Tag Archives: Fashion

An Interview with… Zara Khalique

Natalie Proctor chats to founder of positivity-focussed fashion label Keep It Bright! about Manchester, motivation and mind-set

www.keepitbright.co.uk

Living in one of the rainiest cities in the UK, alongside all the other struggles life can throw at you; it can be hard to stay optimistic. How do you remain a sunny person when you only see the sun a few times a year?! Well, Zara Khalique is pioneering a new creative philosophy that inspires us all to Keep it Bright! The fashion line, created by Zara some years ago, has gone from strength to strength, encouraging us all to express ourselves through bold and vibrant fashion.

“I really love Manchester and I love the way everyone feels free to express themselves! I know I always wear whatever I want, and know that I’ll see all kinds of style everywhere I go in the city and I love the variety!”

Zara, who has always been interested in the arts, began the label with relatively little experience. However, Zara candidly admits that she began the business not so much for her love of fashion, but for her want to spread the positive mantra after overcoming her own personal troubles.

“I realised your mind-set changes everything and that one person can help another so much, so that’s what I feel like I have to do!”

It’s certainly an admirable thing to have begun such an endeavour, not only from nothing, but also from a place of difficult circumstance. But, as Zara states, “challenges are a chance to grow”.

The importance of the message behind the movement is one that follows through to other aspects of Zara’s life. She also champions anti-violence/abuse/bullying campaigns (Someone’s Everything), which further underlines the ethical importance of Zara’s work.

Ethics aside, Keep It Bright is full of fabulous fashion. Even without the obvious positive message behind the clothes, they speak for themselves. Zara’s personal favourites, are her “heavily embellished one-off bras and hoodies” which are painstakingly handmade – but definitely worth the effort! Some of Zara’s more casual items also have that individual edge, but are perhaps a little more accessible for everyday wear. Even fashionista Zara admits; “I love a good sweatshirt!”.

One of my personal favourites from Zara’s collection is the simple but gorgeous white cropped sweatshirt, with the trademark inspirational quotation around the collar “choose happiness”. This sort of simple detailing is typical in Zara’s line.

zara khalique 1

I also took a look at one of Zara’s stalls which was up in Fallowfield in September, and fell in love with this pink crochet halter. I loved the simplicity of the shape and the muted pink colour, which makes the piece slightly less seasonal specific. Though I must confess, I may be perhaps a little biased on this one, as I own this lovely item now!

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Zara’s work doesn’t stop at clothing. The beautifully crafted accessories are also a great feature of the collection. These detailed make up and clutch bags are stunning, but also extremely good value for money.

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So what does the future have in store for this movement? Despite not being one for planning too far ahead, Zara confesses she would love to see Keep it Bright flourish even more, and become “the place everyone knows to go when they need positivity and a mind-set millions live by!”. Certainly, there is something to be said for the uniqueness of Zara’s movement, given the often harsh and – let’s face it – judgemental world of fashion. From the size 0 models to the undying practice of airbrushing in every image published for public viewing; it is refreshing to see such a positive spin on fashion. Frankly, it seems strange to me that more fashion labels don’t see the problem with this form of negative advertising. Additionally, the connotations of designing for models rather than real women, can mean that fashion becomes less and less accessible to the majority.

This is something Keep It Bright avoids. The collection is forward thinking in that it harnesses the power of expression that fashion can have, and uses it in a positive way. Zara’s clothes are designed with both art and practicality in mind. Fabulous clothes that flatter and carry a strong message should be at the forefront of the industry.

Until, I’m sure, the inevitable day when Keep it Bright is a household name worldwide, it will continue, as Zara always intended, as a source of “positivity, light and motivation when [people] need it most”.

Natalie Proctor

Catch Zara and keep it bright! at the Remake Remodel Vintage & Art Fair at Ruby Lounge on 29 November

Visit the keep it bright! website

Follow keep it bright! on Twitter

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M20 Pop-Up @ Antwerp Mansion: a video review

Back in August, M20COLLECTIVE hosted M20 Pop-Up @ Antwerp Mansion, an integrated arts festival celebrating some of the amazing musical, artistic and other creative talent that the collective has had the chance to work with over the last year.

This year, the pop-up was held as a fundraiser to kickstart M20’s forthcoming community projects, including MYCP (M20Collective Youth Creativity Project), and in support of some of the great urban permaculture projects happening around the city, like the Fallowfield Secret Garden Project.

Check out this mini-documentary capturing thoughts and footage of various stallholders, organisers and attendees over the course of the day:

Petition: Bring back Manchester Youth Market

The Manchester Youth Market is a monthly market for 16-21 year old stallholders. Fashion, food, music – you name it, you can sell it. Offering a way onto the business ladder for youth in the city without the usual overheads of market trading (stallholders are exempt from the usual £104 fee you have to pay), the Youth Market is a great space that gives young creatives the city centre exposure and opportunity for self-employment they really need.

