TABLE OF CONTENTS LETTER FROM THE CO-FOUNDERS
JOY CHEN + TIFFANY HUE
SKATE + SURF
INTERVIEW WITH PHILLIP LIM
JOY CHEN + TIFFANY HUE
BEHIND CHOPOVA LOWENA : THE RICHNESS OF BULGARIAN TRADITION
ANNA-MARIE GUENTHER + JUSTIN LEE
WELCOME TO CHINATOWN
CAITLIN CHEN + MAYA GEE-LIM
NEW CULTURE WITH ND KIM
JOY CHEN + TIFFANY HUE
ALL CAPS FOREVER
KNITWEAR: MORE THAN A SWEATER
RACHEL FENG + SEY YANG
SURREALIST PROJECTIONS OF PSCYHOLOGICAL RESILIENCE
SUE ELLEN ZHANG
THE DRESS FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES
AO DAI: AN EMBLEM OF VIETNAM
VANESSA NGUYEN + JESSICA HU
A NOTE ON ROMANCE WITH KENNETH NICHOLSON
JOY CHEN + TIFFANY HUE
RESILIENCE IN TIMES OF DEVASTATION: CHRISTIAN DIOR AND WWII
ALEXIS SCHROCK + JANE WANG
PUNK INFLUENCE ON GEN-Z
JORDAN MULA + CATHERINE CHU
THE BEGINNING OF TOMORROW WITH COACH JOY CHEN + TIFFANY HUE
TABLE OF CONTENTS YOHJI YAMAMOTO: CARRIER OF CRAFTMANSHIP
SALSA MAZLAN + SEJUN PARK
DISCOVERING FUNCTIONAL OPULENCE WITH SHERIDAN TJHUNG
JOY CHEN + TIFFANY HUE
WHERE WE ARE AND HOW WE GOT HERE
AVA ALEXIADES + NICHOLAS RODRIGUEZ
FACING FASHION EXTINCTION
ELIAS OMAR + SOFIJA NINNESS
RESILIENCE BY DESIGN
GEORGIA WEED + LILY GLANTZ
LOGOMANIA: THE PROTECTION SPELL
CHANG ZHOU + MICHAEL CANABARRO
MEET RUBY MELLISH
JOY CHEN + TIFFANY HUE
REDEFINING THE BALLERINA
JULIETTE CORNET + LILY GLANTZ
NUDITY: THE SITUATIONAL ELASTICITY OF LADY GODIVA AND BLACK FEMMES
ANISHA PATIL + MARGARET JACKSON
SAPS AND ZAMBIA’S FASHION INDUSTRY
ERIN YEH + ANUBHA GUPTA
A COLOR STORY
NÉHA GUPTA + LILLIE YAZDI + SAM DRUCKER
FIBERS AND FARMERS: FOSTERING ENVIRONMENTAL RESILIENCE
NATALIE SEMERSKY + PAIGE BRUNSON
MEET DANIELLE GUIZIO
JOY CHEN + TIFFANY HUE
THANK YOU + DEDICATIONS
RESILIENCE SPRING 2021 PRINT ISSUE
EDITORIAL STAFF 6
JOY CHEN / PRESIDENT & CREATIVE DIRECTOR
CAITLIN CHEN / POLITICS & ACTIVISM WRITER
TIFFANY HUE / PRESIDENT & EDITOR - IN - CHIEF
GEORGIA WEED / POLITICS & ACTIVISM WRITER
RACHEL FENG / FASHION MANAGING EDITOR
NATALIE SEMERSKY / POLITICS & ACTIVISM WRITER
ERIN YEH / POLITICS & ACTIVISM MANAGING EDITOR
CHANG ZHOU / ARTS & CULTURE WRITER
JULIETTE CORNET / ARTS & CULTURE MANAGING EDITOR
NÉHA GUPTA / ARTS & CULTURE WRITER
ASHLEY HUH / MARKETING DIRECTOR
JORDAN MULA / ARTS & CULTURE WRITER
MARY JANE LIN / FINANCE DIRECTOR
ANISHA PATIL / ARTS & CULTURE WRITER ANNA-MARIE GUENTHER / FASHION ASSOCIATE EDITOR
ALEXIS SCHROCK / FASHION WRITER ELIAS OMAR / FASHION WRITER VANESSA NGUYEN / FASHION WRITER
ALLYZA QUIAMBAO / ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF DESIGN
SALSA MAZLAN / FASHION WRITER
GRACY WATTS / EDITORIAL DESIGNER
NATALIE LAU / FASHION RESEARCHER
EDWIN TRAN / EDITORIAL DESIGNER ANIKA MURTHY / CONTENT DESIGNER LILY GLANTZ / CONTENT DESIGNER
CATHERINE CHU / CONTENT DESIGNER SUE ELLEN ZHANG / CONTENT DESIGNER
HANNAH NGUYEN / EVENTS COORDINATOR
PAIGE BRUNSON / CONTENT DESIGNER
DANIELLE LEE / EVENTS COORDINATOR
SEJUN PARK / CONTENT DESIGNER
SHERRY TANG / SPONSORSHIP COORDINATOR
JUSTIN LEE / CONTENT DESIGNER ANUBHA GUPTA / CONTENT DESIGNER JANE WANG / CONTENT DESIGNER
SOFIJA NINNESS / CONTENT DESIGNER SAM DRUCKER / STYLIST
KHUSHI GUPTA / FINANCE ASSOCIATE
MARGARET JACKSON / PHOTOGRAPHER
KATHY LI / FINANCE ASSOCIATE
CASEY NGUYEN / PHOTOGRAPHER
MIA LUONG / FINANCE ASSOCIATE
NICK BROGDON / PHOTOGRAPHER
REBECCA GUO / FINANCE ASSOCIATE
LILLIE YAZDI / PHOTOGRAPHER
RYAN OHLINGER / FINANCE ASSOCIATE
MAYA GEE-LIM / PHOTOGRAPHER
TALISA RODARTE / FINANCE ASSOCIATE
SEY YANG / PHOTOGRAPHER MIKAYLA LOBASSO / PHOTOGRAPHER JESSICA HU / FASHION ILLUSTRATOR MICHAEL CANABARRO / FASHION ILLUSTRATOR AVA ALEXIADES / VIDEOGRAPHER NICHOLAS RODRIGUEZ / VIDEOGRAPHER
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF That which is the most personal is the most universal and our editorial is no exception. Our team at META MAG has blown me away with their vulnerable talent, and the manifestation of our dreams could not be possible without the incredible staffers working tirelessly to make these visions come to life. It is only with their creativity that we can create an editorial so unbelievably profound and individual to our own experiences. There is no questioning the fact that the past year has been a tumultuous ride for all of us, but we all somehow made it out in one piece. Our spring publication is an homage to our collective strength over the past year, and the idea of resilience seems to play a larger role in our lives with every day that passes. As our team scrambled to decide on a theme that was representative of our experiences in concluding the school year, it seemed as though the answer was sitting in front of us all along. This past year was no stranger to grief and loss to many of us, and my heart goes out to everyone who has gone through the sorrow of losing a loved one. It is a feeling familiar to me and my empathy extends through our creative work to express love with each and every one of you. It is with our collective spirit that we can continue to fight for ourselves, and for justice. Our team at META MAG revealed the true meaning of resilience to me. The triumph of love over times of sorrow and failure. Resilience explores nuances of strength, failure, and disappointment. The editorial unpacks realms of intergenerational experiences, global impacts of sustainability, and a new perspective of media that reflects the state of the world today. Resilience is in my blood, and it’s in yours, too. So I encourage you to tap into your subconscious and explore the depths of your identity that have been unlocked in the past year of introspection as we join together to read META MAG’s third issue: RESILIENCE. With love,
Tiffany Hue Co-Founder + Editior-in-Chief 9
LETTER FROM THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR Resilience is my favorite word to describe strength. I first heard it when I was going through a difficult time in my life, and it reminded me of the power that I held. Resilience as the theme of our Spring editorial is very fitting. It is capping off our first year of META -a fashion editorial born out of voice memos and Zoom calls during the height of the pandemic. To me, META embodies the meaning of “Resilience”. Every issue we have created has been a labor of love, and there was never an easy week during the process. Yet, each member of our team continually pours themselves into the work they create. I know META would not be where it is today without the resilience of our team, and their tireless dedication to our editorial. This year has left an indelible mark on everyone. It was a time of violence, loss, and fear. These feelings are sometimes unrecognizable or overwhelming. We mourned the loss of those who lost their lives and continue to carry them in our hearts. Loss happens in many ways -- a family member, a business, a dream. Yet, we are all resilient. We all are lucky enough to carry this strength with us every day and in everything we do. This issue of Resilience is important. Each piece tells a personal story. Resilience is strength, but it is also having the endurance to create spaces for yourself and others. I am incredibly proud of the heart and soul our team put into this editorial. A special thank you to my creative team who pushed their limits this quarter and created one of my favorite editorials yet. So, how do we move forward? We move forward by coming together as a community. We move forward through the collectiveness of the people we surround ourselves with. Strength is not just for the individual. Strength and resilience are for all of you, for us. With love,
Joy Chen Co-Founder + Creative Director
As a kid, I would always skate around my town and go to local skate parks. I quickly noticed there were never any girl skaters. Discouraged by this, I stopped skating for a while, but always found myself gravitating towards skate fashion. As I grew older, I decided to reject rigid gender norms and get back on my board. The Boardroom depicts the resilience of women occupying male-dominated skate spaces. Men have historically dominated skateparks and fashion, making it difficult for women to cultivate a space in the skate world. Despite these walls, women have persevered to create their own place in the skating sphere. By joining the skate world and partaking in skate fashion, female skaters directly resist the gender binary. This piece examines female skating fashion, the over-sexualization of women in male-dominated spaces, and the coexistence of women and men in the skate world.
Women have persevered to create their own place in the skating space.
BY MIKAYLA LOBASSO
REJECTING GENDE 16
G THE ER BINARY 17
The Inspiring Collectiveness of the Asian American Community
Phillip Lim META MAG interviewed 3.1 Phillip Lim’s co-founder and creative director, Phillip Lim on the idea of resilience, and how it relates to the Asian American identity, community, and the collective strength we have to create change.
On the necessity to continue creating in the spaces we take up.
This is “ who we are. 3.1 Phillip Lim is a New York-based eponymous fashion label crafted by Thai-Chinese American designer, Phillip Lim. The brand explores the timeless sophistication of classic ready-to-wear pieces you know and love, from loungewear essentials to elegant footwear. Their most recent 0.4 Capsule Collection is available now at 31philliplim.com. As a proud Asian American creative, Lim has continuously used his platform to vocalize the injustices of anti-Asian hate crimes. The designer has been a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) since 2007, and he has pushed the collective to publicly condemn the violent xenophobia placed against Asian Americans in the community. With his brand’s global success and initiative to move towards a better future, Lim implements resilience in all avenues of 3.1 Phillip Lim.
Q: How does resilience and your identity play into your brand and what you create? Lim: I am proud of our resilience, strength and the way that we have found our collective voice as a community even though tragedy is what brought this movement on. Seeing the AAPI community stand up together against the vicious hate crimes and creating a massive movement with #STOPASIANHATE has been so inspiring to me and instills such pride. I hope that we start moving forward to a new beginning, a new way of co-existing together. Together, we’re trying to bring the whole spectrum, because it requires this type of unity. We are a community becoming. And to become, to end this violence, the silence really has to end. We have to continue to create. This is who we are. Throughout history, whenever there were pivotal moments, it was always because of people creating, people pushing against, people fighting out of necessity. They’d invent something new or there’d be a new way of thinking, way of being. I pivot the creativity on different subjects whether it be cooking, planting, books to read, just different ways of engaging. It’s all part of that creative conversation.
