Chaya Mistry

Fashion Design with Marketing and Production BA(Hons)

My culture and personal heritage have always been things that I hold close to my heart. My grandparents moved from India to the UK in search of a better life and in doing so, they brought their culture, religion, and traditions with them. I grew up in a westernised society, neglecting these parts of myself in the hope of seeking acceptance from others and this became clear to me when I was called a ‘Coconut’. A ‘Coconut’ is a slang term for someone who forgets or betrays their culture and although it’s said in a humorous tone, this word forced me on a journey to discover my roots. My Final Year Collection is called ‘Culture Not Costume’ and it is inspired by the controversial topic of Cultural Appropriation. This is the inappropriate use of elements from a non-dominant culture and this concept made me question my identity. I wanted to design a collection and brand, that me and thousands of other Young, South Asian women can resonate with. Alongside this collection I developed COCONUT, a fusion-wear fashion brand, which amalgamates both Western and South Asian/Indian cultures together to produce unique statement pieces that celebrate the beauty of both cultures.