Thursday, 23 July 2015

Re-Think - Nickin' from Harvey Nicks

Within the brotherhood of London department stores, Harvey Nichols plays the role of the rebellious sibling very well. Sat aptly in the heart of Belgravia, the stores windows, buying choices and advertising campaigns tend to demonstrate a stark contrast to the conventionally inoffensive shopping experiences of its neighbors.

Thus, there is no surprise that the new campaign to support the emporiums  ‘Harvey Nichols Rewards App’ follows this aesthetic for provocativeness. As far as a campaign goes, the advert is a work of genius. It is stands out from the nonchalant promotional campaigns of its peers, it demands attention and more importantly, is an entertaining watch.

The advert demonstrates a series of CCTV images of shoplifters stealing goods from the store. Their faces are replaced with comic book archetypes of the burglar, clad in black eye masks and the classic woolen hat or balaclava. The characters show whimsical shiftiness in all of their ‘Beano’ comic glory.  They are charmingly dippy, and as usual, the hero’s of the story (in this case Harvey Nichols security staff) are given the last laugh as the cartoons are inevitably chased down in true Benny Hill fashion.

As well as black eye masks, the campaign exemplifies some further stereotypes of people that we might expect to be ‘thiefs’ or criminals in the UK. We have the sports thugs. He dons trainers, a hoodie, his sleeve-stripe jacket and of course the quintessential baseball cap. She wears a furry fitted puffa jacket, bright blonde hair and large hoop earrings. Next up, the diamond geezer. His hair is oiled and coiffed. He is quick with his hands, and will even give you a cheeky wave and a wink while he pockets your wedding ring. You know, that old chestnut.

Now. Let’s consider for a minute the realities of shoplifting. Loss prevention staff are trained that every customer that enters the store is by chance a shoplifter. They are taught that the majority of shoplifting happens purely from opportunity. If something looks easy to steal without getting caught, then why not, right? They are also expected to exclude any judgments in regards to race, class, sex, or how someone is dressed when dealing with shoplifters. If they did pass judgment on these factors, rich stay-at-home mothers with babies would be disregarded completely. This of course, would be irresponsible, considering the babies buggy is a known shop lifting technique and scapegoat, as well as the fact that kleptomania is not exclusive to those who cannot afford the goods that are being shoplifted.

So keeping that in mind, why are the cartoons in the advert modeled on fashions we typically relate to the poor working-class?

The use of Wiley’s song ‘What U Call It’ only supports this notion. UK Grime music is a genre of music born and bred by Britain’s lower classes. Fortunately, it is recognized as an original genre of music that is exclusive to their identity. Unfortunately, it is commonly used in the media to dance along to the beat of criminality, violence and wrongdoing. This is no fresh way to represent Britain’s poorest as ‘urban’ degenerates.

Arguably, the song was used to draw in new audiences to Harvey Nichol’s premium sportswear department. Sportswear plays a heavy role in the fashion of grime music, and this reputation has followed and manifested itself ever-since the dawn of the genre. Premium sportswear consumers to listen to grime, and Wiley’s ‘What U Call It’ is a classic after all. But is this just wishful thinking? Is the advert nothing short of an expose of department stores elitist attitude towards it’s desired customer base?

Upon watching the advert all that sprung to mind was the Mitchell Brothers music video for ‘Harvey Nics’. With that in mind, who is the joke really on here?

Friday, 10 July 2015

Re-Think - Cock, Balls, Blasphemy.

2015 marked another year of leaps and bounds for the acceptance of the world LGBTQI community. From the legalization of homosexuality in Mozambique to Caitlyn Jenner gracing the cover of Vanity Fair, the past year has seen the rights and positions of LGBTQI people go from strength to strength. Pride exists as an annual celebration of this progress as well as a reminder of how far we have to come. It also does its part in representing commendable ideals that are not exclusive to LGBTQI people. It makes an example of our struggles and lived experiences to celebrate world unity, freedom and love.

Unfortunately, the violent policing of Istanbul’s Pride celebration by use of rubber bullets and water cannon are a perfect example of yet another hurdle the LGBTQI world community faces in their journey to true liberation. Images of a parade dancing on as armed forces ponder on the sideline weapons at the ready were a somewhat disheartening reminder that the freedoms of LGBTQI people are constantly up for debate by those in control. We are still a community repressed. It is hard to believe only now, in 2015, have same-sex relationships been given the right to marry in all 50 states of America. Similarly it is hard to believe that the LGBTQI individuals of Israel are being denied anti-discrimination protection by their government. It’s even harder to believe that should I have not been born in London, I could have sentenced to death, or worse, spent my life tortured in my prison cell for acting upon the freedoms I comfortably practice within the UK.

