Meet Sohel Rana, the Most Hated Man in Bangladesh
Mayday in Bangladesh: “The serenity of Jurain graveyard seems more than other days on Wednesday as 32 workers whose bodies remained unclaimed made their final journey,” is how the local Daily Star described it.
And now begins the sideshow. It’s much more engaging than the main event, it must be said. Yesterday, theNew York Times’ Jim Yardley, who has been excellent on the subject of labor abuses in Bangladesh, delivered a short and amazing profile of Sohel Rana, the 35-year-old owner of Rana Plaza, the massive factory outside Dhaka which collapsed last week, killing at least 400 workers.
Rana appears to be typical of a certain type of Bangladeshi garment magnate: crass, vulgar, nouveau-riche, and involved in equal measure in organized crime and high politics. He rode with his entourage on motorcycles, he’s accused of dealing in guns and drugs, he seized the land where he and his father built Rana Plaza from small landowners by force and through illegal paperwork, and he was protected by corrupt officials.
He was involved in the youth league of the governing Awami League. Which, to put it mildly, is not quite the same thing as being involved in the Young Republicans. The youth wings of the national parties in Bangladesh often function as nothing more than massive gangs: the two main parties are crony organizations at the top and depend in large part on intimidation and politics-at-the-end-of-a-brickbat at the bottom. Every few months or so they call “general strikes” to protest this or that policy or as a pure show of force—the country largely shuts down and any unlucky auto-rickshaw driver caught violating the strike risks a beating or murder.
VICE Video Premiere: Maria ke Fisherman’s Fall/Winter 2013 Collection
As a horde of designers regurgitate trends that were hot back when I was still listening to the Spice Girls, it seems clear that the fashion industry has rediscovered the 90s. But, while those hacks simply rehash old styles, the techie streetwear brand Maria ke Fisherman uses the past as a launching pad for something new and exciting that pulls the zipper pants and mesh we loved from back in the day into a sexy cyberpunk future. Avant-garde bad bitches from all over the globe have started coveting the brand’s wares, including the controversial and trendsetting stripper/rapper Brooke Candy.
Maria Lemus and Victor Alonso launched Maria ke Fisherman in Spain in 2011, fusing Victor’s background in science with Maria’s love for fashion. In honor of them giving VICE the pleasure of premiering their latest fall/ winter 2013 collection, I asked the design duo a few questions via email about what it’s like to create garments so exciting they make girls (and guys) want to twerk on a racecar in a crop top.
VICE: Did you both grow up in Spain?
Victor: Yes we did. Maria comes from a small town in the south of Spain. She was the weird girl at school because she always dressed artsy. She wanted to be a teacher and a dressmaker when she grew up, so she moved to Madrid in her teens to study education and later fashion studies.
Maria: Victor comes from a beltway hood in Madrid, he grew up with the street art movement, and studied science. He never was related directly to fashion until he met me. He has self-taught knowledge in arts.
Where do you usually draw inspiration from for your collections?
We are unfocused people, so we don’t look for anything concrete. It’s a mix of feelings and aesthetics. Our inspiration usually comes after a night of partying, during our hangover. We have to liberate our minds of a lot of trash. We feel this freedom in those morning hangovers.
How did you both first start designing clothes?
Maria: I never saw myself working for any other brand. I have a lot of my own ideas and the thought of developing other people’s ideas makes me sad. I like to do what I like and I don’t mind having to fight for it. Victor and I first met and saw how our worlds fit perfectly. We knew we could make something big together.
The guy in the moving truck yelling “SKATE OR DIE!” while you practiced slappy noseslides on the red curbs in the grocery store parking lot? That was me, my child, that was me. The group of nine-year-olds demanding, that you do a kickflip, can you kickflip? Me as well. It’s always been me.
Fashion Cat by Alex Schubert
The DOs & DON’Ts of Coachella
At 5:00 AM on Monday, I jerked myself awake and looked down at my body to find I’d fallen asleep nude in a large hotel bathtub under a steady stream of scalding hot water. My contacts were dried out and suctioned to my eyeballs, and a ring of black dirt outlined my frame. Half of my hair was knotted up into one massive dreadlock so gnarly it would’ve put the bass players in nü metal bands to shame. Yet despite my broken body and haggard appearance, I was overcome with pride: I’d successfully survived the first half of the two-weekend-long adult spring break known as the Coachella Music Festival. Coachella is the annual desert-music event held in Indio, California, which happens to be one of the most physically grueling places this side of the equator. This was my third time attending, so by now, I’ve seen it all: from Rave Dad to a technologicallyreincarnated Tupac Shakur. For those of you who are going for the first time next week, or are just insane and attending for a second time, here are some tips to making it out of Palm Desert in one piece.
DO BUY VIP
Music-festival passes are extremely overpriced. However, if you’re baller enough to blow half a month’s rent to see a bunch of bands you could watch live on a laptop from the comfort of your own home in the sweltering hot desert, it only makes sense to shell out a couple more duckets to obtain VIP status. There is little to no cell reception at Coachella, so your phone battery is guaranteed to die. But VIPs have multiple charging stations. It’s hot as Satan’s taint in the desert, but VIPs have shaded areas, misting fans, and an air-conditioned bar. When you’re in GA, you can’t drink alcohol on the fairground. But the VIPs have more than one bar spread out in a closed-off section where they can easily watch bands and get plastered. And let’s not forget that parking is a bitch, but VIPs get to park closer to the entrance, so you don’t have to walk a mile to your car in the dark and possibly get stalked by bros in tacky tie-dye T-shirts. Plus as a VIP, you have a better chance of conning your way backstage into the artist areas if you keep yourself from breaking character when lying to security guards about how you’re part of the Earl Sweatshirt entourage, when really you’re just trying to creep on guys with guitars and the topless girls who are having them sign their tits.
DON’T WEAR INAPPROPRIATE FOOTWEAR
Considering that everything is far away, and you’re constantly walking around in circles in a bunch of dirt, your footwear choices will really make or break your entire festival experience. Unless you’re there with the sole purpose of having a bunch of sleazy “blog photographers” snap photos of you for obscure fashion sites that no one has ever heard of, dressed in a bunch of weird outfits you’d never actually wear at home, don’t bother sporting high heels. It’s already bad enough having to trip over the blacked-out idiots laying on the ground in the middle of the crowds at the main stage, but it’s even worse when you sprain your ankle and have to sit in a hot medical tent with a bunch of kids who ate too many brownies and are screaming to EMS workers that they think they’re going to die. Even more retarded are the people who wear sandals or choose to walk around in bare feet, as there are no proper bathrooms; you have to pee in Porta Potties. Between that and all the cop-horse manure you have to walk through, you’re setting yourself up for a pretty shitty experience.