Monday, January 16, 2017

Fur Real: Confessions of a Vintage Fur Lover

 There aren't many days in a year in Hong Kong which are suitable weather for wearing a fur coat. Believe me, I've thought about this fact quite a bit since purchasing my vintage fur coat two summers ago. Could I justify the purchase? I thought about it again last summer when I bought a second fur coat. Was it foolish to own not one, but two fur coats?


 In the end I decided it was not foolish and I haven't regretted my decision for one moment.  Both coats are in amazing condition (you can see my post about the first one here). This new coat is just that -- a coat; my first coat is more of a caplet or shrug. It's the perfect color, and because I found it on a Sunday at my Estate Sale place, it was 50% off. Such a steal!


While these pictures were snapped just before Christmas (hence the festive outfit), I had reason to pull my fur coat out again today. The weather has been blustery and cold for Hong Kong (probably 54 degrees Fahrenheit). I was glad to be rugged up in my warm coat all day. You can click over to my Instagram to see how I styled it up again, today. The hat is on repeat, I will be honest. And the dress comes from one of my favorite Etsy shops, Five Stones Vintage based in Singapore.


Aside from the outfit, I think what I love most about these pictures is the Winter sunlight. There's something about how it streams in through windows and on balconys that feels different from other seasons. I think the sun feels a little more pure in the winter -- bright and warm, but subtle and soft at the same time. It's like it comes through a filter.


Forgive me as I settle back into my routine. Things seem to take a little longer right now. Much of it has to do with my procrastination to avoid marking and distraction of devices, but my family and I didn't have any jetlag. I'm still not sure I'm in the clear, but I've felt great all week!



So I have many posts to write and I want to do some more reflection on resolutions for the New Year, too.  I just have to get through these next two weeks.

Chinese New Year break is next week!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sustainable Fashion Profile: Esther Lui

Redress is getting ready to launch a new search for this year's young talented sustainable fashion designers. Normally, they'd be gearing up for the Grand Final of the Eco Chic Design Award this month, but they've changed the timing of the cycle so that the Grand Final will take place in September/October to coincide with HKTDC's CENTRESTAGE activities. This year's cycle has expanded to now include up and coming designers from all countries in Asia, Europe and the USA. Designer applications are due in April.


In the meantime, Redress continues to work on some exciting projects.  Most recently, they released their first documentary entitled Frontline Fashion, documenting the last cycle of finalists and their journey to the Grand Final. I was able to preview a copy to write a review which you can read here.

They're also authoring a consumer guide to a conscious closet called Dress with Sense due to be released in March this year. You can pre-order a copy now from Amazon. I can't wait to read it.

But, in the meantime, I was able to interview Esther Lui, one of 2015/16's finalists, to find out what she's been up to since the show wrapped up last year. Esther represented Hong Kong in the Grand Final, and I particularly liked how she incorporated care labels to develop her collection. Care labels are often just cut out and discarded, so I was pleased to see her make them an integral part of her designs.


Can you share a little of your background? How did you get interested in fashion?
I studied fashion design in HKDI and NTU. The first year in HKDI, I had no idea about fashion. Then, when I studied my second year in HKDI, I was inspired by Dior haute couture fashion show 2007 by John Galliano. I started to find my way in fashion. Then I started to work for a wedding brand as an assistant and that helped me to build up my passion in fashion. The first time that I learned Eco Fashion and the weaving techniques was in my third year at HKDI. I put the weaving and textile wastes together for my graduation fashion show. I was so glad that I was chosen to be one of the finalists, even though I didn't win the prize. At that time I realized that in my collection there was a shortage of commercial elements. Luckily, I learnt more about commercial design skill after I started to study in NTU. The knowledge that I learned from the college helped me to compose my collection for ECDA. During the several years I spent working for a wedding brand, I created my first sustainable couture dress. I enjoyed the experience immensely. I then hoped I could develop more in this way in the future.





What hopes do you have for the future of the fashion industry?
Last time, we went to visit an Eco- friendly factory in Dongguan through the Redress Forum. I was quite surprised that their recycling system is quite good. I very much appreciated the fact that the factory makes the greatest effort to recycle their textile wastes, although it cost them a lot. If we all contribute a little effort, then it could do a lot to help save our planet. Therefore, I hope there will be more factories producing Eco friendly products. I hope it could be a trend for the fashion industry.


