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“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.” ― Frida Kahlo

Category: Fashion

Price and Power


 

In today’s politically charged atmosphere of 140 characters and things like Sienna filters, it is no surprise Fashion is wrapped in this fray. The American FLOTUS’s Fashion choices, or lack thereof, is a source of analytical contention. Questions like; Can privilege be bought? Is price indicative of this? Tom Ford was famously quoted saying his clothing was “too expensive for a First Lady to wear because they have to ‘relate to everybody.” Be that as it may, start-up brands and young designers can learn a lot about pricing themselves accordingly.

pricing garments bw

Price and Privilege

To be honest, when researching these flashbacks of my Undergrad surfaced; lectures and tutorials dedicated to the rising cost of raw materials, COGS and markups. In Fashion, as any business and serious relationship, there is a give-and-take. A mutual agreement. This is the financial exchange made between the brand, retailers and consumers. Profit comes from markups, which determine the RRP (recommended retail price). Markups allow for ‘breathing space’, permitting more units to be produced and therefore a greater chance for more volumes to be sold. This increases your profit and ultimately satisfies any shareholders and stakeholders; especially for retail chains and luxury brands.

In BOF’s article on the rapid rising cost of Fashion it’s stated; “Gross margins for luxury companies typically hover around 65 percent — that sounds like a lot, but it’s what shareholders now expect. It also means that a $3,500 bag costs roughly $1,225 to produce and bring to market, all the way from materials to sale. There are many steps along the way that contribute to the final price. There are the costs of raw materials, design, manufacturing and fulfillment. Then, at retail, there’s the cost of prime real estate and sales staff. And finally, there’s marketing: those glossy fashion adverts cost a pretty penny to produce, let alone to place. Over the past 10 years — and particularly since the end of the recession — many of these costs have increased dramatically.”

There are three main structures of the fashion system when sectioning yourselves to the market. These are Luxury, Fashion and Premium, according to marketing heavyweight and academic Professor Vincent Bastien in his article for Entrepreneur Middle East.

The luxury strategy aims at creating the highest brand value and pricing power by leveraging all intangible elements of singularity- i.e. time, heritage, country of origin, craftsmanship, man-made, small series, prestigious clients, etc. The fashion strategy is a totally different business model: here, heritage, time, are not important; fashion sells by being fashionable, which is to say, a very perishable value.

The premium strategy can be summarised as “pay more, get more.” Here the goal is to prove -through comparisons and benchmarking- that this is the best value within its category. Quality/price ratio is the motto. This strategy is, by essence, comparative.

Taking these models into account it is very important that brands knows where they stand on the proverbial totem pole of the retail mix of ROI. Another article on Forbes also accurately stated; “One of the main problems with the launching a new brand is that you have absolutely zero pricing power – meaning that you have the market setting the price within a narrow range & subsequently have a high cost basis to manufacture product. This begins the most challenging part of this stage – the tweaking of materials to levels that deliver sufficient quality right up to the monetizable equilibrium between the quality of the materials, construction of the product, and the customer’s willingness to pay for these costs. Keep in mind that $0.50 in manufacturing costs equals about $2 at retail (2x markup to wholesale and 2x markup to retail).”

In business, profit is the main aim of the game. When composing your pricing strategy it is imperative you know the value of your product versus the cost of it. A bar of chocolate is valuable to many (myself included, believe me!) but to produce is a much smaller cost – per bar, pre-market. The cost of raw materials and staff required (yes, cheap labour is still rampant): $1.15 including tax. Value: $5+ for the average consumer. Taking these numbers into account you have a profit of $3.85 per bar. Once you understand your cost versus your value as per product, you can add other variables such as brand cache, customer demand and scarcity of product.

There is power in being truthful with your core objectives because it means when leverage does present itself (because of your great price strategy) the benefits; whether monetary or socially will have a longer effect. This will also aid in communicating with your retailers, wholesalers and stockists.

pricing catwalk bw

Profit and Personality

When we talk about ‘personality’ we mean traits that make up your behaviour. I have a ‘playful’ personality; meaning I can be a bit cheeky… perhaps even a little silly. Can you think of a brand with a similar personality? Moschino Cheap and Chic comes to mind. House of Holland. Mary Katrantzou. Kate Spade. Charlotte Olympia. Even Taco Bell is good at cracking a few jokes. Your personality, in branding, is what distinguishes you from your competitors, not unlike in real life. These traits are organically part of the brand’s DNA. The power in personality can be seen in the steady increase of profit margins.

Having a flexible, dynamic and profitable pricing strategy is an ongoing measurement; constantly in need of revision and reworkings. If numbers are not your thing (such as myself) then hire or have those around you that you trust and who are knowledgeable in finance – even if it’s your immediate family, to begin with. Your team is paramount to your success in the eyes of the public.

Some of the world’s most valued and loved brands hire hundreds of people all over the globe to research market fluctuation and value of raw materials, trend forecasting and political/social issues. All have a bearing on your pricing strategy. Price, psychologically, can be differentiated by the archaic yet still relevant class system – the haves and the have-nots, though, with the introduction and seamless integration of the internet and technology, this gap is becoming more and more ambiguous.

We can look at the Engineering Triangle as a basic example of the beginning stages of a ‘pricing strategy’ – if it is good and cheap, it is not fast. If it’s fast and good, it’s not cheap. If it’s fast and cheap, it’s not good. Does this apply to your business model and pricing strategy? If so ask yourselves how good are you to your customers if your item is fast and cheap? If you give products to your customers cheap, how good and fast can you accumulate profit? If it’s fast, how cheap and good will raw materials be? When we say ‘good’, we mean valuable and of quality.

