How Vivek Shraya Uses Beauty & Fashion to Explore Identity

How Vivek Shraya Uses Beauty & Fashion to Explore Identity


When Satisfaction Month is a terrific time of 12 months to glance back again on how significantly the LGBTQ+ local community has arrive and to rejoice all of the achievements of queer and trans pioneers of generations past, there is continue to a whole lot of critical perform that needs to be finished when it arrives to equality and representation — function that extends beyond just a single month out of the 12 months.

Common and beloved retailer Nordstrom understands this worth and is working in the course of the total year — not just Pride Month — to the two spotlight LGBTQ-owned/-launched makes and to carry products that profit and give again to queer people!

Looking at that the LGBTQ+ group has our have set of specific requirements, carrying products and solutions that are designed by and for us is major, and community associates, like musician, writer, professor, and visual artist Vivek Shraya, who stores for merchandise at Nordstrom to support her convey herself and her identity.

Out received the possibility to capture up with Shraya to talk about her manner and beauty inspo, the longtime determination from Nordstrom to the LGBTQ+ neighborhood, emotion seen, and so considerably much more! And to discover more, pay a visit to!



Image Credit score: Ariane Laezza

Out: Could you describe your marriage with fashion and magnificence and how major of a portion it plays in your total artistry and self-graphic?

Vivek Shraya: I genuinely see fashion as just a further type of creativeness and one more form of inventive expression. I see it as an extension of the get the job done that I am doing. I do not see it as individual. It really is not like this is trend and here’s art. To me, those worlds go hand-in-hand, and frequently I use vogue to additional the intention of whatever project I am performing on or placing out into the environment. For occasion, I just place out a e-book called Men and women Improve earlier this yr and the aesthetics that we chose are really a great deal tied to seeking to even more the concept in the reserve. So yeah, those people items, to me, go hand-in-hand.

In your have words and phrases, how would you explain your fashion/aesthetic?

My make-up artist generally jokes that I am a “extra is much more” man or woman, which is amusing for the reason that I see myself as a minimalist. So, I imagine that I have a tendency to be drawn to coloration a lot. I imagine coming from an Indian background, it really is about excessive and shade and extras. But yeah, I am making an attempt to summarize how else I would describe my design and style. I suggest, I think I’m a cross amongst Sporty Spice and Posh Spice.

I appreciate that. And according to the TikTok girlies and the young kids, maximalism is in.

Which is very good to know. Yeah, it can be just funny for the reason that I’m normally like, ‘Oh I’m this kind of a minimalist,’ and my make-up artist is like, ‘No you might be not. I you should not assume you know what minimalism is.’ So, yeah.

How extended have you been cultivating your very own unique sense of design and elegance?

I imagine that just one of the odd byproducts of homophobia, which for me, I would say began possibly before I even regarded it. But when I form of identify it or when I say that it turned most obvious to me was quality 7. Just one of the bizarre byproducts of overt homophobia is when an individual tells you there’s a little something improper with who you are and how you look. I think a single of the stunning items that queer people today do is we frequently subvert that kind of notice and hatred or reclaim that form of hatred and attention by making use of fashion as a way just about to stand out even more. It really is a odd point, it’s like I’ve done both of those in my twenties, I was quite much about like hiding who I was. But I feel my 1st response to homophobia was to in fact press myself out even more and to refine my perception of individuality in a way that was even additional various.

To respond to your dilemma, I sense like I’ve been cultivating my sense of design and style due to the fact close to the exact same time considering that grade seven, due to the fact age 12. I think element of it is that it really is also like a bizarre backfiring for the reason that I do not know what I was thinking. What I was striving to do was in good shape in and but, for the reason that I have a queer sensibility, my tips of fitting in have constantly been outdoors the box. When the young children ended up wearing their Club Monaco sweatshirts inside of out, I was like, ‘Oh great, I will dress in my Club Monaco sweatshirt inside out and my sweatpants within out,’ which was as well much. (Right here we go, more is more.) But I imagine any of my attempts to suit in were being normally overboard in a way simply because I normally desired to place my have slant on it. I often preferred to put my very own contact on it. And I feel that is the point that feels to me is that refusal to be like everybody else, to do points like everyone else. Even when I was striving to conform, I was still pushing over and above that. And I feel that, yeah, I would actually say which is a queer sensibility.