I really loved your idea to use care labels in your designs for the ECDA. How did you come up with that idea? What was your vision?
It all started when I saw the waste from a clothing label vendor. I took some of the unwanted labels home and weaved them into a fabric. During the weaving process, I was reminded of the legend of Mulan, a woman warrior who was known for being strong on the outside but had a gentle heart. The concept for collection was then born.
In my final collection, I applied the up-cycling design technique using surplus textiles and discarded clothing labels, which I sourced from garment manufacturing factories in Hong Kong. I also applied traditional hand-weaving techniques and 3D cutting technology in my work.



How did you learn about the sustainable fashion movement and how has it shaped your practice?
I first heard about sustainable fashion design through Redress at the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI). I debuted my first sustainable collection for my graduation project, where I recycled textile waste from several garment factories to make my collection. I now put more thought into recycling and reducing waste through various fabric cutting techniques.
As a designer witnessing our earth’s resources rapidly diminishing and the increasing amount of textile waste discarded day-by-day, I’ve become very motivated to utilise every piece of textile in my creations. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to give a new life to previously discarded textiles.


What have you been doing since the ECDA Grand Final? What are your plans for the future?
I am starting a collection of gowns in which I am using textile labels as the fabric  Why gowns? It is because I worked for a wedding brand for 5 years and I found that I really love to make gowns! Besides, I want to use the textile waste to make couture dresses because I think it seems like turning trash into gold for me.



Thanks again Redress for facilitating this interview with Esther Lui and thank you for all the great stuff you do to move the fashion industry towards a more sustainable future.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Links a la Mode, January 5th

I'm fighting off jet lag and the back to work blues simultaneously. What I might do to stay awake is catch up on some blog reading (because I have nothing else to do, ha!)


If you didn't get to read my last Style Minute post on chokers + turtlenecks, have a read now, along with some other great posts to start out the year right.  Thanks again, Independent Fashion Bloggers for including me in last weeks Links a la Mode.
Links à la Mode, January 5th
And, in case you need a few more images to inspire you, I found a few more...




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Style Minute: Chokers + Turtlenecks

I don't think this choker trend is going away any time soon, and I can honestly say I'm happy about that. I'm really into embracing the 90s style from my heyday as you can see here and here.


As the weather finally started to dip in Hong Kong, I began to think about transitional outfits. I'd just picked up this H&M turtleneck from their Conscious Collection (I justified buying it this way) and I was thinking about ways to style it. It's tissue weight, so it's perfect for layering.


I wondered if it was possible to combine the two trends -- chokers and turtlenecks. I did a quick Google images search and found some very inspiring outfits indeed. I posted some of my favorites on my Instagram account (@imanorbyah).


It turns out, you can pretty much do what you want when it comes to chokers + turtlenecks. The chokers can be chunky or delicate. They can be leather with some kind of adornment or they can be all metallic. They all work.


Turtlenecks can be full or mock. They can be ribbed or plain. They can be turtleneck sweaters or simple layering turtlenecks. Anything goes, just try it.


There are only two tips I have for you to consider when embracing this idea for yourself.  First, perhaps keep the turtleneck a solid color. And second, don't wear a plain choker with the same color turtleneck. Make sure there is something that helps it pop.  But then again, the way I feel about trying a new style idea, you should just go for it. There really are no rules, and if there were, I wouldn't follow them anyhow.

 Now, imagine how flattering it is when someone you admire finds inspiration in something you've posted. That's what happened to me.  My girl Beth from B. Jones Style liked that Instagram post with chokers + turtlenecks inspo and decided to give it a go herself. 



To top it off, she gave me a shout out on her What I Wore video for December. Go ahead and watch it yourself, she really slayed her choker + turtleneck combo, don't you think?
Thanks for the shout out and the compliment, Beth!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thrift-mas Vacation

Vintage and second hand markets are a thing I enjoy in the States, but they're not easy to find in Hong Kong. I have found Hong Kong based vintage sellers via Etsy and then once I follow them, I've found out about new markets where they set up, but there's really nothing like flea markets.


And, there are even less thrifting opportunities at charity and second hand shops.  Being back in the States over the holidays, I have been taking advantage of the variety of stores in LA. There's Goodwill, Salvation Army, and my favorite, Savers.


Before coming out here, I reached out to Beth of B.Jones Style to ask her for some thrift shop tips.  She is an expert thrift shopper, so I was excited to hear what her recommendations were. She gave me a few of her favorite stores to stop at. Most of them are closer to her neighborhood of Orange County.


