Monthly Archives: January 2018

Shine Theory: Kendra Eno

In my next Shine Theory column I spoke with Kendra Eno, the showcase manager for Afro Caribbean Society. We spoke about what it means for her to be a black woman growing up in the blackgirlmagic and natural hair cera, and the role of the Afro Caribbean Society in projecting a sense of community onto the greater St Andrews community with Ubuntu – their showcase this semester.

The theme for the showcase is UBUNTU, meaning “I am because we are.” Tell me a bit about what that means.

I was trying to come up with something that speaks empowerment for the black community because god knows we need it. Especially in St Andrews, where there’s a lack of us, togetherness. I feel like the ACS society has a great community but in a wider sense, I don’t think we’re projecting it. We have it for ourselves but we’re not showing it to others.

Tell me about your role in Ubuntu?

I knew if we were going to do something this big, which was my own idea, I’d need someone to bounce ideas off of. Alice and I recruited a team at the start of the semester. The showcase is dance, acting, singing and modelling, connected through one narrative. Modelling is particularly important to showcase culture, and designers from other places, I actually knew no African or Caribbean designers until we put on this event.

Would you consider yourself as someone with split heritage?

Yeah it’s definitely split. I feel more Barbadian than Nigerian but I’ve got to know more of my Nigerian side through uni, and I think that the showcase is probably going to emphasise the Nigerian side, because the theme for it is Southern African. The story we’re telling is Nigerian – the story of how earth is created.

Something that often trends on twitter/ Facebook is “Black Girl Magic.” What do you think is the impact of this?

It is so nice to have a movement that portrays us as also beautiful. The media is very good at portraying one standard of beauty. Even white women say that standard of beauty is unreachable, but at least they can relate to it. But us black women; we’re not even considered. ‘Black Girl Magic’ speaks volumes, that we can finally love our chocolate skin and our beautiful hair. It’s really impacting the black community; people who are bringing up their young girls to love their hair. I hated my hair when I was younger. I felt it was rough and knotty; I had no idea how to take care of it. The natural hair movement is slowly helping us to reclaim ourselves, and not to answer to anyone else or rely on the media to validate it.

How has your mother influenced how you perceive yourself as a woman and your role in society?

As I was growing up it was a very big thing for me. My mum would catch me, catching my reflection on the way to school. And I remember one day I said, ‘at least I’m pretty’, and she said ‘Kendra, one day someone could throw acid in your face and what would you have then? Education first, beauty comes after.’ I learnt so much of myself through her. Especially with dance, even though she would say now some of the moves I’m doing she didn’t teach me…! As I got older she instilled in me the fact that I was black, but when I was young, she didn’t. I was a woman first. She said she didn’t realise she was black until she came to the UK, because everyone looked the same back home. And I would always say I’m black before I’m a woman.

Recently there have been a lot of allegations of sexual assault or harassment in the news. What do you think we can do as a society to lessen this epidemic?

I think the metoo was great, it showed how widespread it was. Reading all these articles about it made me realise how much blame we put on women. Something I read recently is that in reports on assault cases, it is always “a woman has been assaulted” not that “a man did it”, it’s very passive. As women we’re all united, but men haven’t banded together, a lot of them just blame. We need to remove the blame, talk to our fathers and young boys, even relatives. Also, talking to women who have been influenced by gender roles, like my elderly aunts, who have quite out-dated views. ‘You’re not sitting like a lady…pull your dress down’, I was told that so many times growing up. Those kinds of views cannot be allowed to continue.

This year Rihanna released a line of makeup for all skin tones. What did that mean for you?

You know, it meant that my bank account is quite empty…! I bought three match stick highlighters, treat yo self. (laughing) She’s won awards for it. It was innovative, but why did it take so long? Companies have the money to develop products as much as they want, but they can’t create more shades of foundation to be put in Boots,….?!! Please. Beauty standards are dictated by whoever has the power in the industry. I can’t say the industry is racist, but in a way I can. There’s only one reason they only catered to one section of the demographic.

It’s the same as ‘Nude’ like skin colour tights.

Yes! It always means white. I used to draw myself as white, so when I was a kid and I used ‘skin colour’, it was always white, that’s what people were in my head. Skin colour tights, I still can’t get them unless I go to Calzedonia, which is so expensive. It’s changing; we’re experiencing a turning point.

