As you may already know, I have a love-hate relationship with the fashion industry. As an entity, the fashion industry tends towards materialism, classism, capitalism (among other -isms), and yet, in the same breath, exhibits creative excellence, artistic quality and ambition that I value. I try my best to pay less attention to the more problematic designers out there - for health reasons of course. No one needs that kind of negativity in their life, you know?
I find out about less problematic designers through word of mouth, magazines that I flip through in stores and don't purchase, and of course the internet. Instagram, more specifically.
Instagram has this cool (and at times creepy) feature called Search and Explore. When you go to Search the app for something, a page pops up under the search bar that has various posts the app thinks you'll like based on things you've "liked", who you follow, and things the people you follow have "liked".
So one day I'm just chilling, ignoring life's responsibilities for a moment through social media. I stop scrolling down my feed, deciding that I should look up some silly stuff for the fun of it. I have no recollection of what I was about to search because THIS popped up on that Explore page:
Okay, maybe not this exact photo, but her. SHE popped up.
This is Loza Maléombho, a fashion designer born in Brazil and raised between Côte d’Ivoire and the United States. She began designing at age 13, but graduated from the University of the Arts of Philadelphia with a BA of Fine Arts in Animation. After interning within the fashion industry, Maléombho decided to start her own brand, which fuses her traditional culture with contemporary fashion.
Loza Maléombho's brand is produced in Côte d’Ivoire, where she works closely with local artisans (such as weavers, dyers, shoemakers, and jewelry makers), as well as empowers young women of unfortunate backgrounds with employment in her workshop.
From her Spring 2012 Collection
Her designs are wonderfully constructed, some with a degree of abstraction that, like many couture garments, may seem uncomfortable or impractical to actually wear. The goal here is not functionality, it is aesthetic. Still, she does have quite a bit of ready-to-wear designs that are just as artful, such as this jacket that I need in my life:
It's from Fall 2012 but I don't care. I want it.
And, like her designs, her Instagram page is also beautifully constructed. Maléombho has been consistently posting edited selfies in a series she calls #AlienEdits for well over a year. Many people hate selfies, and "selfie culture", and technology, and young people because they can't handle change and face their own mortality, or whatever - but I think all that "young-technology-selfie" stuff is great.
Especially when you throw an owl into the mix.
"Quiet Perception" by Loza Maléombho
Or a chicken.
Or a vintage sewing machine.
And it's not as though selfies are new - they're just self-portraits that didn't take hours to paint and are more widely accessible than ever before.
So the next time you see someone talking crap about the Millennials and their selfies and gadgets, just remind them that the youth are creative, complex creatures that are often at the helm of activism, culture, art, and progress. Look at Loza, who uses her fashion to empower people, while also indulging in the so-called silliness of "selfie culture". We can focus on more than one thing at time, and we can use our whimsy, our creativity to change the world.
The youth often seeks to better their future because they ARE the future. As the heirs to the world, our predecessors may not always understand that we young people, with our weird art and our seemingly vapid nature, are game changers and move makers.
So when you hear the slander, remind them that respect is a two-way street.
Or not, since they probably won't listen to you.