August 26, 2017

Gender Schmender: Pansy Magazine Redefines What It Means To Be A Man In The Twenty-First Century

No longer will one's assigned gender determine what they are allowed to wear, how they are allowed to behave, or who they are supposed to be. In recent years, discussions of gender and what it means to be a man, a woman, both, or neither have grown to become extremely polarizing. The discussion of masculinity has gained momentum after society has begun to realize that people can take on more than one kind of identity with films such as The Mask You Live In. Boys do cry, wear skirts and makeup, and like pink; they can do all of that regardless of their sexual orientation. Of course, I'm simplifying things a little too much as men have deeper issues they face in this society. The point I'm making in the realm of fashion is that society has restricted men to express themselves with a limited color palette or a small range of facial expressions while encouraging violence and silencing males who endure matters like abuse and depression.
But unlike society, PANSY has bigger ideas for males. PANSY is an online magazine which focuses on "redefining the modern man, blurring the rigid categories of masculine and feminine." Fashion, a field of interest which is typically considered feminine, is explored in a series of photoshoots featuring male models. From floral prints to exuberant colors, PANSY is clearly unapologetic about the work they put out.
Having male models in vivid spreads and traditionally feminine clothing isn't the only thing that makes Pansy special. The editorials themselves are consistently well produced and the concepts are diverse and unique. I found these shoots uplifting as I have always had a hard time standing out or pushing my own boundaries, even if I'm not going to be socially persecuted for it.

Another thing I should point out is that not all of the models are white, which is so important because not everyone has the same experience when it comes to things such as gender inequality. For instance, the experience of being a woman differs so much between different cultures, socioeconomic statuses, and races/ethnic groups. The same should be expected when it comes to topics of masculinity.

If you find PANSY Mag to be of any interest to you, you can follow them on Instagram or view their online magazine at their official website.

August 19, 2017

Crisp White Shirts

From left to right, top to bottom: Proenza Schouler Grosgrain-trimmed Asymmetric Cotton-poplin Top for $690, Ann Demeulemeester Velvet-trimmed Cotton-poplin Wrap Shirt for $785, Palmer Harding Waterfall-hem Cotton-blend Poplin Shirt for $585, Dolce & Gabbana Grosgrain-trimmed Cotton-blend Poplin Shirt for $475, Brunello Cucinelli Beaded Grosgrain-trimmed Cotton-poplin And Cloqué Shirt for $1,575, Marques Almeida Open-back Ruffled Shirt for $426, A.W.A.K.E Oversized Wrap-effect Cotton-blend Shirt for $430, MSGM Ruffled-hem Seersucker Shirt for $223,  Maje Broderie Anglaise-trimmed Ruffled Cotton Blouse for $275.
I love a good white button-up collared shirt, and I can't get enough of them! Many fashion brands these days are restructuring the basic white shirt into more interesting silhouettes such as an off-the-shoulder style top, tie details, frilled collars, flow-y hems, etc. With so many options nowadays, the white crisp shirt will always remain fresh. I actually just purchased a bell-sleeved shirt with a flared hem; I'm hoping it works out for me. It looks similar to Zara's Pin Tuck Poplin Top which was sold out before I could buy it unfortunately...

I realize these shirts are pretty pricy, but they do serve as great inspiration! I find that it's hard to find nice structured shirts such as the above for an affordable price. A lot of button-up variations in fast fashion stores are a little boring and the quality is disappointing. Hopefully in the future, fast fashion giants will step up their game!

August 9, 2017

Why You Should Avoid Counterfeits And Knock-Offs

Image via Flickr under Creative Commons license

The fashion industry is known for selling products with insanely high price tags such as those of the Hermes variety which are typically sold for at least five digits in US dollars. Luckily, most ready-to-wear products made by luxury brands are not twenty thousand dollars each, but they can still be quite expensive. Two thousand dollars for a purse? Two thousand dollars for a dress? A thousand for some shoes? It's no wonder the counterfeit market is worth so much these days. Why pay a thousand when you could pay forty?

