Is Makeup Feminist or Sexist? Both? Or Maybe Neither!

By Tova Lenchner

He doesn’t kiss you anymore? Why not apply a little bit of the right lipstick and he’ll surely be yours!

This was the legitimate premise of one of the Tangee Company’s advertisements for their color adjusting lipsticks. Modern readers of the 1930s spread would be appalled by the sexist expectations placed upon women, making cosmetics and beauty almost synonymous with shackles as a binding obligation and definition of self. One would hope that eighty plus years later, our society has moved on from such stringent expectations.

A surprising challenge to the notion that makeup and keeping of appearances is inherently sexist, and used as a restraint, is the emergence of male makeup stars—prompting that maybe makeup isn’t “sexist”, but rather gender inclusive and capable of forging unity and simultaneous social change. From Michelle Phan teaching the basic fundamentals of applying eyeliner, to the complete celebrity transformations of Kandee Johnson, the YouTube makeup tutorial has become an entire industry—with increasing male dominance. Manny MUA has gained recent notoriety after his father came to his defense in reply to a tweet by Matt Walsh, which stated, “Dads, this is why you need to be there to raise your sons.”

Hello, World!

Manny MUA’s father went on to praise his son’s contributions in the makeup and LGBT communities, finding pride in his son’s accomplishments and his own work as a father. “I think the increasing feminization of men is a symptom of a decaying culture,” Matt Walsh fired back, bringing light to the conservative notion that makeup is inherently associated with being feminine.  But Manny is not the first male beauty guru to gain fame. Jeffree Star even launched his own beauty line, picking up great success. The cosmetic line displays the empowering nature of makeup and its ability to be almost “masculine” in a sense that it is attributed to this particular man's worldly success while also being linked to the activism of Manny MUA.

In its earliest history, makeup was originally intended for men. In ancient Egypt, pharaohs adorned themselves with heavy kohl eyeliner and drawn on brows, associating the application of makeup with the most powerful leaders of the culture. Eventually, the use of cosmetics filtered throughout the society to be used by women and people of various social classes. Later Thespian actors would use rouges and powders to enhance their features so that even the furthest reaches of the audiences could still see the facial expressions of the characters.

Yet still, maybe “masculine” isn’t the correct term—and neither is feminine for that matter—but rather, makeup is “empowering.” Without regard to gender, makeup can be a form of artistic expression, a boost in confidence, or even just a fun hobby. Still, all too often this fun practice is mocked, mistaken for deception, or a reason to “take a girl swimming on the first date.” The implication of this is that a bare-faced girl is supposedly less beautiful, covering her real self with her makeup, or that what determines if she gets a second date rests on her appearance and appearance only.

Other YouTube trends are fighting this idea. Some artists take a comedic approach to the notion of swimming on the first date, creating elaborate water-proof makeup looks to emphasize that anyone has the right to wear makeup however they choose. #ThePowerofMakeup is another campaign that has gained notoriety. Makeup artists create videos and display side-by-side images to show the differences between their naked faces and those painted on. This campaign asserts that women do not wear makeup to cover up flaws or deceive, but rather to indulge in the art form. "Nowadays, when you say you love makeup, you either do it because you want to look good for boys, you do it because you're insecure or you do it because you don't love yourself,” Nikkie of NikkieTutorials comments. The makeup guru notes that today the empowering, fun aspects of makeup and technique have been undermined by comments such as the “take a girl swimming on the first date” internet meme—an attempt to assert that it is impossible for someone to use makeup simply because they enjoy it. #ThePowerofMakeup fights back, preaching a true love of makeup and its empowering abilities.

But what can be even more empowering is the ability to choose. Manny MUA and Jeffree Star chose to pursue their passions for makeup, while others might choose to abandon the practice altogether. The era of the Tangee Company’s campaign is long over; femininity isn’t defined by appearances and makeup does not have to be gendered.

Urban Outfitters, Deceiving Consumers?

By Marcella Kukulka

Starting 2017 off with a bang, Urban Outfitters released a new campaign, “Class of 2017”, with a diverse line-up of models aimed to celebrate body positivity.

