SVATT: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sweater Vests

How SVATT is becoming the fashion change they wish to see in the world.


Many UVa students appreciate taking advantage of the summer as a time where they no longer have to do their own laundry, doting parents descending to help out with chores. But, when Shota Ono (SEAS ‘17) chose to study abroad in China this past summer, he, unlike many of his classmates, had to keep doing his own laundry. One day, running short on clean clothes, he found all he had left to wear was a sweater vest — as a tank top.

Inspired by his newfound fashion choice and concerned with the prevalence of a homogenous clothing culture at UVa, Ono decided to take his trend back to the United States and founded the CIO Sweater Vests As Tank Tops (SVATT). SVATT is on a mission to promote fashion inclusivity within the student body. To do so, it empowers people to express themselves through their clothing, and satirizes the homogeneity of clothing at the University. The organization also subverts the traditional UVa modus operandi of competitive clubs; while many CIOs on Grounds have competitive application processes that feature essays and interviews, SVATT is open to all interested students.

Although SVATT was only founded at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, it has already gained serious traction on Grounds. Jeremy Kemp, one of the founding members, wears sweater vests as tank tops nearly two times in a normal week. The organization has been endorsed by President Sullivan, Dean Groves, and members of the UVa Men’s Basketball team. One of SVATT’s current initiatives is to photograph students around Grounds wearing sweater vests as tank tops while holding chalkboards where they write messages in support of fashion inclusivity. They also recently collaborated with UFUSED to host a conversation about fashion inclusivity, which they appropriately named “Heard it Through the Vineyard Vine.”

Moving forward, SVATT’s primary goal is to gain more name recognition and help spread its message to more of the UVa community.

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