Mikko is a Computer Science major with Science, Technology & International Affairs (STIA) and Government minors, in the college, class of 2020.
(In some ways, this is a special issue, as Mikko is one of the photo execs on Thirty Seventh. You can view his photo work here. Mikko’s shoot was in a variety of places: an art room in Walsh; a random construction site; a street in Rosslyn; and – since he’s a clown and wanted dinner – McDonalds.)
Sam K Lee (SL): Let’s start with: What makes good style for you?
Mikko Castaño (MC): So my parents were models in the 80’s, and that’s, like, where I think I began thinking about fashion –
SL: Do you think – as they were models in the 80’s and that’s what you saw growing up – that some of your style is influenced by that, a little more old-school or vintage –
MC: Not necessarily. It’s more that their style is old school, and I definitely don’t think I dress old-school… But the way that they approach fashion has always been set in that time-frame, so I’m thinking like very technicolor, or their embrace of all black – they’ll even embrace funky pieces – but their biggest thing is simplicity, you know, never doing too much (Think Joe’s Sprezzatura). I’m probably the only one in my family that wears prints. For them, everyone wears solid, block colors… But most of the time now they just wear all-black –
SL: (laughs) I definitely identify with that.
MC: But I think good style is like… If someone looks at ease in what they’re wearing. And that manifests in a lot of different forms. Obviously, there are students who pull things off way more than others – but cleanliness, simplicity, and look of real ease. I feel it is so easy to tell when someone’s trying too hard.
… Yeah, part of it is the personality, but part of it is also how pieces fit together. Like I remember there was this piece on 20 awesome sneakers ruined by awful jeans, and I talk to a lot of my international friends about this – the stereotype about them is that they’re just going to wear all branded pieces at once. And I would talk to them about that, how all the pieces someone might own are cool, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to work, you know?
SL: Together. Yeah, I see what you’re saying. Hmm. I guess – are you a big shoes guy?
MC: (amusing look of guilt) Yeah. That was my entry into fashion. I started out as a sneaker head. I have, like, 25 to 30 pairs in my room, at Georgetown, and that’s mayyybeee half of my collection?
SL: When it comes to shoes then…?
MC: So – I play basketball.
SL: Oooo. Okay. So that means –
MC: I remember 2011, Black Friday, was my first pair of Jordans. I still have them in my room, Jordan 3 Black Cements. I mean, playing basketball, there is always such a big emphasis placed on shoes. Comfort definitely is a big part of it, but, at the same time –
SL: I mean, it’s a culture.
MC: Yeah. At the same time, you want to be the guy people are asking, “Oh s***, what shoes are that guy wearing –”
MC: Hypebeast is the one I check every day, probably. With Instagram… Like, as a photographer, I feel like I follow a lot of people whose styles I like and people who photograph styles that I like … As for Asian Americans and streetwear, I tried talking about that once in an article I did for Thirty-Seventh last year – though that one talked a little more about luxury clothing.
But for streetwear: I can’t speak for everyone, but, for me, a large part of why streetwear is so big is because it coincides with athleisure, and my entire community growing up was a community that focused on basketball, hip-hop, singing, dancing. So a lot of that just came together – mainly through basketball, actually. I always find it funny. A lot of people I went to highschool with – I went to an all-boys, Jesuit highschool, a PWI, so I didn’t really connect with the other students on style, but, for basketball, after you changed, it’d be “where’d you get that shirt” and “where’d you get that sweater…” And a lot of my Filipino friends in Southern California – that was their experience as well.