Saturday, 24 November 2018

Victoria's Secret and Savage x Fenty: why Rihanna has got it right

Victoria's Secret is having a hard time. The brand is out of step with the times and frankly I am of the view that any thinking woman should boycott it because the dream it sells is an actual nightmare. It's the twenty first century and this is a lingerie brand whose chief marketing officer Ed Razek - more precisely  he is the marketing officer of LBrands, Victoria's Secret parent company - dared make disparaging remarks about curvy women and transgenders.
Victoria's Secret touts its Angels as athletes. Let's get some perspective. These girls are not Olympians, they are young women undergoing a punishing gym routine and subsisting on near starvation.
The brand  imposes strict measurements for its girls and they are as unrealistic as can be.
 They are out as far as I am concerned.   Can they survive? yes, if they are prepared to make structural changes.
Meanwhile Rihanna's lingerie brand, Savage x Fenty is all the rage, raunchy and inclusive: what women of today want. The launch show was amazing, the ads were a celebration of women of all races, body shapes and sizes.
Victoria's Secret is a lingerie brand. I do not want a lingerie brand to dictate beauty standards. They do have larger sizes, because they need to sell,  but their hypocritical attitude is, to put it mildly, irritating. A brand that thrives on making women feel inadequate will never have my custom. Plus the products are as trashy as can be. Let's not even get into how sustainable they are. They are not. So, girls, what are you waiting for? Do not buy their products.

If you are committed to sustainability you are also committed to inclusivity. There is no other way of putting it. All women have the sacrosanct right to feel beautiful and sexy. Lingerie should be something that allows this feeling. I cannot have a lingerie brand telling me that I am too old or too fat to wear its products. I want organic fibres next to my body. I do no want to have to worry about how my knickers and bras are made and under what conditions.
Mary Hanbury has written a critique of Victoria's Secret commercials  for the Business Insider. It is worth reading.
As the Victoria's Secret annual show nears, on 2nd December, remember this: no brand should ever make women feel disempowered.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Back in Jakarta

I am back in Indonesia, rather, back in Jakarta. It's a short stay, it's  not a holiday and I always seem to choose the perfect time (!)  to come here  as it is the beginning of the rainy season.  Well, I could only manage this trip now, so...
I am tying up a few loose ends in connection with my book project for Bloomsbury and am also consolidating a new one which is still under wraps. All about fashion of course, Indonesian fashion but also global fashion, as the two are intertwined.
I have been interviewing key figures and doing archival work. To avoid the traffic I am staying at a wonderful Gallery, the Cemara Galeri -Museum,  which doubles up as a guesthouse of sort. It's lovely to be there, right in the city centre, in a house that goes back to colonial times, owned by a famous Indonesian poet, Toety Herati.  It's a landmark, as a friend commented and it has a different feel from the usual hotels and homestays.
It always takes me a while to get used to the change of time zone. I still find it difficult to sleep at night and getting up early is a big deal but I am managing.
As my round of interviews will take me to a different part of town next week, in a couple of days I will check out and move into a hotel in South Jakarta, once again to cut down on time spent in traffic jams - the bane of Jakarta.

My host and mentor here in Jakarta is the wonderful Ghea Panggabean, one of the senior most fashion designers in Indonesia. Through her I am learning a lot about fashion and textiles too, which are her passion and which she collects. I love the way she uses the traditional textile patterns and motifs in her work, which is modern in cut and which utilises high quality print rather than the traditional cloth. Being in her studio is quite an experience. I am using her personal archive of photos and magazines for my historical research  but occasionally I double up as a fit model, as I did today. She is preparing her 'offering' to the forthcoming IPMI Trend Show - which I might or might not attend,  it will depend on many factors.  I tried an outfit  on as her regular models were away - it was fun. I wish I could show some pictures but I need to wait until the show is over.
My book on contemporary Indonesian fashion has taken a few years to be completed, this is the final stretch, when the typescript is being  checked and rechecked for errors and photographs are being selected  to match the writing.  Then I can send it off to the publisher and a new round of checks will begin.   I cannot wait to see the finished product, I can only compare this to a pregnancy. And, like a pregnancy it will eventually be brought to term.

Not much else to discuss at the moment, I just wanted to record in my blog my presence here. London does feel very far away though the internet shrinks the distance. Yesterday I took some time off and did what people in Jakarta tend to do on a sunday. I went to the movies, and saw 'A star is born' which I really enjoyed.
Today I am back working in my small office.
I am back in London on 15th November.