19 September 2016

The Discussion Of Fashion Counterfeits

Originally posted on the 13th September 2016 here

One of the hardest things to justify to consumers who don’t align themselves with the industry is to fork out a lump of money for a piece of luxury clothing that could easily be replicated at mass production for a quarter of the price - understandable, the internal argument between meeting consumer demands of cheap production VS standing out with a quality statement piece is not easy to win a crowd over. Back in 2014 I had attempted to discuss the issue of counterfeits in the industry with my rookie writing skills - a far cry from where I've come now with my writing (I think), but it's always good to look back at an issue of discussion and look at it again.

Looking beyond the counterfeit production of luxury goods in terms of consumerism, one must consider the ample time put into the creation of creating, producing and marketing the desirable and exclusive lifestyle of a respective luxury brand. Not only is this taking away what is known as intellectual property (I.P) for the individuals who spend countless hours in the industry to design, but also raises the issue of consumer awareness regarding factory workers exploitation and just how much is being addressed in and outside of the industry.

Original A. Wang / Counterfeit design vis taobao 
In light of this issue and the ethics of I.P for luxury design, one designer has won a $90 million dollar legal case against mass production companies selling fakes of his designs, along with others. Alexander Wang, director of his own brand and also creative director at Balenciaga started investing in patents and began to trademark designs back in 2012, aware of the issues with I.P stealing. Back in January of 2016, Wang sued over 400 different websites for infringing on his trademark and using the name ‘Alexander Wang’ without permission. Additionally, these counterfeit stores went as far as to mimic the production of goods and even design layouts to mislead consumers. A spokesperson for the brand has stated, “the court system is in favour for the symbolic significance of intellectual property.” Unfortunately while Wang did win the lawsuit with a ruling over the fact that 45 of the defendants failed to appear in court, it’s unlikely that he’ll receive the $90 million dollars as the owners of the online websites were most impossible to trace.

Looking past that, this is fantastic news for Wang and industry, with counterfeiting being a long-standing issue in the industry for as long as possible. Back in 2013, I.P stealing and counterfeiting was pegged at being a market of over $500 billion dollars, with big luxury brands like Moncler winning a trademark lawsuit against a Chinese company that had replicated its jackets with their logos in 2015, Prada shutting down a counterfeit website back in January and even recently, Zara going under the knife for stealing work from smaller, independent artists.

“Protecting out brand requires maintaining constant vigilance on a global scale as well as taking proactive measures,” a statement released by Wang has said, “The creativity and originality of our designs are the foundation upon which the company is based.”

In France, it’s
illegal to export, import and have on hand counterfeit products of any kind, with the Government taking issues of I.P very seriously for the sake of the fashion industry, so hopefully lawsuit successes like Wang’s will give more designers and brands leverage in court because of precedence in creative protection.

Magnolia Maymuru – More Than Just Miss World Australia

Originally posted on the 12th September 2016 here

This stunning 19-year-old model, hailing from the remote community of Yirrkala in North Eastern Arnhem Land, in the North Territory has become the first-ever Indigenous model to be chosen a finalist to represent her state at the annual Miss World Australia competition

Originally having declined the offer to do modelling when director of NT Fashion Week, Mehali Tsangaris, first discovered her to focus on studies, Maymuru leapt at the opportunity when fate allowed the two to meet again.

With the lack of Indigenous representation in media and especially in the fashion industry and a recreational officer for children in her community, Maymuru states that she took up the offer because she wants ‘to become a good role model and inspire many young people all over Australia, as I have been given the privilege to do so’. With Tsangaris’ support for her blossoming career and her leading example, he hopes that Maymuru will excel and succeed to lead others [within the industry] to work with local communities for an inclusive and more wholesome industry.

The 5’10 beauty, never having considered modelling a career at all, while describing herself as more of an outdoorsy girl, took at the chance to compete in the Miss World Australia pageant with an important mission to help allow young Indigenous girls to embrace their culture and beauty. For her, this opportunity isn’t just a kick-start to her future career in the fashion industry, but rather a chance for her to inspire young women and show them ‘anything is possible if you continue to do it and you work hard’.