Who or what are your splendor and fashion inspirations?

Developing up, absolutely, my mother was my selection a single and 1st splendor inspiration. I seriously usually imagined she would look like a Bollywood actress and I just observed her so lovely and unquestionably was inspired by her aesthetic. Even now when I glance at photos of her in her twenties and thirties, she generally colour matched her bindi to her outfit. And I do that way too and I am quite absolutely sure that I received that from her. Now I feel, obviously, modern day references. And then I think in my teenagers, I would say Madonna was most likely like a really huge a person for me. I know that she’s not cool with the youngsters any more, but for me, in the ’90s, Madonna was a truly, genuinely massive affect on me.

Brad Pitt was also a actually massive impact on me. Aesthetically, there was some thing about the point that he was constantly evolving his style, which I did not really feel like we observed with a good deal of male actors in Hollywood. In the ’90s, he went from extended hair to brief hair and was constantly just modifying his search, which I think was definitely the continuous evolution of his design was genuinely attention-grabbing to me. Now obviously as an adult, Beyoncé, Rihanna, these are huge, big influences for all of us. Definitely, for me.

Julia Roberts has been a hair reference lately. I really don’t know why it is really a good deal of ’90s. I imply, for me the ’90s are just…it’s these a nostalgic time for me for the reason that I grew up for the duration of that time, but the ’90s are also however in in a specific way. I know we are slowly but surely shifting to the 2000’s, but I’m continue to sort of have my head in the ’90s. I usually reference the ’90s, so like Julia Roberts is someone lately, or ’90s supermodels, like that total vibe. The supermodel period, those people are generally illustrations or photos that I am going to have on my temper boards for tasks.

Nordstrom is committed to supporting and offering again to the LGBTQ+ neighborhood by highlighting LGBTQ-owned and established manufacturers, as properly as items that give again to the local community. They carry so quite a few goods that give back again and help the queer community, like Be Proud by BP, The Phluid Task, Vans, and Coach, just to title a several. And some of their partners involve the Hetrick Martin InstituteTrans Lifeline, HRC, and the Ali Forney Centre. And they are not just performing this for Pleasure Thirty day period, but all through the rest of 2022 as perfectly. As a member of the community, how does it sense to know a company like Nordstrom is supporting us in this way?

That is constantly really great to listen to. I think it can be crucial for us to be regarded as not just a common customer market place, but the truth that we have really specific client requirements. And it is fantastic to hear that Nordstrom is fully commited to supporting us in that arena. For me, one particular of the items that has seriously stood out about Nordstrom is really around footwear and shoe sizing. As a trans woman, I you should not have cis toes measurements. So, being capable to go on the Nordstrom website and rapidly and accessibly look for for a shoe sizing that suits me and have a whole lot of selections essentially, because a good deal of footwear are likely to halt at a individual dimensions instead of 9 shoes in my dimensions in a section retail store, that to me feels like a kind of knowledge and not just in my shoe dimension, but in fact greater shoe dimensions than nine, which is also like truly great to see.

Nordstrom knowing that we have specific requirements that aren’t just the average shopper or the ordinary straight cis purchaser, I feel to me which is what feels actually heartening.

What are some of your most loved Nordstrom-carried brands that have assisted you to specific oneself manner and splendor-smart and to switch out some cute seems to be?

I assume the major a single for me is basically MAC items. I am a big lover of MAC and MAC makeup and Nordstrom experienced some special solutions that I have not been capable to obtain at a normal MAC keep. So, that’s excellent. The other products and solutions that I go to Nordstrom for include other manufacturers like Clinique. I have been doing the 3-step method with Clinique given that I was in my mid-twenties, so, I typically locate they have a excellent selection of Clinique items as perfectly.



