Woman Crush Wednesday: Neha Chawla

Neha Chawla speaks softly in conversation, yet her creations are viscerally expressive. Despite her slight frame she looks tough, adorned in her trademark gothic face paint and a neck full of chains, swimming in a large black hoodie. Bleach spots draw the eye to her low-top Vans, sleeves and hair, all of which bear her fledgling fashion brand 2000zero’s distorted aesthetic. A lifelong painter with a keen sense of hustle, Chawla began customizing clothes for friends and acquaintances to fund the materials for the brand’s initial wave of releases not long ago. Though she will still take commissions personally (act fast, the price is only going up), she keeps the brand separate from her other endeavors, maintaining its lean, organized chaos, stylistic identity.

We meet on DePaul’s campus where Chawla studies psychology, which makes increasing sense as we talk; her mind is as analytical as it is creative. Along with her business partner Lupe, with whom she splits executive responsibility for 2000zero, Chawla has built the brand from a nostalgia-evoking concept.  Curating a collection of unique, hand-treated garments, that are sold more like art pieces than like typical apparel. In addition to creating 2000zero pieces, Chawla handles social media for the company and sources models for visual campaigns.

She is often appearing in them as well. The first two drops so far have featured a limited selection of one-off t-shirts, each designed using bleach as a primary medium. Through a proprietary and somewhat impulsive creative process, about which Chawla is careful not to say too much, every shirt has a completely irreplicable look. With distinct lines, shapes, shades and splatters they create a variety of striking visual effects.

Mastery of technique allows different styles to emerge with logically-assigned titles like THE GRID; criss-crossed by thick, industrial lines and washed out in the middle, resembling a decaying chain link fence. Somewhere between patterned and fully abstract, all the shirts in 2000zero’s current collection offer free-form explorations of texture grounded in (roughly) symmetry-minded sensibility. From the psychedelic, tie dye-inspired rifts of THE SUNSET to the bold pools and streaks of THE BLEEDER. The longer you look at one, the more detail you inevitably find yourself appreciating, not unlike staring at clouds.

Chawla believes the openness of her art to interpretation directly contributes to its impact, since more people can identify with less specificity. Intrigued by 2000zero’s product line and Chawla’s own artwork, I wanted to learn more straight from the triple threat artist, model and COO herself. This interview has been edited for style and clarity.

“How did you get involved in art and fashion design?”

“I’ve been doing art all my life but I just started this designing shit like five months ago. I’m from Maryland and no one really has their own style there They’re all kind of wearing the same things. Then I moved to Chicago and all of a sudden everyone is dressing different, so I was influenced by all the streetwear here. Growing up in the suburbs it’s hard to see a lot of individuality there. It’s easier in the city to stand out and be unique, especially when you know how to dress yourself.”

“Describe your personal style.”

“I try to have everything color-coordinated but not like I’m trying too hard, does that make sense? It really depends on how I’m feeling, but most of the time it’s pretty gothic; I like heavy chains, I like wearing black. I don’t necessarily want to label myself but I would say my style is mostly dark. Art is an expression of an emotion, so the way I dress and the way I make my art are the same.”

“Is there a different process to produce each design?”

“There is, but I can’t talk about it too much (laughs). My business partner and I both come up with ideas, but sometimes he’ll just throw the bleach and see what happens while I kind of have a little more planning to it. I really value having unique pieces because when something’s handmade and you can get it from the creators, themselves, it’s very personal. Like ‘here’s your pink shirt, you’re not gonna get that ever again,’ you know? We’re really all about being one-on-one.”

“So it’s not only a totally individual piece someone gets to own but also an individual connection to you guys as people, that’s awesome. Going back to the beginning, where did the 2000zero brand identity come from?”

“My business partner and I wanted to re-imagine the shitty style sense of the early 2000s by making clothes that would have been really cool back then. The early 2000s were such a mess bro, oh my God.”

“What does the immediate future of the brand look like?”

“We’re not gonna be bleaching anymore after the third drop. It’s gonna be completely different; A lot more eccentric, a lot of bright colors. You can expect that around December most likely. I eventually want to expand out of Chicago and grow national, still have each style be unique but have them in multiple sizes instead of literally just the one.”

“What else are you working on artistically right now?”

A lot of abstract painting, a lot of ink drawings and tattoo designs for people. I’m also doing some merch for an artist friend of mine. Lately it’s been explosions of emotion, a little bit all-over-the-place. I use different colors based on how I’m feeling and hopefully people will be able to see and feel those differences. I never have a plan for when I’m painting but when I do ink drawings, sometimes those are figures I see in my head. For example I did one drawing of a woman fading away and kind of unravelling into thread. I feel like a lot of my inspirations come from dreams.

“Thanks so much for your time, Neha.”

Neha Chawla | 2000zero

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: QUEEN LATIFAH

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All hail to the Queen! Welcome into her Queendom! Dana Elaine Owens has graced the world with her rapping style, elegance and courageous character. She wears many hats in the industry as a musician, television, film actress and producer, activist, president of a music label and entrepreneur. Might I add she is an CoverGirl brand spokesperson. Her personality alone turned her into an enterprise and a legendary female rapper.