All of these are valid questions that your core customers will care about… the ones who choose you over the others largely due to a perceived and curated personality, which most likely reflects your pricing strategy. To put it in Fashion terms; Hermes cannot be calling you Bae. In the same way a high street brand like Topshop cannot be trying to sell you a facetious fantasy because the two worlds are different and that’s okay. The Topshop woman can still be a Hermes woman; she just needs to be reached in different ways for different purses. Most of us in the industry have a basic understanding of this. The challenge is focusing on a flexible yet profitable pricing strategy while maintain that gleeful exuberance unkempt creativity allows us.

The truth is, you have to be true to your product, not expectations.

By Margretta Sowah


 

This article was written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more at: Fashion Capital UK

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*Unconsciously Graceful | Spotlight on Lillian Bassman

“I am completely tied up with softness, fragility, and the problems of a feminine world.” – Lillian Bassman

I dabble in photography. You could say I have a good eye. The eye is a strange thing isn’t it? A part of the body that speaks the most kindly and yet ferciously. My eyes have seen a lot. Good, bad, yes’s and no’s. I have soaked in life on more than one occassion. I stumbled aross Lillian Bassman’s fashion photography when researching graphic designers. A simple enough search. When I saw Lillian’s works – vignettes of memory and exposure – there was definitely a sense of mystery. A gracefulness that is instinctive.

“For more than 80 years, Lillian Bassman defined, not only fashion, but the role of a fashion photographer.”

Source: Unconsciously Graceful: Lillian Bassman

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By Night, Shining Wool and Towering Heel, Evelyn Tripp, Suit by Handmacher, New York, Harper’s Bazaar1954

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The Little Furs: Mary Jane Russell in a cape-jacket by Ritter Brothers at the Essex House, New York1955

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Tra Moda e Arte: Teresa in a gown by Laura Biagiotti and shoes by Romeo Gigli1996

 

 

More Issues (Than Vogue)

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By Margretta Sowah


I like clichés. I find there is a certain ambiance about them. I’m sure we’ve heard the usual ones like; you don’t know what you have til it’s gone, time heals all wounds, and my personal favourite, it is better to be safe than sorry.

My father is a Buddhist and I am a woman of faith, strengthened by my holistic household. This does not necessarily have any philosophical or religious relation to cliches; or why he insists on calling me Yoko even though I don’t look anything like the Japanese artist. What I remember about my childhood was my father reminding me ‘all that glitters is not gold’.  We had a story time ritual. He would tell me tales with meaning – issues that were relevant at the time told in African folklore. I understood the fundamental basics of his statement. Not everything is as it appears. Don’t trust everything you see. Even salt looks like sugar, read one meme.

All that Glitters is Not Gold: “Not everything that is shiny and superficially attractive is valuable.”

I have always loved fashion because of the story showcased through form, function and fantasy. At any given moment the narrative can change – have dramatic flairs, emotional frills and surprising reactions. Going back to younger years I’ve always found myself drawn to bold and bright colours. But like most impressionable teenagers it took a few summers before I began ‘feelin myself’ #Formation. For this to happen I had to trust the process of growth and creative expression. So what does this have to do with glitter not being gold? To quote my other article Brand Perception; what we perceive, we believe.

When considering brands I lust for, only a few come to mind. As a Fashion Marketing graduate the career options are endless as you develop skill-sets. Internships are one of them. I have done my fair share of internships – one was at this very publication #shamelessworkplug. The previous ones were at established fashion houses. There was one particular brand (I will not name for privacy reasons) that was a personal achievement for me – to be in their head office, at their studio and flagship store. To sit with the ladies and see the concepts I had proudly promoted by spending many (many!) a penny on their whimsical yet fierce attire… with love. I was convinced we, brand C and I, had a deep emotional connection. I thought the concept matched my confidence. Brand C would represent me as classy and sassy. They fulfilled their promise. I felt great as a consumer but not as an industry insider. The marketing mix done well is almost as potent as a wish on a star – undeniable but unexplainable.

It seemed to me the problem was simple: I took too much stock in the emotional connection and perceived benefits I received through their clothing. This is not to say my appreciation was misplaced but in terms of basing my professional opinion in comparison to my personal opinion, yes. It was unsustainable. I remember a teacher of mine (lets affectionately call her S) explaining the process of a ‘marketing mix’ with this quote:

“Consumers don’t buy products or product attributes. They purchase benefits and emotional meaning.” -Theodore Levitt

This was my experience when referring to brand C. I wonder how many of us do this unconsciously. I wonder how many of us do this consciously. The Fashion industry feeds off social structures and cultural norms – they break rules but are fully aware of the rules. They hold them in high regard as a reference point (as do I); no matter if Fast Fashion, Mid-Range, High-End, Luxury, Couture and all the channels between. The industry values its ambassadors – the ‘it girl’, the trendsetter, the model on the runway. This industry needs relatable representation to sell the dream.

When I read articles on skinny-shaming, fat-shaming, gender-shaming, financial-shaming (oh yes, you know when you walk in a store and there are no price tags on any items? As if to say, ‘if you are not prepared for the prices we are not prepared for the service.’), I wonder if Vogue, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar or Marie Claire will ever run out of content.

The industry and society is riddled with the issue of COMPARISON and PERFECTION. We all strive for a state of control where we are pleased with our efforts – perfection; and we all fall into the trap of praising other people’s blessings instead of honestly focusing on our own – comparison. These two issues make for a mean feast of insecurity. Is this what we want fashion to be thought of? I remember catching up with my then-partner and his old friends. I got to chatting with a woman in her mid/late 30s. She asked me what I did. I excitedly explained I was studying Fashion Marketing. She freely scoffed before saying; “fashion is so fickle and self-absorbed. I think it’s fake and frivolous”. I remember staring at her for several moments. Self-absorbed? Fake? Did I mention she was wearing a BRIGHT fluro yellow body-con KOOKAI dress? Girl bye.

