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Big ideas start from small ones. Personally I feel that to take a step forward in fashion we need to take a few steps back, we have to go back to the basics. My aim, for consumers is to avoid as much as possible the full on push for cheap imported and mass made marketed wear. Its about time, that bespoke wear is offered to customers with a reasonable end price range. There was a time, when such a service was available, why can it not be possible again? Take a look at what I have been able to offer local and international customers, and maybe bespoke wear and alternative purchases can make a difference for you and for general consumerist fashion. WWW.USTRENDY.COM/SAKINA http://www.facebook.com/pages/SAKINA-ALI/139762882706111

Friday, 20 May 2011

Phantom Fashion....

Fashion seemed to be for a while the only thing that had managed to remain in its industry as a tangible product, well... of course that is a given. We remain to require clothing after all, therefore it has to be a physical product. But items that used to be a part of popular culture, film, books, music, magazines and games are now becoming less tangible and more phantom, the phrase 'ghosts in our machines' is almost 
fitting today. 

These are items that are no longer held, touched or chosen from a shelf amongst an array of a well kept collection. Though the need for less packaging, paper and something that can become scratched, broken and ripped, is no longer a worry as well as the positive environmental impact of digital media. But there is a sense of loss of what it once meant to buy a CD, my older siblings who were seventies and eighties teens, would often buy a album for the cover alone.

However I am not just talking about fashion being a tangible item, in the sense of the product we buy, but the design aspect of it has started to become lost in the digital age of short cuts. 

With an influx in online gaming, sites like star doll, fashionclub.com, and then there are sites that claim to offer a product used by design schools, offering a cad software, young teens and budding designers can now design a dress online from a limited set of styles, cuts and colours. But for me fashion is about pushing boundaries, David Bowies 1974 Album cover as a half human half dog or the tongue in cheek usage of Imagery on Pink Floyds 2006 Album cover releases for a Jigsaw Puzzle. But this was lost amongst consumers, by then the digital revolution had taken place. Pre 2000, this cover may have raised a few eye-brows

The connection to fashion? Well we should not be confined by rules in fashion and art, and that is what other forms of media used to represent, freedom of thought. 

There is a structure to designing, but also don't limit yourself, fashion design is about textures, and even sounds and smells. Use all senses to evoke the right imagery. As Chanel once said:  “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, and what is happening.”

Experimentation is KEY, Karl Lagerfeld exemplifies this while keeping his design work structured. 

Friday, 26 November 2010

Fashion's Dirty Secret

I wrote a few weeks ago, on the concept of purchasing intelligently, I thought initially, that I had researched on which big high street brands have been working to produce ethically, and that workers from developing countries are working under poor conditions because of the companies directly.

However, its not just overseas we have to worry about, the dirty side of fashion is much closer to home, in fact its on our own doorstep. Channel 4 Dispatches, show the conditions of UK factories, where it is recorded items for New Look are produced. The documentary exposed the violations of the workers, unsafe conditions, bullying and the long hours.

At the beginning of the clip its almost impossible to imagine that what we are looking at, is a factory based in Britain. 


But should we blame the companies? The issue that really should be raised, and which high street retailers need to address, is the demand for fast, cheap fashion has only increased the drive to turn around orders within short and almost impossible time scales. This means, that where there are factories set up by western companies, who invest in cleaner working conditions for overseas labourers, the factory suppliers decide to sub-contract. In which the most likeliest cases are orders are passed on to less scrupulous companies, whose production process may not be made aware of by the actual company which the high street labels stand for. Some of this work is even outsourced to small villages, where small children are used to sew the finer detail on the clothing.
Who is really paying?

So who is at fault? The clothing companies? They certainly have a responsibility. But us as the consumers we are to blame too, if not almost marginally, the demand for cheap fashion is because we want it, if we shopped alternatively would factories in areas of Delhi become pressured to outsource. What we as consumers need to question, who is really paying for the seemingly bargain priced dress.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Fashionable Intelligence

We are now aware of how today's consumerism has led to fashion being cheaper, requiring a faster turn-around for companies to get customers to buy, what are the latest arrivals in there stores, and that we have no idea at times, how and which stores, large companies and labels are getting these items made and distributed.