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Probably to continue to get my hair relaxed. It’s so damaging, but black hairdressers need to get onboard too. These aren’t our beauty standards we’re conforming to, they’re the European ones. It’s part of the journey for loving yourself as a black woman. There’s so much self-hate in the community. We need to take back what’s ours, and stop apologising for what we are. I wore an afro in St Andrews, and got stared at by locals, but that’s black girl magic for you!

Name a woman who you admire, that is in the spotlight?

I discovered Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in my second year, through my friend who is Nigerian. I realised I didn’t know any black authors, and then I was recommended her books by a friend. I read ‘Americanah’, and saw her Ted Talks on ‘Why We should all be Feminists’, and ‘The danger of the Single Story’. She made a funny comparison, someone had read her book The Colour Yellow and came up to her and said, “It’s such a shame that all Nigerian men are domestic abusers”. She’d just finished reading American Psycho, and said in response “It’s such a shame that all white American men are serial killers”, which shows the danger of generalizing, and the single narrative!

Name a woman you admire who isn’t in the spotlight and, tell us why you think she should be.

As I already spoke about my mum, I will talk about my friend Oyin Kan. She is so great, and came back from a year abroad and got high firsts in everything. She’s so modest, demure, kind and funny. She has really good taste in friends, not including me! And is just a great person to be around.Read more at:princess formal dresses | red formal dresses

In an organic fashion

For someone who embraced ikat when Indian fashion was yet to find its feet, Madhu Jain has always been looking ahead of her times – first in 1980s when only a handful of designers would rummage for raw materials in the labyrinthine bylanes of the Walled City to now when designers have no compunction of procuring imported fabrics, accessories to economise cost of their outfits.

As a precocious child, Madhu was quick to appreciate the aesthetic eyes of her father, who liked dressing up in his best bib and tucker and lived in regal style in posh Aurangzeb Road. Madhu meticulously studied everything – be it décor, lifestyle, cuisine and heritage. Years later, that would reflect on her sartorial choices.

She loves figurative work of Thai ikat and that translates into her food as well. As we meet at Zing, the Asian restaurant of The Metropolitan Hotel and Spa, she observes the large vegetarian spread aesthetically. After settling down, the food connoisseur in her comes alive as she inquires about erstwhile Siam’s Pamelo salad and raw papaya.

Madhu’s dietary influence has come from Rajeshwari Devi, her mother, who hailed from a traditional Jain family of Kucha Bulaki Begum in Old Delhi. “At home, mother would cook onion and garlic-free food which was so sumptuous. At school in Delhi, I would take tiffin in which she packed me lip smacking chana and puri.” Surprisingly, she was enlisted as a non vegetarian at Welham Girls School in Dehradun. “But, right from day one, I was adamant to stick to my vegetarian palate.”

B.D. Meattle, her father, was fond of fashionable clothes. And would gift floral French chiffon saris to her mother. “She wore it with pearls. His aesthetics could be seen in Belgian chandeliers, Persian carpets at our home.” The Walled City continues to be her favourite haunt for street food. “Jo khatir nawazi wahan hoti hai, kahin nahi hoti. At my nani’s house in Old Delhi, khumchewalas would send banana leaves filled with kulfi, kulle, a fast disappearing edible, from which sweet potatoes and other veggies would be scooped out.”

Foraying into fashion

Having taken the bold decision of working on the ancient weaving technique of ikat even though she was a student of Economics, Madhu was not perturbed by the fact that Indians then had virtually no exposure to couture.

“I was lucky to be around the same time as Rohit Khosla.” Those days camaraderie existed between designers. “Today, it is rare to find two designers on the same page,” she says, while sipping her hot and sour soup.

She has remained loyal to the indigenous handmade crafts and textiles. “Foreign buyers have a lot of respect for our handmade clothes but the problem is that only a few designers are presenting Indian art and craft in their totality abroad. Like when I took Kashmiri handicrafts to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Americans were in awe of it. There needs to be responsible fashion and the idea of giving back to society should be pursued. That is what I believe in and follow.”

She is worried that blatant commercialisation by designers these days is making a dent in India’s image overseas. She laments that the finesse with which she did her crafts no longer exists now. “Now it has become too commercialised,” she gripes, while sipping her soup.

Like she zeroed in on Kalamkari, which gave her a chance to express her creativity, one asks. “It also created multiple jobs. How many designers have worked on it? We used it for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. That is when it took off,” she says.

