Thursday, 21 July 2016

LeEco Le Max2 Review

5 years ago if you had told me I would be reviewing phones, I would have called you delusional. I used to be one of those people who would run away from the mention of technology. Blogging changed all of that. 
When your job requires you to be online most of the time, it is very important to invest in quality technology, especially, a smartphone. 
For me, a phone is not just my primary source of communication and connectivity, it is also one of my main modes of work, research and entertainment. I use it for just about everything and anything. 
I am always on the lookout for a phone that fits all my needs in one and LeEco’s newly launched Le Max2 caught my eye.
Review Of LeEco Le Max2
LeEco’s Le Max2 is the latest smartphone to hit the market. It a premium Android smartphone and is available in two variants:
4GB RAM + 32GB storage at INR. 22,999/-
6GB RAM + 64GB storage at INR. 29,999/-

Design and Display
Le Max2 has a very sleek and polished look. The rose gold colour all-metal body is a welcome change from the traditional black, white and silver style of most Android smartphones.
While it has a compact design, Le Max2 is a big phone and is heavier compared to other Android devices. Personally, I am used to using big phones, therefore, this one was easy to handle. 
LeEco Le Max2 Review
Le Max2 has a 5.7-inch QHD display and 2K resolution. The display is very crisp and sharp and the viewing angles are great. 
The good thing about this phone is, the higher resolution display does not compromise its battery life. A good battery life is something that is very important for most of us. Le Max2 does not disappoint on that front. With moderate to heavy usage the battery life delivers as promised. It easily lasted me a day after using the phone for calls, emails, browsing the net, watching videos and clicking loads of pictures.
The fingerprint scanner under the camera is a nice touch and convenient for unlocking the phone.
LeEco Le Max2 Review

Thank to the 4GB RAM, you can easily multitask, use several apps simultaneously, watch HD videos and play games without the fear of any slowdown, stutter, lag or the phone hanging.
One of the biggest drawbacks of most smartphones is heating issues. Le Max2 doesn't have that problem. Even after heavy usage, the phone does not heat up and stop functioning.
LeEco Le Max2 Review
One of the key features of Le Max2 is Continual Digital Lossless Audio (CDLA). It is the world’s first smartphone to swap the traditional 3.5 mm headphone jack with a USB Type-C audio port.
They have swapped the traditional headphones with a USB-C headphones. The aim is to provide a better audio quality and help users make the most of all their features. Compared to traditional head phones, the CDLA headphones offer better sound quality and listening experience.

As a fashion and lifestyle blogger, one of the most important feature of any phone for me is the camera. Le Max2 has a 21 MP read camera and 8 MP front camera. 
LeEco Le Max2 Review
The camera quality is amazing. When shooting in natural light or well lit conditions, the colour reproduction is highly accurate and the picture quality is one of the finest compared to any smartphone within the same price range. 
LeEco Le Max2 Review
The low-light performance of the camera is pretty good as well. It takes a little longer to focus but it delivers quality images even in poor lighting conditions.
LeEco Le Max2 Review
The front camera is great for taking selfies as well as video calling. 
When it comes to camera quality, Le Max2 completely delivers for the premium price they are charging.

Overall Experience
Without doubt, LeEco’s Le Max2 is a powerful smartphone that has some really strong points in its favour. It has a great display, amazing camera, good battery life and top-notch performance quality. Plus, the ‘Supertainment’ content ecosystem adds an additional overall value to Le Max2.
LeEco Le Max2 Review
LeEco Le Max2 is a fine balance of attractive package and brilliant performance. For under INR 25,000/- this is a good looking phone that delivers on most counts.

Location: Tea Trails, Fort.
Photography by Abhishek Arora

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Monday, 4 July 2016

Plus Size Fashion | Alto Moda By Pantaloons

When I was in fashion school, I literally had only 4 clothing items in my wardrobe: Oversized t-shirts, baggy jeans, knee-length kurtas and track pants. I had a few pieces of each in different colours, but the basic silhouette and structure was the same.
I was so used to wearing the same clothes on a daily basis that my classmates had labelled it my uniform. 
What most of them did not realise is, the clothes I wore were the only ones available that would fit my fat body! In fact, the t-shirts I used to wear were from the men’s section as the women’s one would be tight. And the kurtas were tailor made. 

