All Posts in Fashion

- No Comments!

AK the Savior and Sagun on Bridging the Gap

Throughout time, humans have used dissent to bring ourselves closer despite our differences. By understanding and finding out we have more in common than we think, a beautiful thing called culture arises. Culture is the nexus of certain communities that are striving for something bigger than themselves. It isn't something that should be tainted by a selfish need for preservation, but something to be shared with the world. Because of that, for better or for worse, society has evolved thanks to culture.


AKTHESAVIOR and Sagun photographed by Rosie Matheson


Arts, fashion, and politics deviate from the classification of race and finances because there's an intrinsic yearning for unity. In that regard, it's quite superficial to use one's culture as a guideline for one's personality. That's how arguments about co-opting and a lack of respect for purity are in our day-to-day feeds. This observation becomes more accurate in modern times, where everyone wants to make a statement but isn't saying anything at all. Presently, we can communicate with whoever and whenever, however, we still feel alone.

Despite that, AK the Savior, a New York-born and now Los Angeles-based rapper and Nepal-based lo-fi producer Sagun, pulls you a seat at their table in their recent album titled "U R Not Alone." On this album, the duo navigates through musical genres while rapping about topics involving cultural politics and discovering where you belong, no matter where you're from. Comparable to the opposite ends they came from to create this album, the two also have a mutual understanding and respect for one another that is non-sequitur to music. They are building a model of self-confidence and staying true to what they believe in because culturally, that's what people want to be a part of.


AKTHESAVIOR and Sagun photographed by Jordan Smith

1. Do you think someone’s appearance is as important as their actual skill set when it comes to music?

Sagun: Personally, it does not matter, but like you said, it does play a big factor these days. But at the same time, if the music is good, no matter how good you look or dress, people will love you no matter what.

Ak: I agree with Sagun too. I think it's important, but not as important as it once was. It was way more important back in the day to look the part and to be a superstar. But nowadays some people are just super talented; uploading their videos or music where it speaks for itself in a sense.

2. One is from Nepal and one is from New York. How'd you guys meet and how'd this project come about?

AK: Sa, you want to tell him?

Sagun: Yeah, so I always wanted to make this kind of rap album, and I was talking to my manager about it to search for a rapper who could collaborate with me. My manager came up with the idea of having AK on this album and told me to send him beats and just see what happens. I just sent him beats one by one and it started from there through email.

AK: I just finished dropping an album called "Almost Home" and I was still in the zone creating music. I'm hands-on with my shit. After that, COVID hit and nothing was popping, but I love music, so I continued pursuing it through it. I dropped an album even though there weren't going to be any tours and I checked my email to see who's hitting me up. I kept networking, and Sagun's manager hit me up with this proposal about a lo-fi producer that would be a good match for me. He then sent me beat after beat and once I got the beats, I heard them and then instantly wrote the beats. It was an instant connection through Zoom calls and getting to know each other. Sagun then came to America for the first time; we met in person and that's when we started working on shit.

3. Do you think the most radical thing nowadays is just to be normal?

AK: Yeah. I agree with that. In today's world, music matters, but it's more about content. It's king right now. People are focused on ways to go viral. Within the fashion world, to go viral is to have shock value, so people might buy certain things that they may not necessarily like the Mario boots. They'll just wear that shit to go viral, but not like it.

Sagun: I agree. Some people just do anything and everything to go viral. I'm not mad at that though.

AK: Yeah, fuck it.

4. Talking about anime has been sort of taboo for minorities to talk about in recent years. Do you like that this conversation is more on the forefront or does it feel like just another opportunity to exploit another subculture?

AK: I think anime is for the world. Just because someone doesn't bring anime into the forefront of a conversation doesn't mean they're not about anime. I think what people are worried about now is that anime is getting super popular. It's becoming larger and larger and when things get big, more people just jump on the trend to be cool. Anime people are real gatekeepers and if someone's repping something that they know wasn't in it in the first place. Then it becomes "Nigga, you never liked that kind of shit before...". I think you just couldn't tell someone was into anime based on their music and image. You don't have to promote something to like it.

Sagun: Everyone around used to watch it, so I could never think or see people say they don't like anime.

AK: For instance, I always said I loved anime and made references in my music, but I feel like if those same people saw me out in New York with my homies looking like goons; they would think there's no way this guy watches anime. I got many anime tattoos and they're part of my life because they changed my life, so you can't judge someone based on how they look.