Photo Credit: Bridget Fleming
Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena are the young, boundless designers behind Chopova Lowena, the brand reviving the under-recognized cultural resources of Bulgaria. With their characteristic multiple-pleated patchwork skirts suspended by mountaineering carabiners and chunky leather belts, Chopova Lowena celebrates the rich fabrics and intricate sewing methods of Chopova’s home country. Their brand inspires to revitalize traditional clothes and methods that have been long neglected since the end of communism in Bulgaria. Chopova Lowena has amassed a cult following since its inception in 2015 thanks to its one-of-a-kind, instantly recognizable pieces. A relatively accessible luxury label, Chopova Lowena’s items are priced appropriately for handmade designs, but also affordability. This is a product of immense intention, as the custom garments are never worn down runways in an effort to reduce retail price for avid Chopova Lowena followers. Instead, the duo has elected to use campaign imagery and print look books to showcase their biannual collections. The brand is fully aware that these practices will constrain their potential of ever entering the mainstream—but that is precisely the point. The philosophy of Chopova Lowena is not simply to make designer garments, but instead to share the luxury of culturally significant handcrafted clothing.
Emma Chopova has triumphed in materializing Bulgarian folklore and rejecting assimilation to outside influence. Instead, Chopova dusted off bridal dowries and Bulgarian farming skirts tucked away in forgotten trunks for decades. True to her cultural roots, Chopova regularly travels to Bulgaria to source materials and visit the workers the brand relies on. Dedicated to their initiatives, Chopova Lowena is a designer label that prioritizes the livelihood of the skilled female seamstresses that deliver their refined craftsmanship. This network of Bulgarian women arose from mutual acquaintances among local seamstresses. Chopova Lowena has found international success, most notably in London and New York. Their debut on MatchesFashion.com directly followed the completion of their Masters from the esteemed Central Saint Martins. Thrust into retail production, the duo suddenly found themselves having to hand-make their entire collection in-house after having sold out the first day of their release. The young label has since streamlined its production process, but the demand has skyrocketed. Now a street style favorite, Chopova Lowena has made appearances at Paris Fashion Week, the Bulgarian national radio, and Dover Street Market. In Bulgaria, Chopova Lowena has garnered momentous attention, with women regularly approaching Chopova to gift masses of fabric that would have otherwise never been reworked. The exponential growth of the brand has demanded a bigger stockpile of fabric than what Chopova and Lowena can source exclusively from their network of women in Bulgaria. Their resourcefulness has led them to abandoned factories and forgotten boxes in garages filled with buttons, haberdashery, and trinkets. With the vast majority of source material comprised of overstock, deadstock, and irregular fabrics, the basis for Chopova Lowena’s production is inherently sustainable. On average, the brand seeks 4,000 pieces of deadstock textiles each season, made possible by a team of individuals in Bulgaria.
Chopova Lowena has solidified its cult following by diversifying its collections. Although sometimes regarded as extreme and outlandish, Chopova Lowena’s designs hardly intimidate streetwear moguls. If anything, the popularity of Chopova Lowena has only substantiated the brand’s wearability.
With their archetypal skirts, patched together from Scottish tartans and mix-matched ‘70s fabrics, adapted to knife-pleat midis and schoolgirl minis, the brand has proven its ingenuity through juxtaposing fabrics and laborious techniques. The bulky wide leather belts and hefty metal carabiners that pleat their signature mini-kilts are interwoven with utilitarian and sporty elements. With references to paragliding, parachuting and equestrian vaulting through excessively flamboyant sleeves, the brand has consistently diversified its sources of inspiration. The label has also expanded into denim, adorning pieces with marbled patterns and floral embroidery. Derived from the centuries-old technique of forging Turkish tiles, talented women in Bursa, Turkey translate this generational technique onto their unique, handmade jeans. Any brand’s explosion of popularity begins a struggle in preserving artistic integrity and a sustainable business model.
The reality of running an up-and-coming fashion label is a fine balance between adhering to the expectations of the fashion industry and being creatively truthful. Both Chopova and Lowena have spoken openly about the delicacy of longevity and perseverance. By facilitating reconnection with their heritage in each piece and protecting the brand’s distinct quirks, the duo is undoubtedly a standout in the industry.
“Welcome to Chinatown”
WELCOME TO CHINA TO CHINATOWN. WEL TOWN. WELCOME TO COME TO CHINATOW CHINATOWN. WELCO WELCOME TO CHINA CHINATOWN. WELCO WELCOME TO CHINA
Written by Caitlin Chen
Photography by Maya Gee-Lim
Written by Caitlin Chen
Photography by Maya Gee-Lim
ATOWN. WELCOME LCOME TO CHINAO CHINATOWN. WELWN. WELCOME TO OME TO CHINATOWN. ATOWN. WELOME TO OME TO CHINATOWN. ATOWN. WELCOME “Welcome to Chinatown”
Written by Caitlin Chen
“WELCOME TO CHINATOWN” The garment industry is inherently woven into the threads of Chinatown’s history, a symbiotic relationship that becomes deeply rooted within the fabrics created as the chronicle unfolds. Chinatown’s existence is dichotomous; on one hand, it’s a centralized location of Chinese culture, reminiscent of its Eastern roots and a connection back to home, and on the other, it’s a symbol of xenophobic attitudes forcing immigrants into a cage of discrimination. The formation of these ethnic enclaves funneled Chinese laborers into certain industries such as the Chinatown garment industry,
Photography by Maya Gee-Lim an exploitative economy that oppressed communities to profit off of immigrants who had come to America in search of a better future. To this day, the interrelation between the apparel industry and chinatown resiliently persists as both reside at the heart of the other; Chinatown, the garment industry and its surrounding tenements would all be altered had they not been woven together throughout history. The garment industry found its foothold in Chinatown, paving the way for a long intertwined history of Chinese immigrants and the manufacturing sector of the rag trade. The origins of these sweatshops in urban locations such as New York’s or San Francisco’s Chinatown was largely due to the industry’s demand for many hands producing mass amounts of clothing in a short amount of time, all for a cheap price. Chinatown had a concentrated population of female immigrants who were in need of supplemental income and faced difficulties finding employment because of the language barrier. With populations of desperate workers, an economically efficient production model was created and Chinatown sweatshops were here to stay. From 1940 to as recent as the 1990s, sweatshop workers in American sweatshops were paid as little as 64 cents per hour to work in poorly lit, code-violating factories, sometimes on a piece-rate contract. These workers were exploited and ignored, with no union to advocate for better working conditions or wages. The government failed to acknowledge the underlying racism in our legislative system, abandoning immigrants in favor of economic growth— a phenomenon still seen today. Although the ethnic niche has mostly faded, sweatshops persist in New York City to this day. The contemporary fashion industry uses these Chinese sweatshops, relying on migrant exploitation to manufacture and keep their exclusive businesses afloat. High-end brands such as Alexander Wang negatively contribute to the Chinatown rag trade by not only gentrifying the surrounding neighborhood but also using this exploitative system to their advantage. In 2012, Wang was charged with a $50 million lawsuit insinuating that his Chinatown studio was a cover-up for a contemporary sweatshop. Despite his luxury grunge items selling for hundreds to thousands of dollars, the working conditions and pay were subhuman, reflective of the sweatshops from the past. Wang relied on a system that abused generations of Chinese immigrants, allowing for the persistence of the oppressive exploitation that characterizes the Chinatown rag trade. Despite the exploitative manner of these contemporary Chinatown sweatshops, some Asian American designers located near Manhattan are attempting to revitalize the Chinatown garment industry in a way that honors laborers from the past. The ascension of Asian Americans in the fashion industry allows for a multifaceted and more equal-footed relationship between Chinatown and the garment industry. And although there’s a thin line between revamping and using an existing system for profit, certain designers like Phillip Lim genuinely pay tribute to those who spent their lives toiling away in a sweatshop by focusing their brands on ethical fashion and Asian-influenced fashion trends. Just last year, Lim moved his studio from lower Manhattan straight to the bustling heart of New York City’s Chinatown in response to increasing instances of racially motivated attacks on Asian Americans. He’s physically present within the neighborhood, using his brand to advocate on behalf of the AAPI community. Lim’s designs transcend tangible textiles and material aesthetics, instead of using needles and thread to weave a tale of endurance, resilience, and camaraderie. By rejecting the garment industry’s historical and contemporary exploitation in the Chinatown community, this new generation of Asian American designers is using advocacy as fuel and inspiration for their art. It’s a celebration of our culture, an homage to the struggle that our ancestors endured, and a step towards reclaiming our history. Every stitch sewn by a 媽媽 (māmā), 奶奶 (nǎinai), or 阿姨 (āyí) holds a story within its strands waiting to be uncovered and told. It’s time to explore these unspoken words hidden in the crevices of our history as we bring to light the tales of our ancestors, the burden they endured and most importantly, the resilience they showed in the face of adversity— the same strength we have running through our veins today.
“By rejecting the garment industry’s historical and contemporary exploitation in the Chinatown community, this new generation of Asian American designers is using advocacy as fuel and inspiration for their art. It’s a celebration of our culture, an homage to the struggle that our ancestors endured, and a step towards reclaiming our history.”
WRITTEN BY CAITLIN CHEN & PH
HOTOGRAPHED BY MAYA GEE-LIM
“It’s time to explore these unspoken words hidden in the crevices of our history as we bring to light the tales of our ancestors, the burden they endured and most importantly, the resilience they showed in the face of adversity— the same strength we have running through our veins today.”
阿 姨 “āyí”
Photography by Young Jae Shin
Andrew Kim, better known as ND Kim, is a multidisciplinary creator originally based in New York City. From photography to graphic design to cinematography, ND’s portfolio features collaborations with Vogue, FILA, 88rising, and Opening Ceremony, among many others. Across all mediums, he creates authentic work that is trendy yet vintage, with a sophisticated take on experimental ideas. Read on to learn about the artist creating a new culture of community through his own lens of identity.
Q: How does resilience and your identity play into your creative endeavors? ND: Resilience is one of the most important abilities in my life which not only affects the way I find myself but also affects the way I solve problems. Sometimes, it’s hard for people to realize how impossible it is to avoid failure and to understand how to be optimistic about gaining valuable knowledge from what you might have thought the failures were. While everyone probably has their own way of resilience, whenever I feel like I’m in a gutter, (rather, if the problem is from work, family, friends, physical and mental health, etc.) I try to take care of myself by being isolated from the crowds and anything I might have to spend energy on. And while I’m in the healing process, I think that’s when I get the most creative energy and become more ready to accept failure as an enjoyable challenge. Once you are ready to challenge yourself without fears, that’s when you can be fearless and go further into the wider range of creative processes with passion.
Q: What do you aim to achieve with the way you cultivate fashion campaigns and what is the biggest inspiration for your creative direction? ND: I usually like to use ‘golden ratio’ as a reference when I’m trying to find a good composition. Yet, there isn’t a specific guideline to find one either. What I have noticed from being involved in both still photography and cinematography is that it is helpful to have a package of storytelling with a variety of angles and shots. For example, you will find the images more interesting when you see a set of scenes including close-ups, mids and wide shots with different angles, jesters, or anything you can think of. By having a package, you can tell a story or mood with a bigger spectrum. I’m not necessarily trying to cultivate a scene in the fashion industry even though I’m closely working with them. As much as I have passion and respect for fashion, photography and cinematography, I’m using these mediums to cultivate my own identity as a multi-artist and to hopefully build a community in the future––which brings me to my inspiration for my creative direction. My vision is to connect the pieces by working together with the right people to create a new culture and a movement. I’m grateful to be surrounded by talented people and to develop a partnership with them, but I also want to brand myself in a way for people to trust me with my vision. These goals are the biggest motivations for me to continue pushing with a strong belief that the innovative creative direction comes from a collective with similar visions.