Not only is Maymuru’s presence in the competition a positive element in itself, organiser of the pageant have also decided to skip the swimsuit section to preserve cultural norms [of Maymuru’s community], to work closely with community groups and charities as well as feature more contestants with diverse backgrounds. The Australian finalist, along with other finalists all around the country, will come to compete in July, with the winner travelling to London to represent Australia in the global contest.

Fingers crossed for Magnolia, as her win would potentially change the game for the industry.

Why Slow Fashion is the New Fast Fashion

Originally posted on the 6th September 2016 here.

Vege Threads
In an ever changing and fast-paced society, things are half-done, corners are cut and prices are rising. In the industry of fashion, things change quickly- one trend becomes another and out-dated mass produced pieces are tossed aside to be found in a dark gloomy section of an op-shop, if not, landfill.

This isn’t good for the environment, in a way where fast fashion companies are spending too much time overusing resources that aren’t being cultivated and replaced fast enough, nor are they considering ethical working conditions of the factories they use and procedures within creation (not naming names though). Thankfully, as fashion moves forward in the fastest speed possible, some independent Australian designers are taking a step back to create affordable, exclusive yet sustainable collections that are still chic but ethically better for the industry and our world.

Independent designers are now bringing attention to the term ‘slow fashion’, a movement that doesn’t regulate mass production – rather custom made, made-to-order and sustainable services for their pieces. For personalisation and customisation, this kind of investment is seeing much success for the new generation in the industry. This concept follows the same business model that of luxury houses, where pieces tend to be made exclusively to only a handful of colours, sizes and styles to save money and space, expensive reflecting the handicraft and raw materials used, but ultimately a piece to keep in the wardrobe for years to come. The rise of slow fashion is about having the choice to buy less and be smarter with more personal pieces that are one of the kind and well done with the highest quality (and locally gathered) materials.

While it may not sit on the same pedestal as luxury wear, money is still wisely spent in a conscious manner of being ethically friendly and moving away from fast fashion production in a state of saving the environment. The more we, as a society and consumers, help independent designers, the more we move away from manufacturing procedures that have come to be questionable (Just think back to 2013 when a factory in Bangladesh collapsed with hundreds of people losing their lives due to unsafe and unfair working conditions that of mass production.) Therefore independent and less established (read: major) labels who are just starting out who use this made-to-order procedure not only offer the personalised ‘one-off’ pieces for clients, but also offer a very cost effective and profitable system without having to comment to huge production numbers, which could be a hit or miss with little or even no sales at all. This means there’s no environmental blowout from unsold garments that will be toss aside.

To emphasise the importance and impact of slow-fashion, even Tilda Swinton and Oliver Saillard took to the stage earlier in the year with a performance called ‘Cloakroom’, which follows the idea of being sustainable with garments. “Clothes outlive us very, very often. Even when a body is gone, clothes are still here. And there’s a tradition of people inheriting clothes – in Scotland, people tend to wear their grandfather’s kilts. That feeling of clothes being passed down from generation to generation. It’s only just been recent that our society has this tendency for everything to be new and for old things to be discarded,” Swinton said.

A handful of Australian designs that going all out with this movement and many stylish consumers are looking towards independent labels offering more affordable and personalised services. These are the top three labels making a difference in the name of slow fashion.

Kuwaii is one of the very popular labels reaching out for this movement. Established in 2008 and made in Melbourne, each piece of clothing is meticulously designed to be timeless and cherished, made to last in a very refined and romantic form while still being modern and functional in all aspects. Designer Kristy Barber’s philosophy is that each piece of clothing evolves from an article of natural beauty and is a reflection of environmental and everyday life – the clothing are meant to become apart of daily life, worn regularly.

Not only is Kuwaii extremely sustainable, they allow consumers to be a large part of the customisation of their clothing – with a very positive relationship with their manufacturers, consumers are able to closely customise what they want from finishes to final appearances.

Blaho is another well-established independent label that’s far but close to home. Australian bred but produced in rural Bangladesh, the name ‘Blaho’ itself means good in Bengali. Couple and team Jess Priemus and Shimul Minhas Uddin met in 2008 in Bangladesh and over time combined their designer and operations management skills to set up an ethos label that would support and sustain rural producers and artisans in Bangladesh. Now based in Perth, the couple design women’s clothing and accessories while being extremely ethical with fair work trade and safe working conditions and community development.