There is an unease, when you buy an item, do you ever feel that guilt? I wonder why this item is so cheap? Were these made by children? Is it OK to buy into a system, where a child should be at school and not earning a pittance if they are lucky of 50p per week?
 The ethical issues of how a garment is made, does not even cover the other issues of the environmental costs and the effect of what it is doing to our planet by consistently buying into the "out with the old, and in with the new" idea.

Fashion is great, don't get me wrong, I love it! I think its a great way to express who you are, how we all become definite individuals and the chance that designers get to show off there skills in imagination, artistry and the job's that it can create.

However the industry has been side-lined by an ugly truth, that for the majority of us, we can usually only afford items that are placed on the high street, amongst stores such as Gap, Debenhams, Primark, Miss Selfridge's etc.. We do not maybe have the luxury to avoid the human cost, we accept that to purchase something bespoke made, by a group of well paid seamstresses, who are not over the other end of the globe, who have a competitive wage packet, with workers rights and a union if they pleased, is impossible.

In fact, that jumper you maybe wearing that cost a sheer £9 at full price, the likely scenario is, that 'it' has been made by the hands of a child, or a woman struggling to feed her family. Am I regurgitating another cliché endeavour? or is it self-righteous for me to say so? Maybe. However, regardless of my intentions, the nagging doubt is there, that's the cold truth, we buy into a heartless regime of consumerism, not thinking twice about who or what suffer's. And although at the best of times, it can not be proven where 'that' purchase may have come from, the tiny bit of doubt should be enough to affect any decent individual to think twice.

So.... what next? How do we buy intelligently? Is it expensive?...
           There are an increasing number of organisation's, that are working within the fashion industry, whether they are individual designers or larger companies that desire to meet new standards of sustainability and fairer practices. Such well known labels are the likes of New Look, Top-Shop and now even H&M, and with smaller brands like People Tree as well as my own.

(To find out more about Ethical Fashion Standards) see the following link:

As a provider of Bespoke, I began my small business to offer the chance for consumers to buy, at competitive high street standard rates. As well as the opportunity to have good quality fashion, and to have that peace of mind, without worrying about where it might have came from, but rather knowing where it has come from. Guardian Article

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Getting the Hang of it

Being a designer was supposed to be a pipe dream, I resigned myself to it,  I didn't think I had the ability to become one. In fact, I still don't think I really am one quite yet, but what I do know, is I like to make clothes, I like creating and I enjoy it. And really wish I had more time to devote to it.

I don't want to be cliche and talk about how it all began from my childhood, but it sort of did. Embarrassingly I was one of those kids, who kinda shot upwards as well as significantly outwards, something I must ashamedly admit to.  Anyway clothes were hard to fit, as well as other issues, of making them look nice, without looking like I was walking around in a sack or a tent. Either cuts are not particularly flattering, let me tell you!

Anyway, long story short, I wanted to make clothes that would look good on me, I found Empire line cut dresses are great, etc etc. And so set out to make stuff for myself. On top of all this, my mother was a great seamstress, a bad teacher, often got shouted at for getting a stitch wrong. But I persevered to learn how to cut well, how to join seams together and make a well made garment, hand stitch complex embroidery and sequins. My sister on the other hand, a little sick of my mums clearly unsympathetic and impatient teaching gave up learning from her. I carried on. 

I made lots of mistakes when trying to learn on my own, my mother taught me the basics, helping me get a steady sewing hand with the sewing machine. But I wanted to go further, unfortunately, my GCSE's and A'levels got in the way. On top of that, coming from a Pakistani parents, who emigrated to Britain with only one desire, to raise a brood of lawyers and doctors, possibly a teacher, and the icing on the cake would have been a brain-surgeon.

the very hint of any one of these children spelling the words fashion designer was a BIG no no! I did try to approach the subject, muttered it very fast when the issue of what to do after GCSE'S came up, my mother smiled as you would at a mentally ill patient, while my fathers sudden selective hearing became evident. And my older siblings, a little sympathetic but also deservedly so mocking. Maybe I would have been the same, if he other came up with a hair brained idea. No, in fact I would have been the same, I think the banter I got, was mild in comparison to what I could have dished out. 

