As he approached my booth in Lee’s Snack Bar in a pair of solid colored pants and a crew neck with as many different hues of brown, gray and white as a Jackson Pollock painting, paired with a baseball cap, Joey Boncardo ’19 embodied streetwear fashion. When asked to describe his style, Boncardo doesn’t have a straightforward response.
“I don’t have one particular style,” he said. “I’m all over the place, wearing just whatever I’m feeling, but I’m always trying new stuff and keeping some elements.”
Boncardo primarily attributes his evolving style to his upbringing in the Bronx. He explains that, during elementary school, he was influenced to copy the typical childhood fashion trends seen within his peers at school. But as he grew older, the Bronx’s dominant sneaker culture had a huge impact on him, and sneakers became the centerpoint of his outfits. This phase ended once Boncardo entered a preppy high school where he emulated his peers’ styles.
That didn’t last long, however, and around his junior year, Boncardo began to develop his own personal style.
“I started looking on the internet for streetwear fashion because, at the time, I started to spend a lot of my time in downtown New York,” he said. “I took style cues from the people around me there and experimented with my own clothes. I essentially took a little bit from everything to make my own style.”
Boncardo took on a lot from his environment, as evidenced by his tendency to mix around sportswear and prep wear.
Lately, Boncardo has been thrifting a lot as well as shopping online on sites like eBay and Grailed, an online community marketplace for men’s apparel that sells secondhand streetwear clothing.
Whenever Boncardo is back home in New York, he often shops at Noah, a new clothing store focusing on streetwear that opened in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood in October 2015. Boncardo enjoys shopping there the most because of the unique relationship he and other shoppers get to have with the store’s owner. “Brendon Babenzien is an incredible guy,” Boncardo said. “He’s always around the store and is very approachable. He values his customers’ interests and loves striking up conversations with them. It doesn’t even have to be about fashion.”
While shopping, Boncardo focuses on finding substance in the item he is looking for. “First of all, pants must be made well and fit well,” he said. “For T-shirts, I focus more on the designs themselves or the thought behind them. What’s unique is that graphic tees are the most simple and democratic things in fashion. A lot streetwear brands these days have been pushing for [putting] opinions onto [T-shirts]. That was not really considered as important but is now grabbing a lot of attention.”
While in the Purple Valley, he usually tries to fit in with the style that he sees a lot of other students at the College wear.
“Many of the students here are into vintage clothing, so I usually follow that type of style,” he said. “But honestly, I just throw stuff together that works well, especially if I’m running late for class.”
When Boncardo is back home, however, his style changes. “In New York, if you dress weirdly in terms of fit, people don’t think it’s weird at all,” he said. “It’s actually normal. Exclusivity comes from having valuable items that are rare, not expensive. That will definitely make you stand out.”
Boncardo doesn’t look up to strictly one famous person for fashion ideas. He attributes his style to bloggers such as Adrianne Ho and Erica Bowes, who often mix together sportswear with streetwear, sometimes adding prep wear to the rotation. Even Babenzien from Noah has inspired certain looks that Boncardo tries. Popular culture icons have also influenced Boncardo’s style.When Boncardo started developing his personal style, he began to follow A$AP Rocky’s fashion. At the time, A$AP’s style was thought of as “very radical” because of his signature tight jeans, which were considered being less for men than for women. Despite many insults, A$AP continued this trend, which was picked up by many once he got famous.
“Mostly everyone is now comfortable with it,” Boncardo said. “There’s still a lot of heteronormativity in fashion these days with people having expectations about someone based on who they are,” he said. “But when a trend becomes popular, people start to follow it.”