Cult Magazine

Page 1


HERITAGE

01

EDITOR’S LETTER


EDITOR’S LETTER

A new year, a new season. What’s different this time? Seasons come and go so fast, we often don’t take the time to slow down and look at them in more detail.

02

Introducing Cult Magazine — an agency-first digital magazine, born out of a yearning to rekindle with fashion and delve deeper into the messaging, creative and purpose behind the campaigns we love. Each month, we’ll be reviewing our favourite shows and campaigns of the season, with specific focus on a different theme for each cycle. Curated by a humble team of 3 contributors, from different minority-ethnic backgrounds, the Cult Magazine aims to dissect the cultural zeitgeist, fashion season to fashion season. From spotlighting emerging talent, to campaign reviews of household brands, Cult Magazine is your destination for all things: Fashion, Youth and Culture. As an editorial team, we looked closely into how we could make the magazine more impactful, to reflect our ambitions as an agency - how could we take it a step further, beyond seasonal reviews? This is where we looked closely into shared experiences, to find our common thread was heritage; this is what tied us together and our connections to fashion.

HERITAGE

In Issue 01 - The Heritage Issue, we explore how we see ourselves relative to our cultural identities and how this shapes our relationship to fashion within the contemporary world.


CONTRIBUTORS

Nina EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

03

KATYA: COVER ART

Daisy EDITOR

HERITAGE

KATIE: ILLUSTRATIONS

Michael EDITORIAL DESIGNER


CONTRIBUTORS

05 13 17 23 27 33 37 45 51 59

04

A SAI TA THE SALWAAR KAMEEZ SHANGHAI SCENES FINDING MY OWN FEBEN A/W22 MY FRAGMENTED CHINA BONDING & BELONGING NAVELI CHOYAL HAND LOOMED DREAMS BAILEY HUNTER

HERITAGE


A SAI TA

Sai

HERITAGE

05

The designer famous for his insta viral ‘Hot Wok’ tops and signature technicolour tie-dye designs

A


A SAI TA 06

Ta

HERITAGE


A SAI TA

British-Chinese-Vietnamese designer, A Sai Ta, has asserted himself as a cryptic fashion force to be reckoned with. A conundrum of talent - he allows few to enter into his circle and leaves many knowing little about him. At least not of him as an individual, or as the face that’s behind the ASAI brand. Since stepping boldly into London’s fashion scene in 2017; Ta, who was first picked up by Lulu Kennedy’s non-profit fashion support scheme, Fashion East, has rapidly harmonised his brand and its messaging into the mainstream fashion world. The scheme, which typically only supports a designer for 3 seasons, supported Ta for 4 collections, and enabled awareness of the brand to expand expeditiously. ASAI’s messaging carries many meanings in its plurality, from; ‘Actively Seeking Alternative Ideas’ to ‘Actively Standing Against Injustice’. The encapsulating acronymization of ASAI, moulds itself to the political, cultural landscapes and the fashion zeitgeist of the time.

Though the fame has never gotten to his head perhaps alluding to the fact he actively takes a back seat stance in performing in a public fronting role for his brand. Those who’ve been around since the emergence of his career know the face behind ASAI, and those who’ve only recently become aware of the label likely know very little about him. Which, I think, is the way he likes it. His humble approach, breathes fresh air into a suffocating, fame-led construct fashion finds itself in at present. Rather the reverse of any kind of ego inflation from the fame of his brand, for Ta, it seems to have humbled him even more: “I’m inspired to create; to explore; to express; to change; to grow; to see; and just to be.”

HERITAGE

07

His signature technicolour tie-dye designs that stand out in a kaleidoscopic ensemble of vibrancy,

pattern and texture, have inundated Instagram’s explore page of late. Appearing on a variety of pop culture fashion moguls, from influencers to music artists. His talents have acquired him an impressive roster of celebrity clients and collaborations, including a collection in partnership with the OG Fashion Killa herself, RiRi, for her Fenty brand. Jorja Smith, Dev Hynes, Teyana Taylor, all feature among others to have worn his brand.

