My Journalist self follows fabulous people into fabulous places.

Month: March, 2014

You’d Like to Be a Cat That Falls From the Sky

Literally, that’s what it means, Tmall天猫, a phonetic translation of the fastest growing e-commerce site targeted at mainland Chinese consumers which saw a growth in transactions from 25 billion yuan (2.4 billion pounds) in 2010 to 520 billion yuan (50.2 billion pounds) in 2013, according to Wall Street Journal. However, it’s not the figures that should interest you but the fact that Chinese consumers view the Cat as the one place immune to the cancerous parasitic counterfeit reality in Chinese e-commerce as they only feature retailers with registered trademarks in China. The most outrageous example that I have come across so far with Chinese counterfeits was in an Asian supermarket based in Hackney where they juxtapositioned 2 identical instant noodles with 24p-difference in price with a disclaimer – fake 65p, real 89p. The reason for the noodles story is obviously to introduce this hilarious video made by a Dutch ad agency. And yes, Shin noodles, those ones, I’ve got 5 in my cupboard.

(continued with my last email to you on why we should re-think China’s Tier 1,2,3,4,x cities to expand your business, I hope Tom has read it and if he is reading, i’d like him to know that I can do more about criticising (bitching) about others 😀 )

With Apple and New Balance opening “Flagship” stores on, Yes, they chose the word “Flagship旗舰”,  it’s safe to say that the digital has completely transformed the concept of place and space. Tmall, the Cat from the sky is the king of all cats, particularly powerful against copycats. To demonstrate cats power, please go on, or read on and you will find out that ASOS, the most idolised European online fashion retailer is planning to open a Tmall storefront in late April, offering (literally, like in the sense of sacrificing) 50% off a cardigan sweater to pull traffic. It was merely a few months ago in Nov that they launched their Chinese website that got the fashion industry bouncing off the walls.

Since you’ve pretty much got the idea why China’s space (especially air-space where territorial cats live) could be the intimidatingly huge with amazing potentials, I’d like to point out that cats can be a bit too smart for our own good.

As we conclude our discussion on china’s digital space, I’d like to point out that as the culture/film snob that I am (or possibly wanky), my favourite space is a concept called non-space (Ok, definitely wanky). There’s this 1967 French film called 2,3 Things I know About Her, which explores the concept (omg so wanky, call the police).

Thanks Tom!


You’d Like To Be Wesley Hartwell – an interview I did in 2012

Survival tactics or creativity driven, this generation of young professionals sails out of the economic downward spiral and finds haven in London’s East End. Branding strategist and global marketing consultant Wesley Hartwell talks about the new waves of creative industries and where they all began, the East End. Report by Nate.
“they come because they hear it’s popular, and not because they are part of it.”

Hartwell in his then office in New York, 2007. Photo by Hartwell

Hartwell in his then office in New York, 2007. Photo by Hartwell

Since when do cafes repair bicycles? the muscley redhead bike specialist plucked a bicycle wheel right above Wesley Hartwell’s head who was having a beautifully made flat white. this is one of the first few, said Hartwell, speaking of “Lock-7″, a bicycle cafe, a recent trend of combining a cafe and bike store in one. looking outside from Lock-7 into the main street of Broadway Market, mustaches are talking more than lips do, trainers are walking with more pride than Louboutin platform heels. there’s definitely something in the air, that smell of rebellion against beauty, modernity and evidently traditional business models, bikes are being sold with coffees and sandwiches.

For newly moved-in young professionals, they are not doing too bad for themselves collectively in East London, which finds itself in contrarary to the big economic picture post Global Financial Crisis in overall london. it may have been the rebelious nature of generation-y professionals’ creativity that enabled the waves of business and styles.

The sucess story that has touched continent of north america, europe and australia-oceania, branding strategist Wesley Hartwell and the people like him function as key figures to make such businesses exciting and doable. Hartwell, founder and brand curator of the global branding consultancy firm SELF-FULFILLING PROFECY offers his opinion on the revolutionary IT deveopment’s challenge on traditional business models, “Online streaming of fashion shows and social media sharing of information of people’s prestiges in taste are tied in closely with technology. the sense of now and immediacy that people need wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the development in social media.”