Today the options are not as limited as back then, but, as a plus size woman I still struggle to find quality clothes that complement my body.
Globally, the fashion world is getting more inclusive. However, the Indian fashion industry has yet to to come to terms with body positivity and non straight size bodies. In India, the body positive revolution is in its nascent stages and plus size fashion is still not considered a part of mainstream fashion. Not only is this problematic but also discriminatory. For a country that is inherently on the curvy side and more than 60% of our population is size (UK) 10-12 and up, we barely address the needs of plus size people.
Most fashion brands in India are still playing it safe and catering mainly to straight sizes. But not all. There are a few brands who have opted for a more body positive and size inclusive approach. These brands have understood the needs of plus size people and decided to give them what they want. By choosing to be more size inclusive, plus size fashion brands in India are breaking the age old stereotype that plus size and fat people can’t be stylish and don’t like to dress up. 

As a plus size fashion blogger, I am a patron of most plus size fashion brands in India. As much as I love their clothes, it is extremely important to talk about the amazing work these brands are doing. 
One such brand is Alto Moda by Pantaloons. One of the first few brands in India to embrace plus size fashion, Alto Moda has been my go to brand for a few years now.
Plus Size Fashion Blogger - Plus Size Fashion Blog India
When I finally got the chance to collaborate with them, I was beyond happy. 
For starters, I could fit in all their clothes and not a select few. You have no idea the kind of happiness freedom of choice can give you. From always being told, “sorry we don’t have this in your size”, to, “yes, we do have this in your size”, those words were like music to my ears.
Plus Size Fashion Blogger - Plus Size Fashion Blog India
As a plus size fashion brand, Alto Moda is not just making clothes, but they are also creating quality and stylish collections that are flattering for different plus size body types. Along with providing amazing fit and on-trend designs, the brand is well priced too. The women’s wear range starts from Rs. 399/- onwards. 
Plus Size Fashion Blogger - Plus Size Fashion Blog India
While most Indian fashion brands still prefer to cater to straight size only, by choosing to make plus size fashion their USP, Alto Moda has sent out a very strong body positive message. More Indian fashion brands need to follow their lead.

One of Alto Moda's strength as a brand is, it has a diverse range of collections. From Indian wear to Western wear and from causal to festive, they have something for every mood and occasion.
I decided to create three distinct looks that will help me showcase the brand's aesthetics and versatility.
Colour Block Festive Look
Plus Size Fashion Blogger - Plus Size Fashion Blog India - Fashionopolis

Pantaloons - Alto Moda - Plus Size Fashion - Colour Block Festive Look
I love bright colours and I love colour blocking. I instantly fell in love with this salwar suit. The vibrant colours in classic Indian silhouette suits most body types.
The kurta is a straight cut with a hint of A-Line and the salwar has the right amount of cowls to balance the look out. 
Depending on the occasion, the look can be glammed up or toned down.  
Plus Size Fashion Blogger - Plus Size Fashion Blog India - Fashionopolis
Full set is for Rs. 2699/-
Print Mix Casual Look
Plus Size Fashion Blogger - Plus Size Fashion Blog India - Fashionopolis

Pantaloons - Alto Moda - Plus Size Fashion - Print Mix Casual Look
I have a weakness for prints and Alto Moda has some really pretty ones to play with. For a fun, print mix look, I decided to pair a paisley print top with a floral print shirt and classic blue jeans. What I liked about the shirt and top is, they are distinct, stand alone pieces and can also be paired with different pieces to create novel looks.
Plus Size Fashion Blogger - Plus Size Fashion Blog India - Fashionopolis
Paisley  Print Top: Rs. 999/- | Printed Shirt: Rs. 1049/- | Jeans: Rs. 1599/-
Monochrome Fusion Look
Plus Size Fashion Blogger - Plus Size Fashion Blog India - Fashionopolis

