Chris Mendoza has kind eyes, a wide smile, and an open heart. He has an intellectual, easy-going vibe and a warmth that makes chatting with him a damn pleasure. Mendoza studies sociology at Fort Lewis College and you’re as likely to find him participating in a Save the Kids rally as ice climbing.
DGO spoke to Mendoza about his psychedelic outdoorsy style and how fashion choices can reflect personal politics.
“I’m a combination of outdoorsy and professional with a psychedelic thread in there, as well.
There’s definitely a level of politics reflected in my style. I guess that’s according to my own definition of politics, which includes challenging normative gender roles. I intentionally try to challenge gender-normative fashion whether that be through wearing flamboyant colors, though I hesitate to use that word; it’s how my partner describes it, or painting my nails, or wearing some of my partner’s clothes. A big part of that is when someone in my social environment asks, ‘Why do you paint your nails?’ or makes comments about my clothing, it provides an opportunity for discussion on gender and heteronormative culture. I enjoy those conversations.
I think fashion is a fun way to express yourself, to play a unique role in the social sphere. I feel like there is a really beautiful human complexity on display through expressive fashion … The more I get into gender studies, the more complicated fashion and the role it plays in our social environment becomes to me. It’s fascinating.
I remember being in the third grade and dying my hair a bright combination of blue, red, and purple and wearing unique color schemes. I’ve always had an interest in expressing myself artistically but not until my second year in college was I able to define and articulate what fashion means to me and the role it plays in my life.
There’s this scene in the popular climbing movie, ‘Valley Uprising’ where Jim Bridwell [and friends] are standing in front of the meadow in front of El Capitan. They’re wearing really bright psychedelic outfits and the narrator is talking about how these climbers brought this dose of the Aquarian age to the climbing community in Yosemite. I thought it was a beautiful combination of bold climbing, connection to the land, and psychedelia. That resonated with me.”
Interview edited and condensed for clarity.Got rad style or know someone who always looks fab? Send DGO a heads-up on who to interview next at [email protected].