Geographically speaking, the against all odds economic boom has literally taken on a movement, from the digital media/technology flocked old street, “silicon roundabout” to further east and north, making hackney, brick lane, dalston haggerston the areas to be. “Post GFC(Global Financial Crisis) is the best time to realize your dream if you dream is to start a sucesfful business, clients wouldn’t want to lash out massive budgets but to use more cost-effective methods such as social media marketing cleverly, which is free” said Hartwell.

The historically immigrants absorbant East end would not have been able to come accross as trendy without the uprising of the creative industries. and that extends from  new waves of marketing technology sector to fashion and style as well as the hospitality industry. within 10-min walk from the “shoreditch triangle(where shoreditch high street, great eastern street and old street intersect)”, you will come across some of london’s uncoventional bars and restaurants and what would have been perceived as “edgy” shops and galleries.

When the hip and trendy sweap over neighbourhoods such as the ones that were never properly appreciated on the eastside, the stylish invasion may not be well received by the locals as the prices of housing going up and cultural clashes becoming more evident. However, the branding strategist sees the bright side of this, “east end of london is where people go to express themselves to create fashion,” commenting on the positive effects that east london is producing for the fashion industry.

“when you talk about the west end of london, regent street and covent garden, it’s always where the flagships are, where the labels show off their seasonal collections to shoppers,Hartwell explains the conventional linear model in fashion where style has been set by the mainstream shops and consumed by shoppers. “east end of london is about people who are more willing to take risks, wearing something they want to wear, putting it together in their own kind of way knowing that other people around them are doing the same.”

The concept of individual style, anti-mainstream would not have been new to many urban populations. in fact, there has been global movement in stealth sprung in many major cities in the world, with the East End being the representative of London, AKA, the hipster movement.

“Hipster is a term that’s a global term with a long history. it comes from hip and hep in the jazz era and the hippies in the 60s. it’s all to do with anti-mainstream culture.” said Hartwell. “The culture has become a youth movement that’s adopted, homogenized and packaged eventually.” And for exactly that reason, the hipster culture has created business opportunities among their peers – the people who would think out side the box to package their businesses in either avant garde(bizarre) or retro respective.

Fin and Flounder, a lovely fish shop that came to mind

Fin & Flounder, the tiniest fish monger on broadway market which carries no more than 5 kilos of mussles or 2 squids daily, has proven to be smart marketing against major super market chains. The shoppers would be getting the Fin & Flounder shopping expereicne as oppose to the best deal on fresh salmon. the selection is very small but beautifully decorated which gaves the feel of exclusivity. the friendly and definitely above average looking staff would not be wearing bloody and smurged aprins and butcher/chef hats, instead, they are wearing vintage jumpers and headbands. what normal customers expect such as variety and low pricing are put to shame by the shops disclaimer of their support on the sustainability of the UK fish stocks. As their website states “we hope to provide all our customers information on our where and how our fist is caught”, each fish has a story in Fin & Flounder.

Some people might call it survival tacticks, others like Hartwell call it contemporary style. “[East London] is where contemporary style is, a big mix of high and low, polished and raw, young and old, established and fresh.” However, the East London sprung, like any other cool things that would be call has-beens now may be short-lived. “When something becomes too popular it moves, like the 90s Soho in New York changed into the East Village then the Lower East Side and now further out, definitely in London it moved from shoreditch to hackney dalston stock newington. part of that is when it becomes popular, people come because they hear it’s popular and not because they are part of it. the prices like rent will all going up, so people would have to move further out.”

Hartwell, 39, a local Bethnal Green resident has felt the pressure of the rising in housing price, “I look on real estate websites in between sending important emails as my way of taking a break from work. I might have to move to dalston if the price keeps going up like this.”

Follow Wesley on Twitter

You’d Like to Be A BuzzFeed Post Vol.2 – Kiss Me Once is Released TODAY!