Pantaloons - Alto Moda - Plus Size Fashion - Monochrome Fusion Look
Alto Moda offer a variety of separates - individual pieces that can be mixed and matched.
This white tunic instantly caught my eye. The asymmetrical hemline gave it an interesting edge. Instead of pairing it with leggings or jeans, I chose to pair it with black ankle length palazzos. The end result was a sophisticated, black and white, Indo-Western fusion look. This is one of those looks that complements most body types and is multi-occasion friendly.
Plus Size Fashion Blogger - Plus Size Fashion Blog India - Fashionopolis
White Tunic: Rs. 1299/- | Black Palazzo: Rs. 1149/-

Along with affordable and trendy plus size clothes, Alto Moda has a vast variety of India wear and Indo-Western fusion pieces. The fabrics and silhouettes are perfect for plus size bodies and the designs are a healthy mix of classics and new trends. 

The Western wear section has a wide selection of tops, shirts and jeans. I do wish they had more options in dresses, skirts, jackets and party wear attire. There is a serious demand and need of quality western office and evening wear clothes.
Along with the women's wear, Alto Moda also has wonderful men's wear section for plus size men.

As a plus size woman who has struggled to find quality clothes her entire adult life, a brand like Alto Moda is a blessing and boon. They have managed to understand the needs of plus size people and create clothes that look good, fit well and give us confidence. 
Alto Moda is not just making stylish plus size clothes. The brand is also sending out a very important social message. Where most fashion brands in India categorically ignore plus size people and their sartorial needs, here is a brand that is body positive and celebrates body diversity. A brand that has consciously chosen to be inclusive of different body types and has given visibly fat and plus size people a chance to dress stylishly, look good and be comfortable and confident in their own skin. 
Thank you Alto Moda for thinking about people like me and providing us with the best of fashion.

Photography by Abhishek Arora

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Fashion and Feminism | Can Fashion Be Feminist?

The one question I constantly get asked: Can fashion be feminist?  

The first time I encountered this question was when I was doing my Masters in English Literature. People could not understand, how a feminist could also be a fashion lover. How could someone, who is a women’s rights and gender equality advocate be a part of an industry that makes its profits by perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards by constantly telling women what is wrong with their body and appearance and how to change it. 
The biggest argument against fashion is, it is patriarchal and panders to the male gaze. Plus, in its pursuit of “perfection” it sets very unrealistic beauty standards for women. Therefore, a woman who chooses to embraces fashion cannot really be a feminist.  

To being with, this argument is flawed. Feminism has very little to do with personal appearance and everything to do with an individual’s rights.
Along with equal rights, feminism is strongly pro choice. Not only in the case of abortion but this is applicable for everything. If a woman wants to have a child or not is her choice, then why can’t we extended the same liberties for women who want to shave their legs and wear makeup? Why is one choice progressive and the other not?
By saying that women who follow fashion trends, or shave their legs, or wear bright lipsticks are not really feminist is validating the myth that women become feminist because they're too ugly!

In words of Roxane Gay, “I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn’t make certain choices for ourselves.”
Can Fashion Be Feminist?
Are fashion and feminism really compatible? 
Yes! Contrary to popular belief, fashion and feminism are not mutually exclusive. In fact, a large part of fashion has been very feminist in its approach.

A century ago, women did not have the luxury to unhook an undergarment and discard it at their whims and fancy. Nor could they burn it to make a statement. Back in the days when the Suffragettes were fighting for women’s right to vote, a lady named Mary Phelps Jacob aka Caresse Crosby was getting her patent for what is now infamously referred to as the bra. 
With that one move, Caresse managed to free women from the human cages called corset and give them the freedom to dress as they please. While we may take our bras for granted, a 100 years ago a garment like bra was nothing short of a revolution – a fashion revolution –that liberated women from the bondage that had entrapped them for years. Along with being bone crushing, often, corsets made it difficult to breathe easily. Thanks to the bra the women were no longer required to wear such restrictive undergarment.
Fashion & Feminism - Can Fashion Be Feminist?
If we owe the Suffragettes our right to vote, then we owe Mary Phelps Jacob our gratitude for giving us the freedom and luxury of no more being trapped in a garment that is not only uncomfortable but also claustrophobic.
History is filled with icon fashion forward creations that played a very significant role in women’s liberation. Knowingly or unknowingly they have contributed largely towards women asserting their own independent identity.