Photography by Young Jae Shin
The late Daniel Dumile’s alter ego, MF DOOM, is often regarded as the father of modern rap. His musical influence is prominent in the works of renowned artists such as Tyler, the Creator, Childish Gambino, and Drake. Regarding his identity, Dumile’s love of comic books initially drew him towards the metal-masked villain of Doctor Doom, transforming this character into the unofficial mascot of MF DOOM. Since his 1997 debut, MF DOOM and his metal mask has sent shockwaves through the music scene. MF DOOM quickly became a rap superstar thanks to his rhythmic and poetic lyrics paired with his brazen supervillain alter ego. His career is truly one of the most celebrated legacies of the rap scene, and following his recent passing, MF DOOM’s modified Gladiator mask has engrained itself as an icon in rap history.
RACHEL FENG + SEY YANG
KNITWEAR MORE THAN A SWEATER 44
A hand-knit sweater is perhaps one of the most intimate gifts one can receive. The warm, plush yarn and the labor behind a piece make each knitted item special to both the creator and the consumer. This emphasis on individual labor and appreciation for truly meaningful pieces make knitwear a particularly sustainable craft. It is also a dynamic and living one, an art that allows for deliberate creative expression and political statements. From “craftivists” using yarn to protest unethical fashion to contemporary designers breathing new life and youthfulness into the craft, knitting has been and likely always will be a crucial part of our sustainable fashion lexicon. Knitwear’s handmade beginnings are based on slow production. This inherently political nature lends itself well to promoting larger causes. In 2003, Cat Mazza, an American textile artist, worked with crafters around the globe to create a 15-foot-long blanket of individual knitted and crocheted squares to protest Nike’s abusive labor practices. Mazza aimed to highlight the amount of labor that is put into every piece of clothing that Nike sells. Companies like Nike seek to hide the millions of workers behind their products, but, in reality, garment production relies on real people who suffer from the harsh consequences of unethical labor. In the Clean Clothes Campaign’s Tailored Wages UK 2019 report, Nike received the worst rating, as the brand was unable to show evidence of paying any worker a living wage. While capitalism creates patterns of fast fashion that incentivize the total neglect of workers’ rights, many knitters insist upon personal and small-scale processes that renounce the cruelty of mass production.
While capitalism creates patterns of fast fashion that incentivize the total neglect of workers’ rights, many knitters insist upon personal and small-scale processes that renounce the cruelty of mass production. Part of the appeal of knitwear comes from this association with homeyness and domesticity, ideas that simply cannot be conveyed through mass-produced pieces. Hannah Stote, a UK-based knitwear designer, centers slow fashion in all of her pieces. By playing with simple silhouettes combined with innovative textures, she aims to make her designs both unique and classic, allowing them to withstand the test of time. Her graduate collection of 2019 was inspired by traditional British fishing villages and the folklore of the fisherman’s gansey, a knitted sweater with stitch patterns that were supposedly identifiable to each specific village. The collection’s color palette, filled with creams, yellows and muted aquamarines, was similarly inspired by the colors of a fisherman’s world, from the ocean to the fishing net. The wool yarns used in Stote’s collection were primarily made from British sheep wool and spun in British factories in order to support the local wool industry and minimize her carbon footprint. Stote’s dedication to sustainability as a core part of her fashion ethos goes to show that sustainable fashion does
not have to be plain. Rather, her pieces are fluid, complex and gentle all at the same time.
Stote’s dedication to sustainability as a core part of her fashion ethos goes to show that sustainable fashion does not have to be plain. Emma Gudmundson, a recent graduate from The Swedish School of Textiles, is another sustainable young knitwear designer, one who aspires to reinvent knitwear into something exciting and provocative. Her collection “Floats” reimagines knitwear as more than thick sweaters and woolly socks—her pieces are figure-hugging and sensual, using experimental, zero-waste knit techniques that create tantalizingly see-through silhouettes. Gudmundson sees zero-waste as a given in knitwear. The simultaneous process of fabric creation and garment production present in creating knitwear means that there is simply no reason for waste.
The simultaneous process of fabric creation and garment production present in creating knitwear means that there is simply no reason for waste. By combining flotations and hook-up stitches using her domestic knitting machine, Gudmundson is able to build 3-D structure and dimension, resulting in abstract pieces that move with the wearer. Inspired by sea creatures like the mandarin fish and flower hat jellyfish, Gudmundson also employs ombre yarns and colorful swirls in vibrant and exciting neons. Her pieces are at once natural and futuristic. The texture of the knit is reminiscent of nature’s many movements and curves with its intricate details and fragility, but Gudmundson’s structural understanding of how human silhouettes interact with fabric makes her a pioneering force in knitwear design. Knitting is often associated with tradition and the oldfashioned. It is seen as a stuffy, tedious craft, one that has remained stagnant for decades. However, its “tedious” nature is linked to its sustainability—meticulously stitching together threads of yarn with a semi-automatic knitting machine or even by needle may be time-consuming, but it redirects our understanding of fashion away from trendy, mass-produced garments and towards personal, long-lasting ones. Knitwear prioritizes resiliency. Rather than simply regurgitating the ever-changing trends of the month, small knitwear designers like Stote and Gudmundson work to create sophisticated statement pieces that will last a lifetime.
Rather than simply regurgitating the everchanging trends of the month, small knitwear designers like Stote and Gudmundson work to create sophisticated statement pieces that will last 47
WRITTEN BY RACHEL FENG
CREA KNITWEA THAT TH SIMPLY NO FOR W 48
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SEY YANG
ATING AR MEANS HERE IS O REASON WASTE 49
Sue Ellen Zhang
PROJECTIONS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL RESILIENCE The origin of surrealism is rooted in escapism. After the World Wars, many artists explored their aversions of war and traditional social structures, and because of this, they created art that was a reflection of their subconscious. This art form became a projection of psychological resilience. Surrealism in fashion began during this time with Elsa Schiaparelli’s collection with Salvador Dali, and her work has influenced a lot of modern designers. In fashion, surrealism is a rejection of traditional styles with novelty styles and abstract silhouettes. These pieces incorporate surrealist fashion pieces with a surrealist painting style. Highlighting the infamous lobster dress from Elsa Schiaparelli’s collection, Jean Paul Gaultier’s version of Schiaparelli’s Skeleton dress, and shoes by Marc Jacobs. These pieces all accomplish the eerie undertones of surrealism and how it pushes past the traditional elements of fashion.
TH E D R ES S FO R
BY CASEY NGUYEN
O F O U R LI VES
TH E R ES T
My grandma had three sons, and my father was the middle child. But to everyone’s surprise, he was the first to get married in 1990. This year was an arduous time for poverty-stricken Vietnam, with most people living hand-to-mouth and the collective attempts to heal from the devastation of the war just a decade prior. Amid all this hardship, a wedding in the cold winter months was a warm and much-welcomed respite. Grandma told me, rather humorously, that one of the costs that caught her off guard was all of the clothing that was involved.
“Everything was custom. Everything was colorful. Everything was costly”, she recalled. Per Vietnamese traditions, she paid for my mom’s wedding dress and a bright red Ao Dai––a traditional Vietnamese dress––for the reception. Grandma also got something for herself, of course. She donned a sleek black velvet dress, subtly studded from top to bottom with crystals and according to her, “it was the best thing money could buy.” I was surprised when I visited my grandparent’s house for lunch one day, only to find that the old photograph was in near perfect condition since my parent’s wedding day. “It isn’t without its scars, however. My body is not how it used to be, and life happened to it too, of course, so I had the dress altered a few times. But that hasn’t stopped me from giving it the light of day sometimes,” my grandma said of her gown. “So it carries a lot of history for you?” I asked.
“I spent so much getting it custom-fit because it felt to me like a new chapter of my life. My sons were getting married and getting good jobs. My grandchildren were being born. And for the first time, in a long time, we didn’t have to worry so much about the bombs and the bullets. Velvet was a heavy and expensive fabric back then, so it seemed about asagood a time as any to mark this watershed moment with a dress to last the ages,” she gently explained. “I take it you’ll wear it to my wedding too?” I replied humorously. She burst out laughing and rubbed my head.
EVE R W E AR ? ”
“ W H AT E L S E
W O U LD I
Crafted specifically for each person, the áo dài’s flattering silhouette allows its wearers to move with grace. Its characteristic front and back panels slit at the waist, giving its wearers room to stride comfortably, yet elegantly through any space. Considered a symbol of Vietnamese femininity, this traditional, full-length dress hugs the womanly figure, accentuating its natural shape while modestly concealing the body with its length. Sensual but elegant, the dual nature of this Vietnamese traditional dress ensures its timelessness. A garment that is constantly evolving, the áo dài is very much alive.
Its individual history is a time capsule of events that have deeply impressed themselves onto Vietnamese consciousness. A century of French colonization has manifested itself onto the áo dài through pervasive Western influence. Drawing inspiration from elements of Western fashion, Le Mur, a Hanoian designer of the 1930s, boldly traded the garment’s loose silhouette for one that clung to the feminine body, embellishing it with a broad neckline and raised, puffy sleeves, sexualizing the traditional dress. Although some believed the changes to be fashionable, the modified áo dài was met with much outrage. In a culture where modesty is central in their conception of femininity, the added promiscuity had no place, and Western influence was an unwelcome guest.
Perhaps then, the controversy surrounding the changes to the áo dài was simply a reflection of Vietnamese attitudes towards French colonization. Like the French invasion of Vietnam, French-inspired modifications were perceived as an intrusion into the fashion space, done without regard for traditional values. In the 1940s, Painter Le Pho modified Le Mur’s dress by removing the decorative sleeves and adding a high, closed neckline, but chose to keep the flattering silhouette. Because he infused elements that made Le Mur’s dress increasingly conservative and therefore more in line with Vietnamese values of modesty, this version of the áo dài was met with widespread approval and is regarded as fashionable even in modern times. The preservation of the tight silhouette is a relic of French imperialism and is indicative of the lens through which Vietnamese people view this period of their history; although French colonization rightfully evokes feelings of resentment, and perhaps even shame, it is inevitably a part of Vietnamese history.
Over time, the áo dài has transformed from a garment that has simply evolved alongside Vietnamese history into a national symbol of Vietnamese culture. The end of French colonization split the country into two, founding the polarizing beliefs that both sides held towards the áo dài. In the midst of the Vietnam War, when the United States strongly backed the French in an attempt to ward off communism, Madame Nhu, the first lady of South Vietnam, implemented a variety of controversial changes to the áo dài. Her adoption of the V-shaped neckline and shorter sleeves once again added an element of promiscuity to the traditional dress. These Western-inspired modifications symbolized the growing relationship between South Vietnam and the United States and embodied the South’s experimentation with both democracy and capitalism. Consequently, Northern leaders discouraged the use of the traditional dress, believing it to be an item of luxury: too beautiful, and not at all functional for the working class. In this way, the North projected their fears of capitalism and their uneasiness with the United States’ occupation onto the áo dài. Thus, their rejection of the garment was a symbolic demonstration of their opposition to both. These fragmented attitudes toward the garment paralleled how the North and South adopted the opposing ideologies of capitalism and communism and illustrated how the áo dài had become a symbol of Vietnam. Underlying the conflicting perspectives towards the áo dài was Vietnam’s fragmented national identity—how it had become a microcosm of the Cold War. It was not until after the reunification of the two sides were the attitudes toward the áo dài able to be reconciled. Enduring centuries of politicization, the áo dài has earned its status as Vietnam’s national fabric. In modern times, this versatile garment is adorned by all for a variety of special occasions, including weddings, Lunar New Year, and funerals.