This is the problem. Fashion has the power to transform like no other commodity. It has the ability to be political, radical, severe, soft whimsical, poetic but never unimportant. It has the ability to change lives and societies. It is a reflection of souls and cultures and should never be apologetic. We can’t deny it is a mirror to society, serving to show us how we can be democratic and inclusive (in terms of different styles and subcultures) yet highly selective and haughty. It is frustrating when society tends to agree with the glitz and slits of fashion but will not extend those thoughts to value the concept or vision. It is definitely challenging to be a creative of any kind as we progress into the future. I began to ask myself, can you love the story but hate the message?

To sum up my ‘open letter’: it is easy to place products, people or places on a pedestal in our emotional psyche because they evoke a mood within us. Is there anything wrong with that? No, but we definitely shouldn’t base our decisions on subjective feelings or ‘perceived benefit’ (confidence, connection, security of identity, approval) of a product, service, advertisement or slogan. At the end of the day Fashion is here to fulfill a need and, like any other industry, this is implemented through discourses by discretion and influence.

We need this industry. We need representation. We need fantasy. We need form and function. We need issues to dissect and discover again and again with new eyes. There is a tangible goal that needs to be achieved – image positivity and self-love, with products and services being a means to an end.

They say fortune favours the bold, but does glitter give you gold? No, but it will definitely give you something pretty to look at. And hey, that’s worth a bit of a nibble of the carrot.

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This article was written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/open-letter-to-the-fashion-industry/#ixzz4CYh1pZQu

Bad Representation | Making Sure You’re Looked After

Twitter – @bohomags


When you embark on a career in entertainment or the arts, representation is paramount. Having a team around you can elevate a lot of stress by allowing you to focus on what you do best. Publicists, agents, stylists and a PA are like the immediate family. If that is the case then a manager would be the Mother and an agent would be the Father. Representation and management are there not only for financial security but also peace of mind. So, before you begin the exciting journey of fame and fortune, its good to have a sense of what you need and why.

Deal or no deal?

Signing or agreeing to any legal document can be daunting – something that is not meant to be taken lightly.   The terms and conditions, which 95% of us don’t read in their entirety (I know I don’t), are to outline what is expected of you and the other party. Just as though you were choosing the right partner, a contract most definitely needs careful consideration. Though there are endless stories of shonky deals within the entertainment industry, we can’t brush this with a broad stroke – most deals that go awry are situational, not par for the course.

Kesha, the woman who ‘wakes up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy’, has been in-broiled in a legal battle regarding her contract with a subsidiary of SONY owned by music producer Dr Luke; a mentor who allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted her for many years. I think the world (or those who care) took a deep breathe when the verdict was given. Kesha told reporters: “All I ever wanted was to be able to make music without being afraid, scared or abused.” Though Dr Luke strongly denies all the allegations, this is a cautionary tale for the very real and addictive lure of fame. Just because we are presented with options doesn’t mean they are opportunities.

Kelly Cutrone, PR extraordinaire (The People’s Revolution) and who was also on The Hills and The City on MTV, told Racked.com, “You better have a f*cking great contract or you’re gonna get f*cked. I’ve learned a lot about the law from being in this for so long. I’ve learned a lot about accounting and getting stiffed the hard way. There’s a very serious back end to this business which is accounts receivable […] I want young people to know the business.”

The reality of any business is there may not be 100% understanding; contractual or otherwise. When dealing with your money, your time and your talent in this world of greed and corruption it is well advised to get a second opinion. The glittering approval of a contract being offered to you is amazing! Exciting! A remuneration for the hard work put in thus far, but it will mean nothing if the contract does not benefit yourself.

Investing in your future

According to ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Model’ by Roshumba Williams, “If you want to become a model—any kind of model—it’s important to know how an agency works so you get the most out of the agency’s personnel in terms of managing your career. Modeling agencies have their own hierarchy, and staff members tend to be very protective of their duties and titles. You need to know the chain of command and follow it, or you can cause problems.”

Representation is not just about diversity. Though it would be great, personally, to see more African models in ad campaigns and runway shows, I know most of this comes down to the right management and representation. Choosing the right management speaks not only as you as an individual but as your own commodity – your brand.

Model and body-positive believer, Carrie shared with her fans in her blog post, ‘I have more to offer than my body’, in her journey of self-love and discovery, “Just a 3 weeks ago when I made my debut back to life, I spoke with a girlfriend of mine. She, also a model, inspired me to write about this. I am no longer with any of my agencies. Its been a bit of a mission as I want to share it with everyone, but it is still a constant struggle.” Carrie, who is looking into managing herself, hits a very real nerve. The role of representation and management is to uplift, uphold and open doors for you. If you feel those things are not being nurtured then take a few moments to ask yourself, are you really being represented or just re-presented each time you step into a new option? The two are far from the same.

The trick is to keep finding a home for your skills and talents. The right management matters because it guides you in the right direction. Waiting for the right opportunity is better than following the wrong option – the road back is long and can be disheartening.

Look for those who bring out the best in you, professional and personal. You can’t go wrong for long when you are in the right place.

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This article was written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/model-management/#ixzz437qLHVrl

The Age of Modeling

the age of modeling

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By Margretta Sowah
Twitter – @bohomags


First and foremost, there is nothing sexual about ten-year-old model, Kristina Pimenova. Not her poses or her backdrops or her deer-in-headlights gaze. The problem is not over-sexualising this girl. The problem is romanticizing her.

Kristina Pimenova, born December 27, 2005, is a Russian native. Her parents are no stranger to fame or wealth, with dad being a soccer player (he played in the 2002 FIFA games) and mum a former model. Not only has Miss Pimenova been exposed to ‘the good life’, she is also a competing gymnast. This girl is on fire! Though the controversy is obvious it does pose the question; is there a right age to follow your dreams?