AS IF AN IDEA TO BE ACHIEVED


A SAI TA 08 HERITAGE

RIGHT PAGE SHOT FOR: ASAI PHOTOGRAPHER: DANIEL OBASI STYLIST: DANIEL OBASI MAKE UP: VISAGE DE COULEUR HAIR: SEUN MODELS: DAMILOLA, TOLU SOETAN & TEMIDAYO SANUSI


A SAI TA

Ta places heritage at the forefront of his womenswear label, but regularly showcases that his creative exploration goes beyond this: “Heritage plays a huge part at times, in the sense that it’s ever present. But in reality, it is such a small part of the expansive worlds that I explore and have displayed; that go beyond heritage,” he says. He has continued to defy all fashion conventions, sticking to an authentic style and sense of self, that has transcended into all of his collections. “Fashion is the most inspiring when it’s just an idea or feeling that exists in my head,” he explains, whilst working tirelessly on completing his Spring/Summer 2022 collection.

The former Fashion East designer who’s raw talent is ever evolving, talks of his place in life right now: “I’ve been learning to come closer in becoming A Sai / ASAI and understanding what that word means to me both; conceptually and culturally,” he says. Whilst many of us await impatiently for the next collection, I ask him when we can next expect to see ASAI on a Fashion Week schedule, to which he replies: “Never expect anything. Every street’s a catwalk!”

09

His kind natured approach has set a precedent - that you can be as successful and remain true to yourself, and the core messaging of your brand. Going back to his roots, Ta’s experiences of otherness as a person of colour and second generation immigrant , growing

up in Britain, have shaped his outlook on life. He gives me an insight into what this was like for him: “I grew up being called Andrew, for assimilation to my western surroundings in London.” The distance he felt in an effort to assimilate into a community that naturally he wasn’t a part of, birthed ASAI: “A Sai was what I saw on paper, and it felt distant to me.” He continues: “In choosing to be called A Sai, I guess I questioned the space between the A and S, and chose to close it for myself.”

HERITAGE

“Fashion is the most inspiring when it’s just an idea or feeling that exists in my head.”


A SAI TA

“NEVER EXPECT ANYTHING. EVERY STREET’S A CATWALK!” 10 HERITAGE


HERITAGE

11

A SAI TA


A SAI TA HERITAGE

LEFT PAGE SHOT FOR: ASAI PHOTOGRAPHER: OLIVER HADLEE PEARCH HAIR: CYNDIA HARVEY MODELS: AALIYAH, IMARI, BLÉSNYA & ELIBEIDY

12

“I’M INSPIRED TO CREATE; TO EXPLORE; TO EXPRESS; TO CHANGE; TO GROW; TO SEE; AND JUST TO BE.”


THE SALWAAR KAMEEZ

The

13

This is an exploration of belonging, from someone of mixed heritage. From fashion to food, family, and everything in between.

Salwaar I reflect on growing up in South-West London as a British-Indian female and how this has shaped who I am today.

HERITAGE

Kameez

ILLUSTRATION: KATIE EDMUNDS AUTHOR: NINA SMALE


THE SALWAAR KAMEEZ 14

HERITAGE


THE SALWAAR KAMEEZ 15 HERITAGE

“Growing up in South West London it was easy to feel disconnected to my Indian heritage.”


I’m half Indian and half British. I was born in South West London and raised by my stereotype-subverting, South Asian mum, Sheela. Growing up, she was regarded as the rebel in her family - never abiding by the conservative rules that the rest of the family more rigidly followed. She married a white, British man (my dad) and broke the stereotypical norms - not your typical Gujarati mum.

One of my earliest memories was at the tender age of 4, when I’d just started school - I can still vividly recall it in my head, as if it had happened yesterday. I was wearing a red salwar kameez, standing on a table in the classroom. It was a show and tell day and I’d been asked to bring in an Indian outfit. I felt like a princess - an entire room of people were embracing a part of who I am. This was a feeling of cultural appreciation that I’ve felt very few times since, but is one that I wish people could experience more often.

As I’ve grown older, particularly in the last couple of years, there’s been a widespread emergence of real South Asian representation in the mainstream media. From TV shows such as, ‘Never Have I Ever’, where we see notions of a South Asian home that are relatable, as well as portraying issues we face at school due to the prejudices held against our culture. There is still conflict with the fact that South Asian representation is still one-dimensional - and to some extent I agree with it, but I want to acknowledge the improvements we have made. Take social platforms such as Diet Paratha and Brown Girl Gang for example - they dedicate their platforms to showcasing Indian creatives and fashions, much of which I wouldn’t have ever been accustomed to if it wasn’t for them existing. I have always been exposed to my family’s South Asian traditions but seeing them used with a modern twist in fashion campaigns and memes feels both empowering and relatable. I find myself seeking inspiration from South Asian designers and fashion photographers more and more, often referring to photographer, Ashish Shah and Natasha Thasan, who specialises in different techniques of draping. These platforms and references now make it easier to feel more connected to my heritage in ways I hadn’t felt before. Now my Nani and Papa have passed, it feels more important than ever to continue traditions, remember them and cherish them.