Worn in times of both joy and sorrow, the áo dài has held Vietnamese people throughout the course of their tumultuous history and is intimately tied to how they feel about their heritage. Its evolution not only points to its own durability but also illustrates the resilience of unique Vietnamese culture, one that has withstood the infringement of foreigners, time and time again.
A Note on Romance with Kenneth Nicholson
Kenneth Nicholson is an American fashion designer liberating the scope of menswear by focusing on innovative techniques based on silhouettes and texturing. Launched in 2016, his eponymous label centers around a militaristic aesthetic influenced by art history to create a brand that is, in his own words, “for the fully expressed man.” META MAG sat down with Kenneth Nicholson to learn more about the cultivation of his brand and most recent collection, From Grandma’s Couch. In April 2021, Nicholson was one of the ten recipients of the CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund Awards. Read on to discover the creator behind revolutionizing the fully expressed man.
Q: What does resilience mean to you and your brand? Kenneth: I’d say over the years I’ve forged a familiar relationship with resilience. My career path to this point has been an accumulation of repetitive knocking and pushing myself into spaces. However, the resistance ultimately aided my already resolute nature of achieving my end goal. I found that staying agile is as much a virtue as it is a dessert. When thinking about resilience as it relates to the actual work, it’s very interesting. Craftsmanship has always been a big part of my design. The techniques that I use in the work aids in the longevity of the garments. It’s important that the work is able to be enjoyed over many, many years.
Q: How did you come up with the concept for your short film, “Grasp”, and how does your brand reflect these ideas of toxic masculinity and societal pressures? Kenneth: Once we learned about the state of fashion presentations while in the throws of the global crisis we quickly restructured our approach of producing a physical presentation to a digital solution. When I wrapped my head around this change, the story came fairly rhythmically. I knew I wanted to incorporate notions that I absolutely love such as romance, ease, classical elements and tradition. Being a short story I felt there needed to be the presence of conflict, a sort of tension that threatened to disrupt the free-flowing atmosphere of our 13-minute story. Drawing from my own childhood, the work that I create comes from a sprit-deep place with a mission to edify. The work is a proposition to brings the client into a space where there is an opportunity to emote and be fully expressed by way of their sartorial choices.
Q: How has your upbringing influenced your craft? Kenneth: As a child, I was extremely sensitive. I was always naturally drawn to the beauty in things and in situations. For me the pure emotion that clothing could evoke felt like something that everyone should have access to. I often found that my options to be fully expressed ran limited when compared to my sisters or girls that I would see at church. I just wanted to have that option of what a lace trim or a ruffle around the neck could evoke on any given day. There was also beauty that I saw in family gatherings after Sunday service. The care that went into the dinners, noting that their presentation was just as important as the actual fare. I was very much aware of the atmosphere and how the accumulation of seemingly small choices could create a whole experience.
Resilience in times of devastation emerges from individuals who challenge society in the midst of abnormality and unease. World War II was no stranger to such devastation, and the cultural mood was grim. The roles and responsibilities of women shifted alongside the demands of the war, and women’s fashion changed with them. Eventually, these modifications became normalized in post-war society, and one aspiring designer felt the urge to confront these normalities through his creative ideas. His name was Christian Dior, and the humble beginnings of his eponymous luxury fashion house began as a vision to alter the grim outlook of post-war society. As World War II progressed, gender roles began to shift as women started joining the workforce. Women became not only the sole caretakers of the household but also critical workers in factories, power plants, and government and military organizations. Fashion adjusted with this redefinition of a woman’s role in society. The cuts and color of women’s clothing became increasingly bland and simplistic as a reflection of the sullen uncertainty as a result of the war. Blouses and jackets assumed a more militarized and masculine frame with boxy silhouettes and overstuffed shoulder pads. Style shifted towards a preference for practicality, relying on jeans and khaki jackets, articles that were previously associated with masculinity, rather than dresses and heels in order to work new, laborintensive jobs. The war concluded with sighs of relief and new roles for women, but society was still permeated with a bleak mood in preparation for the long road to recovery ahead. Although the war had ended, the women’s fashion scene still reflected militaristic simplicity. This fueled Christian Dior, then a small Parisian designer, to reproduce his definition of the feminine image. Dior, inspired with a passion to challenge the current definitions of feminine fashion, arose from the ashes of the war in hopes of bringing his visions and new designs to life.
Dior’s primary goal was to redefine the postwar woman from a militaristic, masculine figure to one that was beautiful and feminine— everything the war was not. Dior united his definition of femininity with fashion in his first collection, “Corelle.” Launched on February 12th, 1947, two years after the end of World War II, “Corelle” completely remodeled women’s fashion. In his studio on Paris’s
Avenue Montaigne, Dior introduced the “New Look.” This design featured rounded shoulders, a cinched waist, and a full skirt.
In direct opposition to the simplistic boxy styles popular in women’s fashion at the time, the “New Look” celebrated ultra-femininity and luxury. Dior’s Bar jacket, in particular, was an architectural masterpiece due to its structural elements that conceived the new feminine silhouette. The Bar jacket was made with four yards of silk shantung in a muted ivory shade, padded at the hipline for a more rounded, feminine shape. The Bar jacket became a powerful symbol because it directly opposed the monochrome and masculine style that was so common. Another iconic piece in the collection, the Cherie dress, similarly exemplified the “New Look’s” polished appearance. Demanding to be noticed, the Cherie dress featured a sloped shoulder, raised bustline, narrowed waist, and a monumental volume of skirt falling away from the padded hipline to below the calf. The Cherie dress displayed a revitalized method of dress-making that took structure and volume into account to construct a sculptural masterpiece of fabric. After the entranced eyes of viewers passed this flurry of new designs, Dior was received with an uproarious standing ovation. Dior’s designs soon made the covers of Life magazine, making him an instant celebrity. His designs were soon seen on celebrities and royalty, leading up to a frenzy of admiration by women all over. The “Corelle” collection was a direct weapon against a post-war society starved of luxury and femininity, giving way to a revolution in female fashion and the start of a fashion renaissance. The feminine image that was lost during the war was reimagined and reinvented through the visions of Dior. They were immediately embraced by women all over Paris, then the world. These designs gave women a renewed sense of femininity after being subjected to masculinization during the war, as well as a new sense of energetic optimism for the future. Dior was resilient and persistent in his desire to allow women to be presented without the gloom of war fogging her image. Through his collection, Dior aspired to allow women to be seen as an embodiment of his definition of a woman: a driving force in power, strength, and beauty.
WRITTEN BY JORDAN MULA
ILLUSTRATED BY CATHERINE CHU
“PUNK ETIQUETTE AS A GUIDE FOR GEN Z” In the early seventies, Vivienne Westwood gave birth to a punk revolution that has since amended fashion forever. Her shop, comanaged with Malcom McLaren and located at 430 Kings Road, became an emblem for the disgruntled and disenfranchised generation of British youth in the mid-1970s, and its significance has since transcended generations. Often credited as the mother of punk, Westwood was the premier designer to blend fashion with music and politics with the purpose of igniting discomforting conversation. By 1972, Westwood and McLaren had become fully invested in fetish wear and in 1974, she and McLaren renamed their shop to “SEX,” to emulate an “underground” sexual taste. The pair wanted to shock people with provocative clothing that referenced a certain deviance with pieces like rubber dresses and spiked stilettos. The shop overflowed with leather, torn pieces, and tops enriched
with metal chains and safety pins. Debuted in autumn of 1982, a period in which Westwood split from McLaren, her collection Punkature featured distressed fabrics to recycled junk, and pre-washed and over-printed garments. WHILE DESTROYED T-SHIRTS WERE EN VOGUE, WESTWOOD’S MAIN NOTORIETY WAS HER ANTIESTABLISHMENT SENTIMENT. These fabrics and garments, imbued with a punk sensibility, were meant to spur sociopolitical statements. Westwood produced erotic graphics as well– there were t-shirts with naked breasts printed at chest height and even pornographic cowboys. This punk sensibility of harnessing fashion as a method of responding to politics has since resonated with Generation Z. In the present moment, Gen Zers are on the cusp of adulthood awaiting unprecedented futures. They are a generation known to associate themselves with their political affiliation more than a stereotypical clique, which perhaps separates them from their elders in a profound way. With the weight of having to reconcile with issues that are often ignored by older generations who tend to occupy more positions of influence, today’s teenagers are exhibiting similar attitudes to those in the mid-‘70s. IN THE SAME WAY THAT THE STRAIGHT EDGE PUNK MOVEMENT CONSIDERED SOBRIETY, VEGANISM, AND ANIMAL RIGHTS THE AUTHENTIC ETHICS OF PUNK, GEN ZERS MAY EXPRESS THEMSELVES THROUGH WHAT THEY STAND FOR RATHER THAN FRIVOLOUS AESTHETICS. The potent generational divide that hinders political action is what most connects Gen Z and the youth of the ‘70s. Punk sensibility offers this sense of cliche resilience that places an emphasis on teenage rebellion against earlier generations who may not prioritize their futures. As a result of Westwood’s punk era, fashion, music and politics are inseparable. Now, youths tend to gravitate more towards grunge modes than luxury in lieu of our changing climate. By popularizing thrifting and
ILLUSTRATED BY CATHERINE CHU
the recycling of clothes, Gen Z has effectively made high-class fashion affordable and accessible, which is perhaps the most punk anti-establishment sensibility of all. Westwood herself has been known for modernizing historical pieces and shedding light on taboo elements of the past. Her modernization of the corset speaks to feminism in a way that has since resonated with younger consumers en masse and exemplifies her seamless blending of politics and fashion. The Sex Pistols, as influenced by Westwood, were iconic in how they used profanity to gather publicity in provoking change. While Westwood’s interpretation of punk embraced fetish dress wear, she still maintained the gender-fluid component of punk in her designs. GEN Z’S ABANDONMENT OF TRADITIONAL GENDER ROLES IN FASHION IS REMINISCENT OF THIS LIBERATING ASPECT OF PUNK AND MAY BE REFLECTIVE OF THE GENERATION’S PROGRESSIVE POLITICAL PERSONA. Doc Martens, oversized clothing, or men wearing skirts, for example, may be associated with left-leaning beliefs. All blur the lines of gender as well, suggesting how punk fashion is centered around the notion of youth rebellion more than pure sexual aesthetics. The most definitive element of punk is teenage angst. In these times saturated with political turmoil, Gen Zers struggle to feel heard. Issues that exacerbate the disconnect between generations, such as gun violence and global warming, may be why Gen Zers are embracing punk attitudes as a form of resilience. The current revival of punk sensibility in fashion reiterates the notion that fashion is often a reaction to politics. Rebellion is critical in Gen Z’s attempt to catalyze change as punk has offered a guidebook for utilizing clothing to influence the sociopolitical sphere through its etiquette of blurring class and gender lines with grunge oversized silhouettes and provocative sexualized pieces. Both are suggestive of modern youth’s resilience against elder generations’ inattention to their futures, leading Gen Zers to identify themselves through a lens of refurbished punk ethos. Colored hair and ripped jeans are not simply part of an aesthetic—they are a statement of solidarity.
WRITTEN BY JORDAN MULA
META MAG x COACH
The Beginning of Tomorrow: Coach Everything begins with C. Creativity. Celebration. Confidence. Color. As we move forward, we celebrate the past four years of our lives and cherish the memories we’ve made together. From all the laughs to the late nights, we hold yesterday in our hearts, but the beginning of tomorrow starts now, with you and Coach.
