I was drawn to interview Tashan because of his colorful and aesthetically pleasing Instagram page, not to mention his colorful and sophisticated style. He is a student at Denver University, studying International Business with a minor in Political Science. He is passionate about community involvement, uplifting others and helping people with black identities or other marginalized identities.
What are your passions outside of school?
“In my spare time, I try to work on my photography. I shoot with a Canon and I’ve been inspired by my friend Xavier, just by checking out his Instagram. I have friends down here at DU who do some good things too. I check out Instagram to get inspiration. Outside of that I like to play video games, hang out with friends and try to expand my knowledge on socio-political issues.”
When did you become interested in fashion?
“I’d say the moment I downloaded Instagram and maybe people around me in general. I like the way people dress and it always gives me ideas like “oh I should try that!” On top of that, seeing the way folks at HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) dress, and the way black people dress in general is real tight. It inspires me. I typically wear dark colors, but I’ve seen how people wear yellow and how it contrasts with darker skin.”
Where do you get your style inspiration from?
“Instagram, twitter, Pinterest and people on the streets. During my freshman year, I would see the way the graduate students and seniors at DU would dress and I was like “y’all got all the sauce, I’m trying to get like y’all!”
Photo Credit: Instagram @chadwickboseman
Where do you typically shop?
“I get my stuff from a plethora of places like Macy’s, JCPenny’s, Dillard’s, but only when they have sales going on. Recently when I was in Spain, I was able to check out a store called Zara. I shop at a lot of online businesses too like Legendary Roots, which is a black owned business. They have nice hoodies and t-shirts. If people look at my pictures, they may see a gold necklace with Africa attached to it; I got that from Hope For Us Charity. It’s a charity started by students and when you buy it, the money and proceeds are used for school supplies (for school aged children in African countries).”
How do you find things you like when shopping on a budget?
“I do a lot of window shopping. Never buy things full price, that’s the key. Shout out to my mom because she knows how to finesse deals! I found a Perry Ellis shirt and pants which typically run for $100 each but I was able to get them for $30 total at Dillard’s. Keeping an eye out for good deals and don’t instantly buy something unless you really want it, or you feel like you’ll never see it again. Wait for the end of the season when the prices go down.”
Who is your photographer?
“Most of the time I’m my own photographer. I set up a tripod and shoot it myself. If I’m with my little brother, I’ll find the exact angle and shot that I’m looking for and shoot the picture with him as the sample model and ask him to recapture that picture with me in the same exact spot.”
“I think of Instagram as a modern from of photographic art, it’s so refreshing.”-T.M
Have you ever considered creating a style blog or having your own website?
“I have thought about that and I’ve been experimenting with my Instagram. As of now, I want to start doing color concepts. I’ve seen other users do that and I think it looks cool and I want to build my own outfits/color scheme portfolio. I also want to integrate that into the photography portfolio I want to develop. Instagram is set up with three images per row so what I specifically want to do is brainstorm a color for each row. For example, if I want to do blue for a row, I would try to get pictures that have heavily accented blue features, blue backgrounds, or an outfit with some blue in it. It’s fun and I feel like it makes Instagram feeds look unique and artistic. I think of Instagram as a modern from of photographic art, it’s so refreshing. Just seeing the way that people set up their own timeline is interesting.”
Photo Credit: Instagram @cynthianyongesa
Do you have any tips for creating beautiful content online?
“Photo editing software outside of Instagram is always good. I use Adobe Lightroom personally, but there’s a free app people can get on their phone called VSCO. It has a lot of in depth editing features with exposure, highlights, shadows ect. Don’t over edit a picture but editing it can help reflect the theme you’re looking for.”
How do you stick to such a consistent color theme?
“It’s just a spur of the moment for me. A lot of times, I’ll hold off from posting until I find something that really stands out and make me go “ooo I like that!”. For instance, my shot where I’m wearing the orange-y shirt next to the green leaves, that post was spur of the moment and I took it in Spain. I want to get into the habit of planning stuff out, I just need to do a better job of exploring the city and figuring out where good areas are.”
Do you have a go-to outfit for winter?
“Turtlenecks. I also have a brown coat that I throw on top of that.”
How would you say your style has evolved since high school?
“It has evolved a lot. When I was younger I wore clothes that were baggy, but over the years I did a lot more research on what fits me by going to the stores and trying stuff on. My clothes fit better now! I’m wearing more colors. I used to wear more neutral colors but I’m trying to diversify my color palette. Making sure I have different outfits for different occasions and being able to switch it up whether I’m doing casual or something formal.”
How did you get involved on campus?
“It was something that has been instilled in me since I was child. I did a lot of networking. I have older siblings who went to the University of Denver and there were black faculty members who knew the programs I volunteered with in high school like the Boys and Girls club or going to the shelters, speaking at black events and going to different summits. There were professors who knew about my community engagement or I would reach out to them to find things that are available.”
“My program took me to all kinds of cities in Spain, like Salamanca, Toledo, Segovia, Granda, Murica and Cercedilla. It was beautiful, the weather was nice, the trees were alive, and it was colorful everywhere.” -T.M
Why did you choose to study abroad in Spain?
“I wanted to practice speaking skills, but I knew I wasn’t prepared to go to a country that spoke solely Spanish. I heard that Spain had a lot of English speakers too. Being able to ask for help with translations from an English-speaking person helped me to accelerate my skills in Spanish. They also offered business classes that transferred back to my school. My program took me to all kinds of cities in Spain, like Salamanca, Toledo, Segovia, Granda, Murica and Cercedilla. It was beautiful, the weather was nice, the trees were alive, and it was colorful everywhere.”
Who are your role models? Who do you look up to, in any industry, that you feel like have done great things?
While this might come off as cliché to some, I am definitely influenced by my mother and father because I think it is crucial and they set the foundation for me. They do a lot for their family and the community around them. The faculty and professors also inspire me at my university because they do a good job at looking out for a lot of the underrepresented students. A variety of black activists from the past and the present bring me a lot of inspiration because they motivate me to expand the knowledge on issues that people in my community, who don’t share the same identity as me, may face.”
What is the dream? What do you want to do with your major after graduation?
“My dream after graduation is to start a business; I’m not completely sure which avenue. I am still exploring my talents and seeing which area I want my business in. I also want to use my political science minor to explore different ways to combat the ways systemic oppression that exists in our country. To use that minor, I need to have a better understanding on how to reach out to marginalized black identities and help weave through the system to provide empowerment.”
Instagram handle: @truetashan
Photo Credit: *All pictures of Tashan Montgomery used in this article were shot by him.*