Unmasking The Bullshit of Empowerment in Consumerism – Part 3

April 3, 2017

by Gracia Ventus


In her short non-fiction book ‘A Room of One’s Own’, Virginia Woolf lamented that women had always been poor. And being poor was not a conducive condition to be creative. Hence they never had the opportunity to create meaningful literary work. When one does not sup well, one does not do well. When one does not sleep well, one does not think well. And that was the reality for most women until recent history.

Many of us in the 21st century no longer had to endure the appalling living conditions experienced by Victorian working class. We are given opportunities we take for granted such as basic education, legal protection, human rights and liberty (or at least the illusion of it), as well as access to life’s necessities.

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.


To Consume is Human

We need food, clothes, education, skills and technology – software and hardware - in order to partake in the capitalist system of the 21st century, with the hopes that we can earn a proper living that will at the very least put us in a comfortable place to pursue the elusive goal of self-actualisation. Some might even argue that owning a mobile phone and access to the Internet is now more important than having a roof over one’s head.

Aside from meeting the basic needs of existence, there are other facets of consumption that are potentially enriching and empowering. In light of the horrendous plight that Victorian women had to endure, these facets of consumption have been significant in giving women opportunities to improve their lives, such as education, technology and access to the vast wealth of knowledge available on the internet, affordable healthcare, exercising legal rights to pursue freedom from physical and emotional harm (ie, divorce), and exercising one’s rights to choose when to be married and utilising contraceptives. I would even argue that being able to go to the gym is empowering for women, now that sharing the same space with men is no longer frowned upon. For many women, the act of attaining education and access to information has emancipated them from a restrictive life that was previously highly dependent on men. To paraphrase Bill Nye, in order to change the world, we need to educate women worldwide. Most women no longer feel the need to define themselves solely as walking human ovens; we are free to seek employment that feels meaningful to our individual selves – though still within some implicit social and economic boundaries – or create one without the need to seek permission from our male counterparts.


The Birth of Consumerist Culture

One can safely conclude that the act of consumption is neither inherently good nor bad. Yet today it has received a bad reputation, because consumption has evolved into a culture of consumerism – defined by sociologist Colin Campbell as a social condition in which consumption becomes the purpose of people’s existence. Consumerism is a modern phenomenon that occurred just a few centuries ago. When wages started to rise for the working class of Europe in the industrial era, people began to purchase small luxuries, like extra pairs of underwear or a mirror – what we consider everyday necessities now – then it snowballed into rugs, carved furniture, wigs – things that only the upper class could afford just a hundred years prior. The more they spent, the more businesses grew, the higher the employment rate, expanding Europe’s monetary prosperity exponentially. And thus began the consumer revolution – running the capitalist world as we know it. Today, we have things like brunch, botox, and bricks from Supreme.

While consuming is not inherently detrimental to our well-being – having things can expand our welfare after all – it has become the primary moral compass of our lives that is sinking ever deeper to the lowest common denominator in order to garner the highest amount of external validation. We seek happiness and fulfillment through the very act of consuming; it becomes the basis of our identity and sense of self, often a therapy to life’s ills and a means of overcompensation for self-inadequacy. If we seek to compensate for life’s woes by consuming inspirational objects of the higher order that prize intelligence, rewarding social life and meaningful labour more frequently than inane, dull things (which can be necessary but should be limited really), then I say, what’s wrong with consumerism? However, these are the useless nonsense which is glorified today.

Polish sociologist Zygmant Bauman put forth the argument that consumerism now shapes the entire social system in which we exist through our consumptions habits. These habits define the way we view ourselves, how we affiliate with others, and how we are valued as a person, by others and ourselves. A recent BBC podcast highlighted that older women are going under the knife and opting for botox in order to look good on social media. We are so transparent that Facebook algorithms can guess our age range, educational background, political affiliations, and possibly how dissatisfied we are at work. In other words, we define our sense of identity through the things we consume.

With the permanent existence of social media, the culture of consumerism has squarely implanted itself in our lives. Like it or not we are now subconsciously consuming beyond utilitarian and/or aesthetics purposes. In most instances, the brands we pick to the lifestyle we have chosen are the façade we want to project on instagram in order to cover up our deep insecurities and anxieties. It’s a self-serving decision to separate ourselves from the haves and have-nots, and to identify with the social tribes we want to belong to.

Can Feminism Align Itself with Consumerist Culture?