Kylie’s 12th studio album is released TODAY!! Obviously for Kylie I don’t mind not writing long-form.
Here’s the first post I did on BuzzFeed leading up to this point, titled “Kylie Shows Up Unexpectedly, Even At Your Loo!”

Kylie Minogue likes to show up unexpectedly this year, first at OLD BLUE LAST, then in a GYM to Surprise a fan, now she is in your loo!

1. She was at the Old Blue Last to Perform her single INTO THE BLUE, which sounds like INTO THE LOO when she sings it.

Photo by / Via

2. She performed INTO THE BLUE in a gym to surprise a fan ADAM.

Everyone else got out of her way!

3. She can’t stop showing up unexpectedly now, tells band member “Into the loo”


4. Tells policeman “into the loo”


5. Tells dog “into the loo”


6. Tells Soldier “Into the loo” / Via

7. Tells cyclist “into the loo”


8. Tells the Asian community “into the loo” / Via

9. Even herself / Via

10. OMG Kylie returns with “Kiss Me Once” !!

I need the loo but can’t go till i’ve finished hearing every track!

Kiss Me Once, Kylie’s 12th Studio Album Is Released TODAY! Photo by

Get It Here!

You’d like to be Tom Hulme. But, Would you really?

Another White Man Saving Brown Women from Brown Men?

(Disclaimer: I adore Tom Hulme and I would love to intern at his company. But after this article I’d imagine it would have slipped away naturally)

In complete contrast to his dishevelled hair – this gentleman’s list of achievements is as breath-takingly linear and long as they are well documented, in another word, world-class. Carrying the charisma that sets himself apart from other entrepreneurs who utilizes pretension for a conspicuous cause to establish status, Hulme – in check shirts and trainers talking to a podium-ful of work hungry students playfully.

“a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and was listed in WIRED UK’s top 100 “digital power brokers” in 2011 and 2012. In November 2012 he was included in the Evening Standard list of London’s 1000 most influential people. Tom is also a member of the advisory board of the Tech City Investment Organisation of the UK government, supporting the startup community in East London.”

Founder of OpenIDEO, a project that enables “anybody” to contribute ideas usually for a specific seasonal task is currently burgeoning a campaign aiming at Indian women’s safety in low socio-economic areas, extending the social debate that gained worldwide attention due to the number of cases of rape, gang-rape in India last year, coinciding with the biggest election that the world has seen in India where 800+ million voters participated last Saturday certainly has got all eyes on him.

His hour-long talk at London College of Communication ended with a Q&A session where I had the privilege to ask the final question:

Me: “Post colonial cultural theorist, Gayaki Spivak is known for her criticism of “Western” doctrine’s interest in the debates on post colonial states, like India. She once famously criticized the ‘West’ for ‘White men saving brown women from Brown men’, do you think that your challenge on helping indian women could be a bit indulgent.”

Probably not as indulgent as my question.

It was the journalist in me that made me want to stir up the otherwise homogenous agreeable applause applause talk. Branded as an open innovation platform, OpenIDEO serves as a levelling tool to democratize ideas. Slide after slide of empirical data and research findings narrated in his non-threatening and yet authoritative tone, Hulme had smitten the room with the look of an Australian surfer and the backlog of jaw dropping credentials, as well as saint-like proclaims of the non-profit driven nature of his work. The question on my mind was, has he really discovered the ultimate levelling platform for ideas or is he just an amazing motivational speaker?

India, with its roots lying in a culture built around hierarchies of gender, religion, caste and colour produces the most number of millionaires in a country in the world but is known for the human pyramids built on travelling trains and “slum dogs”. Dealing with the issue of women’s safety in India is comparable to dealing with cocaine use in Hollywood, Indian men’s disrespect towards women is justified by the disregard of women’s identity as a whole. From the time a brother is sent to college whereas the sisters are left running errands to accompany the mom, to the criticism of a western tourist showing cleavage inviting a gangbang, to me woken up by a penis on my face that belongs to a married Indian friend of my housemate’s that was staying over who was told that I was gay, all these evidence suggest that sexual crimes can all be justified because the victims have all “asked” for it. (Possibly not all) Indian men live by the rules that the patriarch structure can be taken for granted and sexual offenses are the reward of sexually deprived women and gay men. Where can I send my “thank you for your penis” card?

