Friday, March 8, 2019

Inspiring Women: What Being a Feminist Means to Me & Links a la Mode, March 15th

In the last two years with the rise of the Women's March and the empowerment of women to step forward in the #MeToo movement as well, I feel like people have become quite polarized in their feelings towards feminism. Some view the rise of feminist movements as at attack on masculinity, often responding defensively or sarcastically. Others embrace the conversation that it opens about how we as a society can better promote gender equality and break away from old stereotypes for both men and women.

Beautiful Cristina from The Vibe Tribe.

As a mother of a son and daughters, I feel especially invested in this topic. I think it's as important to empower my daughters to be strong-willed and outspoken, to demand fairness in treatment but also in opportunity as it is to encourage my son to be the kind of man who is brave enough to be sensitive in his masculinity, and always to be a champion of women. And, if I can mum brag for a moment, I think my husband and I are doing a reasonably good job. They may not always make their beds or put their clothes away, but they do understand the importance of treating people fairly, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, etc. And even more than that, how important it is to speak up for those who need support to get that fair treatment and respect.

Lauren from Redress, Akiko, Hand Me Down Collective  collaborator (among other things) and journalist and friend Karen. 

I think the biggest misconception today is that being feminist means that you must be anti-men. This couldn't be further from the truth, at least for me and the women I know around me. We're a sisterhood who have long been each other's cheerleaders, but now finally we're starting to see that it's okay to push each other forward, to promote and celebrate our achievements. And we know that it's damn time women are taken more seriously in many realms (especially in politics and business).

Karen wears a Louella Odie bag (a mother-daughter brand).

In fact, nothing brings me more happiness than supporting causes I believe in, especially when they're lead by women. It's exciting to see how women are shaping our future, whether it be behind the scenes or right out in front. My girlfriend Abby from @clothesandpizza makes a point on her blog and Instagram to promote women owned businesses, and I love that. Again, some may see this as biased if you're not a women, but I disagree. It's not instead of men, it's as well as men.

An all women panel discussing the environmental issues the fashion industry creates (Lindsay, executive producer from The Mustard Collective, Denise, stylist for The R Collective, Cara, model and host of Frontline Fashion, and Christina, founder of Redress and key driver of the sustainable fashion movement)

I feel blessed to be surrounded by inspiring women, from my own family, to my girlfriends and around me in Hong Kong. This Redress event, for example, was to celebrate the launch of The R Collective's new collection by winner Tess Whitfort. Redress is an incredible Hong Kong based NGO working to raise awareness for the environmental issue of textile waste and the impact of fast fashion on our planet. It is carried by some incredible women who I have come to know over the years.

While there, I caught up with my friend Christina, the founder of Redress, and what we spoke about the perpetual struggle to balance motherhood with work. There again, I was reminded of the sisterhood of women supporting each other, pushing each other forward and lifting each other up. Recently, they've been supporting us with Hand Me Down Collective, yet another example of women supporting women. I am so grateful.

Happy International Women's Day to all you superwomen!

Photo credits: Alex Macro Photography
Links à la Mode: fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers
SPONSOR: Shopbop, Alexander Wang, Theory Clothing, Schutz Shoes, Farm Rio, CF Goldman, The Script, Blazers, Sequin Dresses, Bandeau Bikinis, Men's Kenzo

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Slow Fashion: Introducing Hand Me Down Collective & Links a la Mode, March 1st

I've been working on a project which I'm really excited about and it debuts this weekend. Anyone who lives in Hong Kong and loves shopping secondhand, finding amazing pieces at a thrift shop or rummaging in vintage markets knows that these kinds of experiences are limited here. The ladies at Rug Lane had a good thing going and ran about six successful markets, but then they moved to other places and those amazing events went with them.

I was a seller at a couple of those markets, and a buyer at even more of them so I was particularly disappointed when that concept came to an end. I've been involved in a couple of one off Pre Loved Sales so I was keen to get something going to fill the void that Rug Lane left behind. I remember having a conversation with Billie Grace, one of the founders, before she left who'd asked if I'd be interested in keeping Rug Lane going. I was flattered, but felt a bit daunted by the prospect.

That said, I knew I'd be keen to take the idea and shape it in a way that felt more manageable and more me. So, my girl Akiko (@akik0sakai), co-conspirator and partner on many creative projects, and I decided to put our heads together again for something new. We've organized a number of different kinds of markets and events (Stanley Market Pop Up Shop, Stanley Night Market), worked on photo shoots together and have been swapping clothes with each other for years.

We had a trial run of our Hand Me Down Collective concept in October which gave us lots of inspiration to build on this concept. Basically, Hand Me Down Collective allows us to curate a second hand shopping experience while allowing people to clear out their wardrobes in a way that prevents textile waste and allows their garments to be loved in someone else's closet. 