Consider the complexity of these scenarios. At any given time, somewhere in Shanghai, tens of thousands of Chinese factory workers who migrated from poor villages hunch over their work stations for over twelve hours a day in order to make iPhones, many of them used by lawyers who fight for the rights of women and children. Every summer, the children of Uzbekistan are forced to pick cotton during school holidays by their government who is supposed to protect and foster their wellbeing. It’s more than likely that this cotton, picked under slave labour conditions, would make its way to one of Lululemon’s numerous sub-contracted manufacturer (Lululemon does not practice vertical integration) that produces gym clothes for many women who would wear them to a de-stressing yoga class or a liberating pole-dancing session.

The act of consumption becomes problematic when it involves the exchange of money. In the 21st century capitalist society, some people inevitably have more money than others; this money is earned through the exploitation of a large group of people somewhere really, really, really far down the food chain. What began as a liberating economic system for the masses during the industrial revolution quickly became a self-perpetuating formula for wealth inequality.

And then there’s femvertising - a growing trend in which marketers, usually large corporations, bid for women’s money and attention by creating advertising messages specifically portraying the emancipation of women from social restrictions. These ads target women who are upwardly mobile, affluent and highly educated. Empowerment became something for women to buy. Many of these companies simply pay lip service through their taglines and positive visuals, but their products still perpetuate gender norms and beauty stereotypes. They also gloss over the reality that their products are not necessarily ethically-made, and often contributes to environmental degradation. Aside from correlating empowerment to a person’s buying power, underlying these femvertisements is the message that women – now with disposable wealth and emancipated from explicit patriarchy – has every right to take advantage of their individualistic freedom to varying degrees of selfishness, i.e. it’s my life I can consume whatever I want. Think of Kim Kardashian and her faux-empowering justification of her nude selfie. ““I am empowered by my body,” she wrote. “I am empowered by my sexuality.” Yes let’s continue glorifying women for their bodies, Kim, and not for our brains or our abilities in shattering the glass ceiling. With one photo and one sentence, empowerment has been trivialised - robbed from women who made extreme sacrifices by selling their bodies to feed their family - in order to to pad up a useless instagram account.

The culture of consumerism paints a bleak picture of the path humanity has taken; from self-absorbed social media usage to a rampant consumption of material goods. It is thus very tempting to say that the culture of consumerism and feminism are mutually exclusive because the former fosters inequality and individualistic selfishness devoid of empathy for the common good. And yet because of consumerism, the very same overworked factory proletarians are now able to send money back to their families back in their hometown so they no longer starve. They can afford to send their children to universities with the hopes that they can have a better future. In the last thirty years, an estimated 500-600 million Chinese have hoisted themselves out of poverty through the act of state-controlled capitalism and consumption, an unprecedented scale that no other country has ever carried out within a single generation. There are still many poor people in the country, but they are less poor than the previous generation.

While there is no black and white answer to the question, it is evident that the consumption of technology and education has been empowering for women young and old, every person rich and poor. Poverty will not be eradicated any time soon, but access to technology has given the impoverished opportunities to lift themselves out of dire situations. Mobile phones, now as cheap as they come (thanks to overworked Chinese), provided their fellow countrymen with access to Internet to find jobs, seek out friends, access (censored) information, and buy goods that will make them marginally happier. When they move up the social ladder, someone even poorer will take up the vacuum they have left behind. It is simply the reality of our capitalist society today. It’s not the healthiest of situations, but the globalised world has not been able to offer a better solution because we have sunk so far down in this toxicity that it’s far too difficult to imagine a different scenario.


A Compromise

Let’s face it, we are constantly bombarded with advertising messages that promise empowerment – most of them superficial. But it’s also foolish to dismiss them outright just because it’s de rigueur to be outraged at everything. The most empowering form of consumption is the kind that brings about opportunities to individuals and communities. Women of the 21st century have plenty to be grateful for, thanks to the feminists of the Victorian era who fought for our right to education and voting, even if our work is far from over. We also need to recognise that what is empowering on the surface to a certain group of individuals is not necessarily beneficial to large swaths of communities in the long run.

Consumption doesn’t necessarily have to be carried out on the back of frivolous, unhealthy products. We can vote with our wallet but we also need to be mindful that no matter how ethical we try to be, the economic system we are in will not eradicate the division of wealth. We are invariably standing on someone else’s shoulders so we can have our necessities and luxuries in life. Keeping that in mind, we should pass on the compassion to others with the hopes that the downtrodden would eventually lift themselves out of poverty, a dollar at a time. We can also support industries that generate profits from helping consumers and producers fulfill deeper needs of our lives – think pursuit of knowledge, science and technology, artistic endeavours, meaningful designs, empathetic social connections and awareness of our flaws while fostering relationships with others. While I do think that there is no such thing as truly ethical consumption under capitalism, until we can actually find a practical and sustainable economic system of production and consumption, the least we can do is to develop a new culture of consumerism.

