To Universe, with Love

Fashion’s last Yoda: Yohji Yamamoto, Part 3

Posted on May 2, 2015

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ON FAST FASHION :

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“The people in the poor towns of Bangladesh or Vietnam, they don’t wear fashion so they don’t know what they are making. So naturally they cannot put their spirit in the clothing, so it comes out like shit!”

“now there are so many … fashion …. shitty clothing …. just competing …. how cheap and how sexy … cheap and sexy. cheap and sexy…. wasted … wasted … real designer has to be more stronger”

“they are wasting costume, like toilet paper. I am praying, don’t waste clothes. But the general trend in the fashion market, in the world became like that. So i am asking to myself, Yohji, you didn’t work enough. So this is my fault. Its quite easy to criticize the fashion movement. But as a fashion designer, if i could be more stronger, maybe ….. ”

Let me talk like an old man. Young people, be careful. Beautiful things are disappearing every day. Be careful.…You don’t need to be [shopping at fast-fashion stores], especially young people. They are beautiful naturally, because they are young. So they should even wear simple jeans and a T-shirt. It’s enough. Don’t be too much fashionable.…The brand advertising is making you crazy. You don’t need to be too sexy. You are sexy enough.

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ON COLOR BLACK :

Once upon a time black became a fashionable uniform. Around 1990. fashion people started wearing just black, it became a uniform for them. There are so many types of black. Some of them are ugly. There’s blue, red and green shades of black. The sunlight makes them look different.  There’s a whole world of black – sometimes i get bored with what i have and start looking for a new black that i find exciting.

Black is the end of color. Wearing black is like saying, ‘I will not bother you, and please do not bother me.’ And sometimes, when I am making clothes, I concentrate too much on the patterns and fabrics that I forget to use colors.

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ON ACCESSORIES :

“My understanding is that the word accessory can mean an accomplice in crime. This implication makes me hate accessories even more. I wonder how in the world people can bear to have those things around their necks and on their wrists, the reasons for it evade me. The display of ornaments and decorations in Europe seem to me nothing more than a frivolous game played with the cultural heritage that one race has looted from another. The fact that it is shiny, it is rooted in its value as a commodity. I will never understand how gold came to be the foundation of the world’s economy. I dislike pearls as well. The shells cracked open, and the asymmetrical ones are discarded–the practice strikes me as unseemly.”

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WABI SABI :

Many journalists kept saying, “Yohji, why are you making such dirty clothing?” ‘ he is saying, referring to the way his clothes come in many shades of black and can often look worn in, a little distressed around the edges. ‘But I was seriously thinking that those are beautiful compared to the established style of garment from other famous designers at the time. Dirty is good.’

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ON FABRIC :

“i want people to keep on wearing my clothing for at least 10 years or more, so i requested the fabric makers to make a very strong, touch finish. It’s very close to designing army clothing. One reason why young people love second-hand clothing is that it has a character, or it has a story already, or it has some human message. So i’m always close to second-hand clothing or army clothes.”

Read about his fabric: He is known for the longevity of his fabrics. He keeps the cottage industries that specialize in techniques that master the weave of long lasting fabrics alive.

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ON MODESTY

Yamamoto recounts that he was inspired by old French war movies starring actresses in army uniforms . ‘I found that so sexy. The body is protected. And covered. In a very hard way. And so you are forced to ask yourself “what’s inside?” When you have no freedom, your sexuality becomes stronger.’ Again, this subtlety of observation and the implicit nuances regarding sexuality go against the Western notion, expressed by the designer, that ‘Dolls … this is what many men want women to be … just dolls.’