Buyers will be delighted to know that each piece of clothing is ethically handmade using several traditional and slow production methods such as hand-loomed cotton fabrics (and that has zero carbon footprints!)

Vege Threads 
Vege Threads is a men’s, women’s and children’s clothing label that promises sustainability and simplicity. Amy Roberts, the founder and head designer for the label opened Vege Threads in 2011 after working for an ethical label in Paris and noticed a lack of substantiality in the industry in Australia. A few years later and now with every piece of clothing sold, Vege Threads donates part of their profits to their sponsor foundation in Northern Bali – Vege Threads is also certified as part of the Ethical Clothing Australia.

They focus their clothing on Australia dyed and made organic cottons and consider minimal and raw materials rather than refined and reconstructed materials, the eco-friendly fabrics are made from fibres that don’t require the use of any chemicals to grow so it’s a win-win situation for both the environment and fashion-weary consumers.

11 September 2016

Auckland Meets Seoul

I've been given the opportunity to associate/ do PR with Killarney St. for the past half a half and since they're starting on their next line/season soon and have just started their brand new international store, I figure it'd be fantastic to give Aiden Hwang, the mastermind behind the brand, a bit of push off the ground into international means and learn more about the brand.

Tell me a bit about Killarney St. and where the inspiration came from?
Killarney Street is a Seoul based multidisciplinary fashion house, we’re inspired by photography, graphic design, typography and music – all the aspects of creativity. We create a clothing line that are typified by shrewd detailing, minimalist shape with own making pattern.
I was born in Korea, but I grew up in New Zealand, so my idea of inspiration is basically from what I’ve been through in my life and what I’ve learned from the past. I’m still learning every day.

How did you become interested in the fashion culture and designing clothes?
I’ve had experience in many different types of design industries, and I like them all. But I developed an interest in branding design, which is a special area and not all designers are good at it since it’s very vague. I’ve always had a desire to create something for myself – a product and a brand.
I always thought that fashion is one of the many art forms where you live your life in. Not everyone likes poetry, not everyone likes looking at artwork, and so they can avoid it. But fashion is one of the art forms in which everyone is involved in, whether they like it or not.

You have a new collection coming up – tell me about the concept, designs and such?
The looks themselves are based around the concept of ‘just [being] dropped in’. Inspired by 70’s music, fashion and culture that had a phase with the wrapped’ element. Many things inspire me, but music is always close to me so that helped me to create the concept around Killarney Street, and allowed me to transform this idea into an actual product – the products!

Who are some of your influences and icons that you look up too?
 I don't have one specific favourite icon because there are lots of people and things that inspire me. Because I started out as a graphic designer, Milton Glaser, Stefan Sagmeister and Paul Rand are my favourite deign icons.
From within the fashion industry, Jean Touitou (creative head of A.P.C). Acne Studio and Beams Japan inspire me with their seamlessly effortless design style.

@iamalexfinch / @miscellaninetwork
Korea has been seeing a lot of changes and trends in the fashion industry, a new strand of youth and fashion culture making waves as oppose to Korea’s conservative tradition – where do you see Korea heading in terms of fashion trends in the future?
I really can't pick out what identifies as ‘Korean’ when it comes to our culture, especially in fashion. One of the biggest problems in Korean fashion is that we’re losing our identity. When something becomes the trend, people all rush to have it. The fashion industry in Korea is like a sponge that just soaks up anything trendy and it’s getting bigger and bigger in such a short time, while changing at a fast pace too.
But people are trend conscious and care a lot about what is cool and how other people view their fashion.
Of course there are still good designers and brands on the forefront we have, the Korean industry is still beginning to grow strong and overseas are showing interest.

And what do you hope for Killarney Street in the future?
Nothing concrete at the moment, but we are always trying to be more creative. We are new, only a year old, so we have lots to learn, and we may be wrong about where the direction is heading.

We are not in the same financial situation as more popular brands, and we don’t want to be their competitors – we’re not interested in that. We’re interested in expanding our activities by selling our products to all over the world. I’m not interested in making a big profit. We just want to show our ideas to people who have same idea and who like our products.


Visit Killarney Street on brand new international official website and online shop here, make sure to support this upcoming designer and their effortless and minimalist products, suited for everyday wear without ever going out of trend.