The video, released on the official @urbanoutfitters Instagram account on January 2nd, received a great deal of praise for featuring 16 unique models in the campaign such as transgender woman Hari Nef, teen-activist Anaja Hamilton, female-rapper Tommy Genesis, and plus-size model Barbie Ferreira.

Urban Outfitters launched the campaign with the caption, “The new year is here! We’ve brought together a group of fresh faces who are creating change and challenging the status quo,” tagging Hanes and Champion as collaborators for the shoot.

While UO may seem progressive by giving a plus-size model like Ferreira a prominent role in the ad, there was one main problem that caught negative attention by consumers and fashion critics around the world.

According to her agency, Wilhelmina Models, Ferreira has a 33.5 inch waist and 47.5-inch wide hips. Meanwhile, UO only stocks up to a size large in this t-shirt, measuring a 33-inch waist and 43-inch hips. To clarify, this means that Ferreira would be too big to fit into the Hanes’ t-shirt worn in the campaign.

Basically, Urban Outfitters is using Ferreira to promote clothes that she would not even be able to buy. Additionally, this means that any curvier women perhaps feeling inspired by this campaign would probably leave a UO store empty handed and feeling deceived.

On January 9th, Urban Outfitters responded to the controversy officially stating, “We are pleased to feature a diverse cast of creatives in this campaign, and we hope to continue to feature people who reflect the range of customers who shop at UO. We do offer XL products in select styles and we are in the process of increasing our offering. We recognize that extended sizing is a right step for us and we’re in the process of making the shift.”

However this statement seems strange since it actually seems as if Urban Outfitters consciously decided not to stock up t-shirts above a size large. This is despite the fact that Hanes t-shirts are available in any size up to a triple extra-large.

As Revelist first pointed out, “It’s no surprise that Urban Outfitters wants to hop on the body-positive train.” Plus-sized models, like Ashley Graham and Tara Lynn, are increasingly being given cover space as retailers are finally realizing that being body-positive is profitable - and decent. For example, competitor Aerie saw a 26% increase in sales during 2016 directly after introducing its un-retouched “Aerie Real” campaign.

The launch of the “Class of 2017” campaign is a great way for Urban Outfitters to start promoting body-positivity; something desperately needed in a fashion industry strictly run by one-size archetypes. However, the clothing corporation shouldn’t be receiving positive publicity for a campaign promise that is just another empty gesture. The average American woman is now a size 16:  Urban Outfitters, it’s time to step up your game!


All images in this article are credited to Kaitlin Jahn, a freelance photographer for The Avenue

The model featured in the article is Marcella Kukulka

When Conservatism Meets Creativity

By Ewa Sepiolo

“History was made tonight” - the most tweeted and instagrammed response to one of the breakthrough moments at this year's New York Fashion Week (NYFW). The Hijab has made its first debut on the runways and has been a highlight of New York Fashion Week 2017. Following the first groundbreaking Istanbul Modest Fashion Week where Muslim designers from all around the world showcased their designs, the Indonesian designer, Anniesa Hasibuan, was willing to take it a step further by featuring hijabs on the runway at this year’s NYFW, causing head turns.

In today's political and social climate of increased fear of Islamic terrorism and culture-clash, clothes of Islamic women are being scrutinized. However Anniesa was willing to take on the challenge by bringing the hijab into mainstream fashion by pairing western pieces of clothing such as pants, skirts, tunics and dresses with the Muslim headscarf. After only having started her brand a year ago, Anniesa’s debut on the runway is also the first time for an Indonesian Designer to feature a collection on NYFW. She is willing to take the risk and create a step forward in today's society to normalize the hijab in America and to help other Muslim women embrace their beliefs.

Every design, uniquely different than the last, was finished with neutral colored, satin or chiffon hijabs as well as elaborate necklaces and embellished neck pieces. Silhouettes included pleated ball skirts, kimono's over long dresses, peplum tops over sleek skirts, long overcoats and cropped jackets. There was an array of metallic and pastel hues and intricate lace, all embellished with plenty of traditional Indonesian jacquard fabric.