“…looking at people passing …. and for me … can be male or female, the people wearing some baggy swingy clothing … they look so sexy … because i imagine whats inside … young people showing too much, its so direct … i feel no sexual attraction … so please hide it … ”

This is as much as i could steal from the books to put online. I hope he continues to inspire people, esply fashion designers. He is one of the few designers who really cares … about women, about environment, about his craft, …. If anyone is looking to purchase his books, i recommend ‘Yamamoto & Yohji‘. It is the most comprehensive book from what i have seen. I would have been happy to own just that one book of his. Links to: Part 1 & Part 2

Fashion’s last Yoda: Yohji Yamamoto, Part 2

Posted on April 28, 2015

Have you ever heard Yohji speak ? He doesnt use more words than needed, speaks slowly and get his point across. There is a certain sparkle in his eye and a hint of a smiling frown when he talks about things he doesnt like. Two interviews I found : One, Two. I currently don’t dress the way he approves really. But my take home is the deeper message of the creator …. his philosophy, his art, emphasis on form and his wisdom. I have always believed style reflects a deeper philosophy. Even the ones who claim they dont care about clothing, show their core values through their style. The more i read about him, the harder i want to work on my craft. His passion is contagious. This is my part two of notes to myself. I would like to come back here to reference him, when i dont get the time to read his books. Part One can be found here. quote1 On woman: For me, a woman who is absorbed in her work, who does not care about gaining one’s favor, strong yet subtle at the same time, is essentially more seductive. The more she hides and abandons her femininity, the more it emerges from the very heart of her existence. A pair of brilliantly cut cotton trousers can be more beautiful than a gorgeous silk gown. quote2 On fashion: If fashion is clothes, then it is not indispensable. But if fashion is a way of looking at our daily lives, then its very important indeed. Of the so called arts – painting, sculpture, etc – only very few can influence people directly in the way fashion can, or music. Fashion is a unique and fundamental form of communication, that has to do with the feelings of the generation wearing the clothes it has chosen. quote3 On the worn-in : When fabric is left to age for a year or two, it naturally contracts, and at this point it reveals its charm. The threads have a life of their own, they pass through the seasons and mature. It is only through this process that the true appeal of the fabric is revealed. In releasing one collection after the next on a six-month cycle, it is impossible to design clothing from fabric that has been allowed to age. The intense jealousy I occasionally feel towards used clothing comes from this fact. It was in just such a moment that I thought, “I would like to design time itself”. quote4 On individuality: Many young people are wearing exactly the same kind of outfits. There is no individuality. The majority is boring. I travel on a sidewalk of fashion, not the main road. From my side of the street, i am shouting “you’re not fashionable” to the crowds. quote5 On androgyny : Yes, it was like that in japan back then as well. But especially in tokyo the gender boundaries have become blurred the styles have become more unisex. Boys started wearing skirts and the girls wore very masculine looks. Those looks are very important to me. quote6 On Garment making process: Making a garment means thinking about people.I am always eager to meet people and talk to them. Tts what i like more than anything. What are they doing ? What are they thinking ? How do they lead their lives ? and then i can set to work. I start with the fabric, the actual material, the “feel” of it. I then move on to the form. Possibly what counts most for me is the feel. And then, i start working on the material. I think my way into the form it out to assume. quote7 On uniform: My style says I love fashion but i quickly became a workaholic so when i wake up, I am very lazy and I am too tired to color coordinate my outfits. I always wear the same clothes. i have five black tshirts, six black trousers and five black jackets on the go all the time. Its like a uniform. quote8 On Perfume : “A woman should smell gentle.” “Soon after coming to Paris, one day I was in the elevator surrounded by four or five women. They were all wearing strong perfume and each scent was different. The mixture of strong scents was almost killing me in that elevator.” “I decided that OK, I’m going to create a very strong scent which can kill a boy!” “Every woman uses perfume too much,” says the designer. “Japanese people don’t smell; they use the scent on the kimono but they don’t put it on the body – this tradition is still there. So scent is a memory – it stays on the chair after she left. We Japanese have a tendency to enjoy the emotion of missing, enjoying the memory [more than the event].” quote9 Outsiders I’ve never designed suits for businessmen. I design for outsiders – it can be artists, writers, filmmakers, painters, people who do nothing or homeless. These people don’t have to wear a uniform, so called business wear. They need to express themselves by wearing something strong and personal. Ever since I began, over 35 years ago, i’ve been designing for people outside society. I feel like i am ripping through my books to make these posts. I don’t think these words stand alone convey the depth of his wisdom. But they are accomplices to his work. His videos ( link 1, link 2 ) come close to showing his personality and why i think of him as Yoda. Part 3 coming up. I save my favourites for the last. His views on : the color Black, Slow fashion, fast fashion, sustainability, modesty, fabric and accessories. 

