Return to Headlines

A Conversation with Sophomore Sophie Berman, Recipient of Redwood Scholastic Recognition

Welcome back to Student Spotlight, a series that highlights the achievements of students across grade levels and throughout Hastings Union Free School District.

In this latest edition, we are featuring Hastings High School sophomore Sophie Berman.

Last November, Sophie was recognized by Redwood Scholastic for her research paper on androgynous fashion in the late 2010s and 2020s, and how it has destabilized clothing’s association with gender norms in fashion design. Redwood Scholastic is a biannual research journal fostering youth scholarship in the fields of humanities and social sciences. 

We sat down with Sophie to learn more about her paper, what inspired her research, and her vision for the future. See her responses below.

Your research paper is titled, “In What Ways has the Move to Androgynous Fashion in the Late 2010s and 2020s Destabilized Clothing’s Association with Gender Norms in Fashion Design?” Can you explain this further for our community?

My paper is about the relationship between gender and fashion, and how that has evolved over time, especially up until recently. 

Gender norms of masculinity and femininity became a standard to our culture and created barriers to the expression of alternate forms of style within the fashion industry like androgyny, a type of gender presentation that mixes masculinity and femininity. Starting in the 2010s through to recent years, however, there has been a surge of brands who are challenging these barriers, bringing androgyny to center stage.

According to an online source, "Designers and consumers are reacting against the fashion industry’s gender norms by using androgyny to innovate garment trends and diffuse the binary in fashion culture, thus encouraging certain individuals to express their true, authentic selves.” 

What was your research process like? 

I researched and wrote my paper independently last summer with the support of a mentor, Anna Tropnikova, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale, who I was connected to through a company called Lumiere. The Lumiere Research Scholar Program was founded by Harvard and Oxford researchers, and helps students work one-on-one with a Ph.D. mentor to learn about their field of interest and produce an independent research project. 

From there, I submitted my paper to Redwood Scholastic, along with some other information about myself, and waited to hear back. I was pleased to learn that I'd be recognized.

What inspired you to focus your paper on this topic?

I am passionate about art and fashion design and hope to pursue both once I graduate.

Well done, Sophie!