HERITAGE

I have always worn saris for special family occasions, but it’s something I’ve conditioned myself to keep under wraps; not so much now - I’m breaking out of this cycle one step at a time. And although I’ve hidden this part of my life, it doesn’t take away the feeling

I have when I put on an Indian outfit and embrace my culture.

16

As for the rest of my Gujurati family, there was always a language barrier, especially between me and my late Nani. She was blind and could speak very little English and I couldn’t speak Gujarati at all, I could only understand hints of what she was saying. So naturally, I found it easier connecting with my dad’s parents, as we shared the same native tongue. Growing up in South West London it was easy to feel disconnected to my Indian heritage.

THE SALWAAR KAMEEZ

“I’m breaking out of this cycle one step at a time.”


Shanghai

HERITAGE

SHOT FOR: SELF-PORTRAIT CREATIVE DIRECTOR: HAN CHONG PHOTOGRAPHER: LESLIE ZHANG ART DIRECTION & STYLING: MONICA MONG MAKEUP: YOOYO KEONG MING HAIR: JOHN ZHANGMINGHU CASTING: DENISE HU MODELS: CHEN HUIJIA & CHEN QI

17

Scenes SHANGHAI SCENES


SHANGHAI SCENES

Earlier this year, London based fashion brand, SelfPortrait, unveiled its Lunar New Year capsule collection shot by Leslie Zhang — this is everything you need to know about the collection and its significance.

18 HERITAGE


SHANGHAI SCENES 19 HERITAGE

“The Self-Portrait, Lunar New Year collection, breathes a fresh spirit into iconic designs.”

The collection is an ode to traditional Chinese heritage, intertwined with signature contemporary styles from the namesake label. Take the unique twist on the cheongsam, (also known as the qipao) with the added delicate lace detailing and sample it in an array of pastels and vibrant reds. Self-Portrait’s showcasing of Lunar New Year is pleasantly different to others that we see, commonly alluding to a tiresome narrative surrounding the zodiac - a gimmick which is wholly overdone. Not only does it limit the creative freedom of designs

and designers alike, but the interpretation so often misses the mark, is tone deaf, or generally unaesthetically pleasing. The Self-Portrait, Lunar New Year collection, breathes a fresh spirit into iconic designs. Whilst also embracing the coveted new year traditions of; cleaning, bonding and sharing — to start the year afresh. This year being the year of the Tiger, represents the third numeral of the Chinese zodiac and returns in 12-year cycles, to usher in the spring. It is


The warmth and homeliness that Zhang perfectly captures in these images, speaks to the family

orientated nature of the new year celebration, which is integral to thousands of years of Chinese history. His images feel soft, simplistic and natural - they have an intimacy that is almost like you’re being let in on a secret between two characters. Grainy textures to the visuals lead you to believe these could be taken from the family album, or similarly could be shot in the present day. Staying true to his photographic style of story-telling, the powerful yet simple images, tell stories that many who celebrate the Lunar New Year can relate to.

SHANGHAI SCENES

symbolic of strength, bravery and courage. Although the collection does not overtly personify the Tiger, and by that I mean, we don’t see illustrations of a tiger emblazoned on every piece, or orange suffocating the colour palettes, or brown stripes adding an extra sprinkle of literal interpretation. It characterises the zodiac in inexplicit ways - the Tiger’s ferocity is expressed through the deep red hues and structural tailoring of the crepe trousers and midi-skirts.

“Grainy textures to the visuals lead you to believe these could be taken from the family album, or similarly could be shot in the present day.”

20 HERITAGE


SHANGHAI SCENES 21

“AN HOMAGE TO TIMELESS DESIGNS, INCORPORATING ELEMENTS OF THE CHEONGSAM WITH A UNIQUE SELF-PORTRAIT TWIST.”

HERITAGE

Self-Portrait


SHANGHAI SCENES 22

HERITAGE


FINDING MY OWN

Finding

23

An exploration of my ethnocultural self — how fashion has allowed me to bridge the gap between my two cultures and lead me on a path to full self-acceptance.

My

HERITAGE

Own ILLUSTRATION: KATIE EDMUNDS AUTHOR: DAISY MAY


FINDING MY OWN 24

HERITAGE


FINDING MY OWN 25 HERITAGE

“I’m especially captivated by the photographs of my grandparents. From silk suits to traditional qipaos, they dressed in the most elegant attire.”