The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho, a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 620 kilometres (385 mi) southeast of New Delhi

From the country that brought you Kama Sutra, which features not only the 100s of sexercize positions (some even include horses, probably as props) but also the depictions of gay and lesbian sex to a society that bans prostitution as well as homosexuality, the change is held accountable by one country – UK. It was during the Victorian colonial period did the British labelled the Orientals “the oriental vice” during its “Fanatical Purity Campaign” – meaning the “West” didn’t like it that the Indians expressed their sexuality freely whose gods include hermaphrodites and androgynous beings.

Arjuna and Krishna – 2 Indian gods who are frequently referrenced for their same sex love. Photo by

Centuries later, the repressed physiological needs of men (sex) are compensated by the compromised safety needs of women, due to the very fact that it was the colonial Victorians who initiated the increasing imbalance. We are brainstorming ideas globally to help with women’s safety? Something’s got to give. And solving the problem one-sidedly will only create future imbalance. If men were to blame, help THEM first. After all Marslow views sex as a more basic form of needs than safety. Shouldn’t we be thinking about how to feed the wolves?

Indian Men in/on/above A Running Train. Photo by BBC

An Indian girlfriend once said to me, “look at the UAE, if someone steals, they chop his hands off. That’s why their crime rate is so low, why can’t we do something like that?” Obviously we can’t, coz we are the “West” and they one thing we take pride in is the discourse of human rights. In cultural theorist Spivak’s essay “Can Subalterns Speak?”, long story short, subalterns can’t speak. Coz when they do speak, how are we going to listen with an ear that only takes in what fits in the western discourses such as feminism and human rights?

Solving a third world problem within the Western doctrine is very likely to lead nowhere. But if Hulme’s challenge is aimed at raising awareness and showing concern or goodwill, he certainly has accomplished that. After all, as of today, 585 profiles have contributed to their research, a research according to my question to him, could be of western problem-solvers’ indulgence.

My question for him certain got him interested. Having distinguished the contributors to OpenIDEO from the Westminster suit and tie white middle aged men, he gave a convincing answer that OpenIDEO users are of wide demographics which include victims themselves. However, my scepticism remains as my enthusiasm continues to find out how big of an impact could this challange manifest.

Hulme at London College of Communication, 2013. Photo by London College of Communication

N: is there any personal reason that made you consciously choose a path that’s not necessarily guaranteed to generate great revenue?

H: “My dad was an entrepreneur so I’ve always admired entrepreneurs. And I spent a year in Africa before I went to university the first time when I was 18 and that had a huge impact on me. I promised myself that I’d create businesses and do start ups that will have positive social impact so I combined the two things. That why I never went to work for a big company I never consider it.”

All eyes on Hulme and his OpenIDEO contributors. Participate and contribute to the reasearch and ideas here:
Follow Hulme on Twitter:

You’d Like to Be a BuzzFeed Post Vol.1

As much as I hate the shallow vacuous and image saturated “blogs” or “news sources”, I gave my best shot at creating a narrative with images. It’s been fun writing on BuzzFeed but that’s not exactly what makes me tick. Here’s the last post I wrote on Ian McKellen.

Ian McKellen Tells Gay People To Come Out The VICIOUS Way

McKellen embraced COMING OUT at Buzzfeed Brews, subtle and powerful but his character as an elderly GAY man on the ITV show VICIOUS would have done it VERY differently!

1. This is what Sir Ian said…

.. but It’s not that easy!

