Thursday, December 7, 2017

Why is fashion important to me?

I answer the that question, and many more in the following interview, conducted by the wonderful Sarah of SSO. For valuable insights into the thoughts behind a fashion blogger's shopping habits, read on!

1. Have you ever experienced that ‘the world is going to end if I don’t get this,’ feeling when shopping? Do you still have that piece and if so, what does it mean to you now?
Absolutely, I tend to buy pieces second-hand from sites like eBay and Depop where there’s a real sense that if I don’t make that purchase then and there I’ll never have the chance to own that piece! Earlier this year I bought a silk dress by Australian brand Romance Was Born, it’s silk and features a pattern based on the gem malachite. I’ll probably never part with that piece! 


 2. The idea of people cherishing, patching up and passing on clothing seems like it used to be much more popular than it is now, due to disposable fashion. Do you think it’s possible for more people to feel like this again?
Do you ever have moments when you feel like this about clothing you own? It is possible that people might start patching up their clothing more, but I’ve bought a Shrimps purse with beading detail that was coming undone and Marques Almeida trousers with their stitching coming undone. I was shocked the sellers didn’t just repair these pieces, or pay someone else to do it for them. Instead they were treated as ‘damaged goods’ when they were fine in all other respects. I try to repair what I can, and never throw anything away. Unloved clothes always go to the second hand store, and lots of people follow suit but at times those charities can become inundated with the cheap stuff when really they need good quality clothing that will last a lifetime. As we start to see less and less of that these days, we’ll start to see problems with clothes simply falling apart. I think less people cherish and make connections with pieces in their wardrobe; and I blame fashion blogging and influencers on Instagram who, in an attempt to make a name for themselves have high turnover in their closets, wear a piece once or twice and pass it on. I’d like to see more and more people reinvent and style pieces they’ve had for years in new and interesting ways. 


3. Would you be inclined to spend more money on a garment, knowing that it has been made in a sustainable way and comes with the promise that it’ll last you a lifetime?
That really depends on what it is- I’m not a big believer in investing in wardrobe staples but there are certain pieces I do splash out on. That said, many clothes aren’t made in a sustainable way, and they certainly don’t make the lofty promise of lasting a lifetime. I’m a visual being though, so ultimately there has to be a balance between aesthetics, practice and durability. It’s 2017 now, surely it is possible albeit something that is not practiced. 


4. Does the story behind the brand and products interest you? And if a brand has an identity and values that you can relate to, does it make you more likely to want to purchase from the brand in the future?
Definitely! As much as I love the watching the runway shows, in particular London Fashion Week it’s much more interesting to know a little about who made my clothes and whether the business model integrates aspects of sustainable fashion. Falling in love with a brand is one thing, but if there’s no longevity and they disappear, or if someone’s safety was compromised during the process of making my clothes then I have to reconsider if that purchase is really worth it. Brands which also celebrate diversity, showing their clothes on women of all different shapes, sizes, body types, and skin colours is something that’s also important. I don’t see myself or my personality reflected in a size 0 model with porcelain skin (not that there’s anything wrong with that) 


5. How important is sustainability in the fashion industry for you? Does it affect your buying decisions?
I’ll admit I’m not the most conscientious buyer when it comes to sustainable and ethical fashion, but I avoid Zara and H & M. It’s difficult when my mum buys a piece of clothing from them, and I will still wear it but I make sure that they’re not getting my money. That said, I have no idea where my favourite labels sit on the spectrum of sustainability. I suspect that I would be horrified if I were to learn the results. 


