Fuck Homogenous Racist Fashion: IXclusive Interview-Lydia Okello
Something that gets recycled in the fashion industry is the need to perpetuate homogenous imagery. If you're too brainless to realize what that happens to be, let me fill you in (tall, white, and thin.) Which other than privileging the shit out of white culture is the least inspiring thing south of the Queen's dried up cooch.
But you know what's way more relevant then good ole' Queen E's cooch? Lydia Okello. OMFG GUESS WHAT?! She's not white. *GASP* And she's not tooth-pick thin. I know! SHOCKING! She's one of those (dare I use the word) diverse bloggers out there, who doesn't perpetuate the homogenous shit that is the fashion industry. And she happens to look DAMN fine doing it.
Featured in Glamour, BUST, Nylon, and MTV Style Blog to name a few, Okello's blog Style is Style has turned some major heads in the fashion industry. She also received a call from Pharrell the other day (casual) to do a project together, and while nothing resulted from it, I think it's fair to say ANYONE whose style has been recognized by Pharrell is destined for great things.
Drop Your Skirt sat down with Okello to mauw some sandwiches at Finch's Tea and Coffee and snap some photos.
As a full on glamour addict, Okello is immersed in the fashion world while actively changing it with her presence, voice, and space she creates.
"As far as high fashion, editorials and runway, in the major houses of major magazines it's become just white, underage, eastern European girls who are 14 and are really thin. That has pushed a huge counter-culture of people really wanting to show that fashion isn't this one-dimensional thing. The Internet and bloggers have changed that. I think that people are a lot smarter then the industry gives them credit for. People are not willing to take it anymore so people are creating their own shit and there own space. I have a voice, I have something to contribute, MY opinion is worthwhile. While it might not fit into what you find to be palatable it's still going to exist and you can't stop me from existing."
When you're swept up the world of fashion it's hard to have self-respect for your body, especially when you don't fit the status quo. As much as the world around you is influencing body hate, you're the person that body positive imagery has to start with.
"Working at Front and Company [a Vancouver-based consignment boutique] and being surrounded by a bunch of people who are really stylish but have a plethora of different bodies, heights, and races has helped me realize if I'm okay with myself no one's going to question that. For a while I didn't really realize that was the problem. I thought it was more external, others hating, but If I'm hate myself that doesn't help at all. I have to figure out my own shit and everyone else can deal with it. "
The dichotomy of fashion between art and indulgent waste contributes to over-production and labour violations. But there's ways to indulge in the art of fashion and not contribute to society's capitalist divide. Okello finds her solution in thrifting.
"I've been thrifting for a very long time because I wasn't very rich growing up. At first it was just necessity, then in my teens years it was more expression and availability. Obviously now it's completely different. It comes from a place of wanting to be unique and not contribute to fast fashion. Although it's impossible to completely avoid it but even just observing and replicating it with something you find at a thrift store is a good way to "keep up" but not settle. Especially if you don't have a lot of money or a body that isn't what’s considered acceptable in the mainstream, thrifting is a lot easier to find things that work for you. You can buy things that are too big and tailor them. Or figure out what works on your body without spending a lot of money. It's cheap and it's fun and otherwise all those clothes just go into the garbage."
With people like Terry Richardson, and Karl Largerfeld ruling the fashion industry it's hard to "make it" as anything less than their homogenous (Read: white, thin, tall) ideal. But I vote a call to arms; FUCK THAT! Borderline and blatant racism, sexism and sizeism exist, and people are defending it like it's NBD.
"I think that racism and fashion is complicated issue because it's not as blatant as it used to be. People will defend it from a very intellectual standpoint. For example several Dolce & Gabbana collections are really racist, but they say it's not because they're inspired by something from the 17th century. Where it came from doesn't change the fact that it's racist just because you weren't doing it on purpose. When you have a voice that's that large you have to be conscious of that."
Of course, the worst type of racism is the one you can buy. But hey, why not take something like systemic racism and colonialism and make it like soooo fashion forward: WHAT an inspiration!
"There's also weird hipster racism on a sub-level that's happening. I saw these socks at a store that had all these tribal prints on them. I was looking at the packaging and one was called 'sun-child,' one was called 'nova-ho,' but wait it gets better. The last style where I just actually lost my shit was called 'reservation.' That's not uncommon at all and to me that's really problematic. It might not be blatantly saying I hate black people or I hate native people but having a product that takes something really horrible that happened to a group of people and sell it as a TREND: that makes no sense at all."
So there you have it kids; Racism is apparently ohhhhh so marketable, but participating in these trends WILL NOT make you cool (just racist...and desperately tragic.) So take a page of Okello's book and FUCK homogenous fashion. Let's make the counter-culture—the only culture worth listening to.
Check out the full page spread here.