“I was always taught to walk with my head up, to be a Queen”

Queen Latifah came in the rap game raising eyebrows from day one. Why are women not seen as equal to men? Why are women being disrespected in society by being called negative names and seen only as sex symbols? Was this our fault? NO! The Queen not only talked about the discrimination and lack of respect towards women she also rapped about how women need to also get together on their own while continuing to be strong.

In the 80’s and 90’s decade women weren’t to fond to be a companion in rap culture. Queen Latifah image was about strength, she never wore clothes to show off her body, only comfortable African culture apparel, casual clothing and sneakers. As her career evolved she still kept it classy and sensual. Her topics were about sexism, power and independence. This theme led to her hit song (above) “Ladies First” and “U.N.I.T.Y” (below)


Queen Latifah is still diligent in her current career pursuit of excellence. She has received awards for her work in film music plus she donates to worthwhile charitable organizations. Every year, Queen Latifah serves as co-chairman for the Lancelot H. Owens Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (In honor of her late brother who was killed in a motorcycle accident) to provide scholarships to students who excel scholastically, but are limited in financial resources. Queen Latifah has also written a book on self-esteem entitled Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman. In honor of this Queen, let’s all inspire to make a positive difference in this world. #BlackHistoryMonth

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HEY HEY… TKAY MAIDZA

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Looking for something new and edgy to listen too? 18 year old Tkay Maidza is an female emcee born in Zimbabwe, Africa. At the age of 5 her family moved to her current hometown Adelaide, Australia. This little lady is pint sized, bursting full speed into the scene in 2013 with her hit Brontosaurus feat. Badcop.

She enjoys daring lap dances during her radio show interviews and please do not compare her to Azaelia Banks or her fellow home mate Iggy Azalea. She’s in her own lane. Tkay spits her flow over any genre from Electronic, Pop, Alternative and she does it very well.

Tkay starts off singing her chorus lyrics over this electronic pop beat song “MOB” Money over B%$#!es. Wait until the base drops, she then starts to rap. If it’s too fast to comprehend, look up the lyrics. The meaning behind this song is an ethos “hard work over stupid shit.

What’s up Next for Tkay Maidza

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Tkay is currently on a national tour with recording artist Rita Ora as well as performing in Festivals such as Beyond the Valley, THIS THAT, SPLENDOUR and more. She is collaborating with other music artist like Charli XCX, Mark Ronson as well as A$AP Ferg. Keep up with Tkay, follow her on all her social media pages, in which you can find on her Website link below. 

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MUSIC FESTIVAL FASHION FIX

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Some Music Festival’s like to have a certain theme to match the genre of music that will be played or it can be a regular festival with multiple music genres. Whether going to Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Made in America or the Riot Fest, take a chance on different fashion styles. Think outside the box other than a regular t-shirt and jeans, sandals and gym shoes, mix it up a bit. This current 2015 year, the new fad seems to be a bohemian look or the 90’S trend. Take a look below for a few stylish ensembles that can help inspire an idea for an fashionable 2015 Music Festival look.

Men

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Gentlemen, the task of shopping is always more incomplex then women. Of course no one wants to look like a dork, a douche bag or just plain ole undignified. No matter what look dope to the highest degree. Possibly you may bump into a famous music artist or the woman of your dreams.

(Lumberjack shirts, Jeans, Shirts, Denim, Sweat pants, Shorts, Vest)

Women

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Ladies we want to be comfortable, free to just be cute and somewhat half-naked (laughs) it’s all good because it hot outside and we want to look even hotter.

(Dresses, Cardigans, Rompers, Jeans, Jumpsuits, Shorts, Leggings, Skirts,Tees, Tanks)

Group Theme

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Nothing like friends to the End, Bro’s before….Ladies sticking together through the weather. During music festivals, groups of friends like to come up with the idea of dressing the same way. The theme could be The Nerdy crew, Best Friends Forever, The “Bro” group, The flower power look, and more!

Accessories

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Make sure the look has it’s finishing touches with Jewelry, Sporty Watches, Hats and Headbands. Also carry extra mints,toiletries, deodorant, fragrance, selfie stick, in a cool Backpack that coordinates with the outfit.

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Comfortable shoes

When the music hits, the audience jumps up and down, walking through grass and dirt in inevitable and someone may step on your feet. Wear the most comfortable shoes to keep from hurting your toes or gaining imperfections toward the feet area. Dr. Scholls may be necessary to insert inside the shoe area for comfort. Remember there will be alot of standing and walking around for hours throughout the event.

(Women Boots, Dr. Martens, Converse, Men Sandals, Sneakers,  Women Sandals, Slip on Vans, Gladiator sandals)

Still not sure of what to wear? Try Pinterest for more ideas. Find your favorite local stores in the mall or  shop online to select clothing items that are unique and affordable for the special Festival look! Good luck 😉✌

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