For context, my dad’s Chinese, and my mum’s English. I was just 3 years old when they separated and my dad moved back to the luminous city of Beijing. But before he returned to China, where he planned to live out the rest of his years, he gathered some belongings for me – possessions that I’ve held onto dearly, in an attempt to feel closer to my culture. Some of those things included: an old, black and white photo album of my grandparents, a blossom pink cheongsam with silver embroidery and many sets of red silk pyjamas. All of those objects were, and still are, of much value to me but what I’ve cherished most has been the photo albums. They have been my way of connecting to my Chinese heritage, along with food and clothing.

At some point later in life, self realisation allowed me to see beyond imagined categorisations, and I stopped trying to fit into a box. It has been somewhat of a beautiful and cathartic spiritual journey - it’s allowed me to connect with myself more deeply, understand who I am, and, most importantly, fully accept myself. At 22, there are still many parts of my heritage that I’m not familiar with. I wasn’t born in China, nor do I speak the language. I‘ve lacked the physical presence of my Chinese family throughout my life, but the photo albums have given me insight into who they were as people. I’m especially captivated by the photographs of my grandparents. From silk suits to traditional qipaos, they dressed in the most elegant attire. Fashion has been poignant in the discovery of my ethnocultural self. As a result of the convoluted nature of my diasporic identity, expressing myself through personal style has helped to bridge the gap between my two cultures - allowing them to coexist. From pairing a mandarin collar top with dad jeans to a cheongsam with sneakers - the fusion I’ve established for myself between heritage and country of inhabitants, has been integral to my journey of self acceptance.

HERITAGE

“Fashion has been poignant in the discovery of my ethnocultural self.”

26

The older I grew, the more othered I felt in my surroundings. I knew I was different from the other kids around me, yet I desperately tried to convince myself that I was the same as them. I drew attention to myself when I wore any cultural clothes, often laughed at and insulted, but wearing western clothes I still wasn’t the same as everyone else, I didn’t look

how they looked, when I wore the exact same clothing as them - that was even more of an ostracising experience for me.

FINDING MY OWN

I’ve lived a typically confusing, bi-racial life torn by the hybridity of my diasporic identity. For years, I have felt displaced, never truly understanding where I belong - questioning which part of me I am, or should be, cognitively or emotionally associating with. An ancient concept derived from individuals belonging to the Chinese diaspora describes this feeling well through the analogy of a banana - yellow on the outside, white on the inside.


HERITAGE

27

FEBEN A/W22

Inside the emerging designers A/W22 showcase at London Fashion Week


FEBEN A/W22 28

HERITAGE

Feben A/W22


FEBEN A/W22 29 HERITAGE

Arising into the public’s consciousness following the fame of her Central Saint Martins MA graduate collection, ‘It’s Not Right, But It’s OK’, Feben — who goes by her first name only, has rapidly made her mark in filling fashion’s gaping culture hole. Presenting, for a second time on the London Fashion Week schedule in February, Feben’s fall ‘22 collection, titled, ‘Sky’, was a moving and visually

stunning display of self reflection, illustrated by an ensemble of the designers’ signature styles and varying colour combinations, as the brand looked inward to its personal journey of growth. The presentation, which was set in the Old Selfridges Hotel, set the scene for an evening of community, vibrancy and adornment of black culture, packed with friends and admirers of her work.


FEBEN A/W22

“Feben’s fall 2022 collection, titled, ‘Sky’, was a moving and visually stunning display of self reflection.”

HERITAGE

Her mother, who raised her alone, is a regular source of inspiration to her and who inspired the graduate collection, ‘It’s Not Right, But It’s OK’, which she centred around black womanhood. Looking to the strong women of colour in her life and in the public domain, such as the likes of Nina Simone and Whitney Houston - who’s lyrics inspired the title of the collection.

30

The Central Saint Martins graduate, whose work is described as community-driven, is fuelled by responses to her environment; from political landscape, to cultural discourse and social injustice. Making noticeable waves in London’s fashion scene since arriving in London, her layered multi-fabric dresses have now been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monáe, and Michaela Coel, to name a few. She absorbs the world around her to inform her creativity, as well as tapping into her multicultural upbringing and lived experiences as a refugee. From being born in North Korea, to being raised in Sweden and moving to London at the age of 18, to study fashion at the London College of Fashion. Feben’s travelled life has allowed her to see from many different perspectives, all of which permeates through her work.


