Fashion So Hot, Steam Seems Cool

Have you ever been to a national park and thought “wow, that ranger’s uniform is so hip!” Well, if you have, then you’re in luck! As it turns out, hot fashion and park both walk into new seasons modeling chic fabrics screaming with style. Since its inception in 1916, the National Park Service has made quite its mark in the fashion industry with bold uniform choices and iconic looks. From what feels like yesterday’s long skirts to today’s fab outfits, rangers have been walking the outdoor runway for over a hundred years now.

NPS Fashion Week is a week-long social media campaign that started at Bering Land Bridge (BELA). It is also my main project as the social media intern at BELA. This year, #NPSFashionWeek is back to celebrate our park fashionistas, as well as recognize that style goes beyond the fabric and finds itself in the patterns, textures, and fibers worn by our natural biota. With four days of themed “events,” we have set the stage for parks of all shapes and sizes to share their best spreads and wow the American public with their fierce “lewks.” Here are the themed days in more detail:

September 8: NPS Starter Packs. Day 1 kicks off with an internet meme that taps into park stereotypes to play a humorous tone on park visitor clichés while simultaneously informing of what gear, clothes, and subcultural traits compromise different activities.

September 9: Rangers on the Runway. What’s hotter than a wildland firefighter dressed in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)? Very little, literally. Day 2 of NPSFW brings awareness to safety while on the job and how for park rangers, dressing safely comes first.

September 10: Who Wore it Best? A little friendly competition between parks, day 3  places our favorite park flora and fauna head-to-head in a battle to win visitor hearts by juxtaposing comparable features and asking the public who shined brighter.

September 12: Hot Topics Magazine Cover. Step aside Vogue, NPS just joined the conversation. A fun twist on fashion magazine covers, Rangers take to their creative efforts and park’s hot topics to show off their superior poses and promote park news.

Being involved in the process of this campaign from its beginning stages to its last has been an unforgettable experience. The internal planning was just as satisfying as the external. Seeing the posts go live on so many NPS profiles was a rush and shined on the success of our different stages of strategy- from brainstorming to website management and internal guidance to park-wide communication and collaboration. Organization was the principle tool of success here, along with team work and multi-tasking. What made the journey so enjoyable beside tapping into these skillsets was the creative process behind it. There was so much flexibility that creating content always brought something new. One day would be dedicated to a photography shoot and the next to recreating silly outfits inspired by our park’s natural flora and fauna (now that I’ve mentioned it, check out our “Steal the Look” posts @BeringLandBridgeNPS and @AlaskaNPS).

Representing my park and working on behalf of the National Park Service has been a journey of development. It has encouraged me to perceive our parks through a lens that transcends the park paradigm by fostering imagination, creativity, and inclusivity through fashion. It also presented challenges and a shift away from routine. This work is an intersection between a major government agency that interacts with a huge and diverse audience and my own identity as a Latina woman. Finding the balance and knowing how to commit to both ends (and our individual missions) while not losing my authenticity was something of great value to me. I didn’t want to lose one in the favor of the other. After practice, training, and the collective perspectives of different people, I am proud to say that I found the middle ground and thrived in it. All  of the content shared met service guidelines and carried my own style. It was informative and appropriate content for our page visitors, but also bounced with quirkiness and humorous tones that received a lot of positive reactions!

As mentioned earlier, this project offered a lot of flexibility. Something that I am thankful for was the space it provided for me to tap into my passions and improve on my skillsets. I was able to create digital art, graphics, and content through apps I had familiarity with and was able to become better acquainted with. As the project comes to an end, I want to shoutout my mentor and supervisor Lupe Zaragoza for her support and guidance throughout this process. I would not have been able to navigate this internship as smoothly without her help, or had as amazing of an experience as I did. Hard work pays off!

To end, here are some NPS Fashion Week posts I worked on. There’s more glam available following the hashtag #NPSFashionWeek and #NPSFW on social media platforms.



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