Andy Kaesermann ’16 is a tornado of happiness and constant affirmation. Kaesermann’s bubbly personality, affinity for Japanese culture and love of overalls make him a unique and formidable campus presence. To Kaesermann, personal style is a manifestation of his moods, personality and passions. According to Kaesermann, his style can best be defined as “a mountain-witch fighting Bilbo Baggins with anime body pillows in an Aldo in Tokyo.” While this sentence is whimsical, to say the least, he patiently broke the intentionality behind these oddly-matched images. His explanation is as follows: “A mountain-witch: I feel like she would have a lot of baggy-like stuff. I think that [I emulate] the hobbit style with the rolled-up pants, and the anime body pillow would probably be like the popping colors, and a lot of times I directly reference my affinity for Japanese pop culture. Somehow, when that all comes together it’s kind of chic, like Aldo. It gets a little edgy sometimes.” While Kaesermann’s stylistic vision is almost otherworldly, his personality is inviting and completely down-to-earth.
Kaesermann’s big personality and vivacious nature undoubtedly affect the way he approaches personal style. He dresses based on his moods and “overwhelmingly, that’s happy … like a lot of bright popping colors, and a lot of layers.” He shows his inner personality through his fashion choices: “Fashion is a really good tool to do that, just because it’s an immediate thing that people can see.” He also loves how stylistic choices and risks can foster human connections. When talking about his favorite accessory — his funky round, black-rimmed, iridescent glasses — he said, “When you have things like these glasses … I can’t tell you the number of people who come up to me like ‘I love your glasses.’ I really think it invites people to make comments and create connections.” It’s hard not to notice his statement glasses — they shimmer and reflect his surrounding environment. However, he slyly admitted that “they’re fake” as we were walking inside to start the interview.
Kaesermann’s interest in connecting with others through style became evident as he recounted how he acquired his favorite article of clothing. He bought the piece, a “really colorful, really hodgepodge sweater,” at Unique thrift store. He asked the salesperson if they knew who brought it in, because the tag was labeled “new item.” The salesperson informed him that an older gentleman had recently brought in a variety of funky sweaters. Working as a school aide, the man had been advised to donate the sweaters after they had become too distracting for some of the students. Kaesermann was amused by the story of the distracting sweater, and he was happy to give it a new home. His love for hodgepodge sweaters stems from his aesthetic interest in mismatched and patchwork fashions. When asked about style aspirations, he immediately cited Japanese designer Junya Watanabe, who adheres to the mismatched aesthetic. Kaesermann explained, “[Watanabe’s] stuff is like a little more muted colors. It’s very patchwork, and [it uses] a lot of different colors. [It also has] a nice interplay between loose and tight fitting. I’m trying to tends towards that, because I realize that after I get out of college and kind of get out of this world, I’m going to have to dress more conservatively. I can’t keep this up forever. I hope that I can still emulate a lot of ‘mismatch’ that happens with a lot of my style. I’ve really liked mixing patterns recently.”
His interest in Japanese fashion doesn’t end with his admiration of Watanabe. Kaesermann has spent extensive time in Japan, in both high school and college, and he’s moving to Japan for a minimum of two years post-graduation. Studying abroad in Japan really helped him cultivate his style because he was surrounded by “really fashionable people.” His interest in Japanese style stems from the fact that, “there’s so many different things happening, all at the same time [in Japan].” In Tokyo, he says, “You will see all kinds of different people on the train … everything from suits and really sleek business attire to people who wear like pajama pants with pinned-on feather boas and hair decorations that just jut out. The juxtaposition of those two things in the same place is characteristic of how everyone can find their own style, and they can find stores to get things tailored to their style.” These constant juxtapositions ensure that “you don’t feel like you’re wearing something weird. You don’t feel out of the grain. Everyone is doing their own thing, and that’s cool.”
While Kaesermann was personally inspired by Japan’s pop culture and public transport style, he advises other people to “pay attention to what you’re visually drawn to.” These visual interests can translate into an accessible personal style that mirrors your passions and personality. For Kaesermann, his style evolution meant experimenting with “more color, and more willingness to try different things that I didn’t think I was going to be drawn towards” after he returned home to the States. This commitment to color and experimentation echoes past style file participant, Holden Bothun ’17. As it turns out, Bothun and Kaesermann both cited each other as their Macalester fashion inspirations during their respective interviews. One of my favorite parts of Kaesermann’s interview occurred when Bothun happened to walk by, and I was able to reveal that these two stylish guys were each other’s inspirations. It was such a sweet moment, and it’s a potent reminder of the ways in which fashion doesn’t need to boost egos or cause divisions between people. It can bring us together. Kaesermann said, “People think fashion is unachievable, like this other realm that only the very fortunate get to tap into, but it can be accessible if you seek it. There are ways to make it your own, especially by embodying your personality through it.” He injects the energy, cheerfulness and inclusivity of his personality into the perceived frigidity of the fashion world, inviting everyone to step outside their comfort zones to take a few fashion risks. In fact, maybe iridescent glasses and hodgepodge sweaters are in your future.