5. I know of the recent loss of the creator of Dragon Ball Z, Akira Toriyama. How did you feel about the sudden loss and how did his work influence you as an artist?

Ak: That shit fucked me up. Dragon Ball Z changed my entire life. As I grew up on it, I realized there were a lot of subliminal messages within the show. Some people may just see it as a cartoon, but Ki is a real thing. It's not just energy blasts and shit. Ki is the real energy we all have. Akira took that concept and made it playful, but we all have energy within us.

Sagun: I feel the same when I watch the Vineland Saga. It teaches you how to control yourself, your people, and the environment around you. You guys should check it out. I love that one.

AK: In the anime, there are so many gems that are dropping that apply to real-life men. People sleep on it! I encourage anyone reading this to watch anime because it'll change your life. And if you don't like fighting or energy balls and shit, watch Death Note (laughs). That's a great warm-up.


AKTHESAVIOR and Sagun photographed by Brayton Bowers


AKTHESAVIOR and Sagun photographed by Rosie Matheson


6. I know fashion and music go hand in hand, but it can sometimes be an obviously desperate opportunity for an artist to capitalize on it as a "business venture". What other ventures do you think we need more of from our current and future artists?

AK: For me, I'm one of those artists who are already venturing into different things. I'm into fashion, so that's not farfetched as something I could get into. I have friends in the fashion world too and I see how hard that shit is. It's some shit that's easy to tap into unless you're the type of artist who'll drop anything and people are going to follow it. I don't think I would get into it like that, but I don't want to cap myself either.

IR: You're also an actual artist.

AK: Yeah, so a couple of business ventures that I do include a jewelry company called "Florescent Treasures" and I even wrote my own manga called Nakaomiru, which means look inside. I also do paintings now and then because I'm the type of person who, whatever resonates with me at the moment; I'm going to tap into.

Sagun: I'm getting more into videography and photographing. I like how videos are done and if I'm not into that, I would get into coding. I love coding.

7. How much does your art correlate to your music, and vice versa?

AK: After I linked up with Sagun after recording "You Are Not Alone" almost 2 and a half years ago. I started painting a lot during our time recording it. I wanted to make new shit and thought, "How do I make this shit correlate to my music?" because niggas is not going to just accept a painting, so I had to make it make sense. All the cover art and single art was me painting. I had a project called "Tracing Patterns" where I wanted to connect my paintings with my music. I wanted to make something for what it is and I hope people don't get too judgmental about it.




8. Given your start in the rap group Underachievers and being part of this psychedelic rap that rappers such as the Flatbush Zombies, Asap Rocky, Danny Brown, and yourselves brought to the generation. Do you think drugs were the bigger inspiration or what role did psychedelic drugs play in this exploration for you?

AK: I think psychedelics played a huge role like you said, and people were connected to us through psychedelics. But I feel like I was speaking on more experiences I had when I was younger. The Underachievers were taking psychedelics when we were younger when we created "Indigoism" and things like that, but people got the misconception that we were tripping every single day. We weren't tripping every single day. Four times a year I would trip, but I can only speak for myself. Now I only take psychedelics once or twice a year when I need that spiritual push or boost of inspiration. Psychedelics is something you shouldn't abuse because if you do, that's how you lose yourself.

IR: I mean, that's how people become Deadheads into their 70's.

AK: Yeah(laughs). There's nothing wrong with being a fan and taking psychedelics. But if you let that shit just take over your life, you remove the balance and become lost. I love psychedelics because they changed my life, but you don't need them. I think I never needed it. It's here on earth for us to use and work together, but you don't need that for the spiritual growth that I've gotten. You just need to work to be the best version of yourself by reading books and enhancing your knowledge to bring enlightenment to your life. Drugs don't enlighten your life. That doesn't work and it doesn't fix your problems. It's just you and the journey you choose to go on.


AKTHESAVIOR and Sagun photographed by Brayten Bowers


AKTHESAVIOR and Sagun photographed by Rosie Matheson


9. You come from a multicultural background, which is one of the themes of your upcoming project. You are not alone. Growing up, did you feel out of place as someone who's multicultural and what helped you feel more included?

Sagun: I would never be who I am if I didn't grow up in my environment, so no. I never felt that I was in the wrong place or at the wrong time. That's totally who I am and I've always accepted it.

