“The Crazy Sorority Girl” email. The horrible Georgia Tech “Rapebait” email. The list goes on. You’ve laughed and scoffed and cringed at them all. But this time, it’s an Emory fraternity that’s making cyber-headlines.
On Nov. 8, Business Insider published an article titled “This Ridiculous Fraternity Fashion Email Is Blowing Up Emory University’s Greek Scene” that quickly went viral. The article included a full email to an Emory fraternity listserv, sent to Business Insider by an “anonymous tipster.”
The email gained national attention after being posted by Business Insider. Websites like Betches Love This, BroBible, Four Pins, Bustle and even GQ have since picked up the story.
The email, written by the fraternity’s “apparel chair” and self-professed “Fratshionistau,” details the good, the bad and, particularly, the ugly of fraternity fashion. He chastises his brothers for their poor fashion sense and offers them tips for dressing well this fall by incorporating “earthy tones,” “cuffed pants” and “statement scarves.”
This Fratshionistau is none other than College sophomore Jon Weiss, well-dressed male and brother of the Emory University chapter of Alpha Tau Omega (ATO).
I sat down with Weiss in the ATO house to discuss the notorious email. He wore a Hawking McGill short-sleeved button down, H&M khaki jeans (cuffed, of course) and Cabini loafers. He also wore a giant grin.
“I don’t think there’s any other way to describe it other than that I’m a goofy guy, and I enjoy sending goofy things to my friends,” Weiss said. “I thought it would be funny to send. I thought I could kill two birds with one stone. A: make a joke; B: make a point.”
Weiss hadn’t expected such a large following when he first sent the email to the ATO listserv around three weeks ago.
“All we can really blame it on is a faulty listserv,” he said. “How it got around campus? I don’t really know.”
Weiss, a pre-med student double majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology (NBB) and English, was appointed the fraternity’s “apparel chair” after joining ATO in spring 2013. He explained that the position is something most fraternities have; essentially, his job as apparel chair is to order apparel for the fraternity. Rush T-shirts, philanthropy T-shirts, sunglasses – Weiss is on it. He’s just taken his position one step further.
“The attention I’ve been getting is due to the fact that I tweaked the requirements of the position and added in the funny, goofy column that I sent out to the rest of the fraternity,” Weiss said. “That’s really what people have been harping about.”
Gossip website Betches Love This put a very negative spin on the article, with statements like, “I don’t know what fraternity this is, but I hope it’s the gay one,” as well as comments ranging from positive feedback to “how f–king embarrassing.” But Weiss isn’t phased by any negative feedback he’s received so far.
“I feel like some people might take the Internet too personally,” he said. “I haven’t lost sleep over people saying poor things about me, poor things about my advice. I like my advice. My fraternity started rolling up their pants; if that’s what comes of it, that’s a success.”
Weiss has also been experiencing some personal success as a result of the email.
GQ‘s coverage of the story was positive, so Weiss found the writer on LinkedIn and sent him an email to thank him. In return, Weiss received an email asking for an interview.
“I sat on Cox bridge, my pants cuffed, and I nervously talked to this guy, and what started out as one brother from the fraternity there, ended up with 10 or 15 surrounding me by the time this conversation was over,” he said. “I hang up the phone. We all start cheering and hugging. It was great; it was such a funny thing. And Tuesday, my name was published.”
After his name was published, Weiss started getting contacted by others interested in his story.
He joined Twitter only days ago as another way to stay connected, and already has gained more than 700 followers.
“I realized that a lot of people wanted to connect with me – some people on a funny, let me hashtag this person, and some on a more professional level,” he said.
It was a smart move; after joining Twitter, Weiss was contacted by Business Insider with an offer too good to refuse. After being interviewed, he has now begun to contribute fashion pieces to the site.
“I’m taking note on how this all happened so that when the short-term notoriety fades, I’ll have a long-term benefit,” he said.
Weiss said he’s gotten very positive feedback from friends and family about the situation.
“I tell my father, and he goes, ‘Jon, I am so proud of you, I just read it, someone sent me your article on HQ,'” he said, laughing. “So I explained it to him … GQ. The support of my family has really never been a question.”
Both of Weiss’ parents are from Argentina, but he grew up in Columbus, Ohio. He credits his mother for being the first one to introduce him to fashion. Though it hasn’t been a lifelong passion, Weiss insists that his style has never been sub-par.
“Considering that my mother still dressed me in high school, I was absolutely fashionable,” he said.
Weiss approaches fashion less in terms of specific articles of clothing and more in terms of perception.
“I just enjoy looking good when I present myself,” he said. “It’s a way that people perceive you. Before you open your mouth, people have made a judgment about how you look or how you come off.”
But Weiss does have a general style he likes to stick to. His perfect outfit for class is a button-down and nice jeans. He likes something that shows he is excited to be in the classroom and hasn’t just rolled out of bed. His staple for the semester is a classic Americana cardigan. His current favorite brand is All Saints, which he describes best as a “fashionable Kurt Cobain” look.
He hasn’t forgotten about J.Crew, though.
“It’s frat-progressive,” he said. “It still holds these staples that fraternities love, these bold colors, these fun, cool looks, while making it more professional. I would hate to be caught in a pair of Chubbies at in interview, but a J.Crew suit … it’s one step from pure frat to fashion.”
When asked his opinion on Chubbies, the colorful short-shorts that have become very popular with fraternities, he laughed.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s thigh-by-thigh basis.”
His fraternity brothers have been very supportive in the wake of all the media attention.
“The thing about him is, he’s fashionable but he’s very supportive,” College senior and ATO brother Chris Margard said. “Even to those of us who aren’t fashionable, he lets us down very lightly, which I appreciate. He’s my ‘grand-little,’ so we’re very proud of him in the family.”
When asked what he thought about Weiss’s advice, Margard gestured to his own outfit.
“Look at me,” Margard said. “I’m wearing earth tones and burgundy.”
College sophomore Aris Economou, fellow ATO bro and the inspiration for Weiss’s paragraph in the email about statement scarves, was more modest about his own fashion sense.
“It’s more of a joke and a practical thing,” he said. “I’m cold, so I’ll wear a scarf.”
When Weiss isn’t handing out fashion citations in the fraternity house, he still manages to keep busy. He’s the founder and editor-in-chief of the campus magazine Empire, and also dedicates many hours a week to rehearsals as a member of ChaiTunes, Emory’s Jewish a capella group.
“It’s high energy,” he said. “All the right people. They’re all loving and nice and accepting. That’s my time.”
Especially with his new role as Fashionistau, Weiss is busier than ever.
He said he’s been having a blast with the whole situation and is looking forward to whatever opportunities decide to present themselves in the future.
But he still manages to stay humble.
“Am I the best-dressed brother in ATO? I don’t know,” he said. “I’m in the running. We definitely have some fashion-forward men.”
– By Jenna Kingsley
Photo by J. R. Lee