Posts tagged Family history
Concrete Catwalks ~ When Art Meets Fashion

Designing the new collection is not only about creative expression but trying to use this platform to represent women ~ women of colour.

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The original images come from American Vogue, which I buy in September as it’s their major release for the up and coming seasons. The magazine is more like a book, full of advertisements by brands showcasing their latest products.

Love Inclusivity - pencil drawing with digital manipulation.

Love Inclusivity - pencil drawing with digital manipulation.

What has always struck me is the lack of diversity of women of colour in this publication, to be fair this is not the only one. Even though it is seemingly high on everyone’s agenda, there is still a clear lack of representation. It is improving but slowly.

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Flicking through the pages made me reflect on my own childhood and that of my mum and Aunty, who are both mixed race. They were adopted so any cultural alignment was severed so the only sources they could potentially align with were role models within the mass media. Sadly this was not the case. And made me think where are the role models now? Where can women of colour look? Where can they see someone similar in film, in magazines or on tv?

Girl with a Pom Pom Hat - mono print with acrylic paint.

Girl with a Pom Pom Hat - mono print with acrylic paint.

Now I am under no illusion, I know I am not able to change the world on this front. I am a solo person hoping to use my creativity to shed some light on this issue.

I hope my drawings and digital illustrations, that are printed onto t-shirts, allow this message to be communicated on the streets, creating a concrete catwalk if you like and not only held within the confines of a gallery. So the visual narrative is out there for everyone to see and support the visibility of women of colour.

“We Are Here” Second Collection Launch Date Set
Tania Swift Lookbook 

Tania Swift Lookbook 

Exciting news, I have finalised a date for the second collection to be launched - a week today. Doctoring the images to my visual aesthetic has taken a bit longer than anticipated but focusing on being solution focused was key in not only being determined to see my vision come to fruition but hopefully portray what I have always wanted; a creative collection that illustrates women from different ethnic backgrounds in a creative visual way.

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Frequently I reflect on my upbringing and that of my Mum and my Aunty who are both mixed. My mum is half Indian and half English and my Aunty is half Caribbean and half English/European. Growing up for them had many many hurdles which in turn, in a strange way, has been the inspiration. 

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Having visual representations of women that they could view and align themselves with would have positively impacted on their self esteem I’m sure and in turn mine.  Sadly we cannot turn back the clock but moving forward I am always thinking of what they would find inspiring. 

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Visibility and inclusivity is so important for young women growing up and whilst I cannot change a deeply entrenched system I hope to make my mark albeit with these illustrations. I hope that people like the images on the t-shirts, maybe they can align themselves with the drawing looking back at them and in some cases, the text or maybe they just want to support the concept behind the brand ~ We Are Here. 

So looking forward, a bit more tweaking here and there ready for 10:00AM to strike next Sunday.  I hope you all like the new collection.

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Back to the Beginning

As the title of this story suggests, reflecting on my history is important to create a meaningful brand.

This is my story.

My mother was born to an Indian mother and an English father. She was adopted due to interracial relationships not being accepted at the time. Ironic as the 1960’s is heralded as the start of female emancipation - only for some I guess? 

Her adoption, by a German mother and English father, who had also adopted a boy from Singapore and another girl of African or Caribbean mixed heritage, were very progressive for their time. The United Colours of Benneton a friend of mine coined some time ago. 

However sadly due to the time there was no celebration of cultural diversity. You were made to fit in the white mould and suffer racial discrimination as and when it came. It came. 

We have spoken about tracing her background but it is fraught with many bureaucratic hurdles that I do not want to enforce as it is her journey, her emotions. 

The brand is mine.  

Exploring identity, embracing identity and seeking role models who I can align my self with. Feeling empowered. 

Thinking about my childhood made me delve into the archives and find images that made me reminisce and smile for one reason or another.  

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I love this photo as I remember the experience of wearing Indian clothing and celebrating Divali by dancing in front of the school. It really was such an exciting experience and one that was given to me by my teacher. I thank her for that as I was able to celebrate Indian culture that was part of my heritage but not within my home growing up due to my mums adoption. It was a celebration of the festival but internally it was my own celebration. 

I recall loving the colour of the clothes and the embellishment, sequins galore, it looked and felt so luxurious. And practising the dance routine was so much fun. I remember we had batons to use and make them click, the sound was electric. 

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This photo makes me laugh. I wanted to wear trousers so badly. I was quite tom boyish when I was younger and liked the freedom they brought and was very much insistent on wearing them. I was aware of what I wanted from a young age I think that is why my teacher put me in certain roles, to channel my energy and determination. 

This emotive energy is what I want to remember and channel in to this work, this business, the brand and ethos. 

There are many stories about there. So much variation, diversity, that needs to be recognised and given a space in which to be celebrated.  

I hope to contribute to this narrative.