Wearing vintage French army coat and trousers; Alexander Wang x H&M top; Ann Demeulemeester trousers and boots. Special thanks to Israel Sundseth for this series of photographs taken in Tokyo

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Introducing ROSEN’s First Prototypes

March 18, 2017

by Gracia Ventus


I like big shirts and I cannot lie. So I had a few shirts made with minor variations to my own specifications, namely a unisex fit, A-line flare with exaggerated high collar and extra long sleeves that end with reinforced cuffs. The back is longer than the front, and it has side splits so that I can easily grab things out of my trousers pockets, but mostly so that I can put my hands in them for extra style points when I walk.

I tested one of the shirt prototypes in the bamboo forest of Hangzhou's West Lake district. Shown here is the longer version made of thinner smooth cotton fabric. Having concluded that this might be too thin for cooler weathers, I had another one made in medium weight cotton twill with visible weaves - cool enough for summers on its own, warm yet loose enough for thermal layering in winters. Now that was a winner for me. It was the perfect understated shirt that would complement various oversized and often complicated outerwear from our favourite Japanese designers. Or on its own with wide trousers.



Walking through the bamboo forest in Hangzhou's West Lake district

And then there's this coat - another ROSEN prototype - modelled after a simple workwear/painter coat made of heavy cotton twill. Rather like the shirt, this too has a stand collar and large reinforced cuffs with slightly flared silhouette. And most importantly - deep functional pockets. I am usually hesitant in wearing white but I had this one made in such a fragile colour nonetheless as a practical coat that I will gravitate to almost everyday, made in a humble yet hardy material so that there isn't a need to mollycoddle it. I expect that random coffee stains and scratches would only enrich the coat. Both the shirt and the coat were made with utilitarian aims in mind as I am constantly on the move. Running around a city or flying becomes a lot less troublesome when clothing is loose and I can put my valuables in my pockets instead of a bag.


Should you be interested in purchasing any of these two pieces, please drop me an email at gracia@the-rosenrot.com. I will put you on a mailing list and when I have taken detailed photographs of the pieces that I can reproduce, including measurements and the nitty gritty, I will send out a newsletter informing you how to purchase it on ROSEN. It'll be on a first come first serve basis because the fabric roll is limited, perhaps 5-8 pieces in this first run. The price for the shirt is $129 and the coat is $189. You'll hear back from me 2-3 weeks from now.


West Lake on a foggy winter morning

Hangzhou West Lake

Quiet roads at night time provide the perfect setting for contemplative walks

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A Place of One’s Own – Finding Respite in Hangzhou’s West Lake

March 15, 2017

by Gracia Ventus


As the sun was setting, fog soon descended. Walking down the dimly-lit roads lined with tall trees and thick bamboos shrouded in heavy mists, one couldn't help but be transported into the setting of Sleepy Hollow à la Chinois. I could imagine the ghost of Kublai Khan and his horde of barbarians bursting through the bamboo forest, only to disappear across the waters into the thick, damp air. Ah, winter in Hangzhou's West Lake; cold but eerily peaceful, the perfect setting for contemplative long walks into the depths of night.

Issey Miyake Beetle Jacket in Hangzhou

Issey Miyake Beetle Jacket in Hangzhou

My first visit to Hangzhou took place three months ago. I had no clue what to expect, as I was just thinking of hitting another Chinese city within an hour or two by train from Shanghai when my best friend was visiting. Before this I had visited other touristy cities such as Suzhou, Nanjing and Guilin which are famous for its cultural and natural landscapes, but nothing prepared me for Hangzhou.

The city of Hangzhou is a sprawling metropolis boasting sky rise buildings that rival those of Shanghai's, though to tell you the truth I've never been to the city centre. Instead, I headed over to Hangzhou for the second time to enjoy the scenic West Lake region. For all its pursuit of modernity and growth which comes with many failings, the Chinese government has done a great job in preserving the UNESCO-appointed World Heritage Site; not only of the lake itself, but its surrounding parks, hills and dwellings. Walking through this preserved spaces felt rather otherworldly, not quite China, not quite 21st century either; imagine if medieval China, Korea and Japan had converged into a single union with the availability of modern conveniences. The tree-lined roadsides are occasionally punctuated by small pagodas and pavilions for resting. And unlike the other parts of the city, the number of cars that can pass through this zone is restricted by the number plates which makes a huge difference in maintaining the tranquility. I cannot stress this enough because Chinese drivers are quite liberal with their honks. When the hordes of buses and local tourists have retired for the evening (they tend to do so early, thank goodness!), the hidden parks provide a respite where it is possible to not meet another soul for a stretch of time, not a small feat in a metropolis. A wooden bench overlooking the waters turns into an ideal reading spot in the midst of a hushed atmosphere sweeping through the night.