2. There are men who are gay but … they get married and have kids!!


… we know…

3. They live like vampires …

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

4. They do coz they feel like they have no choice … and we are listening

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

… do go on

5. … hours later, we realize they are scared to hurt the people they love

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

6. Or they think they’d be disowned .. “DISOWNED”

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

Disowned, meaning family that they thought would love them unconditionally would want nothing to do with them IF they INSIST on being gay, which makes it all THEIR fault coz they CHOOSE to hurt their families. Faced by the possibility that they won’t be loved (by the family) again, they give in.

7. … so, largely, it’s … fear

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

… fear to live in an honest life and therefore, they try to convince themselves that they are HAPPY!

8. BUT, Sir Ian McKellen knows best!!

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

… it’s fine to cry a little

9. The fact that you’ve been lying all your life to yourself and worse, the future innocent and ignorant wife and kids!

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

… sorry, a bit too harsh … i take that back… it’s true, you need to be ready and face tremendous risks

10. but when you ARE ready

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

11. AND we will be like …

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

12. compared to your “girlfriends”, you realize …

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

13. we say: “Would you mind if we touched your gorgeous buttocks?”, and you say

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

14. You’d be dancing shamelessly to Kylie Minogue and Madonna

melbasianfreak tumblr via ITV / Via

You are Spinning Around, You are doing the Locomotion, You Get Into the Groove, you are a LUCKY STAR coz being gay is FABULOUS!!

15. For any of you that wants to join the big family and help the less fortunate battle their struggles and political conditions by COMING OUT


Love Yourself and Live an Honest Life! Thank you Sir Ian McKellen!!!

So, what did you think? I honestly don’t have the intention to do another one of those. Please don’t throw away your weekend Guardian Magazine. See ya!

You’d Like To Be Peter Firth

“It was enthusiasm that did it, rather than any degree of talent.”

Probably a bit of both. Senior Journalist Peter Firth from the Future Laboratory – one of the world’s most renowned and respected trend forecasting consultancies speaks of the beginning of his career in the most understated fashion. Citing the article “Doormen in it for the kicks” in the Guardian as his first commissioned piece, having just graduated from London School of Journalism, his articles can be seen in Total Guitar Magazine, Songlines and the Hackney Gazette. But it wasn’t until he joined LS: N Global of the Future Laboratory, did he witness exponential personal and career growth. On some occasion his words are heard by an audience of 400-500 people including clients from Microsoft and Harrods in Tate Tanks. Firth in a telephone interview speaks to me about what the futures industry entails.

Firth has given Trend Briefings to brands including Marks & Spencer, Estée Lauder, Microsoft and Harrods, examining consumer behavior through case studies, quantitative data and expert analysis.

F: “Future Laboratory has developed a reputation for being accurate.”

Trend forecasting as an industry seems to resonates with the ideas of many contemporary cultural theorists. Michel Foucault, Friedrich Nietzsche and Pierre Bourdieu to name a few have all made their prophecies on what the western societies could become and underpinned the principles that fuel the subsequent commercial affluence. In Firth’s work however, it is not as taste driven or theoretical like you’d except. Firth’s predictions are based on empirical data, the results of think tanks, and a congruence with the opinions of industry experts such as Stephan Sigrist from Wire and Steve Vranikis the creative director of Google. These foundations underpin the accuracy and confidence in the trend future forecasting.

F: “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” Firth quoting William Gibson.

Tactfully exploring social shifts and human behavioural patterns, LS: N Global clears the visions of the lucky and selected few who bare the privilege of seeing life from the other side of the microscope, by subscribing LS :N Global‘s reports – some of which are often adorned hilarious and intentionally self-referential and peudo-scientific titles such as the upcoming one in New York called “The Polarity Paradox”.

A sneak peak into the near future

LS: N Global present their briefings to clients such as Harrods, Marks & Spencer and Harvey Nichols which for members of the public are trends’ driving force and taste makers. When asked about the balance between finding/forecasting trends and creating trends when reporting to clients of such profile:

F: “There’s a self-perpetuating quality about these things. When you think that something is happening you will have an selective eye. When you buy an iPhone, other people start buying iPhones and when you start smoking, other people seem to start smoking. It’s not that more people are smoking but it’s just that you notice it more. Things to watch out for. The way we get around that is by having a network of forecasting. It’s not just me on my own forecasting because we are a range of diverse thinkers.”