I'll tell you why you should pay a thousand instead of forty.

If you view fashion designers as artists, you should know that (most) artists do not appreciate plagiarism. Yes, designers can be "inspired" by existing designs which is how trends move to fast fashion stores in the fashion industry. However, there is a difference between inspired pieces versus a complete counterfeit or knock-off.

To be specific, counterfeit refers to items that try to pass as a product of a brand name and have probably been made to look very similar to an original from the brand (so counterfeit will have logos to attempt to look like the original). Knock-off just means an item that is very similar in design, but they were not made in order to pass as the original brand. Because it is very difficult to gain copyright protection for fashion designs, many fashion companies create knock-offs without any repercussions. For instance, Forever 21 has been (and still is) selling knock-offs of the Miu Miu Lace-Up Ballerina Flats in the nude and denim version (they look very similar to the ones below. I didn't post a picture because I don't think Forever 21 would appreciate me bad-mouthing their brand, haha), but they haven't gotten into any legal trouble. Perhaps it's because Miuccia Prada doesn't care, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you should buy them.
When it comes to counterfeit products (meaning something with logos), you should avoid buying them at all costs because they bear the name of the brand they are trying to imitate. For one thing, it's kind of embarrassing. It appears as if you care more about flexing (meaning "to show off") than you do about the brand or the design itself because why did you have to go out of your way to buy something that has a fake logo? Also, the original company would definitely not allow for the use of their logos on products they didn't make because no one wants to put their name on something that is beneath their standards. It would be like having your name typed-out on a poorly written essay that someone else wrote, but you know you could write way better than that. Companies also pay a lot of money in order to protect their goods when fighting the counterfeit industry which is supported by those who buy those goods in the first place. Plus, would you want the headache of having to explain that your Louis Vuitton is fake every time someone asks?

As for knock-offs, there is kind of a very blurred grey line between a knock-off versus an "inspired piece." Trends are a natural occurrence in the fashion industry. The passing around of ideas between the high fashion/name brand industry and the fast fashion industry is something that will always exist. Plus, nothing is ever truly original, right? Everything is always a remix of something else. This is why the grey line exists because a lot of times, the decision as to whether or not an item is a knock-off is made intuitively. However, if you feel that a design was definitely stolen (such as the Forever 21 knock-offs, it's so obvious), you should avoid them also, even if they are technically legal. "Why? it's just clothes!" One of the many misconceptions that people have about fashion is that it's "just clothes," and they do not view it as art. I would definitely argue that fashion design is a form of art because it takes a lot of creativity and artistic skills in order to create a distinct garment (so... no I would not consider a plain white t-shirt as "art," but I would consider the J.W.Anderson Cylinder Heel Ballet Shoes as art). If you believe that artists deserve credit for the work they create, then this should extend to fashion designers as well.

No, I don't demonize people who buy counterfeits or knock-offs as I have been tempted to buy them myself, and I am definitely not telling you that you should throw away all of your fakes (after all, the earth is way more important than material objects). However, I hope I convinced some of you to stay away from counterfeits and knock-offs. There are so many other wonderful products out there in the world that are much more affordable; it just takes some effort to find such goods. xx

Disclaimer: I am in no way claiming that designer/luxury brands are more ethical or sustainable than fast fashion brands (this is actually really important to acknowledge for reasons I will discuss further in the future)!

July 5, 2017

Kenzo Featured An All-Asian Cast For Its S/S 2018 RTW Show

Recently, Kenzo featured an all-Asian cast for its S/S 2018 RTW show which I find interesting simply because of the lack of Asian models found in the fashion industry. The show featured not only Japanese models but Korean and Chinese models as well. According to Kenzo's instagram, the designers kept muses Sayoko Yamaguchi and Ryuichi Sakamoto in mind as they were designing this collection. Sayoko Yamaguchi was Kenzō Takada's original muse while Ryuichi Sakamoto is the house's modern inspiration. According to another post, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim "felt like it would be really beautiful and poetic to cast a full Asian cast and celebrate the heritage of the brand." I, too, think it is beautiful.