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY SALSA MAZLAN
YOHJI YA CARRIER CRAFTSMA
ILLUSTRATIONS BY SEJUN PARK
AMAMOTO: OF ANSHIP 87
Swathes of black take over the runway floor as the first model emerges from backstage at the 1981 Paris Fashion Week show. Wearing oversized, asymmetric garments consisting of various textures, these models debut what eventually becomes the highly recognized, ultra-avantgarde eponymous label, Yohji Yamamoto. Yamamoto’s clothes juxtaposed greatly from the contemporary jolie madame aesthetic of vivid hues and highly tailored, tightly fitted, doll-like clothes. Often resembling a haphazard assembly of black drapery with solid highlights of pristine white or a fragile red, Yamamoto’s designs sought a mélange of influences, mostly from Japanese ritual and Western couture. Perhaps it was altogether his incorporation of Japanese attitudes, the adamant use of the color black, as well as his profound understanding of the relationship between fabric and the body that made his dark-colored suits and white shirts—worn by both genders— some of his most enduring pieces across his career. Reared by his widowed mother towards the end of World War II, Yohji Yamamoto had initially been encouraged to practice law—a degree he obtained but never fully utilized. His entryway into the fashion world opened up as he became more involved in assisting his mother’s dressmaking business, introducing him to the fundamentals of Japanese craftsmanship and in particular, the practice of tailoring clothes to a woman’s body. Yamamoto eventually went on to study fashion design at the prestigious Bunka Fashion College, the school which also famously trained Kenzo Takada and Junya Watanabe of Comme des Garçons. Although starting off as an anonymous creator around 1970, Yamamoto was soon defined internationally as a prominent Japanese designer. In presenting these loose silhouettes that seemingly lack any marked elements of frontality, or the inside and outside of the clothing, Yamamoto draws his audience to search for beauty in the natural, the hidden and the imperfect.
YAMAMOTO DRAWS HIS AUDIENCE TO SEARCH FOR BEAUTY IN THE NATURAL, THE HIDDEN AND THE IMPERFECT. His latest Fall 2021 Menswear collection, for instance, featured highly exaggerated draped pants, armor-like, weighty coats built epically around the body, muzzle-style masks and metal-mesh gloves, needless to say, all in black and bondage—a punk-look now quintessential of Yamamoto. Despite the steely, steadfast air of the clothing’s stiffness and use of metal and leather, the models seemed more fraught than fierce. Softened by corseting details, the subtle sparkle of neoprenelike coats, and the scattering of rose petal print, this collection evidently aspired to broaden the spectrum of masculinity, capturing a tenderness and poignance that usually remains veiled.
THIS COLLECTION EVIDENTLY ASPIRED TO BROADEN THE SPECTRUM OF MASCULINITY, CAPTURING A TENDERNESS AND POIGNANCE THAT USUALLY REMAINS VEILED. 89
These shifting meanings and attitudes are rooted in the Japanese worldview of wabi-sabi, which centers around the acceptance and oftentimes, the celebration, of transience and fragmentation. Gender ambiguity has been consistently explored throughout Japan’s history of the arts, from cross-gender role-playing in Kabuki theatre to Yasumasa Morimura’s Daughter of Art History photographs. Yamamoto’s androgynous designs seek to not only blur notions of femininity and masculinity but also to protect and conceal the woman’s body, “maybe from men’s eyes or a cold wind”. His layering pieces, long hemlines and dark colors extend beyond equalizing the male aesthetic with the female; his fabrics provide shelter and safety to women who want to feel confident, proud and brave in their clothes. There is a continued sense of concealing rather than revealing the body, perhaps as he begins every design with fabric as opposed to silhouette, a typically Japanese approach.
THERE IS A CONTINUED SENSE OF CONCEALING RATHER THAN REVEALING THE BODY. Fabric is further emphasized with the choice of the color black, for it is a shade that focuses one’s attention on cut and proportion. Yamamoto has described black to be simultaneously “modest and arrogant”, unrelenting and individualistic in posture yet solitary and neutralizing. In Western history, black has been largely connoted with self-conscious modernist or postmodernist theories and assumptions. Furthermore, within the context of World War II, Japan was thrust into a period of both sociopolitical and aesthetic quandary, of which black played into as a means to showcase and process the ruptures caused by war—of poverty and devastation. Yamamoto may have also predominantly molded black, charcoal grey, navy blue, among others, into his collections to provide an alternative to bourgeois dress. Praised for being a master of craftsmanship and a philosophical dreamer, it is this blend of European thought, postwar attitudes and the modern urban landscape that give rise to his marvelously engineered sculptures. Evoking erotic appeal and strength in simplicity, Yamamoto effectively creates pieces that are reflective of life, pieces that can be kept for years. He embodies a creativity that is at risk of disappearing in a time of heavily mechanized and mindless mass production of fashion.
HE EMBODIES A CREATIVITY THAT IS AT RISK OF DISAPPEARING IN A TIME OF HEAVILY MECHANIZED AND MINDLESS MASS PRODUCTION OF FASHION.
Sheridan Tjhung is a Chinese-Australian florist-turned-accessories designer who established her venture ‘Sheridan Tjhung Accoutrements’ in 2018. Tjhung’s work explores a romantic aesthetic through meticulous detailing with delicate flowers and draped ribbons to reflect an iridescent sense of magic. She made her debut at New York and Paris Fashion Week in 2020 alongside Christian Cowan and Giamattista Valli. Today, Tjhung’s celestial accessories have been sported by artists like Billie Eilish, Bad Bunny, Charli XCX, Ciara, Becky G, and Grimes. Read on to discover functional opulence with Sheridan Tjhung.
WHAT DOES RESILIENCE MEAN TO YOU AND YOUR BRAND? Sheridan: Resilience is a combination of things. When I first started out, I had this expectation towards growing my brand in the eyes of big labels or celebrities or whatever I was looking forward to, but when it didn’t happen, I kind of let myself get down about it. I would ask myself if I was even good enough. But then I realized that not setting up certain expectations makes it cooler when things do happen. Where I’m at now, I’m still plotting my own stepping stones of where I’m going. And some days, I just don’t feel it. We need to be kinder to ourselves. We need to take away that expectation of being the most absolute version of ourselves. And how I do that for myself is to take those days off. To take the pressure off. Giving myself space means allowing for more moments where I can really hit my stride, and this is reflected in the brand’s sense of creative freedom. I don’t box myself in or set up any expectations, but the freedom to be anywhere is what I like.
Lizzo wearing Sheridan Tjhung for Quay
Sheridan Tjhung’s Peep Show Photo Courtesy of Sheridan Tjhung
AS A FORMER FLORIST, WHY WERE YOU INITIALLY INSPIRED TO CREATE WORK WITH NATURE AND FLOWERS? Sheridan: It sounds so cheesy but it’s just something that’s always been in me. I remember coming home from school every day and my mum would have to stop at this certain bush so that I could get out and smell them. Every single time. There’s just this weird thing where I’ve always been really drawn to being a florist or playing with flowers. Nature just has this sense of profound beauty. Flowers have this sense of beauty, but only for a fleeting moment so it forces you to become somewhat present and appreciate something in front of you as you know it’s dying. I always incorporate it into the current brand because nothing feels more true to me and my aesthetic. That floral element or natural influence, even just bugs or birds, there’s always a sense of beauty around nature where it’s timeless. I just love it.
HOW HAS YOUR CHINESE-AUSTRALIAN HERITAGE INFLUENCED YOUR ART? Sheridan: The cultural influence on some pieces will be a lot heavier, but I think the undertone is not so much a direct result of my Chinese-Australian heritage; instead, Asian culture has this idea of opulence. And the whole brand tends to embody that. Many beautiful traditional paintings have a sense of opulence and regality, but it’s always still got a softness to them. It’s still a little femme. Realistically, it’s that sense of functional opulence that has its tie back to heritage. But I think some of the pieces have traits that are more prevalent to the eye, but the influence will always just carry through me. Even in my floral work, you’ll see that I love cranes. I am just so in love with it because it feels so romantic as it represents longevity and love, so it plays out more than I realize. I find some things so beautiful, and being able to share these cultural connotations with a broader audience is a privilege. And besides, we need more Asian creatives! Love to see it. As I grew up, I began to understand my cultural heritage better and I’ve never been more proud of being Asian. It’s that sense of identity.
Charli XCX wearing the Diamond Mouth Mask Photo by Henry Redcliffe
AVA ALEXIADES + NICHOLAS RODRIGUEZ
WHERE WE ARE AND HOW WE GOT HERE
An interview explores the growth and resilience that young people face when discovering their identity through the clothes they wear. To view the full interview, visit our interactive editorial at metaresilience.cargo.site
FACING FASHION EXTINCTION Elias Omar + Sofija Ninness
The fashion industry has constantly evolved to overcome the challenges of its time. Today, it faces one of its biggest challenges: its contribution to the planet’s loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity is essential to our lives on Earth, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. Without enough of it, the balance of nature crumbles.
Overproduction is yet another major problem in the fashion industry; due to the pressures of fast fashion, large companies produce far more clothes than they can sell and throw whatever they cannot sell into giant landfills, simultaneously taking up space and allowing chemicals in the clothing to leak over time.
Biodiversity is essential to our lives on Earth, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear.
So, what can be done about this? Perhaps the most important way to combat the loss of biodiversity is investing in new material and process innovation. Current sourcing of raw materials and their treatments is incredibly harmful and unsustainable. Development departments of major corporations have spent years researching how to create synthetic materials like PTE; now, they must spend even more money and time creating materials that are environmentally friendly and long-lasting. Not only that, the production and processing of new raw materials must be scaled to an industrial level, which remains the biggest barrier to innovation in sustainable fashion.
Textiles and other raw materials used in the fashion industry come from natural fibers found in plants and animals. Supply chains rely on the continuous production and cultivation of these materials in order to create clothing for consumers. But, this process takes a heavy toll on ecosystems worldwide. If the industry wants to survive, it has to find new sources of raw materials and utilize cleaner methods of production. In order to continue its existence, fashion must prove that it can change how clothes are made by adapting to the demands of the planet.
In order to continue its existence, fashion must prove that it can change how clothes are made by adapting to the demands of the planet. Materials used in fashion are now largely obtained from agriculture as opposed to wild animals and plants. However, agriculture, especially on an industrial scale, still threatens species, albeit in a different way. More than four billion hectares of land are used for agriculture alone, taking up space once meant for wildlife and disrupting natural food chains in the process. Grazing land is taken from herbivores, such as deer. Pesticides used on crops leak into freshwater, not only poisoning aquatic and marine life but seeping into the soil, causing long-term soil degradation. Natural land is also destroyed and mined for petroleum-based synthetic fibers. A perfect example of the fashion industry’s detrimental impact on the environment is cotton production, the most used textile in the world. Although it only takes up 2.4% of the world’s cropland, it accounts for 22.5% of pesticide use. Furthermore, it is highly water-intensive—it’s estimated that 713 gallons are used to produce a single cotton T-shirt.