So: WHY HAVE THEY DECIDED TO CUT IT?

Holly Marie Saunders has set up a petition to protest the council’s decision to axe the youth market in spite of it’s popularity and the obvious benefits. 

Learn more and sign the petition here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/842/088/476/bring-manchester-youth-markets-back-to-the-northern-quarterpicadilly-gardens/?taf_id=12529215&cid=fb_na#

M20 Tips – Summer Fashion Trends for Women!

Summer’s here and it’s already scorchin’! Make sure you look as hot as you feel with Natalie Proctor’s ten top tips for sartorial success this summer…

1.  Off the shoulder neck-lines

Off the shoulder tops are a huge part of spring and summer trends, as they offer an easy way to show some skin in an understated way. They flatter every shape and can dress up every outfit.

off shoulder
via topshop.com

 

 

2.  Chunky sandals

Chunky boots were everywhere this winter and so it’s no surprise that chunky sandals are making an appearance now. They elongate the legs and can add a bit of edge to the simple sundress.

DrMartens via office.co.uk
DrMartens via office.co.uk

 

 

3.  Midi skirts and dresses

Maxi dresses can be difficult to pull off for those of us who aren’t supermodels; the midi is a simple alternative! They are comfortable as well as effortlessly chic, and unlike the maxi they don’t swamp the figure.

via urbanoutfitters.com
via urbanoutfitters.com

 

 

4.  Feathers

Feathers are always prominent during summer trends; in patterns and in accessories. Arts and crafts shops are a great way to create some feathered jewellery that will also be unique to you. Why not even use them in your hair to really channel the bohemian summer look!

via www.featherrayhairextensions.bigcartel.com
via http://www.featherrayhairextensions.bigcartel.com

 

 

5.  Bold prints

A bold print – particularly on summer dresses – is a great way to be a bit more adventurous this summer. Using simple cuts and timeless shapes with daring patterns is a nice compromise for those who don’t want to make too much of a statement.

Bold Prints
via boohoo.com

 

 

6.  Colour clashing

Colour is a huge part of summer trends, the bolder the better! But don’t be afraid to combine some of the more contrasting colours. This is best done with simpler cuts as this avoids overwhelming the frame.

via www.blazehairkingswinford.com
via http://www.blazehairkingswinford.com

 

 

7.  Halter-necks

Halter-necks are not only big this summer because they’re practical, but they look great! They show off the back in a tasteful way and look great with trousers, shorts and skirts.

via www.etsy.com
via http://www.etsy.com

 

8.  Pastels
Light blues and pinks almost always trend in the summer, as they suit most skin tones but also exaggerate your tan. A must for everyone’s wardrobe then!

via www.zara.com
via http://www.zara.com

 

 

9.  Boho shirts

Shirts embellished with embroidery are everywhere this summer. They are practical as well as elegant, and their loose fit makes them perfect for the beach or hot days. Vintage shops have some wonderful pieces like this, for those who want to avoid the high street.

Mango via www.asos.com
Mango via http://www.asos.com

 

 

10.  Slip dresses

The 90’s slip dress is making a comeback in a big way this year, and especially this summer. The simple shape makes them easy to pull off, and needs little accessorizing.

via www.urbanoutfitters.com
via http://www.urbanoutfitters.com

 

 

Fashion for the Frugal

Natalie Proctor takes a walk through Withington and tells us why we should trade ‘high street’ shops for the actual local high street when it’s time for some retail therapy…

You don’t need all the money in the world to get the style you’re after. Fact. Perhaps the easiest way to get great style for a fraction of the price, is hunting through charity shops for all your fashion needs. The problem that I often find with charity shop searching however, has always been their lack of accessibility; with shops dotted all about the place it’s hard to find the energy to source out these hidden gems. However, in Manchester, we have a hidden Oasis of these cheap and cheerful places in Withington and East Didsbury.

download

Students in particular, are often unaware that there is life beyond the end of Fallowfield, but if you walk just a few minutes further into Withington you will find plenty for the frugal fashionista. In Withington alone, there are more than six charity shops in a 100m stretch of road, which is perfect for those of us who like convenience. Cancer Research houses an awesome vintage section towards the back of the store, where you can buy both clothes and accessories, and turn off Wilmslow Road and onto Copson Street, and you’ll find multibuy deals galore – like three items of clothing for £3 in Age Concern, or three DVDs for £1 in St. Vincent’s. Additionally, there are some independently run shops that are full to the brim with donations from the local area, but also offer great prices because of this.