Sustainability factor

The conversation shifts to how imported fabrics have penetrated across the nation and are threatening to ruin livelihood of artisans. “Tamil Nadu is famous for its kanjeeverams which is staple for weavers there. However, there is influx of kanjeeverams from China at one third the price. It has become a huge issue. What is going to happen to weavers of the State?”

While polishing off Pamelo salad, Madhu feels the solution lies in designers following the path of ethical fashion. “Indian fashion designers need to work on this. They should not alter the geographical craft index. There need to be ethics in fashion. There has to be credibility on what we showcase on the ramp. If designers are trying to work with traditional crafts, then economics is a consideration but that doesn’t mean that theyforget about backward linkages.”

She further says that designers need to understand how much damage powerlooms are doing to handlooms. .

“Everybody is falling in line due to the push given by the powers that be. Our history informs us that crafts have always been protected by rulers. All it needs now is right positioning. The government has to step in to protect our identity,” suggests Madhu, a strong proponent of the government’s ‘Made In India’ scheme.

In 2018, Madhu forecasts that alternative fabrics, anti-fit silhouettes would be worn by fashionistas. “We will have more eco-friendly textiles and practical silhouettes based on comfort. This is where the Ministry has to play a bigger role and I am glad that Smriti Irani is open to new ideas.”

As far as story of sustainability goes, Madhu is a cut above the rest of her fraternity. And this could be seen from the special award conferred on her by the FICCI.

Explaining how she seeks to take the sustainability story forward, Madhu asserts that she is the first designer in the world to come up with bamboo silk ikat. “Not even in the North East there is any designer who has converted bamboo, which is found in abundance into textiles. This is my gift to our industry.”

Sipping fresh orange juice, Madhu opens up about the secret of hard bamboo from which furniture and upholstery is made in the North East.

“It doesn’t require much water. It doesn’t take away earth’s resources. This is textile for the future and is completely organic. One does not require fertilizers for its growth.”Read more at:formal dresses online | formal dresses sydney

FashionValet aims to penetrate the West Asian market

FashionValet, Malaysia’s first online fashion store, aims to penetrate the West Asian market as it sees high market and consumer demand coming from the region.

Its founder, Vivy Yusof said apart from Malaysia, the high demand from West Asia was also due to FashionValet’s product and fashion offerings that suit the local community’s taste.

She said the company already established existing customers and plans to penetrate the business into West Asia to serve its loyal consumers.

“As the growing e-commerce operators, business models need to change to remain relevant and viable.

“So, the choice to penetrate the West Asian market is one of the plans for the growth for FashionValet in continuing to provide value our customers,” she said when met after a discussion session titled ‘Driving High Impact Entrepreneurs’ in conjunction with the 10th CIMB Malaysia Corporate Day 2018 organised by CIMB Group Bhd here yesterday.

Vivy is listed in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2017 which featured the top 300 successful individuals in the Asian region last year.

Apart from online sales, FashionValet also has a physical boutique in Bangsar Village and Pavilion Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur, a move which is considered the best way to extend product ofering to shoppers who are not shopping online.

Vivy said although the platform was originally online, it was intended to strengthen the presence of the brand on both online platform and physical boutiques.

“In 2018, we also aim to open about two or three physical boutiques at several locations in the country to support the e-commerce segment as well as FashionValet vendors,” she said.

Commenting on the growth of the platform, Vivy said since the setting up of FashionValet in 2010, the company recorded a positive business growth of between 90 and 100 percent year to year.

“Looking at the trend of e-commerce business, it is expected that this year will be more exciting after a challenging 2017.

“This is because last year, too many new e-commerce stores and fashion brands have emerged. This has created a stiff and competitive environment,” she said.

FashionValet has over 400 online brands is also geared up to meet the growing online shopping trend in the region.Read more at:cheap formal dresses | formal dresses

2017-We Survived!

It was 2017, we blinked and it’s 2018! We laughed and cried, faced many battles; out of which we won some and lost some. Some important developments happened this year , and we witnessed some of the craziest and quite interesting new trends. All in all – we now bid our farewell to the yesteryear. In case you have missed out, here’s a review of what 2017 had to offer…

Dismissed!

The unprecedented leak of Panama Papers by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in May ‘16 shocked the world as it listed down the names of rich entities and how they have evaded taxes. The list contained many prominent names from around the world including Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif and his children were charged with corruption.

After a year-long process in July 2017, the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Sharif as the Prime Minister of Pakistan for not being %