I hit up the Savers closest to my in-law's house a few days ago, which yielded a great pair of cropped boot cut Levis 515s. I can't wait to wear them. Then today, the hubby and I took a drive over to La Mirada to check out one of Beth's recommendations.


Wow. I was overwhelmed! It was an incredible store, with lots of variety. I filled up my cart quickly with pants, dresses, blouses, jewellery, shoes, etc. (Hop over to my Instagram and watch my story to see what I found). There were loads of vintage options (I've become used to looking at the labels to figure out what was vintage). The hubby got lost in the men's t-shirt section and found a wide selection of concert tees and other quirky tees to bring back.


When I went to the fitting rooms, the most amazing thing happened. There was a sweet older lady waiting for her friend who just struck up a conversation with me about what I was trying on. By the end of my session in the fitting room, she gave me her 30% off coupon which saved me sixty dollars! I love wearing second hand clothing.


My outfit in these pictures is entirely second hand, except for the ankle boots.  I found the hat at Savers in Madison over the summer. The silk blouse is Tory Burch which I snagged at a Redress sale and the dress comes from an Australian designer which I picked up at the Ruglane Vintage and Second hand Markets. The Cambridge Satchel Co purse was also a second hand purchase from Hardly Worn It a Hong Kong based group on Facebook.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Beanie on the Town weather

I really am a hat person. I love all kinds. When the weather cools, it's fun to have all these hat options. In college, I wore baseball hats when I didn't feel like doing my hair. Now, I like to pull out my beanies as an alternative to my vintage scarves when I just want to run out the door.


This, of course is tricky, given that most of the year Hong Kong is so humid. I love when the weather finally turns in Hong Kong and I can pull all my beanies out once again.


I love them so much that I even gave them their own hashtag over on Instagram. I use #beanieonthetown whenever I post an outfit with my beanie. And, my favorite one is blue so it has it's own hashtag #bluebeanieonthetown.  Yes, I'm a social media geek, but I don't care.


This look was totally inspired by all the boho chic looks from the late 90s/early 2Ks (think Olsen twins), which I cannot get enough of at the moment. I'm reliving my heyday.


Expect more of these long layers now that I'm enjoying some cooler weather in LA, too. It's a little bit 70s boho gypsy, too. Stevie Nicks is such a style inspo, too.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Writing Christmas Cards

December is my absolute favorite month. It has a little to do with the fact that I'm a December baby, but more so to do with the fact that I love Christmas. And, I love Christmas because of the traditions.

Those traditions stem back to things we did when I was a child, sprinkled with things the hubby did as a child. But I also love the traditions we've formed as our own family has grown, too. One such tradition is writing Christmas cards.

Tri-fold style

I've always loved to receive actual cards with photos of the family and a little bit of news from the year. I remember as a child how our family would string the cards along as part of our decoration. As I grew up and started my own family, I especially loved the cards people had made with collages of their family photos. I knew this was a tradition I wanted to start for myself.


This year, Plug PR got in touch with me to see if I wanted to collaborate with them on a project with Fotomax to design some Christmas cards. I was just about to sit down and do this for myself, so it was perfectly timed. Fotomax is a Hong Kong based brand which prints photos, calendars and other special projects, so I couldn't wait to work with them.


The process couldn't be simpler. All I had to do was select a template. Make sure to select from Bella's Design Gallery (under the Designs tab) where there are lots of cute designs to choose from. There are three styles -- flat card, traditional card, and tri-fold, so we chose one from each style.


Then, I selected from my photos and used the photo editing tools to crop and flip them and place them into the template. Fotomax has the capability of uploading photos from your phone, laptop, Facebook, Instagram or from any photo storing websites as well like Dropbox or Picasa.


Finally, I got to choose envelope colors and submit the quantity I wanted for each design. The best part of it all is that the cards are printed and sent out within three days! That's perfect for a working mum like me who only gets around to this job a few weeks before Christmas. It's a busy season, but it's nice to know that these cards will make their way to our friends by Christmas day.

Traditional card style

 Call me old fashioned, but these days when there is such little actual letter writing happening, I like to sit with my address book and take the time to send out cards. Since moving to Hong Kong, we don't actually get too many cards sent our way, but I still end up posting around forty each year. I usually have the kiddos help me stick on the return labels, air mail stickers and stamps, so they can learn a little bit about this tradition and let's face it, about letter writing, too. That way, it's a tradition I can share with them and eventually pass along.

Flat card style

Thanks again Fotomax and Plug PR for helping me with this Christmas tradition this year. I've received many compliments on the cards we made, so I'll definitely be using Fotomax again.

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