THREADS: Misha and Sizwe in the city of a hundred lovers

Culture, Threads

Linking up with one of Auckland’s cutest couples Misha and Sizwe before they appeared together at New Zealand Fashion Week 2019, it was a surprise to learn this would be Misha’s first ever interview. The couple talk to S E R U M about what it’s like being Kiwi but also originating from another country, dating in the spotlight and also being boujee on a budget: 

How did Not For You Clothing come across you two when they were casting for their  NZFW/2019 show? 

Misha: Just Instagram and DM

Sizwe: Most of our works through Instagram 

And for you two it would be often hey? 

Sizwe: This one (points at Misha). 

Misha: Just promoting stuff  

How did that start for you? 

Misha: I just enjoy taking photos and dressing up  and stuff, then occasionally like brands will just hit me up to promote their clothing, from there it just got bigger and bigger. Random brands would start inviting me to events and stuff, I honestly don’t know what the heck, I wasn’t expecting it but I guess promoting on Instagram is the new way of advertising. 

Who’s the biggest one that you were like wow, cool. 

Misha: Fashion Nova.

Where were you when you got that DM?

Misha: I was just on my bed and I saw the DM from this lady, it was actually just Fashion Nova who DM’d me, I’ve never worn their clothes before or DM’d them so when I saw that notification I was just like what the heck and my heart started racing, I screenshot it and put it on my story, then Seez screenshot it and put it on his story too pretending he got sponsored [they both laugh out loud] but yeah that was so cool. 

So how does it work when you model an item for them? 

Misha: They just asked for my address, I choose a few items from their website and I have to post a picture within four weeks of receiving the item.

So not an issue

Misha: Yeah nah it’s pretty easy, its my hobby, so yeah.

Do they pay you for that girl?

Misha: Fashion Nova doesn’t, like big brands like that they just have heaps of stock, but small brands like New Zealand brands do. 

Ohhh who are the Kiwis let’s always support our local! 

Misha:  There’s Premium Clothing, me and Seez are both sponsored by that, it’s a New Zealand brand and Australia, then there’s Bambi Boutique we’ve been to a few events of theirs and Benefit Cosmetics NZ they’ve sent me some stuff too and then we’re walking for Not For You Clothing today too.

What took you to the States recently was that for modelling?

Misha: Oh I got sent to the States to be in a Snoop Dogg music video. 

So that’s still done through Instagram?

Misha: So for Instagram I was getting heaps of brands and heaps of emails from brands trying to organise something and this man from Instagram DM’d me, he’s now my manager and was the one who got me the opportunity to go in the Snoop Dogg video. He answers all my emails for clothing brands and stuff and organises a price because I suck at that, I just do everything for free and he’s like, ‘No you have to make money off it.’  

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Miss u LA 🌴💄

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So you’re slowly learning the business side of it as well? 

Misha: Yeah I’m like ‘OMG you can make money off it like Instagram is a real job’!

Sizwe: I wouldn’t say I am an influencer but if those opportunities come by, especially with this one, there are people that want us to work as couples and all that, modelling. I guess through me shooting my fits on Instagram and then opportunities will just come like, ‘Oh this guy knows how to rock his clothing.”  

For you, Insta’s not just rocking clothing though hey, you’re also a rapper. 

Sizwe: Nah, it ‘s me trying to build an image but it all goes around music. If I was to get fly or anything or put on any piece of clothing I’d hope that they’d be like ‘Oh this guy’s cool let’s go  check out his page’ and then find out that my main focus is music. 

So for you, when you wake up in the morning and you’re thinking about what to wear, what does your appearance do for your mood or vibe in the morning when you’re planning for that day?

Sizwe: I always try, I don’t want to look like anyone else. I want to put on something like when I walk down the street it will stay in your mind forever even if they just see me once and I’ve had people tell me that, then that’s a successful fit to me like, ‘Oh you’re that guy that was wearing this and that’. Someone once told me, ‘You’ve got that kind of look that will stay in my mind for like 10 years’ and that’s when I was like, ‘I like this shit, I like what I’m doing’. 

Since then working with Jet was a big one for you, too? 