Social Responsibility

When researching this topic I found myself conflicted by opposing forces.  When it comes to the exploitation of the youth (which is the general consensus) in relation to modeling/beauty pageants and the like, are we protecting the youth while exploiting our needs? What I mean by this is, the rally behind Miss Pimenova’s modeling contract is really addressing the exploitation of needs and wants – the desire to acquire. According to Investopedia, Social Responsibility means that individuals and companies have a duty to act in the best interests of their environments and of society as a whole. As I stated in my other article on Naomi Campbell vs Tess Holiday, does Fashion and the Modeling industry – not to mention production companies – have a social responsibility to the public more so than the client?

In Kristina’s case the answer lies not in the sexualisation of her but the romanticizing of her. This means that though this girl is protected – for the most part – by laws and other social norms from too much scrutiny over her sexuality, this does not stop consumers, pop culture and the general public from romanticizing her as “a beautiful little girl.” This is sort of like the ingenue problem where there are certain roles society is more comfortable with investing in both financially and emotionally; hence the damsel in distress ‘ingenue’ –  young novice, fresh-faced seemingly innocuous female comes into play in one form or another.

According to abc.net.au in 2013 New York’s laws tightened its rules for children in the Modeling industry. The legislation, “signed by New York governor Andrew Cuomo, gives models under the age of 18 the same labor protections as child performers.” Actress Milla Jovovich, who started modeling at the tender age of 11, told reporters in the article, “It seems incredible that young kids in the modeling industry haven’t had equal rights to other child performers until now.” If you are not fully aware of the laws governing your vocation, as a child not a parent, can you fully assess a dream job or calling?

Young Model
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What makes a model?

Oxford dictionaries describe a model as ‘a person employed to display fashionable clothes by wearing them.” Not the most thought wrenching definition but true to form. A model is someone employed (meaning there is an exchange of goods and services) to display items for sale, usually clothing or accessories. Let me make this point again; how old do you have to be to know this is your dream? Is there a right time/age to follow your dreams?

If you go on LinkedIn, TED or Medium there is no shortage of articles prompting us to follow our dreams, at any age. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, heck even Einstein memes are pushing the point of chasing your goals –  fulfilling your dreams, stepping into the unknown. If you could go back and speak to your ten-year-old self, what would they say to you about your current vocation? I know mine would be like… “Why aren’t you a ballerina/bird watcher yet?” I have yet to do one proper lesson as an adult or seriously consider studying our feathered friends.

How does Kristina know this is something worth pursuing? Besides the obvious superficiality of the calling? Is the roar of cachet and bountiful opportunities the reason for her family’s openness to a different kind of exposure? Kristina is no stranger to scrutiny as a training professional gymnast. The same goes for her mother and father in relation to their personal successes. Should a child as young as ten – remember when you were ten? – hold some responsibility for what she works hard for?Kristina-Pimenova

Foundations of youth

“Youth is wasted on the young.” A popular quote by George Bernard Shaw. What is so appealing about the young? Being youthful; vibrant, trusting, limper and naive. How I miss those years. It is no surprise child stars, performers and models are opting for the safer option of management within the family – Momagers, to be exact (a word trademarked by Kris Jenner). When it comes to exploitation, like a murder or any criminal situation, the family is the first under question.

Kristina’s mum, Glikeriya Pimenova, has said; “I do not accept those accusations about sexualisation of my child.” The 39-year-old mother of Kristina then goes on to address the media; “I am certain in my mind all her photographs are absolutely innocent. I have never asked her to take this or that pose, and in fact I must say she does not especially like it when I am photographing her, so I do it quickly and when she doesn’t notice […] You must think like a pedophile in order to see something sexual in these pictures, so it is time for you to see a doctor.”

Kristina Pimenova
kristina Pimenova
Kristina pimenova

Though pictures of Kristina on her social media accounts (operated and run by her mother) are innocent, people have already begun to pick apart milestone adverts with heavyweight companies such as Armani, Roberto Cavalli and the United Colours of Benetton.

Her mother continues to say; “Kristina likes to be photographed by professional photographers. She communicates with them well, and is a very sociable and open-hearted child […] I see that my daughter likes it and that she is good at it, and this is the reason why I am going on with it. After all, it is our duty as parents to spot the talents of our children and to develop them. If she had only been a shy child who is scared to meet new people, she would have never succeeded. A pretty face is not everything in this business.”

Having good looks and charisma must elicit envy from the outside world. But we are worried for Kristina’s bubble; the naive bubble we want all children to inhabit for as long as they can. The world is a funny place. You can be criticized for being unattractive and criticized for being too attractive. You can drop dead with a perfect bill of health and be a loose-goose and live relatively longer than the people around you. Life can be very humbling. Having said that, at the impressionable age of ten, can you grasp the concept of a career? Of making and breaking the bank – or mold? Or is it just another game, when you are a child?

Is there, truly, a right age to follow your dreams?

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This article was written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time.

Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/age-of-modeling/#ixzz437mTJKNZ

Sound advice | Seth Godin

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“When creativity becomes a profession…

It often stops being creative.

Ad agencies are some of the most conservative organizations you’ll encounter. They’ve been so trained by fearful clients, they censor themselves regularly.

Successful authors are pushed by concerned publishers to become more true to their genres.

And the movie industry… well, it’s an industry first.

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This is why so many bestsellers are surprise bestsellers. In the words of William Goldman, no one knows anything. But, even though they don’t know, the industrial protocol demands that they act like they do. Shareholders hesitate to give bonuses to CEOs who say, “I don’t know, let’s try it.”

If you want to be creative, truly creative, it might pay to avoid a job with the word ‘creative’ in it.”

SETH GODIN

‪#‎thestruggleisreal‬

 

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#FreeTheNipple | Hypocrisy, one titillation at a time

Nip Slip free the nipple

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By Magretta Sowah
Twitter – @bohomags


 

According to Oxford Dictionaries, in ‘transit’ means to pass across or through an area. We are in transit, socially speaking, when it comes to identity. Maybe we always have been. Social media is a wonderful thing. Freedom of expression and freedom of speech!

