A note from Mishka in 2020: Looking back on many of my fashion-related endeavors, I have found rampant evidence of cultural appropriation, which was, while seemingly innocent, really just ignorant. Bombay Mermaid was my beloved brand and Etsy shop that combined brightly colored handmade clothing with vintage items. I used it as an outlet for practicing couture hand-beading and turning my garments of my dreams into reality.
It meant the world to me and was my way of channeling my passion for “bohemian” fashion with a heavy influence of Indian embroidery and textile color schemes. At the time I thought of it as a melting pot of the things I loved, but years later I would become aware of the ways it was disrespectful and dismissive of the complex cultures I felt so inspired by. I have decided not to delete the evidence of this passion project from my blog, but leave it online with this apology.
I’m sure there were models, design peers and friends who were offended by my bold and loud cultural appropriation and just didn’t say anything. It’s not their job to do so, but I have had such a brazen personality in my creativity, it’s possible they thought it wasn’t worth the trouble. It’s heartbreaking to imagine that something I’d perceived as a pure and beautiful creative outlet was actually problematic AF. But I’ve accepted that these kinds of mistakes must be uprooted, shaken off, and reckoned with.
An Etsy user even tried to warn me of this years ago, but I was horrified by the thought that I was doing something wrong and tried to explain how I donated proceeds to a shelter for widows in Northern India, didn’t replicate any traditional designs, yadda yadda… I owe that person an apology too.
I’m sorry for any hurt and/or offense I caused with Bombay Mermaid over the years. The shop has since been closed and I have committed myself to unlearning the misinformed patterns that encouraged me to channel my creativity through cultures that weren’t my own to explore. I believe there are respectful ways to honor the cultures we admire without elbowing our way into them or trying to interpret them through an unrelated (or downright offensive) lens. Friends, peers, and readers, thank you for your patience with me and this blog as I take on this long-awaited work.
I have amazing news to share! The Sisters on the Runway NYC show raised over $4K for the nonprofit Safe Horizon this past weekend—an organization that benefits victims of domestic violence, especially women and children.
I’m so proud that my little DIY brand, Bombay Mermaid, was given the honor of opening both shows on Friday and Saturday.
An enormous thanks to everyone who came out to support the cause and see the show.
There were some incredible collections on the runway. It reminded me just how much I love creative collaboration and merging efforts with designers, models, and stylists. This will be my last year doing the show, and it couldn’t have been a better send-off.
Here are some backstage snaps — and you’ll find a video at the bottom of the post.
Thanks to everyone who helped bring this collection to life, including my amazing models, Raffael Flores-Contreras (who also DJ’d the event in addition to capturing the backstage magic), Blair Morgan Reeves (who organized the whole show), and everyone who helped inspire and motivate me along the way.