Sizwe: Jet was a big influence, the biggest thing he told me was, in fashion and dressing there should be a theme. You’ve got to try and have a theme with it so that was the biggest thing, he told me but obviously he’s designing and stuff, he always put me in his clothes which is cool and I love helping out young people who are designing. 

Because it is a passion aye it’s not just.. like about clout and shit… if I was to sum up your style like real quick I would say like…. hood gothic…

Sizwe Yeah! Hood goth definitely. 

What about you girl..

Misha  Hmmmm, how do clothes define Misha…

Sizwe: Baddie 

Misha : Yeah just going for that bad bitch Insta baddie or Bratz Doll…just like what you see on Instagram that’s what I wanna be in real life.

Do y’all mostly get support for what you’re doing? 

Misha: Mostly support yeah but it does attract unwanted attention just for standing out and stuff.

Sizwe: Yeah 

Can we talk about those things a bit more?

Misha: Yeah sure, me personally because I am Indian there’s not  a lot of girls who wear, I guess we will say revealing clothing so there’s a lot of Indian people that will look down on me but then the majority are Indians who look up to me because there’s the sense that they can wear whatever they want and not hold back…Young girls mostly that’s my main audience, young Indian girls and that’s cool that I can inspire them, so yah.

It’s cause you’re challenging barriers or old school restrictions hey

Misha: Yeah even with my own parents and stuff they would not approve of my outfits until they saw that I could create a platform and stuff out of it and now they just approve of it it’s all they can do but they don’t really say anything too.

Sizwe: Yeah just let you walk outside and pretend they didn’t see it.

Misha: Yeah they let me walk out the door. 

Lol were there times where there times where they wouldn’t approve?

Misha: Yeah they’d just be like, ‘What are you wearing’!?

Are you from New Zealand? 

Misha: I was born in India and so I moved here when I was one so I was brought up here as a Kiwi.

Sizwe: I’m from Auckland, born and raised here but I’m from South Africa, I’m part Indian too – my dads Indian, I don’t know my dad  I wasn’t raised with him, I was raised in a South African household – always been in Auckland Great North Road, Avondale ways, Waterview. 

Would you guys called yourself third culture kids? 

Sizwe: Nah 

Kiwis

Sizwe: Definitely Kiwis but with my culture – I don’t know my mum didn’t never force culture on me .

Misha:  Same as me like my parents moved here so I could grow up with this sort of culture like be more free, I guess. 

Sizwe: Yeah same to be honest

Yeah cause it’s your generation now that get to kinda make those rules and forge that identity for the future 

Sizwe: Yeah I don’t know how to explain that too but I get what you mean – I know exactly what you mean my mum –  it’s just not forced on me – but as an immigrant I don’t know, you’d expect us to hold that like that South African Indian thing,  but I don’t know if it’s just never been pushed on to me.

I feel like a lot of us in those positions take on dress and pop culture, as our culture, like it goes a lot deeper than just material on your body it’s another way to make your own identity right? 

Sizwe: As soon as I noticed that and started going on the gram and noticing and getting into fashion I started feeling like I can do this, I can make my own culture, I can make my own wave I just felt like it could be my own thing and all my people, my family overseas they see that and they’re fine with it and all that.

What are you hoping the youth will pick up from you as a popular person? 

Sizwe: I guess with my music I feel like …the kids need to say it at a young age. When I started – I met you when I was 14  – I was just talking through my music and with the dress code I think, dress however you want and not let age be a limit.

Cause in New Zealand you can right?

Sizwe: Yeah cause like it’s real hard shopping in New Zealand, like finding pieces. 

Misha: That’s so true.

Sizwe: Getting to know your local designers and all that is like being in touch with what’s next and what your local designer’s gonna put up, I think the kids should be involved in that because I don’t know where to shop in New Zealand, like I really don’t.

Where do you shop? 

Sizwe: Online or through friends like I went to Australia and went through heaps of my mate’s designs, so I just got heaps of his shit.

Is it because you’re just not into what NZ has got?

Sizwe: I was to go to the store and get something right now it would be like an Adidas tracksuit at the most. They just don’t have what you want here. In Oz it goes harder but not really here I can’t find anything here – what is there like Loaded?

