The liberating power of fashion Sarah Nakintu on freedom and fashion
With the fashion industry’s latest embrace of gender fluidity (thanks to individuals like FAKA, Rich Mnisi and Orange Culture), plus an increased interest in African consciousness and nationalism, fashion is being used to further accelerate a broader conv
DO YOU THINK THE FREEDOM TO WEAR WHAT YOU WANT IS TRULY WHERE WE ARE TODAY?
This particular question has many layers. We have women living in countries where they’re forced to wear something for culture or religion. We have women who want to dress a certain way but can’t because they don’t want to be harassed while walking down the street. We have women who are living below the poverty line and can’t a ord to put clothes on their backs. We have women who seem to have all the means to dress how they please, but once their photo is taken and posted to social media, they’re body shamed or made fun of. In many ways, this goes to show you that we truly are not free to wear what we want.
THIS SEASON, WHO DO YOU THINK HAS COMMUNICATED THE NEED FOR CHANGE?
This season falls in the midst of so much political upheaval and geo-political shifts, so I was pleased to see that fashion wasn’t silent. We’ve had many pivotal moments, such as the banning of famous photographers like Terry Richardson after sexual assault allegations were raised against him last year. On the runway, we saw brands like Missoni, Prada and Dior take a stand for women’s empowerment and transgender representation. We can’t forget designers refusing to dress Melania Trump for ocial presidential engagements. It truly feels like things are changing and fashion is making these shifts for the better, communicating a need for change and freedom for all.
IN A WORLD OF FAST FASHION AND INSTAGRAM # GOALS, ARE WE STILL ABOUT INDIVIDUAL EXPRESSION?
Absolutely, and I think authenticity and individual expression are key to the success of the most-loved Instagram stars. The moment people feel like they can’t tell the di erence between your posts being sponsored and authentic, is when they really tune out. I think it’s key to have individual expression because it speaks to confidence and self-awareness.
WHICH BRANDS CAN YOU SAY HAVE SHOWN A SENSE OF LIBERATION IN 2018?
Definitely O -white. I love the interpretations and deliberateness of the brand to reinvent what’s normal and industrial. From the African continent, it has to be Maxhosa by Laduma. The brand is true to its cultural roots and it’s amazing to even listen to Laduma Ngxokolo’s vision for his brand. He’s very invested in Africa as a whole, and doing things outside the box and challenging fashion’s status quo. One interesting brand worth mentioning is Fashion Nova. If you’re on Instagram, you must be aware of Fashion Nova – a fast-fashion brand powered by social media, celebrity endorsements and influencers like Cardi B. I personally have not tried anything from Fashion Nova, but a recent study by software company Influncerdb (influencerdb.net) revealed that the brand was the most searched on Instagram, outperforming brands like Zara and H&M. Another report from The Cut magazine in 2017 showed that Fashion Nova was Googled more than brands like Chanel and Gucci. Fashion Nova is mostly popular because it’s a ordable and caters to all body types, including curvy women who have often been neglected in fashion.
WHICH GLOBAL INFLUENCERS DO YOU THINK COMMUNICATE INDIVIDUAL EXPRESSION IN THE WAY THEY DRESS?
I love Eva Chen so much! It doesn’t get more authentically fashionable than that. Eva is the current director of fashion partnerships at Instagram, and formerly editor at Lucky and Teen Vogue. She’s real and fashionable, I live for her Instagram stories. In Africa, I love Bonang Matheba. I think she’s accomplished a lot at her age and many girls look up to her for her work ethic. What I love most about her is that she’s fashionable and relatable; her style is a mix of high-end and accessible brands. I think it’s obnoxious to see someone wearing branded clothing head to toe at all times.
LOOKING AT THE RADICAL SOCIAL CHANGE TODAY, DO YOU THINK FASHION WILL CONTINUE BEING EXPERIMENTAL AND CAUSE A REVOLUTION?
Absolutely. Fashion is evolving at a fast pace and I wouldn’t rule out that possibility. Looking at an industry like beauty, it’s been completely transformed in the last few years and is now causing a ‘mini’ revolution in regards to representation and how women want to be seen. This is not far from where fashion is headed.