Friday, 26 October 2007

Fashion Journalism week 5: Fair Trade

(Picture take from People Tree website- IFAT members in Peru)

As everyone who lives in London may no; winter feels as if it is finally coming. As I walk the streets, the rapid cold brisk wind brushes through my hair and the sudden urge to go back home, light the fire and make a creamy hot chocolate is awfully tempting. But instead I find myself steeping into the Timberland store, glancing through the People Tree products. As I delicately put the knitted jumper up against my face in the mirror, I can’t help but feel the soft fine hand woven fabric stroke my skin.

The People Tree products which are sold in Equa Clothing Ltd, Timberland, Topshop, Finnesse Life Style and It’s A Great Thing are very popular amongst their customers and by looking through the collection, you can easily see why. Each product is exclusive, original and unique as it is developed by the people who live in developing countries. And by People Tree giving the people in these countries the ability to work for what they like doing (with equal and fair opportunities), gives them the chance to afford the basic rations, food and water for themselves and their families.

Looking through the People Tree collection made me think about The Ethical Fashion Show which has recently passed in France. The 4-day event featured designers such as Isobel Lare and Emmeline Child, clothing by Le Queue du Chat and fair trade bags by Coll.Part, showcasing their take on eco fashion, while the Brazillan company Nahui Ollin produced their collection of exclusive recycled bags. It made me think about the purpose of fashion today; fashion is slowly moving on from being a fashion statement of wealth and power, but it is moving towards the essence of helping people through the clothes we wear.

As I said previously, the word designer doesn’t have the same meaning as it used to. Is the exclusivity of wearing something with a designer label printed on it is simply fading. The reality simply is, we are focusing more on improving the world we live in- as a society we are trying to help important causes throughout the world.

People Tree mission statement-

"To use Fashion as a tool to help the world’s marginalized people."

Last week when I went to Equa Boutique, to follow up on People Tree, i discovered that the whole store only stocked clothes which were produced under the principles of fair trade, providing total ethical fashion collections. Ethical designer labels such as Ciel, Edun, Loomstate and Delforte denim are stocked there, and many more, some I haven't even heard of.

As I browsed through the small boutique, spending most of my time looking through the Ciel collection, I was amazed how soft, delicate, and elegant all the pieces were. I distinctly remember the Ciel Cami dress in Red. The stunning silk ruby red dress, with simple adjustable straps; details of fine stitching and a delicate fabric which would simply drape over your body, was the best piece I found in the store. Priced at 170.00 I thought this garment was well worth the price- and even more so, because of its cause.

The boutique based in Islington was the best boutique I have discovered on my search so far. Along with the great service I recieved from the staff, I was able to proclaim my passion for fashion in many great collections, which was beyond a statement of power and wealth but for the good of the people.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Media Analysis: Music Publications

Spin, The Stool Pigeon and Clash magazine were just some of the music publications today that made my mind swivel with confusion. I never realised how many music magazines there were; but then again I only knew of NME, Kerrang and Q magazine. As our lecture proceeded about the industries views on men’s and women's alternative magazines, a debate suddenly started to arise on a topic which made the class somewhat intense. As we all know, the internet has evolved into a multi-million pound industry which is part of our everyday life; and the music downloading sector is gradually increasing, making music stores like HMV decrease in profit. And what makes it so successful is that it is cheap, quick and easy to access. I mean, why go to a store and purchase a CD for £12.99 when you can go on a website like iTunes (if you have an iPod) and download your music for around 70p or even by the album to download on your iPod for around £1.70. Sometimes the cheaper option can be more convenient. As I watched the class prolong this debate through the whole lecture, I could not help but think about the effects this has on music publication or even any publication in fact. For me, purchasing a magazine such as Vogue, Another or Wonderland is more personal and practical for my use when bought over a counter, but it is still essential for me to look at the magazines if I can on their websites to. Again it is free, easy and quick to do. Is this industry, which seems to be taken over by the internet, failing when publications and CDs are being sold over the counter? Is the internet becoming increasingly more popular when wanting to download music, rather than buying singles and albums at the store? And if it is, what is left for the businesses publishing all these publications?