How do you guys feel like paying $300 for a pair of jeans, I think that’s on average what you pay here for ‘style’…

Misha: Nah bougie on a budget that’s what I like to go by. 

Sizwe you’ve just signed to Gallatino I mean aesthetically they’d be one of the most on point in NZ so far, I’d say…

Sizwe: True Tapz and Mzwetwo, I think they put me on because they needed someone young and in touch with the internet I don’t even know how to put a name on their swag but Otis has had my back forever, he was the one who put me in the studio first and as soon as I linked with Tapz and worked on my new shit ‘Why’, I’ve just dropped ‘Why’, I’ve seen more opportunities come through to do with music. Otis is a good manager he’s cool and Tapz is just like the best big brother, I just wanna be like Tapz to be honest I’ve always looked up to Tapz he’s just always travelling I wanna do what he does. 

That’s the plan? 

Sizwe: That’s the plan for sure. 

Now that ‘Why’ has come out what can your people’s look for next?

Sizwe: Album, more tracks this year. 

This year?

Sizwe: This year…Nah I promise this year we looking at like December.

And also… couple question, being a couple dating  both definitely have got Instagram heat, whats that like? 

Misha: I’ve always wanted it like I can’t picture myself with someone who isn’t into dressing up and flexing and stuff so Seeze is just like,  we enjoy it, it’s our hobby. 

Sizwe: I mean we’re just like the same people, she’s like the girl version of me I’m the boy version of her. It always takes us hours and ages to get dressed because we’re so fucken picky with our outfits.

And you do it together? 

Sizwe: Yeah we do it together  we rate outfits she’s like, ‘nahh you can’t wear that today, nah nah nah’…I love having someone who I personally think looks good and can see me get dressed too you know what I mean it’s probably the best part of it too.

Did  you think you’d find that with someone when you met her? 

Sizwe: Nah I didnt but to be honest when I saw it I was like ‘Nah I need that’.

And so it was like a long game thing or was it like ‘You, come with me’.. .

Sizwe: Nah that was exactly it, ‘you come with me’ literally. 

Misha: Yeah it was just like, you’re my girlfriend now, he never asked me out  he just said ‘okay now you’re my girlfriend’ (lols) And I’m just like, what, like ask me out but it’s cool.

Sizwe: The exact words was like ‘I’m ready to be loyal’ that’s it.

Misha: Yeah I was just like what, ‘what does that mean’…like what?

What’s it like dating a rapper

Misha: Omg it’s cool, yeah …But I’d like to go to a few shows and stuff, we’ll see, it’s cool when fans come up to him on the street. 

Sizwe: Being in Auckland it’s real small so getting your name out, I couldn’t imagine this much hype, like when we’re walking on the street people stop us like someone just stopped us on the way here.

Misha: It’s like why me you know I just take selfies and people come up to me to get photos like, huh. 

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She wanna dinner d8 w gallantino

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Is it a bit awkward to have that much attention? 

Misha: No it’s cool but you always just feel like..

Seez: I love it, it’s cool  

Misha: Yeah I love it too …

Sizwe: I wouldn’t say ‘Why me’ I feel like I worked a bit and got a reason.  

Misha: Yeah he’s a musician so I get why he receives that much attention, but I’m just an influencer so I didn’t expect it . But I obviously love all the positive attention and support, it means a lot.

Is there a difference between an influencer and a model? 

Misha: Yeah there’s a huge difference. Models aren’t their own boss, as they never have a say in how they want to look. However, I always get to choose the clothing I promote and I can always do my makeup how I want which basically means I’m always guaranteed to feel comfortable and confident knowing I’m being myself.

So you get to make your own rules in a way? 

Misha: Basically that’s what I wanted to do, I don’t want to be with an agency but I’ve modelled for a few boutiques and stuff.

What is it about an agency you don’t vibe with?

Misha: They won’t let me do my own makeup and stuff, I like the way I do my eyelashes, little things.

Who are the top five people that influence you guys style wise?

Sizwe: Kanye, Kid Cudi, Playboi Carti, Jet and my mum, just with emotions and dealing with life.

Is clout chasing important: 

Misha: No?! What. 

