Introducing the Flaunt It Collection
An interview with a couple of womxn behind the vision!
For women like me, to indulge in our beauty is a form of resistance. To care for our forlorn features, the one that the world deems as unharmonious, to love them, to grow them, to own them; it is a form of compassion that I am just beginning to understand.
For many years, I disliked the noise my face made. It felt too big and yet too small, my nose and eyebrows seem to eat my face and I disliked the dullness of it all. It seemed heavy. I disliked how it held me captive to other people’s thoughts. It did not help that I seemed to be the antithesis to every beauty standard, a stain on Grecian columns.
It was women and sisterhood that pulled me out of that spiral. How could I not like my face, when my face was the product of generations that survived despite entire beings wishing it not to? How could I not find myself beautiful when the women that looked like me, my sisters, were the most ethereal beings that I knew?
Despite us not being able to meet each other, Flaunt It wanted you to have that reminder of sisterhood everywhere that you go. The women in the shirts are the people who will always open their world for you, build you a table that you can have a seat in and will share your burdens. They are the women that oiled your hair when you were younger, the women that loved you even when you did not love yourself, the women that taught you how to love yourself.
The shirts celebrate women for existing through their journey. It celebrates your growth, your perseverance and your will.
Below an interview with some of the women behind the Flaunt It operation:
SL is Sariena Luy, the Executive Artistic Director and Founder of Flaunt It Movement. BQ is Bonnie Qiu is one of Flaunt It's Artistic Associates and founder of @bonniesaieats on Instagram, a food blog about Toronto.
Why did you decide to release the collection now?
Sariena Luy (SL): Flaunt It has always been an events-based company. As COVID may prevent us from creating inclusive safe spaces together in person, we took this time as an opportunity to evolve and strengthen our business models. We're planning for the future of our movement and we know that our apparel was such a success before that had to come back again. The time to work on this and explore our movement as a social enterprise couldn't have been more perfect.
We believe that the collection is a perfect way to get Flaunt It into everyone's homes. Flaunt It's vision is to inspire all women to love themselves unconditionally, but it has to start in our own homes. We want people to literally and physically embody our values of creating, celebrating, confidence-building & connecting with our communities.
How did the first collection inspire your newest one?
SL: 2 years ago, we launched merchandise as a way to fundraise for our art show. Our former Creative Director, Gretchen, was freely exploring ideas where she decided to do line art over a selfie of herself + another team member. We loved the ambiguity of the line art as it felt like it could be any woman. We chose to pause the collection after that to focus on our art show.
Dhanya, (our new Creative Director), was exploring designs and we knew we wanted to continue line art. Therefore, we decided to make line arts of some of our favourite photos from our Let's Love More shoot. (Side note: Since line art is also popular, we knew that drawing over our own photographs ensures that it truly is our original designs as well)
How did you choose the designs for the shirts?
SL: We explored a lot of different designs but RIRI and AK stood out the most to us. RIRI features two women (now one of them is a core member of our team) who have been supporting Flaunt It for a number of years & was even there for our initial launch party. They also performed at our Let's Love More opening night + are talented artists from our community.
We all fell in love with the AK design immediately. We knew that this is not a design we see often in fashion but celebrating Muslim women and modest fashion is just as essential as showcasing women with different hair textures (e.g., curly hair, afros, etc.). The two models in the designs are also incredible women and business owners from Jane-Finch. Amina actually is the first model I ever shot for Flaunt It back in August 2016. We have so many more designs for future products but these are the first two we decided to start with!
A major theme in Flaunt It is sisterhood. How have your sisters impacted your self-esteem?
Bonnie Qui (BQ): I don’t have any sisters! But if we are speaking on the more deep-rooted bonds with the women in my life that I have formed authentic friendships with, I can surely say they have played a big part in realizing my self-worth, even in the most arbitrary ways. These girls are always hyping me up with every chance they get. Whether it’s my appearance, academics, accomplishments, side hobbies or passions, they make me feel really good about what I’m doing– like really, REALLY, good.
It may seem pretty redundant at first instance. I would think to myself, “No way they think I’m that great. This is all fluff and it’s being said for the sake of being said.” But they go out their way to encourage me until it is permanent in my head, so I know it is truly genuine. Just like how sisters should act, we always watch out for one another and make sure that not only we are the best we can be, but that we appreciate ourselves and our successes as we move down our path.
What are your self-care rituals?
BQ: I’ve actually been pretty consistent with working out daily! It’s really good for your well-being since it helps reduce stress, increase your confidence, and motivates you. Nothing wrong with getting those gains, really! Other things would be putting time aside from my work and integrating plans with my friends into my schedule. They never fail to brighten up my day and I always get really energized after a day of socialization!
What would you want the women who are buying and wearing these shirts to know?
(Any affirmations and words of wisdom would be much appreciated!).
BQ: This might sound pretty cheesy but, these shirts are more than just shirts! It looks really adorable at glance with the pink and minimal graphic outline of the pretty girls featured, but it is truly made with love, care, and pure intentions in supporting young women. By buying and wearing these shirts, you are contributing to our campaign in helping to foster self-love for women as well as supporting our Jane-Finch community as your money helps provide more opportunities for those in need.
What does representation mean for you?
BQ: Representation shouldn’t be just the typical social media propaganda we see when we try our best to include a “token” POC/female/LGBTQ+ person just to make a brand look better. The only thing that comes out of that is strictly promoting materialism. It makes the whole idea of representation become disingenuous and satirical. But what representation should be is bringing the spotlight to minority communities that need a bit of outreach and truly support them behind the scenes to the best of our abilities. We have to highlight their voices, beauty standards, and the issues that surround their own subgroup. It takes a lot of initiative to do so and to educate ourselves, but as always said and constantly repeated, it’s the thought that counts!
Amidst socioeconomic barriers, Flaunt Its mission is to empower young women facing socioeconomic barriers to finding their unique voices through sisterhood and art. By building communities based on self-love, Flaunt It hopes to encourage young women’s individual voices, their confidence and their innate leadership abilities.
By Saadia Z (Artistic Associate - Lead Blogger)