FEBEN A/W22 31 HERITAGE

Since the likes of 90s favoured iconic designers such as, Jean Paul Gaultier, fashion to me, has homed a lack of culture and forthright political sentiment. Eschewing the likes of conservative Parisian runways, at the age of 24, when Gaultier hosted his first ever catwalk show, he quickly made his stamp as a rebellious and politically outspoken figure. His runways adorned with arrays of graphic mesh shirts and layered tulle dresses, worn by an ensemble of multi-racial, street cast models — left the world hungry to see more from him. His clothes were not just beautiful creations that people desperately

wanted to wear, but his exuberant shows offered his audience an escapism into his world. Though they bear little in likeness as designers or individuals to compare them, viewing Feben’s work ushers similar feelings to that of the infamous Gaultier. Drawing upon comparison surrounding intrigue and intention — Feben’s A/W 22 collection demonstrated her creative prowess goes beyond the fashion zeitgeist, and instead stears us into a future that we need to be heading in. Much like Gaultier transcended through his collections in the 90s.


32

HERITAGE

“HER CREATIVE PROWESS GOES BEYOND THE FAHSION ZEITGEIST.”

FEBEN A/W22


MY FRAGMENTED CHINA

My Fragmented

HERITAGE

33

How Asian cinema was integral to my journey of embracing cultural identity. From the perspective of a Chinese diasporic individual.

ILLUSTRATION: KATIE EDMUNDS AUTHOR: MICHAEL CHEN

China


MY FRAGMENTED CHINA 34

HERITAGE


35

“Asian cinema has acted as a guide for me - a personal looking glass into my past.”

HERITAGE

MY FRAGMENTED CHINA


roots and wish to be white.”

At the blossoming age of 7, I left my homeland, China, and emigrated to the UK with my mum. Due to a tumultuous childhood, my memories of China - and more specifically, of my culture, have been fragmented and displaced. However, abstract scenes of my paternal grandparent’s rural village, where I spent the first few years of my life, have always stuck with me. These foreign feelings of nostalgia only grew stronger and yet harder to comprehend as I lived out my teenage years.

I’ve always had a keen interest in films and sought comfort in them, hoping they would not only entertain but also help me to understand myself. However, my interest was limited to the western film industry, especially at a younger age when assimilation seemed like the only option. It was because of my admiration for certain protagonists that made me notice how different I was from them, both physically and culturally. I often resented my cultural roots and wished to be white.

Infernal Affairs opened the floodgate to many, many more Asian films and directors, from Stephen Chow to Wong Kar Wai. Through every new flick I was understanding myself and my culture more and more. After indulging in more Eastern cinema, I discovered Kaili Blues, by the Chinese director, Bi Gan - this was a film that I connected with deeply, more than any other film I had seen before. Kaili Blues follows Chen Sheng’s journey through mysterious Chinese villages in search of his nephew. The film, mainly set in Bi Gan’s hometown of Kaili city, utilises local, non-professional actors. Bi Gan’s dreamlike visuals of rain sodden rural villages, alongside the distinct and somewhat familiar dialects of the cast, brought back distant memories of my childhood. Scenes from my grandparent’s village that had felt so abstract, now made sense. I can vividly recall the local market where I gazed longingly at the toys, my grandad’s strawberry plant that I sneakily picked from, and the tacky glow of the neon waterfall artwork that hung in my childhood room. Although I will never truly understand what it’s like to grow up immersed in one’s own culture, Asian cinema has acted as a guide for me - a personal looking glass into my past. It’s helped me to view my heritage for what it truly is - a powerful, metaphorical possession that makes me special and something that I should be proud of.

HERITAGE

This all changed a few years ago, when I felt ready to explore the part of me that I had denied - my heritage. Chinese cinema felt like the perfect way to start. The first Asian film I watched was Infernal Affairs, a renowned Hong Kong crime thriller that inspired The Departed, which funnily enough I had seen first.

Infernal Affairs soon became one of my top three films - it broke all of my preconceptions of Asian stereotypes. I connected with the characters more than I had done with any white film, they were strong, stylish and more importantly Asian, like me.

36

No matter how much I tried to distance myself from my cultural roots; desperately trying to fit in and be like everyone else around me - a glance at the reflection in the mirror was all it took to shatter those lies I had constructed of myself. Sparking a longing for something that I knew I once had but had now forgotten. These feelings were only strengthened by the fact that no one around me could understand or help me to understand what I was going through. I certainly had no idea.