Sizwe: I noticed the difference between clout  chasing and being hungry, I think being hungry is important I could say clout chasing and the best example of it is like fake fuckign with people, or fake showing love or just riding waves and all that – that’s not cool like that’s not important but being hungry is definitely important and letting people know that you’re hungry is definitely important, I like showing people that I’m hungry.  

And what 3 tracks would you put on your own runway playlist: 

Misha: Aw yeah that Lady Gaga one, ‘walk walk fashion baby’….

Sizwe: Yeah what’s that one called again – is it Bad Romance?

Misha: Paparazzi! I’d have like Nicki Minaj,  any of her songs hey, she just puts me in some sort of mood. 

Sizwe: Okay, Paparazzi Lady gaga, Kanye West  Black Skinhead and Kid Cudi Dance for Eternity.

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Best friend 🧸

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Yo, have you guys practiced your walks? 

Misha: We were just doing that walking across the road like ‘try not smile’, when we on our way here actually. 

Anything I haven’t asked you that you want people to know about modelling, rapping, being a couple or being cute in general..

Sizwe: Respect women, dress how you feel.

Misha: Be confident. 

Sizwe: Definitely always do your best, give it your all and make an effort to make people smile during the day, love your parents especially if you’re an immigrant you gotta like know, you gotta know how much your parents did to get you here and not let them down. That’s got to be my biggest part and that’s my inspiration I always think about what my mum did to get me here from South Africa and that just gets me out of bed everyday. 

THREADS: AUCKLAND DIVERSE with SIAN KOLOSE

Culture, Threads

In this T H R E A D S shoot I linked up with Sian Kolose who, at the time, had her online shopping mecca Hunting Ground Store still in incubation with her sister Tina Kolose. For this shoot, we put together a list of the dopest models we could source, then set about shooting them. I realised while putting this portfolio together just how busy we got – 16 models, two days, one make up artist, two cameras, one stylist (Sian), one photographer (me) and K’RD. 

Models included Luke Collins, Maia Te Hira, Anny Ma, Suha Wahab and Sarah Hindley, Max Robinson and Tina Kolose. Blaze the Emperor, Bryson Naik, Tony Douglas, Blu, Shajal Singh, Tashi Levitt, Arlena Teiho, Leah Pao, Bheilee Okesene, Felicity Aroa.

EXPERIMENT

Working with Sian was a really fun experience, I particularly enjoyed the collaborative freedom I had when working with her.  Two examples are getting Tina to hop into the trolley as well as contrasting Tashi’s white satin skirt with the dirt from the car park; also the darker tone of the material soaking up the fresh water (it had just rained) from the puddle. (BELOW). Being my first shoot of this scale, working with Sian gave me the confidence to try new ideas out. 

STREET

REFLECTION

PRE-LOVED

Recyclable fashion is a good way to combat the humongous waste issue that human kind face remedying today. Having the skills to re-work an old garment and make it new, or the eye for how to pick a garment and make it seem new is an ever-growing/required skill and, as we continue to throw material into the earth – like we don’t understand some materials like Nylon take around 20 years to breakdown- we must incorporate reusable fashion into our basic shopping vocabulary. ** Disclaimer** to the Salvation Army in Glenn Eden – this does NOT excuse you charging 70$ for a shirt someone dropped off while throwing away rubbish and other household goods, then telling customers on a low budget ‘well that’s what it costs in Ponsonby’. Just saying… Not really I mean it… Please stop dousing the thrill of op-shopping with your inflation excuses!

ELEMENT

This year, Rihanna did a shoot for Garage Mag, shot by photographer Deana Lawson who specialises in taking photos of subjects in their home, in what she describes as ‘their domestic space’. Shajal (BELOW) used to flat above the shoot location – Hero Sandwich House – in Auckland so was certainly in her natural space. I would like to explore these themes more in future work – especially in domestic settings. 

MOTION

Movement is another aspect I noticed when reflecting on this shoot, these models had their stance on-point and I also liked to encourage the energy and sense of action with my angles. (Shout outs Blaze The Emperor). 

BRYSON X TONY

COLLABORATION

Tony Douglas is someone whose style I noticed after moving home from Perth in 2011, he was DJing at an underground bar in Wellington as one half of Calm The Fuck  Down aka CTFD. During this shoot, a film and photography guru himself, he taught me to set the meters properly on my external flash. (Blush face emoji).