AK: I feel you 100 percent. I'm thankful to be from the Caribbean Islands and get the influences from the music to the food. It makes us who we are. When I was a kid, I went to school in Harlem from elementary to junior high school, bro. At that time, growing up, Spanish and black people were being. Oh, my god. As a kid, I was like, Why, and kids would try to fight me? It was just so weird because even other black people were fucking with me because they thought I was Spanish.

IR: Given how you look, I was going to say that! Was it a Dominican trying to fight you even though you guys are the same color? (laughs)

AK: BROOOOOO!!! I always questioned it. Why, why, why? Then I went to school from Manhattan to Brooklyn as I got older with more black people and Caribbean culture. In Harlem, niggas used to make fun of me and shit. Saying, "You got big ass lips, bro!". They said mad funny shit that made me feel like I'm not shit. But when I got to Brooklyn, I was the most popular dude in the school. I was just confused during that time, but all that shit happened for a reason and I'm grateful for it.



10. How do you think racial and cultural issues will change in the future as society continues to blend?

AK: I have high hopes for the future. The issue we have today is that the people who created these ways of thinking and ways of life through racism, etc. are still in power. If they're not directly connected to it, their sons and daughters are now in power. As we grow older and new generations come, there's going to be an understanding that we're all together as a human race. This skin color sh*t is stupid now.

Sagun: Totally.

AK: They've even shown now on certain websites what the future people are going to look like if we blend.

IR: Yeah, everyone's going to look like The Rock.

AK and Sagun: (laughs).

AK: I don't want everyone to look the same. That's boring, but if we all look the same, how are you going to judge me? Like on this album, "You Are Not Alone" ,we want you to feel like we're different from you. We are all humans with similar and different experiences, but the bottom line is that this is life. These are things that we go through and we're just sharing life as you are too.


AKTHESAVIOR and Sagun photographed by Rosie Matheson

11. What would you say to someone dealing with these types of issues when trying to find their voice?

AK: Follow your heart and whatever resonates with you. Do what matters and if you feel a certain way, express yourself. Don't bottle it up. When someone says no one understands me, it's like, of course, no one understands you because you didn't express yourself. If no one is truly listening; go out and find the person who's going to listen. You are not alone.

Sagun: If you think you're going to fail, keep trying.



- No Comments!

Futuristic Funk: Tra-My Nguyen recreates tradition by breaking the norms for a better future.

Some philosophers, scientists, and conspiracy theorists through time have predicted a bleak future for us. These predictions include comets, natural disasters, and Trump being the end of all humanity, but nothing has made these predictions more valid until Covid-19 began.

Luckily we have individuals who find their identity from learning and breaking away from tradition.

2020 has been a defining year for our generation and the times before it. With record number deaths, job losses, and almost totalitarian world precautions to save lives, people have been isolated in their homes with little to no contact from the outside world. This current (and for some) much-needed isolation provides many with time to reflect on the world and themselves, figuring out and creating ways to improve and make the world better through change.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The new-normal is a term often said lately as we let go of what was once traditional and transition into the new unknown. The struggle of letting go. The need to uphold tradition in order to keep one's identity is part of a pattern that most people struggle within their day to day lives. Whether it’s monuments, events, actions and art, we perpetuate reverence among these even if it's detrimental and unconducive to our overall growth. Luckily we have individuals who find their identity from learning and breaking away from tradition.

For whom am I creating designs and art projects? For what purpose?

Vietnamese born, Berlin-based Artist and Fashion Designer Tra-My Nguyen creates her future by being true to her roots. Her work promotes not only the beauty of aesthetics but awareness. Her art and voice in the creative world promote sustainability as well as advocacy for social/racial justice. By using Vietnamese cultural trademarks and digital design, she’s bridged the gap of fashion between art that both the young and old can connect with.

1. Where were you born?

I was born in Hanoi, Vietnam.

2. Though you're currently living in Berlin. How has Berlin/German culture influenced you as an artist?

I immigrated to Germany when I was 7, not knowing the language, and going to a new school was an experience influencing my whole life. Gladly, I learned the language and met new friends fast. So when I got older I was restless and always wanted to always move somewhere abroad because I got bored easily wherever I lived. This has influenced my artistic approach as I need to work on different mediums as I need variations of different tasks.

