There is no question that right now fashion’s most crowded market place is Instagram. During the pandemic brands have to pivot from selling to connecting during these times. It has been a total reset, that has resulted some innovative and imaginative collaborations—Bottega Veneta’s launched a “theatre of joyous distraction” through their Bottega Residency—a microsite hosting chefs, filmmakers and live performers through their social media platforms, Levi’s hosted an Instagram Concert Series with several musicians including Jaden Smith. (You can could it a virtual take on Coachella, which did not take place this summer due to COVID-19).
This week, Italian luxury menswear label Ermenegildo Zegna looked to an Indian talent to be a part of its celebration of positive change as the brand brought together three young talents in different art related disciplines from around the globe—an animator from New York, Anthony Blue, British painter Kila Carr-Ince and Dubai-based Indian Insta poet Alisha Patel. While London’s Carr-Ince hand embroidered the words “adapt together, adjust together, apart together” with repurposed materials—an artwork that weaves together the need of community awareness as we socially distance on so many levels, Patel, a Mumbai girl who moved to Dubai five years ago and has worked in public relations penned two pieces of Insta poetry that highlights the need to break stereotypes around masculinity. As the first female Insta-poet to work with the luxury Italian menswear brand, she says, “This project emphasises that sense of community and ingenuity. We are in a period of cultural transformation; with every march and protest, people abroad are being forced to shine a light on values like equality and truthfulness. We're at a point when the message is loud and clear, "Recalibrate your moral compass, or else"." Her pieces were shared on Zegna’s Instagram account on Monday and then also on their other social media platforms.
30-something Patel started her account @wordsmithalisha about three years ago as a way to share her feelings on the “hard stuff”; as a student of psychology and journalism, this was a platform for her voice. This byte-size form of literary writing is increasingly being looked on as new-age way of making insightful and impactful social commentary. As soon as the pandemic broke, she took to Instagram document these unprecedented times—and some noted writers paid attention, including Elizabeth Gilbert who liked one that read “Share everything, your money, your home, and your kindness. Nothing belongs to you alone - perhaps this will remind you it never did.”.
By being proactive, her work now is part of one of the world’s most respected luxury brand’s campaigns. “I actually approached Zegna once the coronavirus struck Milan in a bad way. I'm a massive Italophile (and briefly studied in Bologna). I contacted them at the absolute perfect time—they were conceptualising a series with various international artistes, including an animator and illustrator. The aim was to inspire positivity in the community at large.” Her selection points to how digital has furthered the breaking down of borders within the fashion industry. Says the young mother and poet, “It makes perfect sense then, to have an Indian woman write for an Italian menswear brand right now—it's a simple display of unity. At the end of the day we're all human and our similarities far outweigh our differences.”
An example of how taking initiative can really pay off—she is now toying with the idea of larger culture-based projects in conjunction with government and semi-government institutions in the UAE. The country has changed greatly over the last few years and there are now incredible opportunities for those in the creative sector. “I'm currently talking to a couple of agencies about using poetry to communicate with consumers in a way that's subtle, powerful, effective and memorable. Outside of that, I'm also exploring unique projects in the entertainment, fashion, health, hospitality and retail industries.” Patel has made managed to use this pause to turn her passion into a purpose—as they say, every crisis can be turned into opportunity.Also read:
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