June 15, 2017

Your Next Statement Piece: Rembrandt x Vosk Studios

I've been on the lookout for a new bag recently. While my current bag (a simple black tote from Korean brand Alice Martha) is literally perfect for everyday use due to its perfect size and style, I've been wanting a substantial statement piece that can still be used often. Clothes can be too expensive of an investment for a statement piece because it's easy to get tired of them, and they might be difficult to wear with a lot of the things I currently own. Shoes are more likely to become worn down, and jewelry has the risk of being too big or too little of a statement piece which renders them to become bad investment purchases also. Bags are the perfect statement pieces because they are (usually) practical, and the selection of styles is so large that there must be a perfectly good statement piece that exists.

Despite this large selection, I've had trouble looking for such an item. However, I think I have found the best solution to my situation so far:
Click on the photo to enlarge (images 1/2/3 by Vosk Studios).

Isn't this so COOL?! I came across Vosk Studios which is a book-clutch brand on Instagram, and I scrolled down their page out of curiosity. To my delight, I discovered this amazing bag which features a fine art painting with a red border and "STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST" centered in the middle. I believe this was their submission for the Rijkmuseum's 2017 International Rijksstudio Award. It's a winner in my book (pun not intended but also kind of intended)!

I recently became increasingly interested in fine art and art history (check out @artgarments on Instagram!), so I was very excited about this. This also reminded me of Louis Vuitton's recent collaboration with Jeff Koons (an artist) which featured fine art paintings (such as the Mona Lisa!) printed on bags with very simple and classic Louis Vuitton motifs as well as the artist's surname in gold or silver hardware (in the case of the Mona Lisa bag, the name would be "Van Gogh"). I was not personally interested in the collection, but if you wanted something from the collection that you couldn't afford, this bag could be a great alternative for you since this bag also features fine art. Of course, I'm not saying that Vosk Studios copied Louis Vuitton since they actually revealed this bag months before Louis Vuitton did. I also prefer Vosk Studio's bag because of it's simplicity, size, shape, and the phrase, "Steal like an artist."

The painting on the bag is titled Portrait of a Woman, Possibly Maria Trip, 1939 by Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. It is a 42 1/10 x 32 3/10 inch-oil painting on a panel and found at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Wikimedia Commons
If you want to buy this bag, feel free to just contact them on Instagram or Etsy as it is not sold directly on their Etsy store. You can also check out the rest of their book clutch collection on Etsy if you're more interested in a more traditional-style book clutch. The covers they use for their book clutches are redesigned book covers (such as The Wizard of Oz, Vogue, and Romeo and Juliet) by other artists. It is really cool to see artists collaborate with each other.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored at all. I was not asked to write this post, and all opinions expressed are personal and true. I'm just really excited about this bag!

June 14, 2017

Why We Need Diversity (and Accurate Representation) in the Media

Photo by Kristina Mordokhovitch (2012)

Diversity on New York Fashion Week's (NYFW) runways have been (mostly) increasing according to The Fashion Spot's Diversity Report for the F/W 2017 shows with F/W 2016 (last year) being the most diverse season in the history of NYFW. The report looked at the castings of major New York shows of the F/W 2017 season to find that 31.5% of the castings were non-white. In comparison to the S/S 2015 shows (less than three years ago) where The Fashion Spot found that 20.9% of the looks featured non-white models, the fashion industry has made great strides in order to increase the level of diversity in its runway shows. However, the other remaining models are white, so having 68.5% of white models in comparison to the 20.9% of nonwhite models means that there is still a big gap. While the fashion industry has become more diverse, this does not mean that the road to diversity is over. I am not trying to downplay the fashion industry's progress because it is still good progress, but it's necessary to discuss the reasonings behind increasing diversity* in order to continue making progress.

The lack of diversity in the media means that the audience is less likely to be exposed to different types of people which sustains (particularly negative) stereotypes or taboos of these minority groups. For instance, a "comedian" in South Korea used blackface along with a brown zip-up hoodie under a sleeveless leopard-print top with a feathery "headdress." The comedian did receive criticism from Korean viewers for the offensive "costume" (Note: Don't wear other races/cultures as a costume EVER, and this includes Indians/Native Americans), but it is almost surprising at all that blackface still continues to exist in this time and day, especially in a first world nation like South Korea. Looking at South Korea's demographics however, you'll find that it is a very homogenized country meaning that conversations of racism isn't as common in South Korea as it is in the United States. Because most South Korean citizens are not experiencing this issue on a day-to-day basis, people don't bring it up (because why would you be racist to your own race, you know?). While their demographics does not excuse acts of blackface, this does emphasize the importance of exposure (and education).

Speaking of excuses, South Korea's use of blackface in the media does not excuse the American media's tendency to portray certain minority groups as violent criminals which is equally as bad, if not worse, than the blatancy of blackface. While exposure to different minority groups is important, the portrayals of these different minority groups must be accurate or more positive in order to make a positive difference. This means that we can't cast black actors and actresses only for criminal roles and call that "diversity." This isn't to say that Hollywood can't cast black actors and actresses for those roles at all, but it is disturbing to see many instances of black actors and actresses being casted in villainous roles rather than lead roles (which is almost always occupied by white actors). Because the stereotype of black people being criminals already exists, the media's use of black actors for such roles further strengthens the power of the stereotype in our culture as well as international audiences (especially homogenized ones). This portrayal of criminals using black actors is likely one of the factors that have led to the police brutality against the African American community.

In the fashion world specifically, the presence of models of color is needed because the fact of the matter is that the media shapes our biases. While physical beauty isn't necessarily important, it isn't something that can simply just go away because the media is always going to exist, and there will always be some kind of standard. At least, however, we can try to encourage self love by normalizing (but also praising) what should be considered normal and beautiful, such as the features of people of color. As we know, a majority of the models featured in the fashion industry are white models which means that the industry is sending out a message that light skin (and other features found in white people) is the standard of beauty.

Not all modern standards of beauty originate from the Western fashion industry. For instance, pale skin has always been a standard of beauty in many Asian cultures because historically, poor workers would have to work out in the sun while royalty would remain in their palaces. However, the Western media does have an influence on continuing to push such standards which can be seen in the lack of diversity in Asian models and influencers (many of them being of East Asian descent). Many of the top models are Chinese (Ju Xiao Wen, Liu Wen, Ming Xi, Sun Fei Fei, Sui He) so they begin to represent the Asian population when in reality, the Asian population is incredibly diverse physically and culturally.

It is not enough to put a few models on the cover of a "diversity issue" while, in the same issue, using a white model in a Japanese-inspired editorial photoshoot (I'm looking at YOU Vogue March 2017!!!). It is not enough to use models of color for a glorified diversity issue, and then using Kendall Jenner for a special edition of Vogue India. Essentially, we need to reach a point where diversity is normal and the use of a model of color doesn't make a cover innovative and radical simply due to the rarity of such usage.

*Race/ethnicity isn't the only form of diversity that we need, but age, gender, religious, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability, body type, and socioeconomic diversity as well.

Also, as always, sorry for any spelling or grammar mistakes. I'm simply too lazy to go through and fix any errors. However, if there are any critical mistakes or corrections that should be made (or even minor ones, I don't care), please let me know.