DIASPORA

Joan Smalls took part in this interview with the Business of Fashion addressing diversity and inclusivity last year. She said “It’s interesting because of my background I come from an interracial family and my household has every different shade and in my world I’ve always seen it as inclusive so coming to New York and making a career modelling they reminded me ‘what we see you as’ not who I identified with”. I think as women of colour, Sian and I brought that sense of diversity within the world we see to the shoot; it’s something that I feel proud of upon completing the project.

HERO SANDWICH HOUSE

CULTURE

Cultural diversity in mainstream media and the importance of seeing one’s self reflected on TV and billboards is an agenda in my work that I hold dear. Growing up as an ‘other’ in New Zealand, it was very earlier on in my exploration of myself, then my work as an extension of myself, that I have consistently focused on culture and identity. Juxtaposing the confronting and contradicting elements that happen when east meets west in my compositions is something I will continue to do. There have been movements and collectives in Auckland like Milkshake Models, Dynasty, FAF SWAG and photographers like Imogen Wilson who have also pushed identity boundaries – I’m only excited to see what the future brings for Kiwi creatives and brown children who can see themselves positively and accurately reflected in the media. 

MERCURY PLAZA

Mercury Plaza is definitely a popular Auckland location for food and photos. The food court there is due to close, but I hope it reopens/moves somewhere else cause for me – South East Asian food is what helps me hold on to small pieces of Malaysia and remedies the sense of feeling homesick all in one $10 meal! 

There are more shots from this shoot on Instagram

THREADS: VILLETTE – Talks the Powersuit & Dasha Lingerie

Music, Threads

“Our bodies are temples right? It’s crazy – our bodies are sacks of flesh holding everything together – but our spirit lives inside of us. I’ve always believed that we’re just vessels, and the way we dress ourselves is literally armour, so I think when you put something on to clothe your vessel it’s kind of like a spiritual statement whatever you wear” – Villette Dasha

Villette1

The 23-year-old singer/songwriter/producer and audio engineer has just released ‘Not In Love’ which is available on all platforms and the first single off her upcoming EP. It was produced by VILLETTE as well as mix and mastered by her and SmokeyGotBeatz . The shit is flame emojis. A lot of them. And representative of her fine attention to detail and craftsmanship in her music work. In this interview for Threads by Serum we talk about the power of the women’s suit and how clothing can be like armour; as well as her lingerie line “Dasha Lingerie”. She says “You know when you wear sexy lingerie like matching bra and knickers it’s like – dope you know. You could be wearing it just under track pants and a hoodie but you feel put together – I don’t know what it is”.
She recalls “My mum had a suit like this but it was lavender and it was so sick, she used to have these long braids as well.” Remembering a happier time from her childhood when she and her older sister Renee dressed up for their parents she says “I wore the coat and she wore the pants. We walked into the lounge in our house in Manurewa and did a little show for my parents. Whenever I see this it just reminds me to work hard”.
“Janelle Monae always wears a black and white suit – I read an interview where she was talking about the suit and how it represents how hard her parents worked – One’s a bus driver and the other a janitor. They both worked hard out 9-5 jobs and she always sticks to the black and white theme, suits and business attire to commemorate the hard work they’ve done.”

SERUM: Do you mean in terms of feeling confident and how clothing can fit on your body, like dressing for the job that you’re going to do?
VILLETTE: Yeah that’s a part of it. I think also feeling like you need to lead as well, cause I work in my home, my studio is right next to my bedroom, and that actually takes a lot of work to come from the bedroom to the studio when you could just stay in bed and watch Netflix all day. So if I know I’m working at the studio I’ll force myself to get up, have a shower and try and at least spend like 6 hours of the day in the studio.

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A dress she picked up in 2016 for her performance at Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles. Found in Santee Alley, an outdoor shopping district there.

SERUM: What would you wear to your studio?
VILLETTE: I will still dress up and wear something like a singlet with flowery pants – or I’m usually just in tracks pants and a hoodie cause that’s what’s comfortable. It really depends on how I feel cause sometimes I wanna feel empowered or I’m not having a good day or something so I’ll wear something sexy or do my hair & make up just to go to the next room.