Fashion has not only worked towards women’s emancipation, it also has been big advocate and supporter of LGBTQ rights as well. One of the first industries in the world to be openly pro-LGBTQ, fashion has always had a very gender inclusive in approach. Openly gay men were creative directors of couture houses when other industries would not hire them. From Yves Saint Laurent to Karl Lagerfeld to Alexander McQueen, sexuality has never come in the way of an individual’s achievement. 
How can an industry that has always welcomed people of different sexual orientation not be considered feminist?
While most industries still perpetuate it, fashion has managed to blur some of the masculine and feminine binaries.
Fashion & Feminism - Can Fashion Be Feminist?
From Marlon Brando’s machismo to David Beckham’s sleekness to Jaden Smith's gender fluidity and from hyper masculinity to metrosexual, men’s relationship with fashion has immensely evolved.
Things that were once considered 
“feminine” are no more taboos. Men are now comfortable wearing - what was once labeled as traditional feminine - colours like pink and pastels. Pedicure, manicure and waxing are no more looked upon as female rituals. Men don’t shy away from dressing well and looking good. Some men even enjoy wearing makeup. These subtle changes have helped diminish the gender binaries.

One of fashion's biggest achievements has been, it acknowledges and celebrates female aspiration. 
For years, we have celebrated male aspiration as a sign of success and achievement and shrugged off female aspiration as frivolous. 
When a man aspires to buy a Bentley we applaud his ambition. However, when a woman states her dream is to own a Birkin bag we belittle her for being extravagant.
How is a Bentley, a car, a sign of achievement and Birkn, a bag, not?
Both are top of the line products in their respective industry. And yet, we see one as a sign of success and the other as a sign of vanity. How is a car more significant that a bag?
The purpose of both is to make a statement while being productive. A car takes people form one destination to another. A bag is used to carry things around. Then how is one superior to the other?
Here is where fashion comes in. By targeting female consumers, they have managed to respect and validate the female aspiration. What was once considered as excessive or spendthrift by society is now seen as a sign of achievement.
Fashion & Feminism - Can Fashion Be Feminist?
Fashion managed to break that sexist outlook that male desires and aspirations are superior to that of women. It was one of the earlier industries that pandered to women’s wants and not just their needs. For years, women’s wants were never discussed. It was all about their needs. Fashion changed that. It gave women the liberty to desire for more. To not feel guilty after splurging on a pair of shoes or bags or jewellery. 
Some women may not want to own a Birkin. Instead, they desire to own a Bentley. Guess what, they are free to do just that. Similarly, a man may not aspire for cars and bikes and instead want luxury bags and shoes! That too is acceptable now.
If men don’t get judged for desiring to own exorbitant cars, bikes and watches then society has no right to mock women’s wants. At the end of the day, a Bentley and Birkin are two sides of the same coin.

Like every other industry, fashion too has some fault lines. It is still not inclusive of all bodies and the beauty standards are still very unrealistic. However, many voice within the industry are rebelling against these standards and asking for more diversity. The entire plus size and body positive movement has be spearheaded by plus size models and fashion bloggers. While the journey has just begun, it nowhere from being over.
Fashion & Feminism - Can Fashion Be Feminist?
The constant demand for equal representation of plus size bodies along with straight size ones is finally being heard by industry insiders.
Sooner or later, fashion is going to become body positive.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie describes feminist as, “the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
Many times over, fashion has proved it believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. Therefore, fashion is feminist.
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