Fashion’s last Yoda: Yohji Yamamoto, Part 1

Posted on April 26, 2015

“I feel like I have become a living fossil in the fashion world”, he once said. At last, i found a Yoda among the Jedi. The man is pure poetry. His philosophy deserves to be heard. And i am quite taken by it all. Although we try to fight off materialism as evil, there is beauty in deeper materialism that goes beyond consumption. And it can be tied to life cycle, attitude and beauty. This man embodies it. I have gotten my hands of a few of his books. I don’t own any of his clothing. They are supposed to last the test of time. And look better with age. He uses the same cottage industry that made the best Kimonos in Japan. He is the last of them keeping them from shutting their doors and losing craftsmanship lost for ever. He hates fast fashion and the conventional idea of sexy. He has views on sustainability, a real creator, the color black, modesty, sexuality, fabric, …. the way a designer should. This post is a collage i made for myself, full of his words of wisdom. I had the same aha moment when i saw yoda in the Star Wars. “Do or dont do. There is no try “, he famously said. Yohji has a lot to say. This is a very long post.  Read very slowly with a cup of tea

 

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 Source for the rules: here

 

I have amassed lot of information about this man, and i think he deserves to influence not only the creatives in the 80s but today’s generation as well. The world seems to be currently obsessed with the Japanese aesthetics and i hear “Wabi-Sabi” on an average of once per day. Yohji has lots to teach about it. Instead of creating a huge dump of quotes, i have split this post into a few parts. Part 2 and 3 coming up next.

 

 

Camelback, Phoenix

Posted on April 25, 2015

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I have a confession. I love hiking this one mountain called Camelback. ALONE. I do it every week.

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So there is this beautiful mountain. And all i get asked about it is “How many miles ?” or “How long does it take to climb it?” or “isn’t it too hot to hike?”. Mark Twain could write a 10,000 page books without discussing weather and i get asked about weather ! I believe travel and exploration requires the right company. I dont want to share my precious mountain time with the ones who don’t get it. Its the Camelback. Not a stairmaster or inclined treadmill in the gym.

“But in the wake of ‘Bullet,’ all the guys wanted to know was, ‘How’s it doing? How’s it selling?’ How to tell them I didn’t give a flying fuck how it was doing in the marketplace, that what I cared about was how it was doing in the reader’s heart?”
― Stephen King, Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales

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My rewards: I can walk off the trail. Watch the insects and the bees. Look for snakes. Climb random rocks. Admire the cactus when i please. Just sit out there and day dream. I have gotten lost on it and its exhilarating. My niece Neela once famously said, “I don’t want to go to Mt Bonnell because it’s just steps and real hiking has rocks and discovering new things”. Thats a rule to live by.

I have been talked about as the loner who goes to Camelback often. It bothers me. Should i go along with people so that i can chat with along the way ? But i dont know anyone who appreciates it the way a mountain should be.

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One person who understands this feeling is Harsha. And hence i dream of travelling with him. We talk about having our own mountain. Not in a way we buy it or own it. But because we know it intimately. All its secrets, its seasons, its nooks and crannies, …

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My hiking kit. I have been lost before. And i am a women who travels alone. I go prepared. Advantages of travelling alone:

1. On paths that are not set in stone, you need to figure out the way. And its adrenaline rush.

2. Your whims above everyone else.

3. Make friends with fellow mountain climbers.

4. When tired, you can lean on a rock for support. When you get to the top, hug another rock to celebrate.

5. The excitement of danger.

6. Planning and going through with it. Carrying the required backpack and being self sufficient.

7. For photographers, the luxury of picking times that align with sunsets and sunrises. And waiting for the right moments without keeping anyone waiting.