N: “What is it like to forecast trends knowing that what you like may be very subjective to your own taste. Do you fight the tendency to project your own taste into the work in hopes that it will turn into something big?”

F: “Actually I had this discussion with our visual editor a while ago. Certain things are subjective. Seeing the emergence of certain design over the course of certain time, you can talk things over chronology, rather than taste. One of our jobs is to find stuff, which can be fashion, a poster, an advertising campaign, something about the consumers’ way of living, that we can create and mimic.”

Since April 2012, Peter has been technology publication T3’s futurology columnist, examining the big questions surrounding our long-term relationship with technology.

Firth on BBC World Service, "The Hub", December 2012 Discussing the future of human communication, as well as the first wifi linked communication between two people's pulses.

Firth on BBC World Service, “The Hub”, December 2012 Discussing the future of human communication, as well as the first wifi linked communication between two people’s pulses.

Trend forecasting has definitely taken journalism into new grounds as the newly “taken off” form of journalism aims to drive commercialism within a codependent club as oppose to the old fashioned extra extra that’s just in. We are definitely witnessing a divisive industry which trades information about who wears what, what sells where, where likes whom secretively and hyped-up more than stock prices.

N: It seems to me that your work is closely tied in with commercialism and your findings are targeted at the middle class, which casts out a big sector of the bigger society. Do you ever feel that your work may carry some social responsibilities? Do you ever feel a bit detached from traditional journalistic work?

F: There are a lot of independent factors that weigh in here. First of all you become a journalist, you kind of want to believe in free speech and the idea that the public has the right to know about what goes on internationally, their locale and all the rest of that, which is what I completely agree with. It is kind of interesting to be on the business side. Essentially it’s not doing the same thing. It’s the same set of skills, you are doing it to empower organizations, which is kind of strange, but those organizations are not always the big and frighting ones, quite often some of them are small design studios and starting up ad agencies, people that are doing interesting work, the work itself might have an element of social responsibilities to it. That’s definitely an angle. Also that form of journalism is taking off. You are using the skills of a journalist to pursue other angles.

The angle I should take with my skills learned in school as a journalist may not be as arbitrary as I might believe. The girl who makes my coffee in Shoreditch Grind calls herself a writer/blogger/journalist. I’d imagine becoming a barista was probably not the best angle for her.

LS:N Global senior journalist Peter Firth explored the topic of Millennial luxury consumers with 22-year-old Amber Atherton, founder of online jewellery and accessories boutique MyFlashTrash.

“You are here because of your enthusiasm.”

It took me 3 weeks and at least 10 emails to get Mr Firth on the phone. Judging by the sound quality, he was talking to me on a mobile phone while walking in the cold streets of London. As a journalism student who has yet to get an article commissioned, and I know I am not alone on this, I had to ask what it takes to break into the industry.

N: There’s this tweet of yours, “There’s often a no before a yes.” I certainly had a bitter sweet taste of what that quote entails. Can you tell us about your experience in some of the hardships or disappointments on the road to success?

F: I know what you mean. I think it’s really tough to try and break into journalism. It’s kinda infamous. You know what, it’s probably even tougher now than it was when I was trying in 2009 or 2010. I think it’s just about perseverance. I think you should just TRY (X5), that’s how I sort of did it. I started as an intern at LS: N Global and it was kind of position swoop and I guess it was enthusiasm which did it rather than any degree of talent. At the beginning for a certain time, I didn’t particularly believe in my talent, or actually I think I did, but it was that [enthusiasm] which was attractive. Remember I said “you are here because of your enthusiasm”.

The next LS: N Global Trend Briefing – The Polarity Paradox takes place in New York on March 19. What does this mean for brands, stores and products? What does this mean for Peter Firth? And what does this mean for student journalists? I’d certainly want to be him, especially on that day.

Report by Nate

Follow Peter Firth on Twitter @PJFirth


The Future Laboratory