We're excited to have the support of Redress, our Hong Kong based NGO working to reduce textile waste and promote environmental sustainability in fashion, who will not only have a clothing donation bin for people who have cleared their own wardrobes before coming to our event but will also have a rack of their own pieces from past Pop Up Shops for sale. The proceeds of these sales will go towards supporting the important work that they do in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

We also have Wine 'n Things bringing us tasty cocktails while we shop. We will have Australia's version of Aperol called Okar and Applewood Gin. Your first drink is included with the purchase of your ticket.

So there you have it. We're bursting with ideas for future Hand Me Down Collective events, and cannot wait to see you this weekend. Follow us on social media for more information: Facebook, Instagram or subscribe to our newsletter.

Here are all the details about the Hand Me Down Collective Pre Loved Sale II. . .

Date: Saturday, March 2 
Time: 1pm - 6 pm
Location: Print House HK 
Sing Teck Factory Building
44 Wong Chuk Hang Road

Many thanks to the Print House HK who has been a long standing supporter of all mine and Akiko's creative ventures. We'd not get very far without you cheerleading us on.

Links à la Mode: fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers
SPONSOR: Shopbop AGOLDE, Rag & Bone Bags, Stella Jean Clothing, Rosetta Getty, Hofmann Copenhagen, Buffalo London, Denim Overalls, Fila Sneakers, Graphic Sweatshirts, Men's Veja

Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Year Thoughts: Are Blogs Relevant Anymore? & Links a la Mode, January 25

I opened Blogger for the first time since November today and thought, wow, how did that happen? And then I had a second thought; I actually didn't miss it. The unintentional break from this blog didn't mean that I wasn't online. Oh, I spent plenty of time online -- reading other blogs, on social media, creating Instagram content, etc. What I wasn't doing was writing this blog.

And now here we are in the new year, which leaves me wondering . . . where is this blog going?

Actually, where is blogging going in general? I've been thinking about that for quite some time with the intent of musing about it here on my blog, but I couldn't really capture what I was thinking. The gist of it is do people even read blogs anymore? I hope they do, but if I had to ponder further based on my own observations and my behavior, they're not reading them in the same way as they used to.

I used to love reading blogs. I had my blogroll of favorites and would check them nearly daily for updates and new posts. I remember when I'd spend a fair bit of time writing comments and engaging in 'conversations' here with the bloggers who wrote posts I enjoyed. That was when the blogosphere felt small and connected. Some of those early bloggers whose blogs I was reading nearly ten years ago are now among big time fashion influencers with thousands and thousands of followers. Kind of funny to think about 'knowing them back then' when they were getting their start.

Finding new likeminded people and their blogs was easy then. Now, the blogosphere is saturated. Anyone with a half decent sense of style and a good camera or photographer (ie. Instagram husband) can start a blog and add their voices to the mix. Don't get me wrong, I like this. I like that blogging made the fashion industry more accessible for all of us. I love that there are so many places to turn to for inspo, but there's a lot of the same out there. Too much unoriginality in my opinion and not much discerning of good quality blog writing, actually. I suppose you'll never be able to get the English teacher out of me.

So, I've reevaluated what I intend my voice to be and how this space will be used. I toyed with the idea of not even continuing it, but I just can't quite pull the trigger on that one. I do really enjoy writing and keeping this space alive, even if no one reads it. And, I'm fully aware that my readership has dwindled. Maybe people are still reading blogs and maybe they're just not reading mine. Or leaving comments. And that's okay.

I'm going to be posting a little less frequently because I only want to write when I have something interesting to say. We don't need another blog saying the same thing as other ones...It's boring to only talk about my clothes. I've already become more editorial in my approach to posts on here and I intend for that to continue. I also intend to explore more lifestyle topics here too. For the last year, our family has been on a really intentional journey to do better in our lives for the environment, so I will be sharing snippets of that, too.

I hope you'll consider staying along for the ride.

Links à la Mode by Independent Fashion Bloggers Workwear Style: Bodysuit and Wide Leg Pants by Victoria Marie How To Create Goals For Your Personal Style by Autum Love 5 Must-have Styles for Petite Jeans by Petite Dressing New Year Thoughts: Are Blogs Relevant Anymore? by I'm a Norbyah
SPONSOR: Shopbop Ksenia Schnaider, WaiWai Bags, Veja Sneakers, Dinosaur Designs, Stripe & Stare, Skipping Girl, Boot Cut Denim, Hair Accessories, Personalized Jewelry, Men's Vilebrequin

Monday, November 26, 2018

Leopard: Learning to Love a Print

I should really learn to be flexible in my sartorial opinions. I've pretty much eaten my words on numerous occasions, especially when talking about trends (remember my post about the dad sneaker trend?) Yeah, well, I'm going to do it again.