Hangzhou West Lake

Walking on Su Causeway (苏堤) across the west side of the lake

Winter in the eastern seaboard of China is usually a damp affair. Although the sun does provide a photogenic backdrop for the landscape, it was the mists over the waters that enthralled me. Walking on the Su Causeway felt like watching a painting coming to life. For the first time I understood why Chinese scholars wrote the poems they had written many moons past. Their loneliness and longings, hopes and dreams were reflected in the view that I was seeing there and then, transcending history, a millennium after their deaths. The swaying leaves whispered their thoughts, the ripples their sadness.

Hangzhou West Lake

"上有天堂, 下有苏杭"

Shang you tian tang, xia you su hang. Loosely translated, it means paradise above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below. Marco Polo described Suzhou as the city of the earth, and Hangzhou as the city of heaven. One finds much difficulty in arguing against that statement. Having influenced garden designs across the country and in Korean and Japan, West Lake is a cultural landscape that displays the highest ideals of Chinese aesthetics espousing harmony between man and nature.

Issey Miyake Beetle Jacket in Hangzhou

Issey Miyake Beetle Jacket in Hangzhou
Wearing: Issey Miyake jacket (available here) Issey Miyake FETE trousers (available here); Guidi boots

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The (Im)Practicality of Craig Green

February 22, 2017

by Gracia Ventus

Craig Green FW2016
Wearing: Craig Green jacket; Comme des Garçons vest; Issey Miyake blouse; COS trousers

Winter in Shanghai can be dreadfully rainy and grey, much like London. The rain never falls heavily but it lasts throughout the day. Depending on one's mood it can be a time of serenity to enjoy hot coffee on the couch, or a day to drown in melancholy, both of which can be mildly comforting. Being so far away from the main cities of fashion makes me forget that fashion weeks are in full swing. I'm beginning to think that a twice yearly fashion affair is inducing a fashion fatigue that I have been experiencing for the last year or two. I do appreciate what designers have to offer, it's just taking me a much longer time to be excited, usually a little later into the season, no earlier than Paris. I don't know how designers are able to keep up with this mad pace, year in year out. If anyone has any tips to share on maintaining a healthy level of enthusiasm for fashion every season please let me know.

A note on Craig Green's jackets, and garments in general. They are utilitarian and impractically ornamental at the same time. While I love that the this parka is a good outerwear for transitional weather, the strings and ties get in the way of daily practicalities if you spend time running around, especially when one needs to cycle and/or carry a number of things in hand. It feels like the jacket might fall apart at any time, a classic case of function following form. Otherwise it's a fine piece of work, very cool, much like his other lace-up outerwear.

The third part of the 'Empowerment in Consumerism' essay is in progress. Be right back.

Craig Green FW2016

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Unmasking The Bullshit of Empowerment in Consumerism – Part 2

February 9, 2017

by Gracia Ventus

Balenciaga Aviator Shearling

Since the dawn of the Internet in the public sphere, people have always poked fun at angry feminists. They’re easy targets for public ridicule because a large base of the Internet users are men and women who did not have to face misogyny and sexism on a frequent basis, and are largely unaware of the extreme discriminations women had faced over the course of history. I haven’t thought of myself as a feminist for a long time, and personally had never properly understood the root of the feminist anger until I read in depth into the history of women’s rights.

This essay is a continuation of a three-part article looking into the validity of empowerment in consumerism. What started out as a noble idea to equip minorities and the oppressed with opportunities to help themselves became an oversold marketing buzzword, mainly targeted towards women. While it is easy to denounce all 'empowering' marketing exercise as a neoliberal pseudo-feminist by-product, at the heart of these empty messages is a history overwrought with gender discrimination and women's oppression. By looking in-depth into historical evidence, we can then make a more nuanced conclusion regarding various consumerist activities and avoid getting swept-up in self-righteous indignation that has become the go-to reaction in order to generate clicks. Read the first instalment here.