All social platforms have guidelines. The Do’s and Don’ts of most sites is simple; no pornographic content involving minors or threatening to post intimate images of others #WasteHisTime2016.

free the nipThis picture, posted on AMFAM Instagram, was banned because it didn’t meet their guideline requirements. But the requirements mention nothing about bare chests. The picture is of a woman – a transgender woman. It is here that we have a problem. The #freethenipple campaign started as art imitating life, with Lina Esco’s comedic drama centred around activists fighting their right to bare nipples –Why is seeing my nipple more offensive than a mass murder? A great point. What does baring a nipples have to do with identity? More than you realise.

You show me yours

I must admit, I’m not a huge Instagram user. What I do love about this platform is the curated and filtered visual porn – lets be very clear; I mean anything intended to cause excitement. I am not here to call out hypocrisy (I enjoy my job far too much) but we continue to dance on the line of acceptability. The world is filled with almost 7 billon people. There will definitely be times we don’t see eye to eye or hand to gun, as the news regurgitates hourly. This is why identity is so important – to know who you are and your relation to the external world. But we are talking about law enforced guidelines on Instagram, not existential problems of the self and universe.

2014 was the year Facebook lifted its ban on women who shared pictures of breastfeeding their newborns. What they didnt do was lift the same ban on women who weren’t breastfeeding but had their girls out. Any other contexts apart from nursing was forbidden, according to mic.com. Facebook was not prepared for the roar of loosened bra straps at the hypocrisy.

Lina Esco, the mastermind behind the #freethenipple movement and satirical movie, stated in 2013; “When I started my online campaign, Facebook and Instagram banned the photos of topless women that were taken on location, faster than we could put them up. Why can you show public beheadings from Saudi Arabia on Facebook, but not a nipple? Why can you sell guns on Instagram, but yet they will suspend your account for posting the most natural part of a woman’s body?”Free The Nipple

This campaign was evelated to a femisitic-super-nova level when Feminist writer and activist Soraya Chemaly rallied the troups, sending more than ‘60,000 tweets and 5,000 emails opposing the inequitable way images of women’s breasts are regarded.’ Soraya Chemaly told Mic mag, Women’s breasts are not the problem. Sexual objectification is the problem. There’s a difference between sexualization and sexuality. Breasts don’t hurt children, breasts feed children, and it’s the sexualization of women’s bodies that’s actually hurting children the most.”

Sex sells because it reminds us of the familiar. When we see a sexy image we are tempting the deepest parts of ourselves – the kind of llifestyle we hate to see but love to be (if only for an episode of your favorite reality show). Bringing it back home, we at AMFAM were not impressed with Instagram. We believe the picture was banned because she has very feminine features. Gorgeous hair. Ajar lips. Fresh and hydrated skin. Cheeky demure. This screams female all over – am I right ladies?

The model doesn’t appear threatening or erotic. The issue? Her nipples were visible on a flat chest. Is it fair that male nipples are socially acceptable damn near anywhere? But this isn’t a picture of a quote on quote ‘man’. Is the line still relevant when the stiletto is on the other foot?free the nip

Who makes the rules?

We share a pack mentality; kind of like the ‘cool kids’ club. There’s nothing overtly dangerous with this – we need order and hierarchy for pretty things to flourish. The problem is when the majority is wrong and yet still rules. Over-sexualisation has taken over our world – even as a writer. It’s not hard to turn a mispronounced word, unintended movement or a well-placed object into a double entendre. See what I mean? Very naughty of you.

The titillation of #freethenipple is largely due to sex-coloured glasses. Female breasts are seen as sexual objects – funbags, to be captialised solely for pleasure and aesthetics, instead of their actual use – for nurture. There always will be disgruntled right/left wing conservatives who hide behind tradition – what’s tried and true will come through, right? What about the power one holds to change and evolve, regardless of social norms? Why are models allowed to showcase next to fabulous nothing to sell a product/lifestyle but women on the street who are less provocative, perhaps even breastfeeding their child; or horror of all horrors, braless while wearing a white shirt, in the middle of a rainstorm. Why some things accepted but others aren’t?Boob

Can beauty be censored?

The rules of beauty should be individually defined as we go forward into the future. Beauty is a universal social construction on the senses. It is felt more so than seen, which is why many industries are thriving on capturing beauty in its natural (curated) habitat. These companies edit beauty. Then sell it back to us in a real life context.

Instagram’s rule to ban our image had more to do with perception in real time than capturing beauty in its natural (curated) habitat. We felt because this model had identified as a woman her nips violated their platform guidelines and laws.

The line of approval and self acceptance is a long drawn out process. It will probably be a selfie at a time. We can start by understanding their rules and then breaking them in morally acceptable ways (and legal, of course!). Morality and socialism will always butt heads. To put it differently, what is good for social platforms is not always good for brands.

With that said, let’s blow the cover on real hypocrisy – starting with one titillation at a time.

Free The Nipple

 

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This article was written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/free-the-nipple/#ixzz40h9OixCv

Blogger Blogger On The Wall, Who’s The Fairest Of Them All?

top fashion blogs

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By Margretta Sowah
Twitter – @bohomags


Can you, in your head, raise your hand if you have ever owned or written in a diary? Hopefully there are many of you. We are operating within an interesting paradigm – this ‘on the line’ (shout-out to the Internship movie), quasi-virtual reality of connection through different types of retail experiences. You can call this a Checkout Society. ‘Checkout’ can refer to different things such as; unwinding with social media, or maybe having a wandering eye, being fortunate to ‘checkout’ of a boring day through different vices… most of these are #firstworldproblems.