3. How has the current climate of the world in 2020 changed the way you create?

This year’s climate has impacted me and many other artists and designers. It challenges me to rethink my artistic approach. For whom am I creating designs and art projects? For what purpose?

My artistic background is fashion design. This year, I have come to the realization that I don’t feel comfortable designing ‘beautiful’ fashion commodities. My practice has evolved into something more interdisciplinary. For example, I am working on video installations and sculptures which I am very happy about. Thus, I feel more confident in my practice as I can create works more freely with various mediums. Also, my goal for this year is to do more collaborations with other artists.

4. Do you believe art and fashion go hand to hand or should be left in their own mediums?

I do think it is imperative to intersect art and fashion practices, therein conveying different perspectives.

5. Do you connect more as an artist or fashion designer?

I cannot define and identify my practice with only one medium. It is in instant interaction with one another. Each medium is imperative for my artistic approach.

6. What are you currently working on?

Right now, I am researching for my next project which will be a new video and a web-based installation.

7. Your art has a strong sense of pride in Vietnamese tradition. Given your upbringing and how it translates into your art, how important is it for an artist to know and maintain their roots in the creative world?

To thematize my diasporic roots is a way of healing for me. I can reflect on and understand my Vietnamese background better. This makes my art more personal and meaningful to me and to the viewer. Therefore, it is important for me to deconstruct my roots to draw strength in creating new works.

8. Some may say that tradition can be often can be limiting in terms of one's expansion. Yes, we learn from history, but also tradition has plagued some to repeat the past. Do you feel as an artist one can use tradition simply to modify into something new or is it best for an artist to denounce tradition and create something new from scratch?

I think it depends on the context. My way is to deconstruct and reimagine traditions to create something new. Oftentimes, I like to use speculative narratives, for example, utopian storytelling, in my work to convey another level of perspectives and meanings of traditions.

9. Speaking of rebelling against tradition, we live in a time where subculture has become far and few due to the internet. Culture can be purchased rather than experienced which leaves people with less of a strong identity. How important is the preservation of one's culture to you?

Preservation of culture means for me keeping the culture of memory alive. It is important to learn from cultures’ history and compare it to the now. Where is it coming from and what is the impact of it? We can learn from the past and transform it into the now and the future.

10. Just recently you made a post on social media about the ruthlessness of the fashion industry when comes to stealing creative IP.  To add context, you recently made a collection of car covered clothes used for cars and motorbikes that garnered the attention of fashion label, Balenciaga. Soon after your concept and ideas were not only taken by the company but manufactured and displayed for their brand's spring/summer collection. How did that come about?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A ‘recruiter’ from that brand came to my university’s ateliers to have a look over our master’s fashion design projects and to get to know the fashion design students. While we were presenting our work, she took picture of our working space and mood board. After the visit, she requested my portfolio. In the following October 2019, she requested my portfolio again, asking me to insert also my newest work. I send her my portfolio, but she never replied. In July 2020, I saw the brand’s post on IG: a copy of my work — wrapped clothes over a motorbike. There was no credit under the post. After my outcall of this incident, they never reached out to me personally, nor apologized to me.

11. This is an often common issue between creatives and brands, yet some don't take the action you do to expose it due to fear and modest association. What is the importance of one's creative property to be fought for and what are the actions one should take to take ownership of their creations when it comes to business endeavors?

It is very important to acknowledge one’s creative property as it is something deeply personal. Therefore, it needs to be protected. You are creating work and putting on a lot of not only effort by producing it, but also putting emotional labor into it. One day you can feel super proud of yourself and your work, and on another day you can feel insecure about it. That is the reason why I chose to fight for my creative property. I made an outcall most importantly for myself and not for the brand which stole my work. It was for me a healing process. I had to write down what I felt when I saw their stolen idea. It came very naturally for me to write down my emotions. I think every designer/artist should decide for themselves, whether they want to take action against big corporates. I can understand the fear of anxiety that comes with it. But I hope with my and many other outcalls against big fashion corporates, people feel more encouraged to do the same.

12. What do you propose artists/ fashion designers do to move forward with a brand that wants to use their ideas, but not take advantage of them?

Do your own thing. Collaborate with other emerging artists/designers. Do not work for free for big brands and they need to credit you.

13. Tradition aside. How do you see your future as a creative and what do you hope to accomplish moving forward?

I would like to create more interdisciplinary projects and I hope to receive artist's grants.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.