Withington-2-Copson

Just ten minutes on the bus will take you to East Didsbury, which is another hot bed for charity shops. A ‘Sue Ryder’ shop towards the end of the high street offering loads of great things for the home as well is great news for students trying to make their house a home on a very tight budget!

Charity shops are a fantastic way of revamping your style for pennies, but they also offer some great quality clothes if you’re prepared to do the rummaging. Who knows, you may stumble upon someone’s designer shoes that were forgotten in time! It also gives the extra benefit of owning clothes that are not being made anymore, so you are sure to be unique.

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Disclaimer: Louboutins not guaranteed!

Let’s not forget though, perhaps the greatest aspect of taking yourself down to the charity shops for a new dress, over going to the big brands – you’re actually doing good. No matter who you are, or how much money you have, it’s hard to avoid the slight pang of guilt when you buy clothes that you really rarely need. But now you can shop guilt free, and maybe even feel pretty good about yourself! So now you can grab a bargain as well as doing your bit.

Note: Charity shops in Withington and East Didsbury are looking for volunteers! If you fancy doing something charitable in your spare time just go along and ask.

M20 Collective presents: Urban Expression MCR

There’s something exciting about Manchester‘s Hip-Hop scene that does away with preconceptions about the UK’s inability to match up to the lyrical, rhythmic and melodic prowess of our friends across the pond. Multi-instrumental musical collectives like Mouse Outfit and Riot Jazz thrive on the diversity of their artists’ talents, and the exciting stuff that is borne of that difference: jazz drummers meet MCs meet brass sections meet rock guitarists meet velvet-voiced vocalists…the list just goes on. Audiences, too, are massively varied: at any given hip-hop night across the city you’ll find a huddle of listeners representing any background, any musical taste, any haircut you can imagine.

On the 13th March 2014 (that’s this Thursday), M20 Collective presents Urban Expression MCR at Kraak Gallery. For anyone who hasn’t been before, its just off Stevenson Square in Northern Quarter (there’ll be loads of signposting on the night). There’ll be artists of all kinds – hip-hop bands, live MCs, live graffiti artists, fashion designers, visual artists, spoken word poets, DJs and dancers – performing and exhibiting work, inspired by the different routes they’ve taken from the same urban root. Expect community vibes and a creative melting pot of ideas, and come meet some of Manchester’s best hidden talent!!

Here’s a sample of who and what’s to come…

on the stage

Music-wise, we’ve got hip-hop/jazz ensemble 8 Gold Rings [in the loop, I Love Live, Play Doubt] featuring a slew of locally sourced special guest MCs and vocalists. Bringing technical perfection and imaginative improvisations, you might have caught these guys at Free Verse, our Thursday jazz and poetry jam at Solomon Grundy…

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One hell of a meaty treat, Beef, a hip hop genre melt-pot superband packs some serious punch with a double bass, a Congolese MC and a whole lotta musical fury…

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http://www.facebook.com/soundOFTHEBEEF • http://www.soundcloud.com/soundofthebeef

Have a listen to Danny Diatribe and the Crimson Underground, a hip hop/electronica DJ and MC duo hailing from Ireland, serving thought-provoking musical political commentary and lyrical depth…

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http://www.facebook.com/pages/MC-Danny-Diatribe-Artist-Page • http://www.soundcloud.com/dannydiatribe

Catch Kid Katharsis and his soulful blend of acoustic guitar, beatboxing, verses on everyday life and smooth vocals. This guy sings the inner monologue in your head….

http://www.facebook.com/kidkatharsis • http://www.soundcloud.com/kidkatharsis

On the decks, we’ve got Dan Nation of Mind on Fire collective taking us into the wee hours on a musical journey from jazz to trip hop to electronic, as well as garage, grime and hip-hop tunes from Big War of Generic Greeting in between performances.

There’ll be spoken word and dance performances in the intermissions. Chris Jam spreads positive thinking vibes with his words, whilst Michael O’Neill verses over live percussion accompanist Loner Bell, and you can look forward to shaking a leg with super talented dance crew Rhys Fagan and friends.

creative corner

Of course, it wouldn’t be an M20 night without an arts corner where you can get stuck in, see the artwork of others and flex your own creative muscles…

SHUNK and Delroy Do Not Bend will be creating live pen graffiti works, and positivity-focussed, art-based fashion from keep it bright. and artbyomni.

essential info

WHERE? Kraak Gallery, 11 Stevenson Square, Northern Quarter, M1 1DB

WHEN? Thursday 13th March 2014

TIME: 9pm – 3.30am

PRICE: FREE BEFORE 10PM + £3 after [send your names through the M20 Collective facebook page to get £2 guestlist all night]

*** All proceeds go towards the artists and building future events ***

Gonna be a big night, look forward to seeing you there!!

Love, M20 x