All throughout history, women weren’t allowed to do many things that men could. The extent of women’s rights waxed and waned, depending on historical periods and places, but they were almost always beneath their male peers. The Greek, Roman, and Byzantine men held the steadfast opinion that a woman’s place was at home. Women were not allowed to have a public voice or a public life. In some blips in history, women were allowed to inherit properties and own land. In extreme cases, women were not even allowed to exist, such as the preference for male heirs in China which led to the abortion of female foetuses until very recently. Even the wise Confucius himself thought that a woman's role in middle and upper class society was simply to be a human oven, as they were thought to have no capacity for education.

One doesn’t have to go as far back as the Roman times to find injustices inflicted upon women. The Victorian era (1837-1901) was the perfect example of sexism gone mad. I have decided to zoom in on this period for its vast trove of evidence, and its widespread practices that have permeated a large part of the world until today, thanks to British colonialism.

m 19th B20070 08

The Victorians loved to write about the rights and roles of every individual in society. For every man and every woman, from the rich to the poor, rest assured that every person had specific duties to fulfil. And they were very clear about what a Victorian woman was entitled to. She had every right to take care of the family, to be the caregiver in times of need, to be the comforter for all who was weary, and it was her right to ignore her own needs as a human being with desires and emotions that her male peers possessed and had the liberty to pursue.

Sexual desires wasn’t a thing that women harboured. They were supposed to be pure and chaste until they were married, after which they became objects that men had sex with. Bachelors were allowed to have sex with prostitutes; single women couldn’t even be in a room alone with a man. For married men, it was okay to have affairs, a social norm that wasn’t extended to their wives. During the dating period, you could only flirt with your fan, but none of those touching his shoulders or thigh business. It was blasphemous for women to crave for sexual interactions purely out of feelings and desires like men had the luxury of.

And speaking of sex, prostitution was the go-to profession for poor Victorian women. Due to their lack of education and prevailing gender discrimination, jobs were difficult to come by for women, let alone one that provided some semblance of a living wage. They could either be a housekeeper or a seamstress, but those were often insufficient to support their families. Many resorted to selling their bodies just to survive, falling prey to syphilis and the loss of social standing from their more privileged peers. Ironically, women were vilified for selling their bodies when they had to do it out of survival, while the act of buying sex by men were seen as a normal practice before and after marriage. Such notion continues until this very day, when the broader general public still maligns female prostitutes instead of addressing the underlying issues of human trafficking, poverty and the archaic idea of sexual puritanism.

"What would you do if your son was at home
Crying all alone
On the bedroom floor,
Cause he's hungry and the only way to feed him is to
Sleep with a man for a little bit of money?
And his daddy's gone in and out of lock down,
I ain't got a job now,
He's just smokin' rock now,
So for you this is just a good time
But for me this is what I call life

Girl, you ain't the only one to have a baby,
That's no excuse to be living all crazy
So she stared me right square in the eye
And said, "Everyday I wake up, hoping to die"
She said, "They're gonna know about pain
'Cause me and my sister ran away,
So our daddy couldn't rape us,
Before I was a teenager
I done been through more shit
You can't even relate to"
- What Would You Do?

Education for Victorian women consisted of knitting, embroidery and learning to play coy in order to attract suitors. No respectable women wanted to be seen doing intellectual pursuits. Tut tut. You’d be called a blue-stocking if you understand calculus, and no men would want you because you’re usurping their intellectual superiority. Yegads! Victorian masculinity was so strong it couldn’t even face competition from feminine, graceful women. Some doctors went so far as to claim that too much studying could damage the ovaries, turning beautiful women into dried up prunes. I knew I shouldn’t have gone to university!

"If we help an educated man's daughter to go to Cambridge are we not forcing her to think not about education but about war? Not how she can learn, but how she can fight in order that she might win the same advantages as her brothers?" - Virginia Woolf

Bound by societal pressures, young women grew up to be the ideal Victorian wives and snagged herself proper husbands. Whether or not they'd had their fill in brothels prior to marriage was none of the wives' business. Lads will always be lads eh. Sooner or later the marital bliss became less rosy. Husbands gave their wives syphilis from their various affairs (and let me reiterate, which was a-ok for men by Victorian standards), sucked away their wives' hard-earned income and abused them and their children. Physical abuse and marital rape were very much tolerated so long as noone died and the ruckus didn't bother the neighbours. If women wanted to get out of this mess, well tough luck for them. While men could get out of marriages on grounds of adultery, women didn’t have those rights unless there were other life-threatening reasons. Even if by some miracle they managed to obtain a divorce, they could forget about being accepted as a normal member of society. The stigma of being a divorced woman was so strong that its remnants still persist in modern times.