6. Lastly, why is fashion important to you?
For me fashion is a form of self-expression; it’s liberating to get dressed in the morning, however I want and feel comfortable that day whether it’s jeans and a nice top or a vintage dress. The overwhelming majority of garment workers are women, so ensuring that they have working conditions which meet international standards is vital in their empowerment, and giving them the opportunity to provide for their families. We cannot stand by and wait for the collapse of another garment factory, and we cannot throw our money behind companies willing to profit off someone else’s suffering. While the majority of garment workers are women, it’s estimated that women occupy just a third of the top jobs in fashion. The brands I love, intrinsically are designed by women for women, and it’s something I’ll continue to support.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pom pom





Wearing: Asos pom pom coat, Cotton On shorts, gifted shirt and pom pom earrings from Strange Magic on etsy.

They told me I could be anything, so I became a pom pom. Isn't it amazing how a jacket, pair of fun earrings and red lipstick can instantly change an outfit and by extension a person's mood? I'm not necessarily in a funk or experiencing burnout, but quite the opposite, this week I've allowed myself to slow down and pursue some creative projects and take time out from work on my PhD. I even mustered up the courage to apply for a job! While it can feel like our lives are defined by a trajectory and path, we mustn't forget to enjoy the little sidesteps and meandering path. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Memoirs of a Geisha


Shoes are without a doubt my Achilles heel and when a great pair of shoes catches my mind it's difficult to let go. Take the platform boots and sandals from the Prada Spring 2013 collection. Although not quite as adventurous, I fell in love with a similar pair of sandals by Fabrizio Viti. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

What makes a Secret Hipster?

As the year winds down and now that I've finally given myself permission to slow down (to avoid another bout of burn out) you may start to notice I'm posting less frequently. It's not unusual for me to experience periods where I am obsessively writing fashion reviews, and conversely, periods of quiescence. Other than deep diving into my PhD, and writing a 40+ page research document I've also been reflecting a lot on my handle, Secret Hipster and whether or not I still identify with it.

Recently, the words racism and hipster have been conflated, which was obviously a hard pill for me to swallow and has dredged up insecurities about my blog, what I've tried to establish over the last five years, and what I've achieved. Scrolling through my Intstagram feed, I can easily feel very insecure about my position in the world, what others have that I don't and what I could be doing better. The catalyst for all this self-reflection came from a request from a reader for an interview in requirement for their Fashion Journalism undergraduate degree, and they had some excellent questions for me.

Why you consider yourself being hipster?
When I started my blog in 2011, I identified with being a hipster as I didn't particularly fit in and after failing to fit in during the early years of high school it felt much more authentic to pursue fashion trends, popular culture, music and literature outside that within the mainstream culture. Writing a blog at the time provided a welcome distraction and avenue for my self-exploration and creativity, but I rarely shared it with anyone in fear that they would find my musings trivial. So, the blog Secret Hipster, became a place where I could write about that which interested me, without fear of judgement from my peers. 


How would you describe your style?


My style isn't particularly normal, or season appropriate but it includes a lot of colour and texture. Often it's described by others as 'cute', which I wouldn't necessarily disagree with but the outfits I wear certainly wouldn't appeal to many men. I dress for myself, and don't conform to trends other that appeal to other women my age. Nor do I participate in self-objectification. There's a freedom in wearing an outfit with lots of colour and pattern, I feel comfortable knowing when I leave the house I won't run into someone who looks exactly the same as I do. 

What inspires you the most on hipster style?


Lately I've really been into craft and the interface between DIY and high fashion. There's a Brisbane based designer called Rachel Burke who makes amazing tinsel jackets which I've been obsessing over for months. 

What kind of music do you listen?


I listen to music less and less these days- with the peace and quiet of living in the country. My music taste is very eclectic though, I can happily listen to punk, alternative, folk and love listening to Triple J. If I'm out doing something though, normally I prefer listening to a podcast. Having my head filled with words and absorbing them subconsciously like a sponge helps my writing process. 

What fashion designer is the most important for you?


Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales of Romance Was Born are the fashion designers I find the most important. Like me, they're Australian and have produced some amazing collections which have collaborated with Australian artists like Del Kathryn Barton, as well as the children's book author May Gibbs. Their creativity knows no bounds, and they are by far my favourite designer to present at fashion week in Australia. It's a wonder we haven't lost them overseas yet.

