His name is Shaheel Shermont Flair, he is 24 years old and wants to be an actor. Funny. “Public figure”, “artist”, is described on social networks, where he shows his talents for comedy via videos /reels. On June 20, he shared his latest occurrence in them: parody of a fashion show. “Fashion shows are like that,” he would enunciate (emoticon with a face crying with laughter), and he would start to walk with a clean hip like Linda, Naomi or Christy in a T-shirt and shorts sporting what looks like his backyard, barefoot, every ‘exit’ implementing the styling with all sorts of junk, junk, utensils and household furniture. At one point unintentionally (or not) rickowensian, even uses her little sister, Riharika, accessorized on the side as a complement. On TikTok, where she has appeared as @ shermont22 for just over a year, the mini-film in question has accumulated more than five million views, and counting. The same as the number of his followers (close to 350,000, right now, 13 million plus ‘likes’), who do not stop asking for more. Another, another! The most recent was uploaded a few hours ago, the ninth installment by popular acclaim of a viral saga that is not really so ironic and hilarious.
For fame and glory purposes, by today’s standards, Shermont is already a star. In a recent story of his Instagram profile (@shermont_22, considerably less followers, although it is assumed that everything will work out), he confessed to having googled his name and do not give credit to the scope of the performance. “I’m on the news!”, he is stunned, showing captures from different digital media, especially from Southeast Asia. On Twitter he jells it as a hero of the week for making fun of, mocking and ridiculing fashion, of course, that silly and increasingly absurd thing.
The same thing happened just two months ago, when a video from the Douyin social network went viral in its western version (TikTok, that is) and gave rise to the challenge. Turn your grandmother into an international supermodel: a venerable old Chinese woman, balenciaguizada, guccified Y pradicified live for a boy who we presume his grandson with what he has on hand in the yurt, chicken included. The result, the logos of the brands superimposed on images in the style of any luxury advertising campaign, comes to say that Demna Gvasalia, Alessandro Michele or the Miuccia-Raf Simons tandem are all of us, or can be.
The lament has been repeated for a long time: fashion, how bad it is. More than ever. Not only does it pollute the planet and exploit its workers, it also makes fun of consumers. Are these designers crazy? No, they are just kidding us with such arbitrariness/ugliness/aesthetic stupidity. So he proceeds to return the grace to them, with a swinging jaw. Trolleys like that of Shermont or those of the Chinese grandmothers (there are quite a few) can, indeed, show a certain social weariness regarding a three-ring circus, with its trainers, illusionists and clowns, whose extravagances are understood to be nonsense and their most still difficult, insults or almost. The Vetements DHL uniform. Virgil Abloh’s Ikea bag. JW Anderson’s broken skateboard-encrusted jumper. Balenciaga’s shredded sneakers. Everything Balenciaga, the brand that the comments invariably refer to reel of the young comedian, although there are many who also extol his attitude and stylish model trot and ask to see him already parading in Paris and Milan. And then there are those who pretend to be funnier, sarcastic and ironic than the video itself (typical in the birding network). None, for that matter, who has repaired –or wanted to repair– the background of what it shows.
Shaheel Shermont Flair is a Fijian Indian, a descendant of those girmit from India who came to British-colonized Fiji in the mid-19th century as slave labor. He is also gay. “Welcome the queen on Instagram,” she urged in April 2021 when she debuted on the social network. In November she posted: “My sexuality is not the problem, your intolerance is.” In April of this year, he returned to the charge: “There are those who hate me for being different and not living according to society’s standards, but deep down what they would like is to have my courage.” Before the great parade of him, he was already doing low cosplay of the women of her ethnic group throwing waste. Toilet paper for the sari, a bottle stopper like nath in the nose and a tea bag like maan tikka on the forehead, for example, the trousseau of any Indian bride in the jocular post titled “Getting ready for my lover.” In another, she is seen dangling two balloons filled with water, breasts swaying under her T-shirt: “The things I do for TikTok,” she writes. Yes, Shermont has made comedy her escape route for harassment and discrimination (double in her case), social networks as a highway to heaven. Same as Apichet Madaew Atirattana in his day.
Less on intentionality glamorous, everything about the Shermont catwalk is reminiscent of the one that bundled up the so-called Thai Dovima. It was 2016 and a teenager from the rice-growing region of Isaan, one of the poorest in Thailand, astonished the world before the unique tiktoker thought took over, turning everyday objects, branches and garbage into fabulous outfits, with which he recorded himself parading through different locations in her village, the grandmother working as a styling assistant. Facebook and Instagram went crazy with what was called a “breakdown of the barriers between gender identity, fashion and recycling.” Madaew (nom de guerre) then explained himself like this: «I want people to see that those ugly things that don’t fit can be transformed into something beautiful. And that dressing well is not a matter of money. Just a few months later, Asia’s Next Top ModelSouth Asian edition of talent show American, summoned him as a guest designer for the fourth season. The following year, the magazine Time he cited him on his list of new generational leaders. His example spread, because soon after, Suchanatda Kaewsanga, a countrywoman and openly transgender, and the Chinese Lu Kaigang, whose proposals for a parade through his town in the province of Guangxi included dresses made from garbage can lids and bags made from old clothes, made their star appearances. air conditioners. Zero irony.
Here is the response from poverty and marginalization to the global impact of fashion as a mass phenomenon attached to the culture of leisure/entertainment. A practice in which the same resonates button policy Patrick Kelly, the first African-American designer to enter the ranks of the Parisian Prêt-à-porter Syndical Chamber in the mid-1980s, that the clothing exercises of the swenkas (workers of Zulu origin) and skhothans (image-obsessed post-Apartheid girl) of Johannesburg or the youth of Ghana who exploit the city-sized textile mega-dumps surrounding the capital Accra as quarries for their creativity. The narratives of those designers who mark the current paths of the business, amplified like never before by digital media, also show them that, yes, it is possible balenciaguizarse, gucciify either pradaficate without going through the box. That is why the Chinese supermodel grandmothers of TikTok mean aspiration rather than derision, proof that fashion has something for everyone, even the most socially disadvantaged (the proud hashtag that usually accompanies them, #chinastreetstyle, has no loss). That’s why Apichet Madaew Atirattana, Suchanatda Kaewsanga and Li Kaigang have made careers as creators, bloggers or influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers, from zero to infinity propelled by the dream fuel provided by the magazines of the town hairdresser or satellite television. “It’s very easy to blame fashion for all the problems it creates, but I like to think that it’s also capable of helping people in many ways, in a positive way,” says Minh-Ha T. Pham, a professor of media studies at the Pratt Institute of New York and author of Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet (2016), an essay on the dynamics of race, gender and class among those young Asians who have found their identity expressions in fashion, forcing the system to finally recognize them as a socioeconomic and cultural force. Shaheel Shermont Flair laughs, but he walks because he also knows what fashion can do for him, that he wants to be an actor.
The most avant-garde ‘influencer’ of the moment creates fashion parodies from one of the poorest islands in the world