So fast forwarding some more, I completed a joint honors degree in English/History with the intent of becoming a journalist or if not a teacher, neither quite panned out, as expected. It has to be noted, the teaching option......the kids from the film 'Village of the Damned' began to looked like a better option to face. I decided to take on work as a office worker and still am working as one. During which personal issues arose and briefly my career towards writing was put on hold, it became obvious that, the only enjoyment that I had for the few years since graduation was sewing and making something. I bought books, that taught me how to measure and tailor, how to perfect and create couture standard clothing, I entered a fashion show, in which I came third out of 8 competitors. (A massive confidence boost). The best thing that one of the judges was a top three finalist from the 'Project Catwalk' TV series. 

So what am I doing now? Well recession has hit bad, and finding work has been a killer, I have somehow ended up with one foot in trying to maintain temporary cover as an office worker, mundane, maybe but it pays the bills, and the other in making and sewing clothes and products to sell online. Not being able to commit to either job, I cant sew as many orders, because of the lack of time due to my day job. So. what next then? Without attempting to sound immodest, but I am good at being creative, clearly the design side is something I can be a success at. So here is my journey, I would like to achieve designing and creating as my main career path. But how to go about it and make it a reality, without leaving myself penniless is a thought that clouds a firm decision in taking that as a career option!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

From Haughtiness to Haute

Fashion has been labelled with pretension and an industry held completely on nothing but image. However other than being a viable and respected economy, churning billions every year for various labels, high street stores and large fashion houses. It is not just an economic success. It can be matter of distinguishing your social status? or is it a matter of expression and defining who you are through it? For the general world it is. It is also a unfair industry, that cannot be denied. However this article is not about the debate of its social and economic effect. 

For me the attraction of the fashion world was a because of the artistry that can be involved in Haute garment making.

I am not talking about standard clothing here, such as a pair of jeans or a t-shirt. There is an artistic element in how some high standards of clothing are made.  How can a fabric that droops be made to have almost a structural aspect as that of a architectural building. How do some designers manage to create items that not only are breathtakingly beautiful, but there is a clear accountability of skill and artistry involved. It almost blows my mind how some designers have created Haute couture gowns, embellished heavily with sequins and silk embroidery, with meter's of fabric and layers of skirts, but all which are handmade. 

Some high end designers refusing to even allow a sewing machine in the vicinity of the garment being made, this includes placing boning and corsetry as part of dresses. A team of artisans and seamstress's work laboriously in creating a Haute couture collection.  Skills that seem almost forgotten, and some of which remain entirely secret with the top fashion houses even today, however, although a fashion has a face of pretension, behind the garments, there are labourers who take pride in there perfected tailoring techniques, where items are meticulously hand stitched and painstakingly measured and cut. This level of perfection is not something to mock, but an aspect in which I cannot help but be in awe of. I watched my mother take pride in the embroidery and sewing skills she had developed from her own mother, and as a seamstress myself, who has worked in the trade casually since my early twenties, cannot help but marvel and be consistently baffled at Haute couture designs. While I take pride in making a basic collar, or lining a dress, the couturist seamstresses  create structural gowns that I cannot even fathom as to how the item was put together. Take a look for yourself.

This is a Japanese inspired collection, the Dior house create an Origami  jacket

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Bespoke Bargains

Here are a few items I made from the beginning of last year to now, these were all made for local customers, and are one off pieces who wanted made to measure items. All dresses were made to the customers exact measurements, they are all one off pieces, and some were made for under £50. Can't get that in store bought off the rail! Although these were preliminary designs, and I was still getting the hang of starting to sew again. But, you have to start somewhere. 

There were a lot more, but not everything was photographed, however below are a few more random pieces I was asked to make, these had to be photographed on the dress dummy as not all my customers were confidant models.