Perhaps the most important way to combat the loss of biodiversity is investing in new material and process innovation. Plant-based fibers from new sources could be a solution, particularly those made from cellulose. Lyocell— also branded as TENCELTM—is a cellulose-based fiber made from dissolved and respun wood pulp, one that has gained popularity since the 2010s as an alternative to common fibers such as linen and cotton. This fiber requires fewer chemicals for treatment, is biodegradable, and has a versatility that makes it especially popular in active and leisurewear. Lyocell and similar plant-based fibers could be the future of fashion. Big brands like Banana Republic have already experimented with Lyocell products, and the fiber has even made it to the Oscars red carpet. In 2021, for the second year in a row, Red Carpet Green DressTM partnered with TENCELTM to create lyocell clothing, designed by Louis Vuitton, for stars like Lea Seydoux of James Bond fame. Another company utilizing cellulose-based fibers is Spinnova. Spinnova prides itself on not using harmful chemicals and wasting little water. They process wood pulp to make microfibrils that can be spun into textile fibers. However, Spinnova states that their process can be applied to any kind of biomass and that they are looking into using wheat waste, cotton waste, and even agricultural waste to create new fibers. Not only are they creating a solution to fashion’s carbon footprint, but they’re also creating a new way to upcycle. Ultimately, the fashion industry must change to save itself. Biodiversity is critical to some of the most basic biological processes on Earth. The loss of species upsets the natural order, which causes problems for all life on Earth. If it cannot change, it runs the risk of exhausting resources and facing pressure from the consumers to change or disappear. It must adapt and show resilience in order to turn this problem into an opportunity to reshape the fashion industry as we know it.
Resurrected - The imitation of Christ’s “Americans Not Allowed in Paris’’ S/S20 show demonstrates the resilience of the fashion industry through an unconventional skateboarding catwalk exhibit, and its defiance against the traditional fashion show. Pushing the concept of sustainability, this show incorporates upcycled garments and other vintage pieces that collectively help in stopping excessive manufacturing and also cut down on pollution. Highlighting the juxtaposition between power and elegance, the pieces in this exhibit hold the models as they fly, tumble, and pick themselves back up again, for the models are just as fierce as their fashion.
Georgia Weed + Lily Glantz
RESILIENCE BY DESIGN The Hidden Fashion Production Of Brazil’s Favelas
Within carefully balanced slabs of concrete, pieces of brick and scraps of steel reside fully self-run and sustained communities of incredible creative power. Located on the outskirts of Brazil’s largest cities and composed of salvaged and repurposed materials are uniquely constructed housing creations known as favelas, where over 25% of the population resides. It’s hard to imagine the bustling creative community within the makeshift and largely unfinished homes and gang activity that swarm Brazil’s favelas. However, its residents prove that there’s more than meets the eye.
Favelas are low-income, informal Brazilian housing communities built without any oversight by a public authority or government. Over the years, favelas grew as individuals who previously lived in rural areas attempted to move into urban areas but were unable to find housing. Previously riddled with, or in some cases, run by drug traffickers and crime groups, favelas were locations of violence, but through new fashion-focused creative projects, the reputation of favelas is changing. Brazilian designer Almir Fraça created EcoModa, a project which offers sewing, embroidery, fashion design and modeling classes to 150 students in Mangueira. Political struggles and resilience are evident in all parts of the production process in this project, starting with the question: where can materials be sourced in an ethical manner? EcoModa focuses on utilizing huge amounts of discarded textile materials to create new pieces by embellishing them with recycled materials like sequins and feathers from Carnival and even plastic bottles and glasses. Throughout courses offered by EcoModa, a lifestyle of sustainability is not only encouraged, but also implemented. According to Vanesa Melo, the administrative director of EcoModa, another equally important part of the courses is teaching students about sustainable creation. Students learn to separate fashion from consumerism for their creative opportunities and environmental benefit, while also emphasizing the importance of students having a role in the design, creation, production and earnings of their work. And the impacts of their creations extend beyond
Tucked into Rio de Janeiro’s hills stands Favela Mangueira, a shantytown neighborhood home to around 18,000 people living in poverty and non-traditional housing conditions without government assistance. Nearby stands the community of Rochina, the largest favela in Rio de Janeiro, housing around 100,000 residents. Despite their limited access to any formal resources, the people of the Mangueira and Rocinha favelas demonstrate resilience through the creation of stunning and unique pieces of fashion with a purpose.
MEETS THE EY
the favela, as Brazilian fashion trends are created by what the majority of the population is wearing, not what the elite are wearing. Such is the importance of the creations of EcoModa— not only are they made with sustainable materials and practices, but they are influential beyond the walls on the favela. Just down the coast lies COOPA-ROCA, a project with a mission similar to EcoModa’s. Founded in the community of Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio de Janeiro, COOPA-ROCA focuses on female empowerment and provides job opportunities for women––especially mothers––to work from home to produce hand-made fashion pieces. All products are created with a priority of creativity and quality, while production practices encourage collectivity and transparency. Like EcoModa, COOPA-ROCA works to improve the lives of the women of Rocinha in as many ways as possible, by emphasizing the education of vocational skills, self-esteem and community involvement through clothing production. Through workshops, the young women of the favela are taught to follow in the footsteps of older community members through lessons on craft techniques, production management and more. While the focus of COOPA-ROCA is on fashion creation and production, the company, like EcoModa, emphasizes the importance of female empowerment and leadership by teaching skills that women can take beyond the favela. In the face of living conditions that could easily diminish opportunity and artistry, the women of Rocinha practice and demonstrate resilience through their creativity and passion. Despite living in informal housing and poverty, the inhabitants of Favela Mangueira and Rocinha work, create and learn together, not only for the benefit of themselves and their community but for the benefit of all. The personal resilience of these communities is exemplified by their creativity in adverse living situations. The residents of Mangueira further demonstrate resilience through their focus on sustainable creations in order to counter the effects of climate change, while the residents of Rocinha demonstrate resilience through an emphasis on and prioritization of female empowerment. Beyond fashion creations, the legacies of these projects will extend far beyond the completion of their projects and leave a lasting impact on Favela Mangueira and Rocinha.
The Father of Logomania, Dapper Dan, began his legacy in Harlem where curiosity, tenacity and determination guided him to becoming the fashion icon he is today. While gambling on the streets alongside gangsters and drug dealers in his youth, Dapper Dan quickly made the connection that being a gambler meant being a professional con-man. He saw it was necessary to “play the part” of a confident, successful person through the way he dressed. His creation of Logomania which flaunts luxury logos took off with a rush of support from Black customers who prioritized branding and style in the way they dressed. Dapper Dan broke into the mainstream when Gucci’s 2018 Cruise collection featured a jacket heavily influenced by his balloon-sleeve monogram jacket worn by Diane Dixon in the 1980s. After being called out on social media, Gucci invited Dapper Dan to work with them in designing a collection and the fashion industry finally acknowledged all of his contributions throughout his career. He saw clothing’s transformative power as an avenue to evolve his lifestyle, culminating in the rags to riches story he is now praised for. His narrative is representative of BIPOC and immigrant communities navigating white societies where they may have a hyper-awareness of selfpresentation as minorities.
Paralleling Dapper Dan’s complex relationship with luxury fashion houses, BIPOC consumers’ relationships to luxury fashion is one that contains multitudes as Logomania is sometimes wielded to be a protective talisman against racial discrimination.
Dapper Dan began his business in sales––especially of furs––from the trunk of his car, which led to him setting up a full-scale boutique in Harlem. His hustler background helped him identify the main reason people bought designer items: for the recognizable and luxurious logos that symbolized status. His awareness of the power of these symbols and his self-taught leather screenprinting techniques led to Logomania’s boom. Dapper Dan abundantly used designer logos from Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi to create his own pieces infused with drama and style.
From there, his fame escalated as he began to style prominent hip-hop artists like LL Cool J and Salt-n-Pepa, revolutionizing hip-hop culture with his knowledge of gangsters in Harlem.
At the initial peak of his career, however, federal marshals came knocking at the door of his boutique considering the rising news of large corporations’ logos illicitly circulating his commercial designs. The luxury houses claimed that they had the right to acquire each of Dapper Dan’s pieces that were stitched with their logos and they raided his boutique, eventually forcing him to return to selling on the streets.
The Protection Spell
Dapper Dan’s story shares a common theme with many BIPOC narratives where the prestige of a label is harnessed to create recognition for oneself. A 2020 consumer behavior poll by Ipsos suggests that affluent Black consumers sometimes purchase luxury clothing with the mindset that it would provide the means to obtain respect which is only provisionally granted to bodies of color; thus, logos become a large factor in judging an individual’s social class. Asian culture also further bolstered the trend of Logomania as the upkeep of a facade of prosperity is essential in Asian society and an influx of expensive logos denote high status. Wealthy, upper echelon BIPOC often feel the need to communicate this status broadly in hopes of it protecting them from the consequences of racial profiling. Dapper Dan’s Logomania functions as a protection spell for BIPOC in a harsh world sustained by stereotypes and oppression and reflects his own experience of needing to dress the part while gambling to bluff his way into winning.
The way BIPOC customers perceive and purchase luxury fashion is intertwined with questions about self-identity and conformity to white society. Dapper Dan now works to bring the voices of Black creatives to the decision-making table which builds a future where a protection spell would not need to be cast when BIPOC consumers engage with fashion. In stories like Dapper Dan’s, there is inspiration to live passionately despite the obstacles. Like fashion, people are transformative and there is always the possibility of re-invention.
The Protection Spell
Ruby Mellish is a London-based jewelry designer whose work is bound to make your skin crawl. While acquiring her Bachelor’s in Jewelry from Central Saint Martin’s, Mellish’s portfolio is comprised of mixed medium work, from sketches to surrealist graphics to physical design. META MAG sat down with Ruby Mellish to learn more about the inspiration behind her Pilot Collection, A self~portraiture study of self~perspective. Check out her work at the Central Saint Martins’ BA Jewelry Design show, launching on June 30th, and @rubymellish on Instagram.
Q: What does resilience mean to you and your craft? Ruby: In light of the pandemic, [resilience has] really been a major theme for a lot of artists that I know. In the beginning, my university completely shut shop for three months, and I had this whole project planned–I was doing a lot of CAD design work. I had these scans of my face that I was going to get 3D printed and cast in gold and silver with stones set in the eyes. It was all going to be great. But then, I couldn’t go back to [school] so I had to start from scratch. I built up resilience in that way in terms of going back to basics and thinking, “How am I going to overcome this?” I moved back home to my parents’ house. It was like going back to my childhood and reverting to that really old way of thinking about art, so I kind of had to adapt to that. I picked up acetate again, which is now the main material I’m using, and I was just trying to figure out how to manipulate things in a more professional way. So with this whole situation, that’s how resilience played a major part for me in adapting to a huge era of change and shouldering my pride and going back to basics.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your Pilot Collection and describe your process in creating? Ruby: It was a bit of introspection that came to me over lockdown. I had to completely cut off my external inspiration so it was just me, alone. I spent a lot of time observing myself in the mirror and I was going through a major creative block. I couldn’t get past it and didn’t know what to do so I just went back to my comfortable state of self-portraiture through jewelry and photography. I started to print out images of my face and then brought in the acetate. Honing in on my eye, it became a somewhat cliche study of identity, but it was definitely a time of self-study which led to the weird eye pieces. I was also going through quite a dark time under the impression that nothing was going to get better so my work became very weird and warped. It’s the feeling of being inside for too long and never really seeing anyone else and everything gets really weird so I portrayed that in your work.
Photo by Jude Lee-Allan
Photo by Jude Lee-Allan
Q: What has been one of the biggest challenges in your work and how did you overcome it? Ruby: Not having one-on-one access to facilities at my university was difficult. I struggled with putting my pieces together, especially because they’re so meticulously designed, so I really had to rely on my own knowledge and ability to overcome more technical issues with my work. Everything became ten times harder because I couldn’t just ask a technician how to do something so I had to figure it out for myself. I’ve been working with some rivets and tiny metal, and it breaks so much––and it does my head in when it does––but once it starts working, it’s great but that’s been quite a big problem otherwise. The bedroom-turned-workshop situation going on it’s a bit weird. I’ve got a massive gas canister with a blow torch right next to my bed. But that’s good because now I’ve learned that I can stand on my own two feet and I don’t always have to go and ask for help. Although, it’s great and I will definitely be doing that back in university but learning more myself has definitely been good.