Note: If Kenzo or other owners of the images used in this post would like to have them removed, please feel free to contact me at mail@lucypham.com.

July 3, 2017

Vietnam International Fashion Week S/S 2017

Hey there! This post is actually several months late because Vietnam International Fashion Week (VIFW) was held during April 25th to the 28th. However, I still decided to post about VIFW because I wanted to highlight the growth of the fashion industry in the motherland! I believe that not all of these labels are founded by Vietnamese designers, but the existence of a fashion industry in Vietnam is really all that matters to me. This is my biggest fashion week "recap" as of now; I have spent a lot of time cutting out each and every individual paper doll (fifty-five in total!). Anyway, I will be highlighting some of my favorite looks in each show:

21 Six by Sandy Doan
I'm reeaaaally into (traditionally) feminine looks right now... The pink dress with it's puffy ruched sleeve, collar, and pleats is everything I could've asked for in a traditionally feminine dress. I've also been insanely attracted to and obsessed with the color red. It's a fire-y and passionate color; it's no wonder that it's been trending. The last two looks incorporate both femininity and the color red!

Betty Tran


So... I love florals.
Confession: I've never seen or read The Devil Wears Prada.
Fine Miranda Priestly, but you have to admit, these dresses aren't bad! They are a little boring (in my opinion), but considering how new the fashion industry is in Vietnam, this is a small preview of what is to come in the future! As an outsider, it is easy to glance over Vietnam as one of the world's impoverished countries. I have no idea what the fashion and entertainment industry is like there (Chau Bui is my only source of information. Love that girl.), but you can tell just from the existence and scale of Vietnam International Fashion Week that there are budding talents and passionate people pushing for an expansion of Vietnam's art scene.

Canifa by Le Ha

This is perfect for resort season. The straw hats, espadrilles, and the the blue shades all remind me of the ocean! This is a little J.Crew for me (not that there is anything wrong with J.Crew, but it's marketed towards older women), but considering how it is currently summer in the United States (and in Vietnam!), it works.

Devon London
This collection is super fun! The diving helmet (or astronaut?) gives off avant-garde vibes. The utilization of wires to make the paper airplanes float is also really something! This collection reminds me of Lazy Oaf, just because of the quirkiness of the brand. The orange suit also pops with the stitch detail. Orange has been a trending color as well. I would imagine this suit pairing well with Old Skool Vans.

Do Long

This collection is a little prom-dressy for me. I mean, these would be really really nice prom dresses, but it doesn't scream "high fashion" to me. I do love glitter and sparkly things, but it's a been there-done that, ya know? Nonetheless, skills are definitely present here. The details are so intricate; it's obvious that these dresses were not made by elementary students. I thought I would share because these dresses would definitely be popular among the average American high school student.

Ha Linh Thu

This gives off Vivetta vibes. I love the bold colors, and the eye-makeup perfectly ties the looks all together. The red tights and gold heel combo in the first of the five looks reminds me of Gucci. I've been into bold colors lately which is one of the main reasons as to why I was drawn towards this collection.

Joao Rolo

Does this collection not remind you of the Paolo Sebastian collections? It could be more interesting, but it is still a beautiful collection.

Lie by Chung Chung Lee

This collection is one of my favorites out of the ones I have seen from VIFW because of the pastel color palette, details (I've been obsessed with textual elements these days), and overall feminine vibe. The femininity is balanced by some of the more androgynous silhouettes and pieces. The colorful eyebrows are also cool!

Third

If anyone is into the whole norm-core x athleisure trend, this collection is for you. This collection definitely reminds me of the many Korean streetwear brands that have been popping up lately such as Adererror, O!Oi, Dim. E Cres., and a BAJILLION MORE. I'm serious; copy-cat brands have been popping up all over the place. Anyway, I'm really digging this norm-core x athleisure trend, so I can't really hate on them.