After 48 looks looks went down the runway, the audience, majority not Muslim, gave Hasibuan a standing ovation - “a rare sight at fashion week”. Clearly Anniesa is making cultural shifts in the world by breaking down stereotypes and demystifying misconceptions about Muslim women by helping them to be proud and to hold on to their beliefs, in style. She has definitely sparked the faith-driven modest alternatives and we are highly anticipating more similar styles to hit the runway shortly.

Source: HarpersBazaar.com HauteHijab.com, Elle.com, IndiaTimes.com

Alexander Wang & Adidas Unisex Collaboration

By Sam Isaacs

The resurgence of unisex style and the rise of androgynous acceptance is in full effect this year and its influence can be found in any of your favorite fashion bibles. Whether it is Gucci combining their men’s and women’s fashion show back in April, or the emerging unisex brand TELFAR who specializes in breaking the barriers of gendered fashion, 2016 has certainly showed a more hopeful side of the fashion world’s ability to change with the social environment. One of fashion’s most notable and most recent run-in with a unisex collection was the legendary Alexander Wang meets Adidas Originals revealed at this seasons New York Fashion Week. The result? A minimal capsule collection made for the rebel in all of us.

“The Adidas Original by Alexander Wang collaboration subverts boundaries between fashion and streetwear. Flipping branding conventions, Wang rotates the Adidas Originals’ trefoil and “originals” logos upside down, becoming newly and defyingly symbolic” (Alexander Wang). The highly anticipated collection combines two of my favorite aspects of life: defiance and symbiosis. While an A. Wang and Adidas collaboration is not a concept too difficult to visualize, it is the creative and emotional nature of the collection that includes a track suit, T-shirts, hoodies, long-sleeves and an effortless sneaker that captures the unisex driven aesthetic. Within all of these pieces is a symbiotic look that combines minimalism and street wear as well as the traditional silhouettes of men’s and womenswear. The final designs really convey a simplistic product that leaves no room for labels or categorization – instead, the collection erases the sometimes heavily traced lines between society’s view on what women and men are limited to wear.

While the beauty of the collaboration can be found in the symbiotic nature of combining two opposites to make one final product, the heart of it all lies in deliberate defiance – in which I tip my favorite Adidas Originals hat off to Mr. Wang and his Adidas collaborators. The trefoil is an iconic symbol known and recognized by all in and out of the industry. In the hopes to smash the glass ceiling that binds our fashion experimentation to our gender, the creative minds behind the collection decided to turn our expectations on their heads, literally. This was a deliberate method of showing us that the boxed ideas that bring us comfort can be changed and flipped, much like the underlying purpose of unisex fashion.

Not only did this collaboration subvert all the boundaries of fashion, but it also took the pop-up concept to another level. Creative director Ferdinando Verderi conceived the idea to only sell the collection in pop-up trucks rather than the Adidas flagship store in SoHo, fostering the exclusive and almost-illegal feeling of purchasing clothing from a truck in the city. Breaking the rules is a clear concept this collection has effortlessly conveyed with a strategic touch of 90’s grunge meets sleek modern streetwear.

Getting your hands on this round of the release is near impossible at this point, but the sneakers are rumored to be released twice more in a different silhouette than the last. Now that I know what to expect, I can’t wait for more from the two of these iconic fashion houses.

#ADIDASORIGINALSXAW

@MYKYMY

Sources: highsnobiety.com, alexanderwang.com

Ivy Park: An Activewear line by Beyonce

By: Valerie Butler

At this point we really shouldn’t be surprised. We said Beyonce can do it all and now she has. The multi-million dollar superstar—known for her hits such as "Crazy in Love" and most recently, "Formation,"—surprised us in 2013 when she released a surprise album and seven music videos all in one night. This year, the superstar mom surprised us again with the release of her new activewear line, Ivy Park. The name Ivy Park might sound a little off to you now, but the iconic singer has a knack for coining words—let's not forget “bootylicious.”

Ivy Park is co-owned by Topshop owner Philip Green, inspired by the park where young Beyonce used to train. In the promotional video, she explains how her dad would wake her up for runs early in the morning; she would motivate herself by thinking about her dreams, her place in the world and the beauty of nature. “I remember wanting to stop, but I would push myself to keep going. It taught me discipline. And I would think about my dreams. I would think about the sacrifices my parents made for me. I would think about my little sister and how I was her hero.”