Monday, November 27, 2017

We can be heroes










Wearing: Romance Was Born silk bomber jacket and marvel blouse, vintage dress, Asos flats and yellow pom pom earrings by Strange Magic on etsy.

I panicked when it came to choosing a pair of shoes for this outfit- you'd think that by now I would have accumulated a variety of suitable shoes to choose from but when I look through my shoe boxes I am always disappointed. Except by the Sophia Webster heels and desert boots which I adore, but there are days where I just want my feet to be comfy and slouch around the house in a pair of flats. It seems everywhere I look flats play are either very conservative, or come in various shades of musk pink with little else. A recent game changer are the metallic and fur-lined loafers inspired by Gucci, but even they would not be suitable for this outfit. So I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. If anyone has any amazing shoe recommendations that won't break the bank, I'm all ears!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Cherry Bomb







Wearing: Romance Was Born top, Marques Almeida striped pant, Dr Martens boots and cherry earrings by Strange Magic on etsy.

Halloween has come and gone, but these amazing pants arrive last week so I'm going to where them anyway and deal with the naysayers drawing comparisons with everyone's favourite Tim Burton villain Beetlejuice. I had been eyeing off a pair of amazing brocade trousers on eBay (the ones with thick black ribbon laced down the side) and am so glad I didn't end up getting them. 1) Because I couldn't afford it and 2) because I wouldn't have been able to squeeze into them anyway! I'm kind of glad that everything worked out, but still sad these are the only flared pants I currently own, but you can be certain I will be taking steps to remedy this in the future. What do you want in your wardrobe? A coat that will last a lifetime or a pair of statement earrings? What's been sitting in your shopping cart, gathering digital dust for over a month?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Rise of Influencer Marketing

There was a time when the heroes of journalism were the voices of cool reason and the scientific communities resounding view on important issues such as climate change, the bleaching of coral reefs and melting of polar ice caps was taken at face value. Communities used to exclusively seek counsel from their local GP for medical advice, and alternative therapies were no substitute for pharmaceuticals. Within a ten-year period, all that seems to have changed– but how did we arrive at a point where we now have alternative facts and opinions taking precedence over scientific research and fact-checked news? 

Since 2010 and the introduction of blogs which chronicled what people ate, where they shopped, the clothes they wore and their views on popular culture, we’ve experienced a paradigm shift from print magazines to people power. It’s great in that now the Internet is more democratic, everyone has a voice, and can express their opinion. Although the majority of ads we see on the subway, on billboards and in shops continue to bombard us with a very narrow vision of what it means to be the ideal man or woman, there’s more evidence to suggest people respond more positively when they see themselves reflected in advertising. For that reason, more and more brands are collaborating with influencers, rather than creating content and measuring the response of the consumer. ‘Real people’ are starting to replace traditional models, and the catalyst to this change is social media, particularly Instagram. The platform has made it easier to quickly share a snapshot of your life, cultivate a dense social following and leverage your online profile. More and more people see Instagram as a tool they can use to build a personal brand, with reports the highest earning influencers are paid tens of thousands of dollars for a single post. You might think the only people who stand to benefit as influencers had already become a house-hold name before the app was created, but you’d be wrong. In fact, many creatives such as photographers, artists and fashion designers are among those who have benefited the most. Nutritionists, fitness experts and personal trainers have also been quick to adopt social media as part of their online marketing strategies, using the platform to increase engagement and even collaborate with other brands. However, they're not going it alone, with many influencers choosing to pair with companies like Submit Core, WME Group and Elegant Web who offer Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), web design and business services. 