Although, to be fair, this time it's not my opinion that's changed. I've always appreciated leopard print (animal prints, of all kinds, let's say). I'm a print lover. Print mixing, print smashing, call it whatever. I love to do it. I just always thought that for whatever reason, leopard was a bit too bold for me. Okay, okay. Maybe some of you who know what I wear are giggling. Perhaps bold is the wrong word. Maybe it's wild. Whatever it is, it's irrelevant now. I've fully embraced the print in every sense.

Where did it start? Well, about two years ago, I found a Cambridge Satchel with a faux leopard fur pocket secondhand for a steal on a Facebook group. It was the perfect mix of color which meant I could style the handbag with black or brown. And, I loved the pop of leopard to add something unique to the look (a little less preppy school girl). 

Shortly after that, a friend handed me some leopard print kitten heels to try. I wore those as much as I could before realising that they were way too small and gave them to another friend. After those two pieces entered my wardrobe, I was hooked. See?

I branched out, too. Thrifted a snake print skirt and found a leopard print belt two summers ago. I've found myself with little animal print or animal inspired embellishments sneaking in. This summer I thrifted a cool sweatshirt with a tiger on it.

Safe to say that by the time I found this gorgeous leopard print maxi online from South of the River Boutique in the UK, I knew it had to be mine. I love that it came from a small business and with that, some of the sweetest customer service as I tried to figure out the right size and return the dress I mistakenly ordered first. 

There are so many fun ways to style this dress, too. I've already worn it twice in a matter of two weeks. I combined two trends, leopard and dad sneakers for the first go (you can see it on Instagram). And here I am pairing it with a blazer vest for the second look. I'm already thinking of other ways as well. Definitely packing it for our Christmas holiday to Australia!

Here's a sneaky pic of my big girl who helps with photos these days. She's developing her eye and skill with photography and she's certainly got an opinion. This weekend she told me she wasn't a fan of my oversized blazer look. Funny girl. Love her to bits. Glad she feels comfortable sharing all kinds of things with me. Makes for a happy mumma, most days.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

To Be an Influencer & Links a la Mode November 22nd

Social media and online presence is ever changing. Undoubtedly, it never goes away. Everything you do is archived. Somewhere.

But how we engage, who we follow, or like, where and how we comment and what that means and how we do it all, is always changing. Its dizzying, really. And always frustrating. Anyone who's trying to use these platforms to engage with other bloggers, brands, etc has a story about how algorithms have made things challenging. It's part of having an online presence or being a blogger. And it can suck the life and fun out of what we're doing.

Okay, not using this post to rant, I promise. What I also wanted to chat about was how labels are always changing, too. I wrote about this before when I noticed that the term fashion blogger was reserved for those professional bloggers with a far greater reach than I had. At this time, the term style blogger emerged and it seemed far more accurate a term for me.

At that time, the term influencer was starting to be used, too. I hardly gave it any thought really because I didn't see how what I was doing was going to influence anyone. I write because it's a  hobby, essentially. I love playing dress up and expressing myself through my clothes. I have a lot of fun with it.

A few weeks back, I was invited to attend The Runway Hong Kong's annual fashion show highlighting local labels at The Hive in Kennedy Town. I'd also recently taken part in a little shoot with Redress HK as part of their promo for their upcoming pop up shop. I was invited to take part as an ambassador. It was in these weeks that I realised that the term influencer was being used to describe me. And, as I reflect on it, I guess my experiences do sound similar to those of other influencers. Catherine of Not Dressed as Lamb wrote about it here and I found her post really relatable to my own work, especially as she described the experiences of 'hobby bloggers'.

So, the real question that I began to ponder (always having these bouts of introspection) was this; if I'm an influencer, how am I influencing people? What do people who follow me understand about what I value? What do I want to encourage people to do? To be honest, it felt suddenly very daunting.

I don't know that I have the answer fully, but I will share this. At the core of what I do and who I am is a teacher. It's my nature. It's how I nurture my children. So I use this platform here (and my classroom and being a mother) to help people learn to be confident in their beliefs and in who they are. To find ways to express themselves and not to be afraid of mistakes or failure as they learn to do this. I want them to understand that the choices we make impact our future generations, especially those related to our environment. So we need to do better. 

It's a little known fact here on my blog that what I spend most time doing these days is digging in the rubbish and recycling in order to teach kids about recycling. Or talking to them about the value of a secondhand wardrobe and upcycling along with the consequences of fast fashion and over consumption, etc. Of all the things I do lately, this one feels most important. 

I hope that I'll be able to use my influence for this most of all.

Links à la Mode, November 22nd, 2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Working Mumma Talk: Social Media, to Friend or Not to Friend

Nothing makes you feel quite so old as when you catch yourself saying when I was your age... to your children. You vow never to be that kind of parent. Who wants their children to roll their eyes at you? Or worse, think you're out of touch. I thought that being a high school teacher I'd definitely be able to stay current.

