Saturday, January 24, 2009

Recession Blues…but is it so blue after all?

The week seems to have brought about a dark cloud of recession blues. Everyone I ran into, old friends and new, seem to ask the same question, “How is business? Are you affected by the recession?” Being tired of regurgitating the same answer (although I know they only ask because they care) I thought perhaps of recording my self and then playing it back or even better why not just get it down on type.

Being a young business as long as sales are better than last year January it is a positive sign. In this kind of volatile economic climate reaching targets might be a bit more challenging then usual but never the less it makes you want to work harder, think bigger and achieve more.

As a business owner working to survive the storm is definitely on my mind but then again it is on every business owners mind, which makes it a more fun market in terms of bartering. That deal on the advertising package is half the price, big venues want to attract people to their spot to eat or shop wanting to partner up if you have something new to offer and rent can be negotiated with landlords. I notice that humanity huddles together at times like these bringing out the caring side in us all…we tend to become more about society rather then ourselves.

If we look back to the history of fashion many brands have been though “hard” times. Taking the example of Louis Vuitton, during World War II they fought their way through, post war once again with the changing way of life and society they too adopted their business model becoming the most successful luxury house around. Making the correct decisions, adapting instantly to change (both your self and your business model) and being passionate can drive us thought these tough times.

In summarizing…lets seize the opportunities (there are lots of opportunities around), collaborate, and help one and other to build something bigger and better.

I really believe in living for the moment and regardless of what one is doing or where they are, the moment is always perfect. We often have to face “negatives” or what we perceive as “negative experiences” to help us in our growth process. Isn’t that what we are here to do, expand and evolve reaching to a new level of consciousness?

I’ll leave you with my most amazing moment of the week, last Sunday afternoon, I ran off to the beach to soak in 23 degrees and sunshine:

What a beautiful life!

Friday, January 16, 2009

…Kool Kuala Lumpur

With just three weeks into the year I seem to find myself to be sitting at airports or on planes a lot pondering life or the happenings of the recent trip. A few weeks ago I got an email from a production company in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia asking if I would come and be part of a TV Champaign where I would have to talk about my inspiration and how Europe had influenced my career as a Fashion designer…and so a few weeks later I was in KL.

Not knowing what to except of the place or the people other then the little research I did on the weather, which helped me, pack appropriately….30 degrees Celsius and sunny, who wouldn’t be excited?

Stepping off the plane I was whizzed of the studios to meet with the clients (the TV Channel) and the production team, the wardrobe was chosen and I given questions to answer about my inspirations etc that was eventually turned into my script. The day ended with a crew dinner where we all loosed up having a drink and talking about the coming days.

The next three days were filled with filming and a photo shoot. Although the pieces that was being filmed was merely a few seconds, a whole lot of work went into the set up of lights, camera and all the action. Made me grow a newfound respect for Hollywood and Bollywood, where the movies are hours long. I cannot begin to imagine what it takes to put together a full-length featured film.

Hours of hair and make-up, 60 takes, laughing / quarreling with the director, 500 photographs and several poses later…voila there we had all the raw cuts needed. Working on projects like this gets my heart beat racing and a twinkle in my eye… the excitement, energy, buzz of people and how everyone supported one another made this particular project a fun adventure.

In the mist of all this I had an afternoon off thus decided to take a quick tour of the city soaking in some sun and culture….the first stop was the Batu Caves and famous Hindu temple where I got chased by a wild monkey, next was the Batik making factory where they showed us how the ancient art of Batik was done, the pewter factor, a range of shops ending at the PETRONAS towers. Which I was informed are the largest towers in the world, the tallest single building is in Dubai.

The process of making Batik was the most interesting as my mind started to tick about how I could incorporate it into my next collection.

The process:

_A piece of white or dyed silk is stretched by two sticks on either side holding it up; next a pattern is drawn using a pencil
_Then a little tool called a “Chanting” (a little copper bowl with a spout attached to a wood or bamboo handle) is filled with a mixture of hot wax + resin and used to trace the drawing that were first done in pencil
_Fabric paint is used to fill in the areas that need to be colored in (the wax stops the colored ink from spreading)
_Once it is dry the fabric is put in a bucket of chemical fixatives making the color “fast” or permanent
_Lastly the wax is washed away as the fabric is boiled in a mixture of ashes and chemicals

After 3 days of work and lots of fun... leaving new friends, long hours of standing in front of the green screen, hot weather, palm trees and the beautiful Malay hospitality was hard…well its all in the name of fashion!

Friday, January 9, 2009

New York Calling…

I often find myself using holidays as an escape of my present reality but time and time again realizing only that I run into another reality… this teaches me to love my present reality.

New York, New York, New York is where I chose to go this year… love hate relationship began with this city several years ago while I was doing my undergraduate degree upstate. Frequently haunting the city to absorb all its culture, see the sights and off course get up to some fun fun fun night out’s!

Coming back a few years later brought me a very different encounter. It’s strange how when we visit the same places a few years later the experience is a whole different one, as they say change is the one constant factor in life and we need to embrace it.

While being on holiday I feel it is always important to absorb the life and times of the city…

New York is the commanding center of fashion and style in the United States holding some of the country's best fashion design schools. Many designers have built their company headquarters and flagship stores there. A dear friend of mine who I met while studying in London moved to NY to start her own label and is doing superbly well: Love Brigade, Inc. 230 Grand St Brooklyn, By exchanging a few emails, I realized that she was not in NY at the time but traveling around the country building her empire. I am rather excited for her and hope to collaborate in the near future.

Next I was introduced to a super cool t-shirt and graphic designer ( who has a showroom / retail space in the east village. We met at the studio and he was lovely enough to show me around and explain the happenings of the NY Fashion scene. The retail space was divided up by a simple yet effective concept whereby several designers shared the space covering the rent expense. I have seen the same idea in London, with the high cost of retail space it is a smart idea and wonder if it could work in Hong Kong. You see this being done by malls but not in the same way where the designers actually share the space. We talked for a while about the ups and downs of running a retail / design business. I left not only feeling grateful that he had shared his time and knowledge with me but also feeling a certain compassion that most designers share with one and other.

A little bit of history…

New York City's rise to fashion prominence began near the end of the 19th century, as new technologies increased the speed at which clothing could be produced. New York was a main center of this new manufacturing. Long before this early in New York's history, there were many custom dressmakers producing couture garments for their (mostly wealthy) clients.

After spending a few hours browsing my favorite bookshop in St.Marks place, checking out the fashion scene briefly, spending some quality time with the family and catching up with old friends. I was ready to go back home and face the happenings of the New Year!!!

Leaving you with some interesting street art found in NYC:

Kanchan Couture New Campaign

Distant Pasts Photo Shoot

With Jeffie in Tow and a suitcase of fashion we headed off to Chai Wan after temptation to work together again was just too irresistible. We had a fantastic if not strange day with bipolar security guards, getting kicked out of buildings and factory locations.

Photographer: Jeff Hahn
Make-Up: Hiromi
Model: Samar Khan