Juliette Cornet + Lily Glantz
REDEFINING THE BALLERINA
It is due time that the ballet world begins to widen its narrow view of what a ballerina looks like.
From the dramatic tutus, sparkling bodices and mesmerizing pointe shoes, a ballerina’s attire is iconic. Every element of clothing that goes into a ballerina’s costume serves a purpose, even down to the very color. The famous light pink shade of a ballerina’s pointe shoes and tights is intended to extend the dancer’s leg line. The color is designed to match their skin tone, making them appear elongated and ethereal on stage. However, not all dancers are complemented by light pink. For centuries, Black ballerinas have fought for their place on stage. Every step on the path towards respect as a professional in the field has been an uphill battle. Critics have deemed Black bodies too curvy to be graceful and their hair too ‘coily’ to be properly coiffed into a sleek bun.
The very color of a ballerina’s attire is specifically designed with only one type of dancer in mind: a white one. While some Black ballerinas are finally breaking into the mainstream and earning the recognition they deserve–notably speaking, Misty Copeland and Micheala Deprince–one of today’s big debates regarding ballet lies within the costume itself, specifically on the subject of incorporating different shades of nude and brown. While it makes sense that a Black ballerina would wear brown colored tights and pointe shoes in order to appear lengthened, graceful and not disjointed on stage, they are still more often than not seen sporting pink ones. Self-proclaimed traditionalists who oppose the incorporation of brown claim they want to preserve the classical aesthetic of ballet. In reality, it feels more like an excuse to once again dismiss Black ballerinas for not fitting into the European standard of beauty often associated with ballet. Moreover, Black ballerinas have long been resilient in the fight against European beauty standards. Big ballet apparel brands have only just recently begun incorporating more inclusive shade ranges for their nude leotards, pointe shoes and tights. Before, many dancers resorted to dyeing their costumes to better match their skin. Growing up, world-class ballerina Micheala Deprince reported hand-dying her costumes and straps, sometimes resorting to coloring them in with a sharpie. Yet, Black dancers were often forced to straighten their hair for show and rehearsal to conform with what directors deemed acceptable on stage. Natural hair and braids didn’t fit into the vision of what a prima ballerina should look like. Any features that defined Black women were repressed in order to
conform with outdated aesthetics of ballet. The idea of aesthetic––meaning a specific kind of beauty, in ballet terms––is commonly used by dance companies when hiring dancers. However, the use of this term promotes racial discrimination in the field by singling out Black ballerinas for not fitting into what the company considers beautiful. Emily Manwaring combats the notion that ballerinas can only be beautiful by adhering to European beauty standards in her painting “Swans Nwa pandan matinée” (Haitian Creole for “Black Swans During Matinée”). Her painting–included in a group exhibit at Canada Gallery in Tribeca dedicated to reimagining the black femme body–depicts Black ballerinas in vibrant color. Her ballerinas don’t conform to European beauty standards by embracing their natural hair texture with afros, braids and other protective hairstyles. They are painted wearing brown pointe shoes, proving that shoes that match the dancer’s skin tone elongate their leg lines. That’s not the only way Manwaring’s ballerinas redefine the ‘traditional’ ballet aesthetic. They are depicted proudly sporting long, acrylic nails and gold hoops. These styles have long faced unwarranted scrutiny in both the arts and sports world. In fact, Black female athletes have also been resilient in the face of unwarranted discussion on their beauty rituals. In 1988, three-time Olympic gold medalist Florence Griffith-Joyner set a world record in the 100 and 200-meter dash. However, journalists were more concerned with her bright, acrylic nails than they were with her impressive athleticism.
Depictions of common Black beauty rituals and styles, like in Manwaring’s painting, demonstrate that beauty exists beyond the bounds of what traditionalists deem acceptable. It is due time that the ballet world begins to widen its narrow view of what a ballerina looks like. The first step in broadening the world’s vision of what a ballerina should be as simple as incorporating fewer costume restrictions. Only then will Black ballerinas be known simply for what they are: just a ballerina.
Anisha Patil + Margaret Jackson
Nudity: The Situational Elasticity of
Lady Godiva & Black Femmes 128
NUDITY: THE SITUATIONAL ELASTICITY OF LADY GODIVA & BLACK FEMMES Nudity has long been the signifier for the civil versus uncivil and the beautiful versus ugly. The perception of nudity as something that is natural or outrageously erotic has evolved alongside Classical art and fashion. In Western Christian nations, there was an immediate need for art to naturalize the body in its purest form while simultaneously maintaining a forbidden erotic quality. The role nudity and clothing plays in erecting contrasting identities for women of differing social statuses in Western Christian nations illuminates the ways race, class, gender, and religion influence how the female body is fabricated in art. John Collier’s “Lady Godiva” of the late 1890s art period portrays a nude, ethereal Lady Godiva covered with long brown tresses riding through the streets of Coventry, England.
The tale of Lady Godiva illustrates the intersection between the female body and the power of clothing by demonstrating the resilience of women who’ve had to use their bodies as capital for socio-political power. Defying expectations for high class women of the time, Godiva accepted her husband’s challenge to ride through the streets nude in order to gain suspension of the oppressive tax he placed on the working class. While Collier deployed nudity to empower this Anglo-Saxon woman, nudity was being used disparately during this same time to strip Black femmes of their agency in order to justify the structural violence of colonialism. During the 1700s and 1800s, the concept of race was being created through science and art in order to justify a hegemonic system placing Black and Indigenous peoples at the bottom, as the source of labor and land for white progress. Only 30 years prior to John Collier’s “Lady Godiva”, Black women were used as a reproductive source to sustain the labor source responsible for upholding the economic system. Black femmes’ bodies had morphed into a spectacle for the white majority, with all of its perceived exotic and exaggerated qualities.
Nudity and the way that clothing was torn and draped was used to advertise the desirable features of Black femmes, especially slaves, including the legs, thighs and chest. Nakedness in symbolic value, then and now, meant a lack of morality, humanity, and heightened sexual desire for minorities. Nudity and the way that clothing was torn and draped was used to advertise the desirable features of Black femmes, especially slaves, including the legs, thighs and chest. This was directly related to their named sexually reproductive, and therefore economic, value. Meanwhile, white women covered most of their bodies in order to portray a sense of civilized purity and piety. Artists painted the Black femme body with an opaqueness that lacked the translucent highlights and shadows used for portraying white femme subjects as divine and flawless.
The resilience that women needed to resist the algorithmic representation of the beautiful or undesirable female body that has existed for centuries was fundamental during a time as exploitative as 1898 and continues to be paramount today.
Clothing has been made to signify the hierarchy within a classist system that places more or less value on certain cultures and their imaginative visual representations. Clothing has been made to signify the hierarchy within a classist system that places more or less value on certain cultures and their imaginative visual representations. Black femmes are not afforded the same privileges that white women have when it comes to representation of their own bodies and identity expression through fashion. White women are able to wear less clothing today while still being sought after for their classy and desirable image, while Black women are deemed sexually aberrant and immoral. Young Black girls are hypersexualized and perceived as older based on the development of their bodies, which directly relates to the ways clothing is draped on the body and designed by men in order to informally market it with a specific value. Clothing has been made to signify the hierarchy within a classist system that places more or less value on certain cultures and their imaginative visual representations. There is an inverse relationship between the amount of clothing worn and an assumed class level in mainstream lingerie fashion. Victoria’s Secret has monopolized off of the image of Angels, a representation of nudity directly related to Classical art. Angels once were considered lucrative and saw superstar status within the fashion industry, however, this primarily applied to white women. In contrast, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty brand has been considered the replacement for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, featuring plus sizes, gender-nonconforming and racially and ethnically diverse models.
The female body in its purest form is beautiful, naturalized and outrageously erotic all at once. Nevertheless, the implications of nudity and clothing are at odds with race, class, gender, and religion. This ranging set of implications ultimately shapes the situational elasticity that different groups of women face as their bodies are weaponized and criminalized.
Written by Erin Yeh Design by Anubha Gupta
Even in the present, Western economic policies intended to encourage economic development and resilience for East African countries are being utilized to promote US economic interests and protect US jobs.
Piles of secondhand t-shirts, sports jerseys and blouses lie on tables and hang from clothing racks in Zambian markets. Sold in tightly packed bales by wholesalers, tons of imported used clothing arrive in Zambia from global North countries each year, providing African consumers with a diverse range of garments. Yet, these open-air markets didn’t always define the country’s fashion industry. Zambia was once home to a flourishing domestic textile industry that could have promoted economic development— until falling copper prices forced the government to turn towards Western institutions for support. Despite the introduction of Western policies in an attempt to increase economic resilience, Zambia’s fashion industry ultimately collapsed. However, as the pandemic creates a demand for locally produced PPE, Zambia’s textile industry faces an opportunity for recovery. After gaining independence from the British in 1964, Zambia’s economy was reliant on copper mining. With half the country’s labor force employed in the mines, Zambia turned the economy towards domestic manufacturing. Often understood as playing a key role in encouraging economic growth in developing countries, textile manufacturing provides opportunities for employment and industrial expansion. Eventually, Zambia’s local fashion industry began to prosper. Then copper prices collapsed in the early 1970s. In desperate need of economic assistance, Zambia’s government turned to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, receiving loans on the condition that the country would adopt free-market economic policies. With guidance from Western-led economic institutions, Zambia’s government cut tariffs that had protected its textile industry and opened its borders to foreign trade, which Western countries accepted as an invitation to treat Zambia and other sub-Saharan African countries as a dumping ground for excess secondhand clothing. As Zambia accepted policies intended to promote the resilience of its economy, “Washington Consensus” policies had the opposite effect. The domestic fashion industry collapsed as textile firms shut down and manufacturing jobs were lost. Free-trade policies were introduced with the intent of encouraging economic development, however, the constant introduction of high-quality, low-cost secondhand clothing inhibited any form of domestic textile manufacturing for local markets. The floodgates had opened, inviting tons of imported clothing that weren’t subject to costs of production. With the introduction of foreign markets, Zambia’s 140 textile firms were reduced to eight. Western intervention, in the form of economic policies and excess donations, failed to achieve economic resilience.
Large-scale imports of used clothing also occur in other East African countries, some of which have tried to implement policies against duty-free clothing. In 2015, the East African Community attempted to ban used clothing imports in hopes of protecting the growth of previously prosperous textile industries. With the exception of Rwanda, these East African countries still receive bales of used clothing today, largely due to pressure from the United States. In early 2020, Kenya instituted a ban on imports of secondhand clothing to protect public health during the coronavirus. While local manufacturing and small designers were presented with an opportunity to revitalize Kenya’s fashion industry, the ban was repealed within months. Even in the present, Western economic policies intended to encourage economic development and resilience for East African countries are being utilized to promote US economic interests and protect US jobs. In spite of continuous imports of used clothing, Zambia’s fashion industry has begun to grow. Since 2010, Zambia has hosted an annual fashion week, highlighting talented local and international designers. While the event has expanded significantly in the past few years, the fashion industry still faces challenges in expanding due to
foreign imports. However, after decades without a large domestic textile industry, the coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity for recovery. In response to the growing public health crisis, Zambia’s government has provided support to programs and young entrepreneurs locally producing cotton face masks. Made with traditional chitenge fabric, young women are sewing reusable cotton masks to donate to local communities. Other initiatives in Zambia are supporting women in selling handmade masks to local corporations, allowing them to gain an income while contributing to efforts to slow the spread of the virus. As global interactions built upon centuries of colonial discourses continue to impact industries in the present, economic resilience in Zambia seems unimaginable. Nonetheless, Zambia’s growing fashion week and demand for locally produced PPE could provide the nation with an opportunity to revitalize the country’s domestic fashion industry. With the work of young designers and entrepreneurs, the recovery of Zambia’s fashion industry may be achievable— as long as Western governments refrain from intervening and Western consumers make an effort to curb consumption habits.