MY FRAGMENTED CHINA

“I would often resent my cultural


BONDING & BELONGING 37 HERITAGE

Bonding & Belonging: With Naveli Choyal


BONDING & BELONGING

Culture, Customs and Traditions: And how they have shaped Naveli Choyal’s visual language.

38 HERITAGE

RIGHT PAGE SHOT FOR: TIGRA TIGRA MODEL: POOJASHREE


BONDING & BELONGING 39 HERITAGE

It was earlier in the year, when I was first introduced to Naveli’s work. Caught in a rabbit hole, I found myself aimlessly scrolling through the explore pages of Instagram - hoping to be acquainted with some creative inspiration that I could add into moodboards. Choyal’s image instantly stood out to me — it cut through the noise of the monotonous and somewhat clinical images that plague Instagram feeds. Left intrigued, I knew I had to connect with her in some capacity - whether it be kinship as fellow, brown, female creatives, or plainly as an admirer of her work. A few exchanges of Instagram DM’s later, and we were already opening up our laptops, for the first of our virtual encounters. One glance at any of Choyal’s images, and you’re left breath taken, by the beautiful, opulent scenes and subjects that she presents in her work. As you go a step further, and you unpack the stories and meanings behind her images - it adds a whole other dimension to her as a creative. She fosters a rare ability of capturing fashion and culture in a

way that hasn’t been done before. Heritage is a clear thread throughout her work, with subtle influences taken from her surroundings; from women she passes in the street, to the food she eats, and ordinary moments that she witnesses in everyday life - such as the laundry hanging from homes in her local village. Subverting the traditional South Asian expectations of pursuing an academic path, and instead choosing to study fashion design. Choyal’s journey has been an interesting one. After planting her feet in the fashion industry and working as a designer at Raw Mango for several years, she went on to cement her skillset as a multi-disciplinary artist, spanning; photography, styling and art directing. And has since worked with the likes of; TIGRA TIGRA, Loq and DearAbigael. From her multifaceted talents to raw, authentic story-telling abilities, Cult sat down with Choyal to delve deeper into the lexicons and purpose behind her practice and process.


40

“Heritage is a clear thread throughout her work, with subtle influences taken from her surroundings; from women she passes in the street, to the food she eats.”

BONDING & BELONGING

RIGHT PAGE, TOP SHOT FOR: TIGRA TIGRA MODEL: NEERAJ

HERITAGE


HERITAGE

41

BONDING & BELONGING


BONDING & BELONGING

42

HERITAGE


BONDING & BELONGING 43 HERITAGE

LEFT PAGE SHOT FOR: DEARABIGAEL MODEL: SHERYL RIGHT PAGE SHOT FOR: TIGRA TIGRA MODEL: NEERAJ


BONDING & BELONGING

44

HERITAGE


NAVELI CHOYAL 45 HERITAGE

RIGHT PAGE, CENTRE SHOT FOR: TIGRA TIGRA MODEL: POOJASHREE


HERITAGE

Choyal

46

It’s a dull, rainy day here in London; meanwhile, the sun casts its balmy rays across the city of Delhi, India, where the talented Naveli Choyal sits down with Cult, for a second rendezvous.

NAVELI CHOYAL

Naveli


NAVELI CHOYAL

Did growing up in Rajasthan influence the stories you tell in your imagery? I was born and brought up in Ajmer, Rajasthan. I grew up in a traditional household where I was surrounded by people who were still connected to their roots and had a deeper understanding and respect for the traditions, land, and people. This had its own perks for me to understand the cultural elements locally.

Could you set the scene of your hometown for us, for someone who’s never visited India before It would be difficult to describe my country in just a few words. Everyday is a celebration here; it’s a feast for the eyes. I feel moved by the diversity in cultures, faith, food, landscapes, textiles, art, language, rituals, craft and beliefs. There’s a sense of belonging and bonding.

47

Your culture plays a considerable role in influencing your work. Could you allude to this some more?

“The narratives and visuals collected from my travel experiences, form the core of my visual language.”

My culture inspires me every day. From the stories that I have seen and heard about objects, to food, textiles, patterns, landscape, colours, people, language, beliefs, rituals, and customs. The interdependence people have built over the years amongst themselves, their landscape, professions with respect to the community, religion and terrain is something I feel moved by.

