fashion industry is something that I actively struggle with. I would say that I regret how thoughtlessly I consumed fast fashion as a teenager. Clothes shopping as a typical hobby and pastime is such a weird thing when I look back on it, and I wish I had been more thoughtful about the impact that my choices were having on global networks of exploitation.
That being said, I don’t have an answer yet. The impulse to own lots of new and beautiful things is a natural counterpart to my love of fashion. The impulse to buy stuff for the sake of buying it is also really hard to control, because it’s so deeply ingrained in the world around me. I’m also conscious that, like vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, choices to consume fashion more ethically are often only really possible for people with a combination of social privileges. So yeah, it’s something that I have a lot of regrets around, and a lot of confused feelings toward. However I know unequivocally that this aspect of the industry doesn’t discount the validity of an interest in fashion, and it especially doesn’t take away the legitimacy of fashion design as an art form.
What is your relationship to fashion? Has it changed over time?
My answer to the previous question also applies here, and is one of the more important ways that my relationship to fashion has changed over time. The other defining aspect is my ability to sew and participate actively in the changing world of fashion. Learning to sew radically changed the way that I think about and interact with fashion, and gave my relationship with it an intimacy that I never could have imagined beforehand. I feel like I’m not old or wise enough to come up with exactly the right words to explain all of the different ways that sewing has impacted my life, but there are a lot of them and they’re important. If you’re interested in fashion I cannot recommend highly enough learning how to sew. It’s like getting your first pair of glasses.
Why is fashion important to you?
This is a weirdly hard question for me to answer, I think because over time fashion has been important to me for vastly different reasons. I’m going to start sounding like a broken record, but since I learned how to sew, fashion has become important to me as a practice that unlocks some of the most powerful inspiration and creativity that I’ve ever felt in myself. So that’s pretty important. Who knows what I’ll think in ten years though!
All images courtesy of our Photography Editor Yamini Nambimadom. Check out her portfolio on Instagram.