The line features about 200 pieces—from sports bras and leggings to body suits, jackets and socks. 

 

 

 

My first impression was that there wasn’t anything too special about Beyonce’s line. She used a great shade of blue and interesting prints, but what about it was innovative? After checking out the full collection, I see the appeal. I could easily picture Beyonce rocking the Ivy Park body suit or the cobalt blue leggings during a workout and I’m a really big fan of how the pieces are tailored to curvy women, or even the woman who wants to tailor her body to look curvy. The story behind the collection as well as the style choices work together to create a modernistic activewear line. 

 

Sources: elle.com, Refinery29, fashionista.com 

Jason Wu Spreads His Love With #GreyJasonWu

By: Non Kuramoto

 Instagram @GreyJasonWu

Instagram @GreyJasonWu

Spring is coming, and we’re excited for the color that will infuse back into our lives after a gloomy winter. However, this spring, Grey will be all the rage. Well, not the grey you’re thinking of (though I do appreciate a good "groutfit"), but Jason Wu’s new sister-line, Grey Jason Wu.

Named after Wu’s favorite color, the line that has been kept a secret for twelve months was revealed on his Instagram two weeks ago, with #GREYJasonWu. The line’s dedicated Instagram account @greyjasonwu has been giving us sneak peeks into what we can expect from Wu’s newest venture.

The idea to create this line came from Wu’s “desire to dress his friends, inspired by their dynamic personal style.” The sketches revealed on @greyjasonwu look: cute, simple, relaxed, yet sophisticated— and knowing Wu, the tailoring will likely be impeccable. Through Grey Jason Wu, Wu aims to create a “beautiful, season-less wardrobe that is neither too edgy or sweet,” that are sure to win the hearts of working women looking to strike that balance while still seeming effortless.

Wu, known for his interest in collaboration, has incorporated it into Grey as well. He has chosen artist Hunt Slonem as his first collaborator, turning “his famous bunnies into printed chiffon, a multi-colored jacquard and embroidery on knitwear.”

The price point of this line will also be more accessible than his namesake brand, and is expected to range from $295–$1,395. It’s a "splurge price" that we can justify—especially because we can trust Jason Wu to make sure we look as chic as we can.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Hedi Slimane Exits Saint Laurent

By: Non Kuramoto

 bbook.com

bbook.com

Time and time again, I have brought up my obsession with Hedi Slimane and what he did for the house of Yves Saint Laurent.

There have been rumors since January of Slimane’s departure from the fashion house, but nothing had been confirmed until last Friday, as his 4-year contract was not renewed.

There has been speculation that Slimane’s desire to retain full control of the branding did not match with the fashion house’s plans to expand their creative team.

Slimane's appointment as creative director in 2012 caused a stir, as he changed the logo, dropped Yves from the brand name and refused to move to Paris, causing Saint Laurent to move their design headquarters to Los Angeles. Despite the criticism, Slimane ushered in a new generation for Saint Laurent, as profits grew and its reputation as Kering’s problem child was quickly absolved. This departure was a surprise as Slimane has spent the last four years transforming the brand’s identity, making it one of the most talked about luxury brands today. One would think that that house would want to keep him, and watch the brand grow even more.

 

Giving Saint Laurent its newfound rocker-chic and grungy vibe, Hedi Slimane became the pioneer of restructuring the identity of old name brands to make them more appealing to the Instagram generation. At Slimane’s magic fingertips, Saint Laurent didn’t just produce clothes people wanted to wear, but created identities that people wanted to be. Alessandro Michele has followed Slimane’s footsteps upon his appointment at Gucci to a similar effect, bringing Gucci one of their biggest successes in recent years.  