The benefit of blogging is self-explanatory. The two advantages that come to mind (for the readers) are convenience and customisation. With the aid of Google we are able to find almost anything on anyone at anytime. Sounds convenient. The custom part lies in the hands of the blogger. These benefits run further and deeper than just convenience and customised choices. A Blogger is someone who shares information on their site regularly for personal purposes. If a company is operating in this capacity it wouldn’t be calling blogging; it would be called selling. Is this how we view bloggers now? A business all on its own; selling a fixed and curated dream? Is there anything wrong with that? Should we fight against being sold ‘gift set’ size ideologies of the newest trend?

Even the most secure of persons, financially speaking, is opting to quit their salary packages for the alluring and turbulent avenue of professional blogging. We’ve seen PLENTY of sites that offer advice, tips, commentary, prizes, tutorials and even image porn. Oh no she didn’t! Sites likeTumblr, WordPress and Bloglovin are platforms for community interaction.

I have nothing against blogging – I do it myself. The only difference is I’m not selling anything but myself, wink wink (I joke). Thousands of dollars can be made monetizing your page. Whether you are using affiliate marketing (those annoying banners businesses have on the side, top and bottom of most pages – when readers click said advertisement and/or purchase from that page the blogger receives a fee. The purchase or impression was made by association). More often than not, direct methods of marketing such as endorsing a product are the industry norm. Bloggers get freebies. Yes FREEBIES – most of the time. The convenience for brands is having an unofficial spokesperson for the average person. I suppose that is the beauty of blogging. So what does this mean in relation to living in a ‘checkout’ society? Blogging has already become a ‘social commerce’ platform.

The future of blogging is moving towards bankable personalities – people who use their ‘brand’ to influence and engage their audience to purchase or be a part of a certain movement or product. We have to assume those active followers are interested in blog [x] because they find whatever the blogger is blogging useful. The trust is that the blogger(s) have consumers in mind, catering and curating probable and attractive trends for the rest of us to enjoy. Ain’t no shame in that game.

Here is a list of the top (6) Fashion Blogs (in my humble opinion).

1. The Man Repeller

top fashion blogs

I think the name says it all. This blog is not just for the average fashionista. Do you put a little more thought and a little less outside approval into your outfit? Dress without fear!

FOLLOW IF: you have a bubble bag just waiting to come out of your closet… I’m kidding. If you aren’t afraid of trying new things style-wise then welcome to the club.

www.manrepeller.com

2. Garry Pepper Girl

top fashion blogs

If vintage and all things girly is your cup of tea then GPG is for you! Whimsical, exotic and a whole lot of class. Are you a Garry Pepper Girl?

FOLLOW IF: you enjoy seeing all facets of being in the Fashion public eye – from red carpets, VIP luncheons and events, collaborating and even having fabulous meals. #nofilter of course.

www.garrypeppergirl.com

3. Peony Lim

top fashion bloggers

The Asian market is known for its polished decadence and commercial quirkiness. This blog is for jet-setters. All aboard!

FOLLOW IF: you love seeing high-res and high gloss images of a Fashion princess’s jet-setting lifestyle.

www.peonylim.com

4. Style Bubble

top fashion blogs

In the Fashion Blogging sphere, Style Bubble is an icon! Though her site is not as flashy (some would say) as other blogs, her content far outweighs any minimalist and quirky visuals.

FOLLOW IF: you enjoy reading longhand fashion commentary while wearing your favourite kitsch outfit.

www.stylebubble.co.uk

5. Blonde Salad

Top Fashion Blogs

A blogging favourite for most. This blogger has had collaborations with luxury houses, and even has her own fashion line.

FOLLOW IF: you have a thing for art, fashion, design, travel then look no further.

www.theblondesalad.com

6. Bryanboy

top fashion blogs

What to say about Bryanboy? He is a gay icon in fashion. Having his own Marc Jacobs bag named after him is just a small stitch in this story.

FOLLOW IF: you are into gorgeous fashion, behind the scenes shots and possible shady commentary.

www.bryanboy.com

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This article was written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/top-fashion-blogs/#ixzz3z4aQlmUX

Class of 2016 | Top 10 Black Beauties

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By Magretta Sowah


No doubt 2015 was the year of the entrepreneur – the dream catcher/seeker, internet breaker. Political and emotional avenues were given within the fashion industry because of recurring underlining issues. These include; beauty standards, weight management and exploitation, gender neutrality, androgyny (and its benefits), social changes in the business of fashion and of course, The Edit – all aided by social media.

EBONY magazine, for their September issue 2015, brought attention to the diverse and colourful world of black female models. You can have a look here. Believe it or not, black is not one-size-fits-all – ask anyone from Africa and they will tell you that being African is a code of conduct; a way of life rooted deeper than melanin and linguistics.

Yes its true black models have been scouted for years, but almost always cast as a background model – a novelty, but never in the forefront or cover. Though the reasons for this continued to be debated, in 2016 the Black Model continues to grace covers, runways and editorials. In case you were not familiar with these dark beauties i have compiled a list of rising starlets and timeless icons in prominence and portfolio.

So here, in glorious fashion, are the freshmen, sophmore and senior class of the black fe(male) model tribe.

*Please note there are many fierce and inspiring black models in the industry. This list is a shout-out to them also, in spirit.