8. Solitude ( its very underrated ).

 

24.04.15 : #fashRev #whomademyclothes

Posted on April 23, 2015

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“The t-shirt was 25$. That is crazy. I can find one for $5 in H&M”, says my friend while eating his 13$ grilled fish plate with a 3$ cold beer on a warm Sunday afternoon. This is not the first time i heard this line. Everytime i hear it, i slip into a rant in my head. Its no business of mine lecturing people. I didn’t know any better last year. But its not the same for me anymore. I never want to go back to my older habits.

“We always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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It is impossible to manufacture one for that price in America. So how is it getting made ? Sweatshops. Two years ago, Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed killing 1133 people and injuring 2500. Stories like this make the news and are forgotten. For an incident like this near Delhi, the govt imposed a fine for 2$ per injured person. Really? 2$ is what a persons life is worth ? Thats less than the price of the beer for most Americans. I read about horror stories about 18 hour work days with no weekends. Women being forced to take contraceptive pills in front of the supervisors so that they don’t get pregnant, just so that they don’t disrupt the efficiency that goes into the making of the 5$ t-shirts. I hear stories of how Haiti became Disney’s sweatshop. They had a plan. Import cheap rice into the country. In no time, the farmers producing the more nutritious local variety could not sell their grain. And eventually, they had to move away from the villages into cities and be employed in sweatshops. The kids who do the embroidery for long hours so that we can wear a fancy top. Cheap embellished anything is a product of someone slaving over it for cents of daily wages…. Its all too sad. If at all i bring this up, i get asked “Aren’t we giving them an opportunity to work?”. “Them”. Its always “Them” vs us. Same rules don’t apply to us, but to them, its okay. I hear complains of how busy we are or how much work we have piled up for the weekend. But for them, its an opportunity. Here are some horror stories :

1. Average wages for a Bangladeshi worker in a garment factory is 43$ in 2013. He gets paid not hourly but per ‘n’ amount of garments completed. Its not uncommon to work overtime without compensation to meet the production goals. 80 hour weeks are not uncommon.

2. No toilets, rats, cockroaches, mediocre lighting conditions, old buildings, sexual harassment, abuse, ….. are a part and parcel of this cycle. This is modern day slavery. When i read about these conditions, i cant help think of the concentration camps i visited in Germany. Of Course, i wouldn’t think its on the same level, but we are promoting this for cheap and fast fashion.

3. Horrible working conditions exist in garment districts in LA and NYC too. But not on the scale seen in third world countries.

4. Its not restricted to adults. Children are often employed to do the embroidery and attaching sequins/rhinestones/beads. Smaller hands work faster apparently.

5. Spectrum factory collapse incident in Dhaka killed about 64 and injured 72 workers. They had built additional 5 stories over a swamp land to meet the demand. They saw the cracks but couldn’t shut it down for repairs to meet the production demands. When it eventually collapsed, the workers bodies could be found under red Zara pull overs and purple stripe tops.

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The more i read, the angrier i get. Fashion used to inspire me. Now, it just makes me rant and sad. I swore off fast fashion last year after i read: The end of Fast Fashion, Overdressed, Cheap, The lost art of dress and To die for (personal favourite). On the other end, the luxury markets cuts costs and make profits by outsourcing too ( Source: Deluxe ). Clothing, handbags and shoes now get assembled instead of made, in the country of residence of the fashion houses instead of being made there. All so that they can still retain the “Made in Italy/France/..” tag. Reading these books cured my addiction to Zara and high end handbags for good. Its all brainwashing via marketing. The back end process that goes into making these goods is anything but luxury. There are exceptions of course. Its time to bring back the appreciation for slow fashion. To support cottage industries. And companies that embrace sustainable practices to produce their goods. Embrace vintage and secondhand. Ask questions about how things get made. Embrace Made in America. And above all, consume less.

