Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Happy Birthday Zuri!

     Shopping on-line brings the world to our doorsteps, but sometimes I just want to see and touch the fabric up close and to try something on for size.  I was, therefore, very glad to get a notice about an event for Zuri, a company I’ve been following for a while.  Zuri sells fair trade shirts and dresses made from bold East African wax print cottons.  They also sell sturdy sisal totes.  Their classic dress is the versatile tunic/coat/dress shown above, which comes in a great array of patterns. Their brick and mortar store sells other styles in soft cotton weaves.

     I had been unable to get to their pop-up at Union Market in Washington, DC, but I have recently relocated to NYC and their Bleecker Street store was celebrating its one-year anniversary and featuring the jewelry of South African designer Katherine Pichulik.

     The shop was buzzing.  Here’s Katherine on the left handing off one of her great wrapped cord necklaces to a happy customer.

     I actually bought the same Zuri dress pattern Katherine is wearing.  I like the way she has it styled with black pants and top.  It would look good over this black modal jumpsuit by American sustainable clothing manufacturer Amour Vert.


     I am somewhere in between a small and a medium usually, and would have fit best in a Zuri medium in any other of the prints, but this one ("cotton candy") had a bit of stretch to it.  The design fits very well and looks good on the wide range of body types women come in. It's also well made and a good, long-lasting, fair-trade bargain at $145.  Plus it has pockets!! Definitely check out the wonderful variety of styles of Pichulik jewelry on their website too.  Gorgeous stuff!

     I, by the way, wore this upcycled T-shirt dress by Saidonia Eco to the event—also ingeniously designed with a back tie to fit many different body types.  Go smart designers!  Go fun stuff! Go sustainable fashion!

     Incidentally, while searching for Zuri on the internet, I found another Chicago-based fair trade company that features items made by East African artisans-- Zuri Collection.  Zuri Collection features simple jewelry, embellished leather handbags and woven baskets and blankets.  Check them out too while you're at it.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Poor Western Men

Embed from Getty Images

Poor “western” men.  Their fashion used to be visually stimulating, but the arrival of the business suit in the last hundred plus years has greatly reduced the range of color, pattern and fabrics in their closets. Conventional menswear in western European and offshoot cultures is now very circumscribed. 

"Classic" men's suit by Burberry

No wonder the printed T-shirt has blazed such a wide swath.  It allows men to say something with color and graphic design.  I recently came across Indian designer Shravan Kummar Ramaswamy. What a fabulous array of sexy colorful menswear options!

Shravan Kummar is a big booster of India’s traditional weaving, natural fabrics and fine handwork, and he designs wonderful things to celebrate that tradition of craftsmanship. Many other runway designers of all backgrounds regularly show fashions that are well outside the box of conventional Western European menswear, but it seems to be only slowly expanding the edge of that box for many wearers.  The difference in the range of color and styles in a typical Target men’s department and its women’s department is remarkable.

In the United States, many African American male trendsetters have used color and pattern boldly.

Pharrell Williams 2015 CFDA Fashion Icon

And President Barack Obama skillfully introduced purple into the narrow red, white, blue and gray palette of the Washington, DC political establishment.

Likewise, thanks are due to so many members of the gay community for breaking down sartorial boundaries with joy and panache.

Pastor Rick Eisenlord who calls himself the “Gay Pastor of the San Gabriel Valle"

Hopefully as America continues to grow into its character as a diverse, global culture, more men will feel free to wear color and pattern more freely.  Certainly, climate change favors the adoption of the guayabera as work wear over the traditional Western suit jacket.  

That said, I love what Shravan Kummar  has done with the western jacket for wedding wear:

Speaking of wedding wear, what’s with the Western obsession with white for brides?  Doesn’t the Chinese red make much more sense?! Ciao, bellas/bellos.

From a monograph on the Chinese Wedding Dress on the Top China Travel website