A COLOR STORY Néha Gupta + Lillie Yazdi
A COLOR STORY
When you trace back a path through human history, you begin to see where colors started to be more than colors– where they transformed from mere shades to tangible entities, each with a perceived personality of their own. In Egypt, black was an optimistic shade–an omen of fertile land and the color of the god Anubis, protector of the dead. Greece associated black with the underworld, and therefore with fear and death. The Latin word for black, ater, also happens to mean gloomy and dismal, while the word for white means bright and lustrous. Over the course of time, the perception of black as a brutish, masculine color and the view of white as an angelic, feminine color has resulted in the dehumanization of women with dark skin as their perceived tie with femininity has been erased by the negative portrayal of their skin color. Racist and colorist stereotypes, institutionalized by slavery and minstrelsy, are still raging in today’s society. They are prevalent around every corner, whether it be media, politics, or in Grace Lynne Haynes’ case, art school. Haynes was in the middle of completing an assignment that involved drawing a friend when she suddenly realized she didn’t know how. The curriculum had insisted that she master every detail of painting fair skin, but failed to teach the complexities of painting dark skin. In doing so, it furthered the malicious perception that femininity is somehow reserved for women with light skin, and that dark skin is inherently non-feminine.
Haynes’ art, a direct rebellion against a curriculum that so precluded Black beauty, now shines as a symbol of her resilience against colorism and the warped view of Black femininity that comes with it. Her portraits feature women painted in a single, onedimensional shade of black, a style she began experimenting with in response to her school’s failure in teaching how to paint the depth, dimension and complexity of dark skin. Her figures are swathed in whimsical clothes of candied pastel hues– primarily, various shades of the classic color pink. Just as the color black has become encumbered with a heavy label and alternative meanings, the color pink has developed strong ties to femininity over the past century, so much so that it is nearly synonymous with womanhood. Sometime in the early 1900s, department stores started separating baby clothes into pink for girls and blue for boys to make it easier for parents to shop for clothing before their children were born. The use of pink for girls’ clothes stuck, and since then, pink became “a girl’s color.” The gendered nature of the color is far from ideal, but the strong symbolism of pink deeply contributes to the statement Haynes makes about Black femininity through her art. Written by Néha Gupta
Styling by Sam Drucker
Photography by Lillie Yazdi
A COLOR STORY
When you think of a girl, notice the first image that pops into your mind. Notice who you picture (and who you don’t), and how that speaks to the biases society has imparted onto you. Over time, partly because women with light skin have been hailed as the epitome of beauty in our society and Black women have been severely underrepresented in the beauty and fashion industries, many people immediately draw a connection between “white” and “feminine” in their mind.
This skewed vision of femininity has only been worsened by the caricatures established by minstrel shows, which degraded Black women by simultaneously dehumanizing and hyper-sexualizing them. These damaging tropes have endured in today’s media and work to exclude Black women from society’s idea of femininity. Haynes heavily utilizes the connection between pink and femininity in her work, juxtaposing pink with the black skin of her portraits’ subjects in order to subvert the idea that blackness and femininity cannot coexist.
One glance at any one painting of Haynes will confirm that whether it be fuschia, cerise, blush, primrose, watermelon, or quartz, pink is bound to be modeled by the graceful women in Haynes’ portraits. The lavish use of pink melds beautifully with the figures’ black skin, illustrating the resilience of Black femininity in the face of corrosive perceptions. Haynes doesn’t shy away from adding flocculent puffs and feathery swaths of fabric to her models’ pastel garments. Pastel pinks are often associated with delicate softness and femininity. Haynes’ use of soft, fleecy textures in her paintings reflects this linkage, strengthening her depiction of femininity. She paints fluffy textures in such dimension that it contrasts deeply with the single-hued form of the woman’s body and lends her a whimsical, dulcet appearance that announces her femininity in a distinctly resounding voice––and an innovatively resilient voice like that is exactly the voice needed to shatter the demonizing connotations of color to which society clings.
Written by Néha Gupta
Styling by Sam Drucker
Photography by Lillie Yazdi
A COLOR STORY
written by néha gupta
photography by lillie yazdi
NATALIE SEMERSKY + PAIGE BRUNSON
FIBERS AND FARMERS: FOSTERING ENVIRONMENTAL RESILIENCE
As concerns heighten regarding the fashion industry’s environmental impacts, activists are turning to a promising alternative to traditional textile manufacturing methods. This alternative allows the fashion industry to be a driving force in fighting global environmental degradation, mitigating environmental concerns by reducing the overflowing fabric waste in landfills, the chemical exposure in natural environments and the greenhouse effect that results from fabric processing. The solution? Sustainable fiber alternatives, which have become a key factor in offsetting the fashion industry’s effects on the natural world while contributing to environmental resilience.
Both small grassroots ventures and large-scale global corporations have been exploring exciting prospects, allowing farming activists a glimpse of a very promising future: one where the fashion industry is a force for positive change rather than a sobering reminder of the deteriorating environment. Sustainable fiber alternatives counter the fashion industry’s negative impacts on the environment— reducing the use of GMOs, chemicals, carbon-heavy international shipping and the long decomposing processes of textile fibers. Both small grassroots ventures and large-scale global corporations have been exploring exciting prospects, allowing farming activists a glimpse of a very promising future: one where the fashion industry is a force for positive change rather than a sobering reminder of the deteriorating environment. As Kacie Lynn shears, spins, weaves, sews and dyes the fabric fibers she produces at her alpaca farm, she reduces her garments’ environmental impact. By compassionately raising her animals and looking after her land, Lynn’s farm maintains careful stewardship of the natural world, an action not frequently mirrored by larger fashion corporations. Lynn’s single-family farm impacts her community directly, as she hosts workshops about sustainable fashion alternatives. By producing highquality garments and educating others about alternatives to fast fashion through informative workshops, her farm exemplifies a grassroots approach to the monumental issue of the fashion industry’s environmental impact. Shopping for garments made from sustainable fiber materials like home-grown alpaca wool allows consumers to be more eco-friendly in their fashion choices, contributing to environmental resilience. Lynn’s fibers minimize the effects of global fast fashion, playing a significant role in combating climate change and other environmental degradation as a farming activist. Her sustainable wool fibers are a prime example of a small-scale approach to improving environmental resilience, but there are global alternatives creating
progress as well. A significant fiber alternative that has been gaining traction internationally is hemp. Not only can hemp be grown with minimal water and no genetic modification, but it also takes less time to decompose in landfills than synthetic fibers.
By shopping for materials made of sustainable fibers, consumers can reduce the immediate effects of chemicals on the environment and help discarded fabric decompose as efficiently as possible Hemp, the stem of cannabis plants, is a carbonnegative crop that consumes more carbon than it releases, creating a more ethical fashion supply chain by reducing the greenhouse effect. The lack of pesticides and fertilizers used in its farming keeps chemicals out of the environment, and the minimal water required allows hemp to be drought-resistant and eco-friendly. Instead of adding chemicals to the ground and air by spraying pesticides and insecticides, hemp farms allow farmers, the public and the environment to be relatively unscathed. This is significant in conversations regarding land stewardship today, as it creates less concern about the future wellbeing of ecosystems surrounding farms. Once grown and processed, all-natural hemp has a surprisingly short decomposition time in landfills, averaging a mere two weeks to decompose in its most natural form rather than the 30-40 years typical for nylon clothes. The negative impact of hemp fibers on the environment is short-lived, making it a refreshing change from the detrimental effects of discarded fast fashion items. By shopping for materials made of sustainable fibers, consumers can reduce the immediate effects of chemicals on the environment and help discarded fabric decompose as efficiently as possible, allowing buyers to have a long-lasting positive impact on the planet. The international positive impact of hemp does not stop at its major environmental benefits, however. Hemp fibers can be produced in a wide range of ecosystems, allowing farms on every continent to produce their own fibers. This creates a network of hemp farmers who minimize international shipping and foster comforting global cooperation toward environmental protection. With effective alternatives to traditional linen production processes like using wool from small farms and plants like hemp, farming activists minimize their impact on the environment to contribute to a more sustainable future while allowing consumers to do the same. The promising international collaboration between farming activists is expanding opportunities for activists to create meaningful environmental change. While national corporations have an impact on the environment, global efforts to counter major environmental issues are the most promising, which makes farming activists and sustainable fibers all the more significant when it comes to environmental resilience.
“ While national corporations have an impact on the environment, global efforts to counter major environmental issues are the most promising, which makes farming activists and sustainable fibers all the more significant when it comes to environmental resilience.”
AN INTERVIEW WITH
An Interview with Danielle Guizio
Danielle Guizio is a New York-based fashion designer revolutionizing the modernday woman with her eponymous ready-to-wear womenswear label. From structured suiting to form-fitting corsets, the meticulous detailing on each piece elevates what it means to be a woman, and brings that identity to the next level. The self-taught designer is a member of Forbes’ 30 under 30 Class of 2019 and her collection has made its way to be a go-to favorite of the Hadids, Blackpink, and Lady Gaga, among many others. In this exclusive interview with Danielle Guizio featuring pieces from her ready-towear collection, META MAG sat down and photographed Danielle and discussed the cultivation of her brand.
Q: What is the story behind your eponymous fashion label Danielle Guizio? Danielle: I grew up in the suburbs right outside of New York City. After high school, I went off to study the business of fashion. Once I decided to start my brand after a major health scare that led me to take this leap of faith, I began this journey with close to no fashion design experience. This is when I realized that I didn’t necessarily have to have it all “figured out”. Understanding the business backbone of my future career had helped me more than I knew.
Q: How does the idea of resilience play into your brand and what you create? Danielle: I have heard so many “no’s” before hardly any “yes’s”. Those experiences were of course immensely daunting especially undergoing such rejection once you’re already in a vulnerable place. It made pushing forward and persevering that much harder. The beauty of those moments is that there’s a tiny voice in your head, it tells you to keep going. To keep pushing, to keep working even harder and not give up. It’s up to you to hone into that voice and truly listen to it.
Q: What is your design process like? Danielle: I start with the ideas lingering on my mind, and then it’s a matter of focusing on how I want to dream them up into existence. When I’m designing a singular piece, the idea is usually very vivid and I know exactly what I want. When designing our collections though, the process is a bit more extensive––such as how we can curate the collection and have all the pieces create a feeling of harmony once they’re all merchandised together. Once the idea is to paper, we begin sketching out the garment. Once the sketch is approved, we move onto the more digital aspect and begin creating the digital file into CAD/technical flats. From there, we approve every single detail of the garment; from the fit, fabrication, trims, hardware, button colors, hems––I can go on and on about this. Once all is approved, it is then handed over to our tech designer who brings the garment measurements to life which is then handed off to our factory.
Q: What is some advice you would give to aspiring designers? Danielle: Lead with your intuition. If there’s something inside of you that burns like a fire from within guiding you to start achieving your dreams or goals, listen to it. You don’t have to have every single corner figured out. And most importantly, don’t let anyone hold you back from achieving exactly what it is you want to make of yourself throughout this lifetime. It won’t be easy, but it won’t be as hard as you’ve made it up to be in your head. Keep going, keep growing.
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META MAG’s third issue RESILIENCE to explore the nuances of strength bound within our memories of failure and perseverance. Featuring exclus...
Published on Jun 4, 2021
META MAG’s third issue RESILIENCE to explore the nuances of strength bound within our memories of failure and perseverance. Featuring exclus...