“…with knowing comes caring, with caring comes hope…” – Sylvia Earle.

The solution is not straightforward or simple. But it can be only if we consume less. And we have seen this happen before. When the issues of the environment get put out, we tend to throw out the culprits and buy echo-friendly stuff to replace them. My first thoughts were to get rid of the cheap clothes and buy better stuff. Shopping is not a solution for shopping. Its my shopping habits that get me here in the first place.

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List to myself:

1. Do not buy clothes made in sweatshops.

2. Send emails asking about who made my stuff, if i want to purchase something. They need to know that we care. More questions they get, more likely they are to take notice.

3. Don’t buy unless really needed.

4. Blog more about this issue. There are too many fashion bloggers promoting fast fashion and influencing the world. And not nearly enough women talking about these issues.

5. More research.

6. Blog about fashion that has nothing to do with consumption. Talk quality, craftsmanship, make and design. And style over fashion.

UPDATE: Watch John Olivers take on it.

UPDATE: Watch this excellent discussion on it.

Essay: Battle of Ballet Flats

Posted on April 23, 2015

overview I believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. Do they live an active life ? Is she a girly girl ? A tomboy ? A geek ? A nerd ? Fashion victim ( Valentino rockstuds in 2013, Birks in 2014 ) ? How much effort does she put into her appearance…. So she thinks she can walk in those ? I do judge. I am a student of Machine Learning, where we believe what we see can be deconstructed by the past experiences. You can teach a computer to recognize say an apple by teaching it about color, texture and references of what apples look like using a database. Deep Learning techniques try to mimic the human brain in learning. I dont think we can help it, we need to form an impression when we see something.  And well worn shoes have stories to tell. My favourite kind of shoes are the ballet flats. They are very biker friendly. Are made for walking and dancing. Work appropriate. That covers all the bases for me. Every brand and designer makes them. But not all flats are created equal. After  a recent incident in which my skin got shaved off by a pair of pointed flats, i decided to launch a battle against pointed flats and feature some shoes that actually like women. That want women to wear good looking shoes and still be active. So here we go. DSCF1096-2 Above are the pointy ones. I have a personal vendetta on them and would like to see them gone. They have been popular for quite some time, since they were first worn by European aristocrats. It symbolized power, luxury, leisure class while the round toed boots symbolized working class. Men wore them too. All the Louis and Henrys of the aristocracy are touting them in the painted portraits. Eventually, post French revolution, men renounced their heeled pointy toed shoes for more practical shoes. Cowboys prefered them so that they can slide their toes into the stirrups. Today, its the forte of fashionable women and dandy men ( not an insult ). And they are very very anatomically wrong. Jenni Kayne’s d’orsay flats are everywhere last season. A case of vanity winning over health. They squish your toes together, are very uncomfortable and restrict blood circulation. Remember the foot binding practices in China to achieve a certain look on the feet ? Just like that. I was stupid enough to think i can wear them. They looked great on. Harsha couldn’t bear to see my discomfort after 20 minutes of walking and i couldn’t bear the pain on his face from the empathy. Please learn from my mistakes. I hope the next time you see pointed toe shapes, you think of band-aids and Chinese foot binding. DSCF1113 On contrast, round toed shoes are very comfortable, can be worn and forgotten about. The working class shoes. They love women and feet in general. This is the most durable pair i ever found and am in the process of ruining them by walking in them on the mountain side. Cole Haan collaborated with Nike to make this pair.The collaboration had Sharapova as its spokesperson. Practically indestructible sole. The upper, not so much. Minimalist blogger Coco wears them and they are her only pair of shoes for years. Too bad they don’t make these anymore. Repettos, Lanvin, FryeChloe, etc make this shape and are quite the mainstream. Ferragamo flats are supposed to be the most durable and worth the money from what i have read so far. I dont think i like this shape that much and the bow on top is an overkill. I dont think i will buy another pair of round toe flats in the future once i retire