HERITAGE

I’m drawn to places and people that have rich and colourful characters. Thankfully, I have been able to travel to landscapes I could connect with and the narratives and visuals collected from my travel experiences form the core of my visual language.


NAVELI CHOYAL

Was your journey to becoming a photographer a straightforward one - were there any restrictions that arose, coming from a South Asian background? Photography as a medium didn’t come to me in a click. In my teens, my brother and I used to fiddle with the camera which we had back at home, and experimented with different aspects of photography. At that time, I was taking photographs of objects and landscapes around me. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the process, I never took my interest seriously. Like a very typical Indian family, creative and artistic careers were never part of a larger ‘career discussion’ at home. So, for me the idea of becoming a photographer felt very strange and unrealistic, especially as a woman. Later, when I switched between my career and moved to a new college to study fashion design, my love and interest in photography grew stronger.

HERITAGE

RIGHT PAGE SHOT FOR: DEARABIGAEL MODEL: SHERYL

48

After working as a fashion designer for a couple of years - I quit my job during the pandemic and took the leap of faith to finally pursue photography professionally! I started documenting everyday stories, objects, and family history. It was something that felt true to me and the process of creating came naturally to me.


NAVELI CHOYAL

Your subjects always look relaxed and at ease in your images. How do you go about creating this setting for your talent? I don’t deliberately create that environment but I am very mindful of shooting in spaces where both models and I feel comfortable and at ease doing our respective jobs. Traveling and staying with the talent anyway builds a certain kind of relationship which helps me understand my subject and photograph them better. I want to cherish and enjoy each moment of creating something that I am passionate about instead of rushing and seeing it as merely a job to finish.

In your street photography, what do you look to capture in particular?

49

I am drawn to the colours, light, and overall mood of a place or setting. The rawness in beauty and places. I feel connected to the raw beauty of a place that has age-old stories to tell. Every day of people’s lives, places, and how it is executed with such flawless ease never ceases to amaze me and it is this phenomenon that I love to capture.

In previous conversations, you’ve mentioned a notable difference between shooting women and men, in street photography. Tell us more. It’s interesting, most of the time when I am shooting on the streets, women are more eager to get themselves photographed. I don’t know, maybe it comes from the idea that a woman is shooting them and that somehow it comforts them. I like to talk to them, know them a little and they are always happily posing for me. Whereas men don’t seem to care as much, sometimes they feel a little hesitant but most of the time they are also happily posing for me.

HERITAGE

“I want people to feel the joy of simpler things.”


“Everyday I learn something new and am surprised by the different aromas and textures of Indian spices that also elevate a boring dish.”

Preparing and serving myself a good meal is something I really enjoy. I spend my time in the kitchen experimenting with new and old combinations of flavour. Everyday I learn something new and am surprised by the different aromas and textures of Indian spices that also elevate a boring dish. In between preparing my meals, my day goes into nurturing my two dogs, Jamun and Imli. They keep me busy in my free time. I also like to spend some time visiting Craft exhibitions, Art galleries and museums. Apart from that, I love listening to music and age-old stories of my family history and culture.

NAVELI CHOYAL

Aside from art directing and shooting, what do you most enjoy spending your time doing?

Could you tell us about any exciting projects you have upcoming? When I have some down time, I have some exciting personal projects to do in the near future, regarding archiving family history. Keep your eye out!

50 HERITAGE


51

HAND LOOMED DREAMS

Hand Loomed

HERITAGE

Dreams:

SHOT FOR: TIGRA TIGRA PHOTOGPHER: CHUCK GRANT & NAVELI CHOYAL

With TIGRA TIGRA


HAND LOOMED DREAMS 52

A peek into the world of TIGRA TIGRA; combining old sustainable techniques whilst looking to the future of design.

HERITAGE


HAND LOOMED DREAMS 53 HERITAGE

We first became aware of TIGRA TIGRA from their bold, stand out, campaigns and ready-to-wear collections, with striking colours. Join us as we find out more about the brand and creative polymath. TIGRA TIGRA is a small textile and garment studio which was founded by Bailey in 2016. They ‘partner directly with 3 artisan-owned businesses in Gujarat and 1 non-profit organisation in Cape Town to produce all their designs. The artisans set the pricing for all the work based on labour time and fair wages.’ All textiles are made with a sustainable focus with low-impact techniques, meaning no electricity is used to make the garments as well as being hand dyed.

