It has been a busy quarter for 2019, what with all the recent episodes of some people being hypersensitive, and a number of future-forward trends emerging.
Notwithstanding sentiments happening on the other side of the globe, I confess I rather liked Katy Perry’s shoes released last summer - the Ora Face Block Heel and Rue Face Slip-On Loafers. The brand statement said they were “a nod to modern art and surrealism.”
However, these were pulled off the shelves when certain quarters decried the design, comparing them to blackface. Don’t get me wrong - I have utmost respect for cultural sensitivities - but sometimes, I feel, in the bid to please everybody, you end up pleasing no one.
A curvy twist to design on shoes, a particular emphasis on red lips and eyes, or even an unconscious play of words (remember the days of sausage dog and root beer?) and you begin to see crosses everywhere.
The Chinese have a saying for this: tai hoi dit, which loosely translates to mean “be more open-minded”.
In another drama, some netizens have accused Spanish label Zara of “defaming the Chinese” when it featured a Chinese model with freckles. By having someone with a less-than-perfect complexion, it was deemed insulting and “not giving face” (an embarrassment) to China.
International model Li Jingwen is no newcomer to the fashion scene, and her natural visage is a refreshing change from the photoshopped pictures usually seen in magazines. If being perfect means having a white face that has been sculptured under the knife and looking like any other model in the business, then I’ll take Li any time.
In fact, I felt it was progressive and brave of Zara to choose an Asian model - and one who actually looked real - and rather than being overly sensitive, it was heartening to see a face people could identify with.
China may not be a leading voice in the beauty industry, but it is the largest skincare market in the world. And to cater to the masses, you have to hand it to them for being adaptive.
According to BBC News, there are now shareable make-up pods in China which customers can pay to use via scanning a QR code.
These offer an impressive range of beauty products, including well-known Western brands which might otherwise not be accessible to them. Users can pick various colours and skincare, with make-up brushes and (disposable) applicators provided as well.
BBC also reported that most users liked the sharing pods, and some shared on Sina Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) that it gave people an affordable way to try different products.
Others, however, felt put off by the thought of sharing such personal items with total strangers, and possibly, pass on viruses and skin diseases, too.
Apparently, Japan and South Korea have already had large public dressing rooms with similar services since 2014. Along with shareable umbrellas, bikes and phone chargers, it was only a matter of time before a sharing make-up trend emerged in Chinese cities late last year.
I think hygiene would be a primary concern here, and I’m not keen on sharing lipstick even with people I know, much less with those I don’t. But who knows, there could be a segment of the market - young girls perhaps - who might be game to experiment?
If there’s one trend that should take off, it’s this zero-waste platform. Loop - set up from a coalition of major consumer product companies - is getting the big boys onboard to band together to save on packaging.
The difference is, the product is not some niche green label, but possibly your everyday brands like Haagen Dazs ice cream or Nestle milk. Sure, there’s a slight cost for delivery and cleaning, but it still works out cheaper and more environmentally friendly than re-manufacturing and disposable plastic.
Loop will offer the service of picking up the containers and sending them back to the respective companies. Convenience is key as you don’t even have to rinse the container. So it’s like recycling, except that you reuse the same container to get back the same product, and hopefully, in time, pay less for packaging.
“To us, the root cause of waste is not plastic per se, it’s using things once, and that’s really what Loop tries to change as much as possible,” said Tom Szaky, CEO and co-founder of TerraCycle in the fastcompany.com article. TerraCycle is known for recycling hard-to-recycle materials and one of the partners behind the project.
Everyone was talking about KonMari again last month, following Japanese author Marie Kondo’s successful Netflix series, Tidying Up. I don’t see what’s the big deal about having to declutter, but perhaps, not everyone is smart going about it.
A friend of mine recently had to move from a bungalow into a small apartment, and it was a heart-breaking experience. She had to get rid of stuff accumulated through the decades, which meant throwing out antique furniture, her grandmother’s clothes and other memoirs, along with leaving a home full of memories and nostalgia.
That kind of forced decluttering is the most painful kind, and one I would never wish on anyone. So yes, we should stop buying stuff we don’t need, and upcycle what we can.