Media Analysis: A social Act

I took to the stage with my group and you could see the nerves generating in our faces. All of us were murmuring under our breaths, trying to remember the lines and the correct timings to say our parts. But believe it or not, our performance was pretty outstanding. We took the image nylon portrayed, and the type of market consumer they aimed at to create a performance that received a standing ovation of about 10 people. Our performance in Alexia's lesson this week enabled us to present Nylon in an interactive form, displaying our creative efforts which, believe it or not, involved humour. But I must say the funniest part of all was me playing the part of a Nu Rave teenager. Imagine me dressed in extra tight fitted skinny jeans which make it impossible for me to breathe in; a bright green tight fitted shirt that meant being able to see me in the dark without the lights on was possible, and a headband across my head which was so tight, that meant all the circulation to my brain had stopped. It was not a pretty sight. But it put humour in the play. But I must say I understand why Alexia made us undergo a task like that. It was not only for the intense humiliation part of the act, but it was to gain an understanding of socio-demographics. I will never forget that tight fitted headband!

Fashion Journalism Week 4: "A Trend"

Over the past few weeks my mind has been set on discovering independent boutiques in Notting Hill and Carnaby Street. But before I move onwards with my search in other areas around London, the report I wrote on "trends" week 3 has been lingering in my mind. As I relax back in the leather chair in the Soho Hotel Bar, drinking complimentary cocktails from the bar-tender with my friends, we begin to discuss the rising of "trends" between designer brands, independent stores and the high street stores. Are designers failing? "It depends in what context you’re talking about." – Robert Sabet. As I asked my friend Robert this question, he seemed to be on his third glass of Rosé and eager to get his opinion across on this topic. In terms of failing, I am looking at the trends. As we know, high street stores are constantly generating new trends every 6-12 weeks, and some stores even faster. Now we all know that the high street stores get their inspiration from the catwalk, magazines, street fashion and around the world. But they base their concepts for a new trend idea within the store around what the designers are doing for their concept this season. But between the high street stores and the designer labels who is better at putting the trend of the season across? Last week when I was reading an article in the Guardian which focused on trends, it made me think about what the actual definition of a trend now is; and every week when I walk into a new fashion boutique I have discovered, I am amazed to see that there is nothing new, but everything is old. And by my research, a trend is meant to rely on a new piece – a new trend means something we have not yet encountered before. This article also talked about mainstream designers and how they are developing trends, but it also made me think about whether they are creating less innovative pieces than they used to. Which is also why I used the term "Are designers failing"? As a fashion journalism student at Epsom University of Creative Arts, debates arise all the time with the students and lecturers arguing their different points across about various topics. But an issue I want to put across is the concept of designers. Are they really successful when putting these ‘new’ ‘trends’ across? To be honest I don’t think they are. I mean when you think about it, can you actually think about a new inspirational trend now on the high streets which we have never come across before; can you think of a trend which looks into the future rather than the past? The only designers which I believe look more into the future when putting together their collections are Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano; and other than what these designers are creating, I have pretty much seen everything else before. I mean look at Christopher Kane for instance; don’t get me wrong, his work is brilliant, but this whole new rave theme; didn’t we see this before in the 80s? And by no means am I saying that designers are crap, because that is not the case; all I am saying is where are all the new futuristic trends? Technology is moving on, so why can’t fashion? I believe that some independent stores are picking up on this, which is why many designer-related independent boutiques are selling more upcoming designer and contemporary labels. Maybe the word ‘designer’ does not have as much power as it used to. I mean the high street stores seem to be taking over. And just to mention; why are not more designers taking on organic fashion. I mean I feel that organic clothing is becoming the new "trend"that we have all been missing.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Fashion Journalism Week 3: Carnaby Street