You can’t help but be drawn to TIGRA’s unique designs, with stories of textiles drying in Ahmedabad, to Bailey’s designs from LA. This global approach and combination of traditions and future thinking is what makes it so interesting. This is all the brains of Bailey Hunter. Who is not only the founder of TIGRA TIGRA but also a Director, filmmaker, creative director and all round multidisciplinary creative. With a background in Indian textiles, Hunter has also directed campaigns for the likes of LA founded brand, The Elder Statesman and others.


HAND LOOMED DREAMS 54

“You can’t help but be drawn to TIGRA’s unique designs, with stories of textiles drying in Ahmedabad, to Bailey’s designs from LA.”

HERITAGE


HERITAGE

55

HAND LOOMED DREAMS


HAND LOOMED DREAMS

56

HERITAGE


HERITAGE

57

HAND LOOMED DREAMS


HAND LOOMED DREAMS

58

HERITAGE


HERITAGE

59

BAILEY HUNTER


HERITAGE

Hunter

60

Across the pond, from London to LA we speak with the talented Bailey; founder of sustainably focussed textile studio, TIGRA TIGRA.

BAILEY HUNTER

Bailey


BAILEY HUNTER

Hey Bailey, where are you at this moment in time? I’m at my home in Los Angeles, making breakfast and getting ready to take my kids to the beach.

TIGRA TIGRA is roughly 8 years old now. Can you tell us more about the brand and how it came to be founded?

61

While I was at school at Parsons School of Design in New York, I started working for a textile designer whose business was in Kashmir and Bikaner, India. I started exploring Indian textiles and the current handicraft industry there. I was introduced to a woman who was running a women’s-based craft NGO in Gujarat and began working with her to create products for the Western market and expand their international reach. From there, it all kind of spun off into my own thing and now I work directly with 8 textile artists and have a Product Manager and Production Manager in Ahmedabad who are focused on TIGRA.

The brand has evolved over these 8 years, how has that been?

HERITAGE

I think it’s been a big evolution and a lot of learning and building strong relationships. The entire business relies on traditional weaving and dyeing techniques and I think finding the right textile artists who can reliably produce and get as much consistency as possible has been the biggest challenge. Over the years, it’s really evolved into a sustainable business. I’m the founder and garment designer. The textile design is a collaboration between myself, the textile artist and my Product Manager, Milan.


You use some unique techniques in your fabric making, can you tell us more about this? All of our fabrics are made by hand and most are woven on 150 year old pit looms. We also source deadstock novelty materials from local shops in Gujarat. We are working to keep these craft traditions alive and give financial security to the artists. Many of the artists have had these skills passed down to them for generations. We work with a family of dyers in Bhuj called the Khatris who have been dyeing for generations. The brothers who are running the business now are really focused on innovation and exploring different dye techniques with Japanese influence, resist clamp dyeing, etc. I think it’s a very cool approach.

BAILEY HUNTER

“We are working with the intention to keep these textile traditions alive while reimagining them for our brand and audience.”

It feels as though there is a mix of tradition and futurism in your collections. Is this intentional and how does this come about?

62

We are working with the intention to keep these textile traditions alive while reimagining them for our brand and audience. TIGRA is just one mode of interpretation and experimentation of what can be done with these handicraft practices.

HERITAGE


BAILEY HUNTER

For your campaigns, what is the inspiration behind your art direction? I really love styling the final pieces together and creating what I think of as the TIGRA person. I’ve always been really drawn to things that are pretty dishevelled and mismatched. I like the juxtaposition of the super elegant and intricate materials styled and photographed in a casual and DIY way. There is this Indian term called ‘jugaad’, it somewhat translates to creating efficient, low-cost solutions to problems. I’m super inspired by this spirit of creative solutions and working with what you have and I try to embody this ethos into the visuals of the brand.

Your casting for shoots is always really interesting, what do you look for?

63

Here in LA, I try to find people who are unique and have a natural coolness and fun personality. In India, I work a lot with Naveli Choyal and I trust her so much, I love her approach to image making and styling. Her instagram is a big inspiration to me! We are always looking to explore new ways of storytelling.

With TIGRA TIGRA being across LA and India, how does this affect your inspirations behind collections and any unexpected ideas? For me the brand is a merger of perspectives and ideas coming together. The process really informs the design. I have a strong idea of the garments and who the TIGRA person is and then I morph these ideas in with what the textile artists are doing and new techniques they are working on.

HERITAGE

“I'm super inspired by this spirit of creative solutions and working with what you have and I try to embody this ethos into the visuals of the brand.”


BAILEY HUNTER

64

HERITAGE