Anthony Vaccarello, the current creative director of Versus Versace, has been appointed as the new creative director of Saint Laurent—causing yet another stir. The brand’s Instagram account, created by Slimane, has deleted all posts from the Slimane era, leaving a single picture of Vaccarello. There has been outrage among Slimane fans, as they have taken it as symbolizing the brand’s decision to dismiss the Slimane era in order to give Vaccarello a blank slate to work with. However, as none of the other social media platforms have been untouched, and all Saint Laurent establishments still very much retain the work of Hedi Slimane, the idea of creating a blank slate does not seem entirely plausible. Also, knowing Vaccarello’s personality and design style, it is hard to believe that he will not have nods towards the Slimane era as he take his position as creative director.

As Slimane joins Alexander Wang, Raf Simons and Stefano Pilati as yet another designer leaving their position as creative director of a large fashion house within five years of their appointment, it leaves the fashion world wondering not only about Slimane’s future, but about fashion's increasingly fast-paced cycles.

As for Slimane, he has never been one to take predictable directions in anything he does. He may take another hiatus—as he did after his tenure at Dior Homme—to focus on photography and art making in LA. The newest rumors have been that Slimane may be taking over Chanel, but I don’t know if the world is ready for Karl Lagerfeld to leave Chanel yet. At least, I'm not—even for as much as I love Slimane.

Sources: Vogue.UK, Business of Fashion

 

 

 

American Apparel is Stepping Up its Game

By: Harshita Himatsingka

The future is an exciting place. Who knew that you could order clothes for 60 minutes or less like we do pizza. Thanks to American Apparel’s collaboration with on-demand logistics company, Postmates, we can now order sweats and have them delivered in less than an hour. This is going to take lazy to a whole new level.

Fashion label American Apparel has had a few bad months, with its CEO declaring the company's bankruptcy a few months ago and the company struggling to reap profits since 2009 because of changing consumer patterns. However, it is ready to step up its game. American Apparel has has teamed up with Postmates, an on-demand logistics provider “to offer on-demand delivery to U.S. customers looking to buy and receive basics within an hour.”

To further the company’s consumer relations, this new service will give customers the option to receive their order within 60 minutes instead of the normal shipping time of four to five days for a only $1.99 delivery fee.

The collaboration has been tried and tested in cities like San Francisco and New York City. This on-demand clothing haul delivery will will be available in 79 American Apparel stores nationwide, spanning 31 metropolitan areas. More than 50 core items for men and women are available through this service including “tees, sweatshirts, bodysuits, pants, leggings and dresses.”

Sources: www.thefashionlaw.comwww.techcrunch.comwww.yahoo.com/style/

 

Nordstrom is Losing its Luster

By: Harshita Himatsingka

Nordstrom is the third biggest retailer in the United States; its shares reached an all-time high of $83 last year and moved to $72 in the June quarter. However, after the steady rise, its shares fell to $50, a big 38 percent decline from their peak. Nordstrom’s earnings per share dropped from $3.72 in the fiscal year of 2014, by 15 percent to $3.15 in the fiscal year of 2015. The earnings reported for the last quarter were very disappointing. The fourth-quarter of 2015 was a bad time for the company as warm weather in most east coast areas in the country restricted the sale of winter merchandise. Even though the store offers perks like free shipping, in-store pick up for online orders and many other services none of its rival companies do, its profits dropped by $600 million—17 percent—and expenses rose by 10 percent. 

Most analysts said that it has been a victim of retail sluggishness as it discounted merchandise from all of its sectors. While Nordstrom held storewide promotions across its various departments, it failed to match its prices to other rival retailers, which led to a 1.8 percent decline in its gross margin. Its discount Nordstrom Rack stores also posted its third same-sale decline of the year, and is also struggling to maintain its online sales due to high costs by competing companies such as Amazon. 

However, Nordstrom is trying to step it up and take charge. The company wants to introduce its brand to new kinds of mass customers. Management at Nordstrom wants to start operating approximately 300 Rack stores by 2020, which is 100 more stores compared to today. It is also looking for product lines that are not sold through its rival companies, and wants to build more products for its private brand. In addition, the company will be slowing capital investments to $300 million over the next five years, to $4 billion.  

Whether these efforts will make any major changes to the retailer, only time will tell. 

Sources: www.cnbc.com, www.forbes.com, www.thestreet.com, www.wsj.com

Photo: www.bizjournals.com