Picture taken of Carnaby Street There used to be a time when the term ‘a trend’ meant the new fashion item must have. But these days a trend is nothing apart from a fad, which simply fades out in matter of weeks. And when supposedly an ‘everlasting trend’ suddenly does fade out of fashion, it simply makes a return next season; and that is clearly not the definition of a trend. Although, this season I have noticed the rise of the body con; designers such as Herve Leger and Versace are perfect examples where designers focus on shaping the womens’ body through figure hugging couture pieces. Last week when I visited Mensah in Notting Hill, I discovered Liza Bruce, a contemporary designer. The collections consist of fine cotton jersey on mini dresses and fitted tops, which links her collection and the body con trend together. As I walk the streets of London my next steps lead to Carnaby Street to discover the rise of body con. Carnaby Street, the hidden shopping district behind Oxford Circus, is the famous location of small independent stores, which specialise in their own unique sense of style. In the 1960s this street was famous for the mix of young inspirational individuals, with their take on mod fashion and the new minis. As I walk down the cobble streets looking for someone who has taken on the body con trend, I can’t help but realise that everyone is wearing vintage pieces. The take on vintage clothing has expanded in Carnaby Street, with stores like Marshmallow Mountain spreading the style of the layering technique, a Marc Jacobs creation. Picture taken of Marshmallow Mountain in store Marshmallow Mountain is a small independent boutique which stocks an impressive collection of vintage clothes, shoes, bags, belts, jewellery and hats; an everlasting trend shop providing cutting-edge fashion pieces from the late 60s. This store is a great example of what the people on the streets of Carnaby are wearing. Not at all did I see pieces of waist-cinching dresses, but the shop was filled with oversized draping bits of material used on dresses to create a look of your own, through the effects of layering and accessorising. Vintage will always be a thing of the past, but again will always be something which is reinventing itself constantly. Is that what fashion is about now? Is it about re-introducing something old, rather than creating something new?

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Media Analysis: A social performance

Last week I discussed social demographics and the effects they have on our lives. Where we live, the type of people we hang out with, our income and wealth and the type of education we have gained makes up our social divide in life. This week unfortunately I missed another stimulating lesson, filled with debates and disputes about our social categories. Although when I did come to class on Monday morning I was greeted with Alexia's assignment of the week. I remember describing Alexia's lessons – ‘entertaining as a play at the theatre,’ and for our next project, a play is what we need to perform. Based on the readers and editors of NYLON, my group and I have to act a short play showcasing Nylons target readers. If you know me already, you would be able to tell that the acting lessons I took as a child have not stayed with me until now. A misused talent you can say; hence the reason I never succeeded. Nylon is a great magazine for the artistic, fashionable and photographic person who is creative and inspirational. It is a magazine about the art world and reflects on reality, rather than a magazine which portrays a deceptive image to its consumers. As I wonder about my upcoming performance on Friday, I can say that it will give me an insight and understanding to Nylons consumer profile and who their general target customers are. I guess this will be a performance I will never forget!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Fashion Journalism Week 2: Another Day at Notting Hill

Small designer boutique Mensah located in Portobello Road is an exclusive store I discovered two months ago. It is a stylish, unique and innovative women’s-wear boutique specialising in contemporary and vintage clothing. Designer pieces date from the 1920s to the mid 1980s by Biba, Gucci, Ossie Clark and YSL. Contemporary designers include KIND, Manish Arora, Louis de Gamos and Romas Martin. As I walked in the store it reminded me of the same warm and comforting atmosphere as it did the first time I entered two months ago. The feeling was a much different experience than last week when I went to ‘one of a kind’; in this store you don’t feel so smothered by all the clutter and you are certain to find what you need without having to scuffle and fray through other pieces in your way. As I browsed through the collections in the store, I came across a red cashmere jumper with a detailed ribbing design around the collar and sleeve. Priced at £120 by Contemporary designer KIND I had to have it; a fabulous purchase which had to be made. Although my priority was to analyse the store, I found myself drifting in to another world of KIND clothing. As I sipped my signature hot chocolate from Starbucks, my eyes took a sudden glance through their exquisite collections of designer jackets they had available. Fitted tailored military style coats caught my interest. The Gucci modish jacket with gold button details and simple embellishment around the sleeve reminded me of a trend that I discovered on the runway for next season: Ralph Lauren, a prime example of the whole 1920s glamour, entwined with the 1920s masculine look. The Military trend which has been exposed for spring 2008 kept running through my mind as I scurried through the Mensah collection of coats. Mensah has a range of effortless fashion; it is the boutique which specialises in one-off exclusive pieces; a store which provides elite clothing for women.