A carefully curated image shared on Instagram fits in seamlessly with the other media we consume, and with many influencers opting not to disclose what is sponsored and what’s not, the line between advertising and an authentic post can easily become blurred. The addition of a watch to an outfit with the brand tagged, or makeup tutorial condensed into a minute featuring a contouring kit seems harmless enough. If the collaboration isn’t a good fit then there might be some short-term pain for both parties but overall it’s a practice that seems mutually beneficial for all parties involved, and a product gains exposure to a wider audience. Sharing pretty images online could hardly be considered detrimental to one’s mental health, however, I’m not the first to call into question this culture of perfectionism. It seems that the only images which seem to get traction are intensively styled, painstakingly curated and air-brushed to the nth degree. Increasingly, scrolling through Instagram gives us the same feeling we once experienced when flicking through the pages of a glossy magazine; a sense of alienation, isolation and dread. For that reason, the successful influencers are those which galvanize their community. They offer more than just a visually powerful image, but often package it with intelligence and wit. To take this practice one step further is to give their readers a platform whereby they can interact freely with one another, or meet IRL at events and start new friendships. Whether it be a live show in the case of Mama Mia Outloud, ‘summer camp’ experience a la Man Repeller, or seminar delivered by Constance Hall with tattooist included uniting a tribe of like-minded people is one of the more powerful and long-lasting offerings an influencer can make. However, the world of influencers is not without its villains. 

Belle Gibson, an Australian wellness blogger and author claimed she had received a terminal cancer diagnosis, which she had then cured through alternative therapies and clean eating. Gibson amassed a cult following, partnering with Apple in conjunction with the release of the Whole Pantry app in 2013, followed by a cookbook by the same name in 2014, published by Lantern Books (Penguin). It’s estimated that through the release of her book and app, Gibson had accumulated over one million dollars, using her social media profile to galvanise her online following with further claims of helping others experiencing fertility issues, depression, bone damage and other types of cancer. In March 2015 investigations into claims of charity fundraising and donations made to organisations supporting maternal healthcare in developing countries, children with cancer, and schools in sub-Saharan Africa. It was later found that as little as $7,000 of the supposed $300,000 had been donated to a total of three charities- with an $1000 donation made after just after Fairfax Media launched their initial investigation. Soon after her book was pulled from the shelves, with Penguin citing a lack of response from Gibson in light of the accusations. Since the first allegations of fraud, and certainly after these claims were substantiated, her base on social media began to collapse and in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald published in April 2015 Gibson confessed her cancer diagnosis was in fact fabricated and none of the claims she had made were true. But what became of the funds raised from her book? Consumer Affairs Victoria launched legal action against Gibson for breaking Australian consumer law, with Penguin Australia paying AU$30,000 in penalties for failing to fact check the book’s content. More recently, Gibson was force to pay AU$410,000 (US$310,000) for making false claims in 2014 about charitable donations made by The Whole Pantry. Despite Gibson’s fall from grace, there are other wellness bloggers who have readily taken her place, and even actress Gwyneth Paltrow has launched her own lifestyle brand, Goop. However, a Californian advertising watchdog group has also raised concerns over some of the more dubious Goop products, including their vitamin subscription box and a $165 perfume which claims to boost the function of the immune system. 

Personally, I’ve come to accept my Instagram feed now contains ads, both hidden and fully disclosed. While I’m aware that a product featured in a post by a particular influencer will sometimes drive to me a particular website, I can’t think of a time when I’ve committed to a purchase. It seems inevitable that I’ll fall victim to the influence of a social media maven, but I remain adamant I’ll never let influencer marketing inform any of my lifestyle or health decisions. Not unless they support their claims with a peer-reviews scientific journal article, but given the way things are going, it may be years before we see well researched journalism or scientific reports hold sway like they once did.