Inevitably, though, it happens. You find yourself sitting around the dinner table hearing your children talk about some YouTuber or musician, realising you don't know what the hell they're referring to and succumbing to the idea that you are, in fact, out of touch. Believe me, this was last week for me.

The question remains how do you stay in touch with what your kids are up to? How can you possibly understand their world, complete with its challenges? The way kids socialize these days is entirely different from how we did. I have vivid memories of my mother standing at the bottom of the stairs and waving her hand in a wind up signal to let me know it was time to get off the phone. She usually had to do it more than once, so I remember her exasperated mum look, too. I'm sure I've got the same one now.

I also remember how well I'd developed my note folding skills so that I could be on the cutting edge of communication with my girlfriends. Forget that I'd actually be talking to them in class or in the hallways of school, writing notes opened up new very important topics we could discuss, in private. Like boys. And crushes.

Fast forward to today and it's maybe not as different as we'd think. Kids are still social. They talk about things they don't want others to know about and parents are still embarrassing. Only, it's the way they do these things that provides the challenge. Facebook? That's irrelevant for today's kids. As a mum of a teen, an almost teen, and a tween, I see kids are much more into communicating via Snapchat and Instagram. Heck, I'd venture to suggest that even Instagram is not for the younger demographic, either.

Several years back, I had my niece who is now 20 show me the finer points of Snapchat. It was complicated and frustrating, yet she navigated it all quite easily. She was so patient while she answered what probably seemed like really stupid questions. I don't really use it except for the filters, but I know enough to know what my kids are talking about.

And that's the part that's important. I'm not trying to get into all their business. They need to keep certain things private from their parents and know that we trust them. Of course, this means we have to spend the time to build that trust with them. When it comes to 'friending' or 'following' them on social media, it's important to keep that distinction clear. You aren't their friend. You're not trying to spy on them. You merely want to know enough to understand their world and keep them safe. I'm not one of those parents that scoffs at social media and stays away from it because I know for a fact that if I want to communicate with and understand my kids, I can't do that.

So yes, I'm 'friends' with my kids on social media. I 'follow' them. But I'm not friends with them nor do I follow them. They need me to be their parent.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Make a Statement & Links a la Mode, November 1st

When it comes to dressing, are you a play it safe kind of person or are you a make a statement person? The answer to this makes me think of something my big girl asked me a few weeks back and that was mumma, why do people always want to fit in? (she's in middle school and this is a huge deal to her at the moment). I remember it well myself. Trying so hard to blend in so that you wouldn't get attention for the wrong reasons.

It was stifling at times. Wanting desperately to not be embarrassed by my non-brand name clothes. The hand-me-downs that the popular girl in my class had outgrown. The clothes that had tags cut out because they came from our "Reject Shop" which sold retail surplus or the ones I bought in a local street market. By the time I survived middle school, I was fine with it. I embraced the fact that getting dressed didn't mean I had to follow all the trends or wear things that were deemed cool by some other person. I could wear what I wanted and look the way I wanted and be fine, even if I didn't always feel fine at the time.

So my answer to my big girl was this, not everyone has the confidence to stand out. It takes a lot of courage to be yourself, especially in those middle school years. And I applauded her for having more strength than I ever did to be herself. To sing in front of her peers. To be a good friend when she sees someone who needs one. To dress in a way that allows her to express who she is and the values of our family, and not what others think is cool.

I didn't admit to her that even now I have my moments. I know I say I don't give a shit, and mostly I don't, but on occasion those insecurities do find their way in. Funnily enough, the last time I felt them was when I was walking up to work through the middle school, when I noticed a few middle school aged girls doing a sideways giggle I was sure at the outfit I was wearing (not this one, but a similarly outrageous one).

Luckily, I was able to quickly shrug off their giggles and feel my usual nonchalant self about what other people think of what I wear (or who I am).

But it reminded me of that earlier conversation with the big girl and how I want to be as a parent. I want to always empower my children to be themselves, even when it feels too hard to be. So they don't have to wait until they're adults to feel confident enough to make a statement and they never have to play it safe to fit in.

If you have time, check out my girl Natasha Moor who, among other things, is the creator of my favorite lipsticks. She's leading an anti-bullying campaign at the moment. Click over to her Instagram @natasha.moor to learn more about her #MoorPower project and get involved in spreading her message about #NoMoorBullies.

Links à la Mode, Nov 1, 2018
SPONSOR: Shopbop Vince, KORAL ACTIVEWEAR, Etre Cecile, Alpha Industries, Maggie Marilyn, NUDE, Patent Pumps, Plaid Pants, Cocktail Dresses, Men's Club Monaco

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