these ones.DSCF1107 While round toes look too casual, we still have a few other options – like the rounded square. I think the shoe makers require more skill to produce shapes that are not pointed or round toed. Making rest of the shapes hard to find. This is my favourite shape and the most elegant one in my opinion. Presenting the Pradas that i wear for formal occasions. They are the perfect marriage between the comfort offered by round toe and the shapeliness offered by the more painful shapes. A few makers put this shape in the market every season. DSCF1108 Oval shaped/Almond toe. I can not write this post without bringing in Porselli into the battle. These are the original Italian ballet flats that made them chic enough to wear as street wear. Audrey and Garance have done their share to show their appreciation for them, making them popular in their generation. These are often pitted against their French rival Repettos. I like the shape of Porsellis better. And Porsellii being the older traditional company,  do not do toe cleavage which earns points in my book. Thank you Pierotucci for letting me borrow this pair for the photograph. DSCF1103 A real ballet square toe. These are rare indeed. And not popular at all. I think the women in the 80s over did it with their mannish office wear and they were stowed away in the bad shoe shape hall of fame. I know a few students of ballet,  who come to my yoga studio. They love dancing shoes so much that they got a sole put on the bottom of their shoes and use it for street wear. They look very elegant and bohemian at the same time. Since i am no ballerina with an extra pair at my disposal, i have been waiting for someone to make a pair for walking, in this shape. Jil Sander finally made a pair last season and they sold out in no time. Maybe more makers will embrace this shape in the future. To me, these shoes remind me of all the beautiful Japanese architectural details i have been admiring this month. Boxy and earthy at the same time. Made with natural materials. I dont understand why this designer chose to make a box shape in the softest saggy leather, but i still do admire the shape. Thank you La Garconne for letting me borrow this pair for the photograph. DSCF1143-2 Some interesting facts about ballet flats: 1. They are inspired of course by the shoes worn by ballerinas. 2.The first Ballet shoes worn by the dancers of the Royal Academy of Dance were heeled.  And they were pointed. These shoes were quite difficult to wear and prohibited any jumps and a lot of technical movements. They later abandoned the heel for more movement. 3. Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina who was one of the most famous dancers of her time had particularly high, arched insteps, which left her vulnerable to injury when dancing en pointe. She also had slender, tapered feet, which resulted in excessive pressure on her big toes. To compensate for this, she inserted toughened leather soles into her shoes for extra support and flattened and hardened the toe area to form a box. 4. French shoe designer Rose Repetto created a pair of pointe shoes for her son Roland in 1947. Ballet companies loved the shoe. Brigitte Bardot requested that Rose make her a pair. And the rest is history. 5. Audrey Hepburn is credited for getting them into fashion by wearing them in her movie, Funny Face. And they never went out of style. 6. Tory Burch became a billionaire this year. She reportedly sold over 5 million flats so far. ( I dont get them, they are tacky with insanely high – logo to leather ratio. I can not see the shoe behind the hideous logo. ) 7. Marc Jacobs makes mouse ballet flats every year, which women seem to love. to be continued ….

Essay : Oxfords for Women

Posted on April 18, 2015

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For a long time, ballet flats were my staple. I was keen on owning a few pairs in different colors. But i was wearing out my shoes too fast. As as i downsized, I started to look for versatile shoes – ones that i think can fit every occasion without looking too casual. And oxfords became my everyday staple. I bought my first pair for travel. A single pair that fits all the requirements. Comfortable, durable, stylish, formal, informal, protective – check. It helped me travel light. After i came home, i didnt see the need for my huge shoe collection. And there was no going back. It wasn’t a seamless transition. Oxfords for women is hardly mainstream and is still referred to, as a trendy item to own. I keep getting started at, when i wear them, everyday. It took me a while to get over it and stop caring about what other people think of them. And i hope its not a trend in my life but a staple. Two years and still going strong.

