Searching for style at GW

Normally, all you can buy in Kogan Plaza are cheap earrings and Bob Marley posters. But from Monday to Wednesday, a whole store appeared – complete with music, wood floors, Oriental rugs and fake vintage posters.
Has GW turned into a mall? Not quite yet. It’s the Levi’s Style Search, a nationwide hunt for college students to appear in Levi’s next ad campaign. Students perused stacks of jeans inside the tent and could also pose for a photograph and enter the contest.
Why did Levi’s choose GW? “Because it’s an awesome school,” Publicity Manager Melissa Ladines said. That, and a new Levi’s store just opened on M Street in Georgetown.
Other “pop-up shops” will emerge at Brown University and the University of California at Santa Barbara. The brand has already been to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Two students will be chosen from each school – one male and one female – and flown to New York City for the photo shoot. (Two additional winners will be chosen from contestants who enter online, for those who attend less awesome schools).
Levi’s is looking for people with “original style,” whatever that means when everyone is wearing Levi’s clothing. Employees were careful not to make any allusions to height, weight, or other physical attributes. “If you look good, you look good,” promotional model Shawn Morrison said. “No, wait,” she clarified. “If you can make a style your own, that’s original.”
One girl asked an employee if they were “just looking for skinny girls,” and was told enthusiastically that they weren’t. “They said they don’t know what they’re looking for,” she said. “They just want something original.”
Stylist Scott Cameron said that only a small minority of applicants had any modeling experience. “Most people were attracted to the store and excited by it,” he said. Ladines reported that as many men and women had tried out, and, even better, “most people who walk in walk out with a pair of jeans.”
The Levi’s people convinced me to experience the exciting process myself. First, I picked out a pair of jeans and put them on in a communal dressing room. This part was made more humiliating by the thin sheet separating the people inside from the plaza. The word “ridiculous” was thrown around often as girls tried not to get caught with their pants down.
Then I went to the stylists, who picked out a jacket to go with my jeans while tossing out preposterous compliments on my look. I apologized in advance for being awkward and not photogenic. “You haven’t met our photographer,” they told me. I met their photographer and remained awkward and not photogenic, a sad truth only confirmed when another stylist helped me pick the least bad of three shots on a laptop.
No one I spoke to entertained grand hopes of Levi’s glory: they just thought it would be fun. “I’m not even wearing Levi’s jeans,” confessed senior Timothy Vaughn as he uploaded his picture to the contest site.
“My roommate and I decided to do it together,” said freshman Adriana Robertson. “It was a different experience. I would never expect to win, but I think every girl would love to be a model.”

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