Cluster

Although having my wisdom teeth pulled out wasn't an enjoyable experience, I did pick up the most amazing pink aura quartz! Unfortunately it's not a naturally occurring mineral, and was actually made under laboratory conditions but it's still the pride and joy of my rock collection. The rest of my rock collection is being tended to be my parents back in Melbourne, but I can't wait to bring it back home when I visit them over Christmas. Now the only question, how and where do I display my growing mineral display? Hmm...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mercedes Salazar




I can't remember the last time I wrote about a new designer I discovered, just for the joy of curating their product and spreading the good word. Mercedes Salazar makes the accessories you wish you had either hanging from your ears or in your lap while sitting at a beachfront resort, drinking piƱa coladas. If you've been obsessed with the fruit-themed jewellery from Dolce & Gabanna but at a fraction of the price. That's not to say her pieces are inexpensive, with a pair of hoop earrings setting you back anywhere between $200-$300. That depends on your currency conversion, and if you aren't prepared to spend that much (and this is your first time here, this is not the blog for you). Anyway, I'm surprise the brand hasn't been featured on Man Repeller, although these days I can't say I've kept up to date with every Instagram post and piece of content they've produced in the last week, let alone the last month. The earrings take their inspiration from Salazar's native Colombia and are a sweet treat no matter what the time of year. It might be nauseatingly early, but I know what I'm going to ask Santa for Christmas this year!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Rainbow






Wearing: House of Holland dress, vintage skirt c/o Trendlistr, Dr Martens boots and Marina Fini earrings.

I don't normally wake up in a good mood. More often than not, I am blurry-eyed in the morning, searching for that first cup of coffee and a malleable, mushy blank canvas. It takes a good hour or so to switch on, and I've developed the terrible habit of looking at my phone in that hour, rather than talking to my partner. Getting dressed in an outfit which makes me feel good is like looking at a compass, having a sense of direction and knowing where to go, in a manner of speaking. The more bright and colourful the outfit, the more energy I have to tackle the day. I recently had my wisdom teeth out, and getting dressed (like, really getting dressed with a sense of purpose) was not my prerogative. Surgery went for two hours and I'm still numb around the chin, and suspect I sustained nerve injury during the extraction. Although that all sounds pretty bleak, things could be worse and my closet remains my happy place. This dress and skirt combination which I have been dying to try out became pretty irresistible over the past few days.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Kitten Heels


Italian designer Marco de Vincenzo is known for his love of metallics, as well as geometry and often combines the two to create jaw-dropping boots and shoes. These kitten heel boots are quite conservative by comparison, but a safer choice than the Miu Miu screw heels slippers.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Heathers









Wearing: Shrimps coat, thrifted kimono worn as dress, Dr Martens boots and earrings from Strange Magic on Etsy.

I'm still scratching my head over this one- why did I decide to dress like one of the girls from Heathers (1988) when it's been ages since I last watched that movie? Ever since I made these green pom pom earrings I've been dying to wear them with this Shrimps coat, and since I didn't have a pink dress I made do with this kimono I picked up at the local op shop for $2? It's still got a lot of life left in it, can double as a dress and the best thing about it is that it has pockets on the front! That seems a little trivial when this coat has some of the biggest, roomiest pockets I have ever come across but still, I'm all about the little victories at the moment.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Eyes Have It


There's the eccentric and then there's fashion mavericks like Anna Dello Russo whose peacocking game is unbeatable, especially at an event like Berlin Fashion Week. Me? I think I prefer the works of Romance Was Born, and their most recent collaboration with Del Kathryn Barton is as good as it gets.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Imperfect




Wearing: Romance Was Born shirt and denim jacket, jeans were a gift and Dr Martens boots.

In the golden age of social media where every image shared online is intensively filtered, photo shopped and curated is the most radical action one can take to upload a bad photo? I wouldn't even necessarily call these photos bad, but they aren't to a certain standard others might hold themselves. It was a windy morning, I wanted to try out this new shirt with a jacket from the same collection but did it work? Not really but it is authentic, it's how I looked that day and as for the weather it's something that's beyond my control. There have been times where I have agonized over which photos to share, and which ones to keep to myself but right now I'm happy just to go with the flow. You gotta take bad photos sometimes to get to the good stuff.