While the Romans allowed women to inherit properties and own land, all of these rights were rescinded by the dawn of the Victorian era. For women of the working class, they had no right to financial independence. Their husbands would automatically control the income they earned. They weren’t even allowed to open their own bank accounts. If their husbands were no good, deadbeat losers, they didn’t have the liberty of leaving the marriage because the women would be left penniless. For women of the upper classes, they were left utterly dependent on the husbands for finances as no respectable ladies were allowed to take up employment. Monetary generosity on the husband’s part was often a matter of showing off to fellow neighbours, because this money was to be used for the running of a Victorian household, from paying cooks, gardeners, butlers and coachmen, to paying for clothes that Victorian wives had to wear for various occasions and times of the day. It was ironic that Victorian men made fun of the frivolity of fashion and banished it to the realm of femininity when they needed their wives to take up the roles of status symbols to boost their own pride.

All of these societal norms, with minor variations throughout history, was based upon the pre-historic days when men and women indeed had different roles to fill in the hunter-gatherer tribes. But as civilisations started to form, this outdated notion persisted well past its sell-by date and seeped into religions and other prevailing human doctrines of the respective times, the major pillars that shaped societies throughout the world. Social theories about gender were based on biological determinism. Essentially, men were stronger in all aspects of human nature except for care-taking and everything to do with gentleness, which was considered a feminine trait, because they were born that way.

The theory of biological determinism proved problematic on many levels for both men and women, especially when it reached its peak in the Victorian era. Even though women faced various forms of oppression due to a misguided sense of reality stemming out of patriarchy, men fell victim to societal pressures because their peers judged them based on a strict set of rules that revolved around material success and social status, as well as fixation on masculine ideals of the day such as finding a chaste wife. Not being able to build and support a family financially was seen as a failure for men, yet they would feel emasculated if their wives were to find work. Biological determinism postulates that masculine and feminine traits are inborn, and not surprisingly, the qualities embodied by the male species are tied into the ability in being the provider in a tribe/group/family unit, namely strength and intelligence. Victorian books proclaimed that men were the fighter, protector, the doer and the thinker, while women are the caregiver and provider of gentle respite for the wounded bodies and souls. These ideals, though not inherently harmful nor completely inaccurate in reality, were stretched beyond measure, so much so that it dismissed the overlapping characteristics which men and women do share. It implied that women had little faculty for intellectual pursuits and physical prowess, while men are insensitive robotic clots that absolve them from being an emotionally mature partner and parental figure. Modern reality has shown that men are capable of being caring fathers and women have as much capabilities to be pilots as men, but even these ideas still have to be fiercely fought for by feminists and academics (both not mutually exclusive).

Although women in most regions are no longer barred from chasing after their dreams, modernity sweeps many of these existing biases under the rug, such as implicitly making it difficult for women to hold high-ranking positions, whether in the public or private sector. In many ways these invisible forces and biases make it harder for women to point out covert discriminations.

Balenciaga Aviator ShearlingJust about a hundred years ago I wouldn't even be allowed to wear trousers

Having explored the recent history of women's rights, I began to think twice about the validity of empowerment claims in consumerist activities, or rather not dismiss them outright. While I maintain that some remain preposterous, such as the Dior campaign I mentioned previously, there are others that we have now taken for granted. In the last segment of the article I will attempt to separate empty pitch-speak from genuinely empowering commercial pursuits. You can read part one here.

Balenciaga Aviator ShearlingWearing: Balenciaga shearling coat; Alexander Wang x H&M bra; Taobao shirt; Ann Demeulemeester trousers and boots (available here)

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Staying Warm in Rick Owens

January 23, 2017

by Gracia Ventus

Rick Owens Stag FW2008

Wearing: Rick Owens 'Stag' shearling; Ann Demeulemeester trousers and boots

I'm currently in the midst of solidifying my research into women's history for the next part of my essay. Can't be pulling out random facts out of nowhere, which is why writing is such a slow process for me. That and having to run around the city taking care of various other aspects of my life and work. Here's me on a day out lugging metres of fabric on a cold winter day in Shanghai. Pro tip: when one gets tired of wearing sneakers, Ann Demeulemeester's boots are good alternatives in terms of comfort. Several options are available on ROSEN.

Rick Owens Street Style

One must tousle one's hair for a complete editorial look.

Rick Owens Street Style

This is messy hair for real.

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