ROLL CALL

Freshmen Class 2016 – 

They say the expert at something was once as beginner. No one is born knowing things a person of old age is just beginning to discover. The following may be freshmen but they have the valedictorian spirit…

Milan Dixonblack models

The Nevada native is a newbie who studied at Texas Southern University. She’s currently signed to PhotoGenics and has been featured in editorials for Elle South Africa, Cosmopolitan South Africa and Marie Claire South Africa.

|| STATS ||

Name: Milan Dixon

Stepped on the scene: Early 2000s

Most known for: Gracing the cover of ELLE magazine South Africa #RunwayForAfrica

Bragging rights: Killer tooth gap SU|PER SEX|Y

Website/Contact: Portfolio – MajorModel   Instagram – @modelmilano

Samantha Archibaldblack models

The Jamaican-German model was discovered and signed to Michele Pommier when she was 14. Now she’s signed to Major Model Management in New York and Storm Model Management in London (the same agency that signed Cara Delevingne). Archibald hasn’t landed any major advertising campaigns yet, but she’s posed for editorials in Interview, Nylon, Elle and Love and walked in fashion shows for Jeremy Scott, Moschino, Prada, DSquared2, and Moncler.

|| STATS ||

Name: Samantha Archibald

Stepped on the scene: 2013

Most known for: being one of the printastic models at Moschino S/S 15 RTW. #BarbieForever

Bragging rights: Saying loud and proud that she’s a feminist (she even had it on a shirt).

Website/Contact: Instagram – @thinkthinkbrainblast

 

Sophmore Class 2016 – 

These models have been in the game long enough that they are household names. We love them for their personality as well as a.a.a.amazing good looks. I guess you can have it all…

Alek Wekblack models

Sudan-born Alek Wek was discovered at a London outdoor market. She was able to catch the attention of the industry when she appeared in the music video of “Golden Eye” by Tina Turner. Since then, she has graced major ads for a lot of companies, including Clinique, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and Victoria’s Secret among many others.

|| STATS ||

Name: Alek Wek

Stepped on the scene: Early 2008

Most known for: Being a bad*ss bold chick – stand aside Amber Rose – with sensual lips. Oh yes! #ReadMyLips

Bragging rights:  Being an advisor to the US Committee for Refugees since 2002.

Website/contact: Twitter – @therealalekwek

Jourdan DunnBlack Models

London born Jourdan Dunn was discovered in a local Primark at 16 by the legendary agency Storm Models (who also discovered Kate Moss) and has been unstoppable ever since. Voted the British Fashion Council’s “Model of the Year” in 2008 as well as being one of the 4 cover models for Vogue Italia’s iconic Black Models issue, July 2008. Has walked the runways for nearly every top designer and making history as the first black model since Naomi to strut for Prada, Jourdan is a bona-fide star. Gave birth to son Riley in December 2009.

|| STATS ||

Name: Jourdan Dunn

Stepped on the scene: 2007

Most known for: Being a VS model #JourdansGotASecret

Bragging rights: Um… hello; being a part of the BALMAIN-Kendall-Gigi-Naomi-Iman DYNASTY! We love you Jourdan.

Website/contact: Instagram – @officialjdunn  Twitter – @missjourdandunn

Liya KebedeBlack Models

Liya Kebede, who was born in Ethiopia, got her break in the fashion industry when Tom Ford chose her in the 2000 Gucci Fall/Winter show. After this, she proceeded in establishing a name for herself as a permanent runway figure on the Milan, Paris, London, and New York circuit. She garnered extreme popularity that she was chosen as the cover of the May 2002 edition of Paris Vogue. She is also the first black model for Estee Lauder.

|| STATS ||

Name: Liya Kebede

Stepped on the scene: 2004 in an Escada campaign – Oh yes, bubblegum pink fringe dresses were in.

Most known for: Being a triple threat: model, actress and advocate. #blacklivesmatter

Bragging rights: Being a Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health for the World Health Organization. Madonna eat your heart out!

Website/Contact: Liyakebede.com   Instagram – @liyakbede
Twitter – @liyakebede 

Chanel ImanBlack Models

Chanel Iman Robinson, known commonly today as simply Chanel Iman, is the youngest and most successful African-American High Fashion Model of her time. The Victoria’s Secret “Angel” is well-known for having positive energy and endless legs that have walked countless runways around the world.

|| STATS ||

Name: Chanel Iman

Stepped on the scene: 2006

Most known for: Having the name of a famous brand and model #blessed

Bragging rights: Being funny and sexy and a VS Angel.

Website/contact: Chaneliman.com   Twitter – @chaneliman  
Instagram – @chaneliman

 

Senior Class – 2016

OG’s (Original Gangsta’s) in the modelling industry are not made, they are born. Graduating top of in their class and most likely to succeed for their bankable ($) looks…

ImanBlack Models

Iman was born on July 25, 1955, in Mogadishu, Somalia. A student at the University of Nairobi, she was discovered by photographer Peter Beard. Through the 1970s and 1980s, Iman was a favourite model in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent devoted the “African Queen” collection to her. Since retiring from modelling, Iman has done charity work in Somalia, started a cosmetics line and married rocker David Bowie.

|| STATS ||

Name: Iman

Stepped on the scene: A lady never reveals her age

Most known for: Her striking features #rise

Bragging rights: Being married to the one and only David FREAKING Bowie.

Rest In Fashionable and Musical Peace David Bowie x

Website/contact:  Destinationiman.com  Instagram – @the_real_iman

Naomi CampbellBlack models

Supermodel Naomi Campbell was born in London on May 22, 1970. She began modelling at age 15, becoming the first black woman on the cover of French Vogue at 18, and the first black model on the cover of Time. On a few occasions, Campbell’s hot temper got her in trouble with the law. In addition to modelling, Campbell launched a singing career and a perfume.

|| STATS ||

Name: Naomi Campbell

Stepped on the scene: 1988

Most known for: Throwing a mobile at her assistant #onhold

Bragging rights: Being herself and NEVER compromising for the business

Website/contact: Naomicampbell.com   Instagram – @iamnaomicampbell
Twitter – @naomicampbell

Tyra BanksBlack Models

While Tyra Banks is known for her personality, there is no denying the fact that she has achieved a lot as a black supermodel. If you watched the series America’s Next Top Model, then you know the history of her career. Before she entered the world of commercial modelling, she was a high fashion model first. Since then, she was featured on numerous magazine covers. Tyra Banks is also the first black model to be featured as a cover on the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and on GQ.