SERUM: How does that help you create your juice – like I call it good juice – but for you, how does what you’re wearing enhance how you feel?
VILLETTE: Our bodies are temples right, I was talking about this literally last night – it’s so crazy how our bodies are sacks of flesh and we’re holding everything together but our spirit lives inside of us and that’s our vessel like I’ve always believed that. The way we dress ourselves it literally is armour so I think when you put something on to clothe your vessel it’s kind of like a spiritual statement whatever you wear and it’s just a representation of how you’re feeling and it should be armour – it can be armour and it can be also be a sword – it depends on what you wear.
This is made of cotton and it was made for me – it’s a traditional Samoan garment. I wore this to my nan’s funeral. It was from a shop in West Auckland and this just represents culture to me – it’s my armour whenever I go and do a cultural thing and if it’s really really important – for example I’m going to get my malu next year which is a traditional Samoan tattoo from here [waist] to here [lower thigh] and I would wear this to the ceremony and I’ll go get that done in Samoa. I love this but it’s not something that I would wear lightly and just wear around – it’s something I would wear at special occasions.

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Left: A Calvin Klein jacket her boyfriend Neihana thrifted in the US. Right: Traditional Samoan Garment.

SERUM: If we refer to it as like a tool box, why would you say it’s important for women to have clothes and image in that tool box like a professional repertoire or like an arsenal?
VILLETTE: I think people find their armour in different ways but for me personally, mine’s a suit – your professional wear can be like a hoodie and track pants or t-shirt or scuffs but it’s important to have something that makes you feel protected. It’s just good for your spirit I feel like as working professionals, we need even just one piece of clothing that feels like our armour, that no matter what it’s all good!

SERUM: Tell me about how you created Dasha Lingerie.
VILLETTE: I wanted to make Dasha Lingerie because I’ve loved lingerie since I was little and because I’m always wearing lingerie in sets with suits. I also wanted to make Dasha because I just wanted other people to feel how good it made me feel knowing that I don’t feel good all the time – it’s just a nice feel good item – the lingerie isn’t meant to hold your boobs up or anything, it’s literally just meant to fit over your natural curves – it’s really just a feel good piece.

SERUM: It’s really Coco Chanel that contrast.
VILLETTE: I love Chanel as well, that’s probably my favourite major brand or whatever. I don’t own anything Chanel, I just like to watch the catwalks and I love the shows and the jackets like the Chanel jacket is iconic – I’d love to own one one day but then again I don’t want to spend that much money on it. The lingerie just came along really naturally and when I go to a lingerie store I don’t wanna be paying for a bra that’s like $40 for something that’s got hardly any material but it costs so much. I don’t agree with that so I just thought $20 is good for everyone because it’s a nice sexy piece and it’s just something that’s so sweet. It can frame your body. When women feel sexy they’re unstoppable, like the whole vibe changes and you just feel it – they look bigger I’m not sure how to explain it but their presence is more intense you can feel them in the room – it’s so good.

Purchase Dasha Lingerie HERE.

Photo essay: Chicago, 2014 — Sara Coe

Art, Culture, Feature

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Sara Coe

I’ve had a five-year unexplainable love affair with New York. But now New York has competition, and his name is Chicago.

When I heard my good friend was moving to Chicago for three months, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to visit him. I always wanted to visit Chicago, I knew it was going to be an amazing city, purely based on the fact it produces great music. And for it to have inspired such great music (Le Common Gil Scott-Heron, Kanye, Lupe etc), I thought ‘It must be one special place.’ And it was.

…And Oprah is from Chicago. Don’t hate. I love Oprah.

Chicago has been getting a lot of media attention these days for being a dangerous city. Last year, it even passed New York for being the murder capital of America. Maybe it was because I didn’t really venture into the really dangerous places but I didn’t feel unsafe at all. It was friendly, the vibe was soulful and I loved the people.

I’ve been living in Japan for the last four years and although I love Japan, I missed the friendly and random interactions I had with the people in Chicago. Here are a few pics of my adventures.

Love you Chicago.

x

Follow Sara HERE.