Image Credit rating: Ariane Laezza

Nordstrom is also committing alone to variety by highlighting not only LGBTQ+ brands, but models from persons of colour, which is vital, primarily in the natural beauty and style place due to the fact it allows people experience found and that they belong. Do you don’t forget the first time you felt observed in those people spaces, or the initially time you at any time felt like you observed oneself in media? How did it make you truly feel?

I think the 1st time I genuinely felt like I noticed myself represented in media, in a specific way, was in a film identified as The Namesake with Kal Penn, who at the time didn’t brazenly identify as queer. It was one of the to start with occasions that I was ready to share a narrative about a very first-generation immigrant relatives with my mother as effectively, observing anything like that on the significant display about what it implies to increase a Brown kid in North The united states and owning immigrant parents. I consider another large one particular for me was the “Bad Girls” video by M.I.A. She’s like pulling from like Arabic culture, Muslim lifestyle in that video, which of course is not my society, so to communicate. But I assume just looking at another person currently being badass and Brown in a new music video in a unique way, which by itself felt quite inspiring that online video, just the design and style and the aesthetic in it, the way that she blended form of the common things with form of contemporary components of design and vogue, like that was just it for me, it just was pretty enjoyable.

I consider also me becoming invited into these areas as a model. I have been performing some manufacturer get the job done for MAC and Pantene, and so, as a trans individual of shade staying asked to do that type of get the job done and particularly model in advertisements and campaigns feels actually remarkable. And also challenging to picture. It has felt seriously unpredicted to be introduced into those spaces, in particular not even just as a trans woman, but also as another person in my forties. I feel the style and magnificence sector tends to be so youth-centric, and as someone who’s plainly not a youth, it feels truly shifting and unanticipated to be brought into all those areas.

What’s some tips you can give to other individuals who are seeking to figure out what their personal type is? How they should go about finding it and figuring out what is effective for them or what they like?

I think it’s definitely about experimentation and I believe the willingness to be not great, the willingness to be not trendy. Generally the willingness to make fashion faux pas. I assume about some of the selections that I utilised to make as a teen. I at the time cut out an onion bag and decided it was a hat. I at the time threaded a wintertime scarf via my belt loops. I built a large amount of bad fashion alternatives, but I actually rejoice them mainly because I think and in some strategies, I overlook that strength due to the fact I love that willingness to test for the reason that I consider so generally with trend, it is about hoping and experimenting and engage in. Sometimes in the lookup for coolness, we forget about that essentially, it should really truly feel exciting, it should really truly feel joyful. If some thing tends to make you experience good, rock it and have entertaining with it. Your mates could possibly snicker at you the way my close friends laughed at me. But at the close of the day, I never think excellent fashion will come from not experimenting, not playing, not hoping. Does that make perception?

Yeah. I come to feel like some tendencies, they start off out as experiments and enjoyable, foolish items. But then they turn out to be more substantial matters and then it gets, ‘Oh, that truly appears great.’ So you received to test.

Yeah! The bucket hat is a wonderful instance. The bucket hat to me is the silliest accent and yet, the bucket hat has designed this sort of a enormous comeback. I see it on men and women all the time. I never believe you will at any time see me in a bucket hat, but I can respect it for what it is now in a way that when I employed to see pictures from like the ’80s and ’90s with bucket hats, I was like, ‘Burn it down.’

I think component of it really is also that there is certainly this notion that you have to be self-assured in your fashion. Just be assured, just rock it, but it truly is also ok not to be confident. I imagine that we dwell in a entire world in which we, as queer individuals, are under a specific form of scrutiny and knowledge all varieties of harassment and hatred. So, I consider that from time to time confidence is not a little something that you can just accessibility. So I am all for faking it. I feel faking it is a good detail. If you can’t tap into that self esteem, shake it.

I assume the other detail which is been genuinely useful for me in conditions of manner has just been diversifying my feed by way of social media, staying in a position to just follow other trans individuals I admire, adhere to other queer folks I admire. That does aid me establish a variety of assurance, by looking at how other people today are pushing themselves out in the earth and presenting on their own in the earth. These are some of the points that come to head.



Photo Credit: Ariane Laezza

Related | 25 Pride Collections That In fact Reward the LGBTQ+ Group