As i grow older, i have been settling into my own style of dressing. There are all these boxes – traditional, classic, preppy, bohemian, tomboy, clean lines, etc for categorizing personal style. Surprisingly, all the women who’s personal style i adore do not fall into a box. And even better, inspired their own categories of boxes over time that women emulate these days. Armed with this confidence, i picked my staple everyday shoe & wear them with everything. “Its like someone metamorphosed you into a man, ankle down”, i once got told. “Are those your husbands, how to they fit you?”….. “Why? Why ? Why?”….. Seeing how the European women wear them, helped me get over the fear of looking too masculine. I wear flowy dresses with black oxfords. I mix navy blue and black. I do not want to emulate the fashion bloggers/instagrammers who perfectly match everything. Not the fashion editors who drive the trends. I want to make my own staples. And wear them the way i want. Isn’t it too hot to wear shoes all the time i get asked. Firstly, i have a pet peeve about footwear that get my feet dirty when i don’t intend them to. I walk and bike a lot. This rules out most of the dainty ones. And good leather, breathes. Its not a myth. I give my testimony for it. I wear mine in Arizona heat. Enough with the justifying.

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And i am not the only one. This picture of Garance speaks volumes about her. When Jamie bought her pair, she taught me a lot on how to confidently pair them with everything. Its rather dated to categorize wearing heels or flats as feminine. I am a proud curator of my favourite outfits into a pinterest board: here. The downside of learning from pinterest is the fact that it is flooded by fashion images of models or street style fashionistas. I did find a few non fashion industry professionals who beautifully styled their outfits with oxfords. Anyone reading this should head over and take a look.

Its easy to find oxfords in every street style store or high end store. What demarcates them in the quality, maker and shape.First to my observations on quality. Upper and insole has to be leather for breathability. Rubber outsoles last a long time. But i prefer the leather soles because they look more dressy. The downside of it is that it wears out faster. But a trusted cobbler can resole or apply a protective layer to make them last longer. Now to my favourite part: shape. Shape can be a deal breaker for me when buying a pair. And i have opinions. Lots of them.

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The shoe makers. Ethical and handmade is my choice. I regretted the shoes i bought on high street, always ! When i see a Made in China/India/Bangladesh tag, it makes me sad. I know that these companies pick those places so that they can get away with sweatshop labour and very low ( read non existent ) environmental standards. Half the rivers in China are dead ( 0% oxygen ) and Holy Ganges river is a pile of slime. Owning a pair of shoes are not worth doing that to the environment. Plastic polymer shoes are a no-no. Even if you can recycle them, most places dont because of the mix of polymers used in making the shoe. You will have to take it apart. America lets you put a ‘Made of leather’ tag if upper is leather. Europe has stricter rules: leather upper, insole and outsole. Great shoemakers always put out information bragging about the make. My favourites are N.D.C Made by Hand ( absolute fav ), Coclico, BedStu, Officine Creative, Churchs, …

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Some interesting facts about oxfords:

1. All the pairs shown in the pictures above, are not oxfords. They are technically called Derbys. Oxfords are closed laced shoes. There is a whole debate on what’s an oxfords, derby, brogues.

2. There were popularized by the students attending Oxford University, setting a fashion trend. Soon becoming a classic for men. Women embraced them much later.

3. The once closed laced shoe gave birth to open laced versions later on. The rumour has it that the 14th Earl of Derby, Edward Smith-Stanley, was a man of jolly proportions. And couldn’t get his foot into this style of shoe, and requested his shoe makers for a solution. And came up with the laceups.

4. Women embraced this style, but with a heel eventually leading to the flapper shoes. Since then, the laces disappeared and they became more open toed.

…. to be updated.

Irony of it all : Harsha loves his flip flops. I dont own any flip flops and wear oxfords most days of the year.

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