It would be nothing short of irresponsible for Pride not to address these issues. I am thankful for Pride for recognizing the injustices faced by the LGBTQI community and building global solidarity from those experiences. Building a network of support, even if only once a year, is important for a community that is consistently pointed at by the rest of the world. However, how some are choosing to address these issues reveals in a greater sense the downfalls of what has become an accepted state of mind within the LGBTQI world community. After an ISIS flag re-imagined with dildos sparked a sensationalist fuck-up by CNN and began trending worldwide, I began to think about how LGBTQI Pride sends messages to its ‘haters’.

The flag, created by Paul Coombs, held itself with great power. It was a bold statement and its timing was bound to attract attention. Just days before, the Tunisia massacre carried out by the terrorist group that the flag made a mockery of sent the UK into a high security risk. Just days after the celebration, London mourned 10 years since the 7/7 attack on London’s tubes. The flags message, in my own opinion, was justified in all accounts. In Coombs own words, the flag “demonstrate as much respect for ISIS and their ideology as ISIS shows for the people and religion it claims to represent." The flag was a clear fingers up to a group that use terror not only to systemically imprint fear into British people, but also personally target the LGBTQI communities of the lands they try to conquer. The flag was also pretty funny. There is no denying that the way in which Coombs chose to send this message, was nothing short of sensationalist.

This sensationalism has followed Pride for as long as I remember. We tends to use and accept comedy as a tactic to light-heartedly bash those who want to render us inferior.  In the case of Coombs ISIS butt plug flag, we can probably affirm that this approach to protest is quite effective. With the help of CNN, this flag was lucky enough to share its message worldwide. Terror, in all accounts, is not welcome at Pride and this flag sent that message. But in the case of costumes or placards which demonstrate passive-aggressive mockeries of religious and moral belief systems, are we simply making people that follow these beliefs unwelcome?

LGBTQI people are not exempt from being religious themselves. Sure, the LGBTQI community gets a lot of shit from some religious folk. Likewise, religious folk also get a lot of shit from the LGBTQI media. But believe it or not, there are plenty of practicing Muslims who do not condone the stoning of lesbians and there are plenty of Christians who will happily marry same-sex couples. Protest that ridicules religious iconography are pretty normal sight during a Pride march. Cheeky crossed dressed nuns with slapped asses and fishnets or glitter soaked catholic priests adorned in swastikas are common examples. It almost feels like an attempt to have the last word in some ways, ‘keep your comments coming because we’ll only provoke you further’.

I wouldn’t dream of policing how people attempt to protest. On some accounts these people have a fair point, particularly where the Pope is concerned. So I sit back and enjoy the piss-taking for what it is. I can’t help but wonder though what the underlying bitterness of this culture is reflecting back at us. I also wonder if these direct attacks are putting a bad taste in the mouths of groups of people who could have potentially learnt to accept us. It reminds me of the bad taste put in my mouth from those kinds of lads who turn up to their stag-do at the pub sporting a tutu and limp wrist as his best ‘poof’ impersonation. There are strength in numbers and I’m not concerned with making anyone feel uninvited.

I want people to LGBTQI people express themselves, their angers and their felt injustices in any way they see fit. We cannot afford to repress each other further when we are already a community greatly repressed. My question is simple. Is cock and balls blasphemy really doing more harm than good?

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Farah High Summer S/S 15 collection

With the summer sun finally rearing it's head, it's the perfect time to show some skin and flash that flesh.  For the first time ever Farah releases a high summer collection great for updating and refreshing your wardrobe.

Farah always excels at creating interesting pieces, modern classics with a twist, proving once again it's all in the detail. The drop includes beauties such as, Short sleeved shirts & tailored shorts adorned with hand drawn sunflowers, Polo's & button down collar shirts in pale and pastel hues and a personal favorite with the abstract navy dotted t-shirt.

Highly wearable & affordable that will transition wonderfully season to season.

Available now

Friday, 1 May 2015

Re-bel Magazine Issue 8 (coming soon)

Editorial Director:
Jaiden James 

Fashion Director:
Rasharn Agyemang

 Art Direction:
Friederike Hamann

 Photography: Matt Irwin

 Models: (Blue Cover) Danny Blake at D1 &

(Green Cover) Jordan Matheson at Elite