|| STATS ||

Name: Tyra Banks

Stepped on the scene: 1989

Most known for: Coining the phrase: “You are not America’s Next Top Model.” #winning

Bragging rights: First black model on Sports Illustrated and GQ cover + her T-Zone community

Website/contact: Tyra.com  Instagram – @tyrabeauty  Youtube – tyrabanks
twitter – @tyrabeauty

Tyson BeckfordBlack Models

Born in New York, Tyson lived in Jamaica until the age of seven and now makes his home in New York. When he is not modelling or acting, Tyson is busy developing his MotorSports interests, which has led him to become a licensed driving member of Supertuners and host of his own auto show.

|| STATS ||

Name: Tyson Beckford

Stepped on the scene: 1992

Most known for: Being in Toni Braxton’s ‘Unbreak My Heart’ video clip #relationshipgoals

Bragging rights: Being in a serious motorcycle accident in the 90s (that scarred his face) and bouncing back even more sexier than before. Savage.

Website/contact: TysonBeckford.com     Instagram – @tysonbeckford
twitter – TysonCBeckford

 

“It’s not who does it first, it’s who does it best.”

#blackmodelmovement

#blacklivesmatter

 

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This article was written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/black-models-black-beauties/#ixzz3yd0bjZoQ

Is Fashion Feminist?

fashion feminist

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By Margretta Sowah
Twitter – @bohomags


Once upon a time it was easy to spot an honest person – they exuded purpose. In the 21st century of political correctness, being honest is a double edge sword. Look at it this way; if integrity and fairness were as celebrated and engaged with as war, the world would be a different place.

The honest truth: Feminism is far from its full actualisation. Can fashion aid in the advancement of this honest cause; being the Mecca of expressionism expressed, in conceptualised styli-fication? – talk about a mouthful! Let’s explore.

Act like a woman

fashion feminist
fashion feminist
fashion feminist

When a woman compliments another woman it can be taken as shade. When a man compliments a woman, he is taken seriously. How does that work? Fashion is intrinsically feminine – the advertisement is geared to prickling women’s sensors, educing an almost septic reaction; the hand reaching for the credit card, a gush instils as the bag handle does a body exchange.

Yes, fashion is feminine. But is it feminist? Not to go into an issue much more complex than the average trending topic, feminism is the right and acknowledgement of equality over both genders. This is referring to not only social issues (raising a family on their own, personal safety, allowing for political correctness etc) but psychological thought patterns as well. The last headlining feministic stunt in fashion was CHANEL’s Paris Fashion Week show in 2014. Top models such as Gisele Bündchen and Cara Delevingne walked down the runway, asking for change over designer microphones.

Society as a whole is for feminism, I believe, as mothers are the matriarchal image of the female spirit… perhaps that is where we get our wires crossed. Women in the 21st century do not want to be just mothers. We want – no deserve – to have it all; at least how men are seen to have. The problem is putting these two worlds together – having a family and being part of a system or being the ‘woman most envied’; all aided by brand [x] perfume No.69. You can’t be vain and loving at the same time, right?

These opposing images make for an interesting and almost comical reaction to fashion in feminism. Since the burning of the bra – or at least Madonna’s Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra from the Blond Ambition tour of 1990 (I was only one at the time!); fashion has always been a tool at our disposal. Whether this power pushes for societal changes or personal expression is yet to be seen in any other form but misunderstanding by already set standards.

Think like a man

adrog fashion
be a man
fashion feminist

Women’s rights are a huge driving force for societal changes as are male rights too… so what about the transgender issues? Surely feminism, in its purest form, is to protect and respect the rights and wishes of men who are now women also? Does it work that way?

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the industry is perhaps one of the few platforms we have to express opinions. We need advocates from all subcultures and markets to fight this problem. What can’t be done about this is nothing. The gay and lesbian community is a big part of the fashion economy, with glitterati’s like Brian Boy & André Leon Talley being public fashion and cultural figures in their own right.

Their voices on feminism issues are invaluable. Men are seen as go-getters, always on the hunt, – check out my post on the Male Model Stereotype – succeeding by any means possible (survival of the fittest or finest? A discussion for another time).

It’s no secret men dominate the industry with most designers of womenswear being male (over 65%). We are used to this. We don’t question it. Houses like Prada and Versace come from male conceptions, being adaptive as the years have past. Women such as Miuccia Prada, Diane Von Furstenberg, Stella McCartney, Donna Karen and even Mary Katrantzou are pushing for the acknowledgement (and equal pay) of female designers in any market.

One writer wrote in their article Are Fashion and Feminism compatible; “Fashion is, by its nature, entirely bipolar. You can love it, live for it; invest all your time/money/energy in it, but clearly what it says today will in no way reflect what it says in six months’ time. Indeed, surely the entire point of fashion is that it mustn’t really believe in anything…” (via The Guardian).

Whether or not the author’s opinion is valid, it sure makes for an interesting point. It is not fashion that gives us something to believe in but us that gives fashion its meaning. Never forget that. If we believe fashion is not feminist then it won’t be.

Fashion in the future

future fashion
futuristic fashion
fashion feminist

If you follow Pantone on social media you would have seen their Colour of the Year release. For 2016 the colour(s) of the year are Rose Quartz and Serenity. To the untrained eye these colours are just baby pink and baby blue, but those in the industry see a link between society’s outcry for gender-equality, even if it starts from something as simple (and effective) as colour.

The colour of the year, explained by Pantone, is: “A symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude. In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design.

This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.”

The most important point to take out is consumers hold the key to changes. That’s right. You and I hold the power to change how things are sold to us. Will it be enough to break the line of equality and fairness? We can only tell one stitch (and swipe) at a time.

If fashion is meant to be an expressive force, let’s make sure what we are expressing is the truth – even if it’s honestly ugly.

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This article was written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/is-fashion-feminist/#ixzz3xBJVzZUn