Thuy Design House

I quite like Thuy Design House, and I have recognized them as being one of my favorite fashion houses from Vietnam ever since I started following VIFW. I love the use of illustrative prints in the both past designs and in this collection. The collection overall has a very regal feel due to the materials, the vibrant colors, the extravagancy and the obvious Asian themes featured throughout this collection. The shoes are also wicked as heck.

Xuan Haute Couture

This collection is also one of my favorites. It's airy, light, and fresh. It's just perfect!

So, that was it for Vietnam International Fashion Week S/S 2017! As for this blog, I'm not really sure what I plan to do with it yet. I've been having some trouble figuring out what I want to do in the future, so I am expecting that this blog will end up turning into my own personal playground for me to experiment with different endeavors, topics, etc (not that it already isn't, but things may end up becoming hectic and crazy here and there!). x.

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.

April 25, 2017

Fashion Revolution Week


If you haven't heard, Fashion Revolution Week is taking place right now! It is essentially a week which focuses on bringing awareness on issues within the fashion industry relating to the environment or the working conditions of garment workers.

Fashion Revolution came about after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 which was caused by a failure to repair or stop using the building after cracks were discovered. It resulted in the deaths of 1200+ people, all for the sake of creating incredibly cheap clothing. In order to spread awareness and prevent future tragedies such as this, the organization promotes change in transparency and the safety of garment workers during the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy.

The goal of the organization isn't to shame those who love fashion. Instead, they are encouraging the combination of social justice and fashion by shopping ethically and calling fast fashion companies to make changes to their current business models or current conditions of their factories. Those who love fashion speak about themselves through their clothing. Do you want unsafe factory conditions and unsustainable shopping practices to be a part of your identity? Probably not, and this is an opportunity for you to start making changes in the way that you shop, even if it means just buying a lot less clothing from fast fashion brands (because I am very well aware that not everyone has the financial means to buy from ethical clothing brands).

Fashion Revolution has good resources to begin educating yourself on some of the negative impacts of the fashion industry and promote awareness of such impacts:

  • Check to see if there are any events near you that you could participate in.
  • If you are brand, wholesaler, or a retailer, find out how you can get involved in making a positive change, even if you are a small clothing maker on Etsy! (Tip: Download the "Get Involved" pack!).
  • Download the Action Kit which provides statistics and ways you could participate during Fashion Revolution Week such as writing a letter to a brand and ideas of events you could hold in your local area.
  • Download the "How To Be A Fashion Revolutionary" booklet which explains how fast fashion impacts its workers and the environment, things that need to be changed, and ways to become more knowledgable about the clothes that you are buying.
  • If you're a YouTube filmmaker, perhaps you might be interested in filming a video to promote thrifting or the appreciation of the clothes that you have purchased (which can be difficult to do in today's throw-away culture). Download the "Haulternative" or "Love Story" booklet if you're interested in doing so.
  • If you are an educator, you can get access to free resources here. Knowledge is power!
  • There are also several other resources such as campaign banners to upload on social media, posters, and other information about Fashion Revolution.
Anyway, I hope that was a good enough start! You can also follow them on their Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for more updates on Fashion Revolution Week and the organization itself. Remember, there is absolutely no harm done in at least becoming more aware of the issues within the fashion industry. Be sure to assess your current spending and consumption habits throughout the rest of this week and beyond; changing those habits might actually end up benefiting you so much more than you realize! ♡

Images courtesy of Fashion Revolution. I was not asked to write this post, nor am I getting any sort of monetary gain from writing it. I just simply love fashion and social justice is really important!

January 1, 2017

Dear 2017

A little collage thing I made in my Moleskine on July 30th, 2016.

I've tried writing this like five times now, and I can't seem to express what I'm thinking in my head into words right now.

Instead, I just summed up my wishlist for 2017 into a few bullet points or more:

  • I will only buy the material goods that actually bring joy to my life (in other words, be a smarter shopper).
  • Live in the moment!!!
  • Focus less on school, and focus more on being creative (sounds odd... usually people focus more on school...).
  • Be more confident in myself and my abilities.
  • Take more pictures. They are fun to look back on!
  • March to the beat of my own drum.
Sincerely,
Lucy