It’s a great irony, but a majority of cookie-cutter influencers enforce safe, narrow ideals of coolness—even though they’re on platforms built for self-expression. Every so often, however, a breath of fresh air comes along and gives the system a welcome shake-up. Enter Keyana K—a dancer, model, and influencer of Singapore Chinese and Ghanaian heritage, who has aptly teamed up with Desigual, a fashion brand that celebrates difference and those who dare to turn heads.
With her gloriously textured hair and Afro-Asian features, Keyana is strikingly visible in Chinese-majority Singapore. But to attribute Keyana’s charm to her mixed-race ancestry would be reductive. What makes her truly special is her confidence and performer’s poise, both of which were hard-earned.
“When I was seven, my mother signed me up for a kids’ runway show to build my confidence,” Keyana recalls. “I have always been excited and curious about the fashion world, despite feeling uninvited.” Her rise to prominence online coincides with a global shift towards diversity—a move away from decades of homogeneous ethnicities, body shapes, and styles in popular culture.
Drawing strength from her differences
Differences are now often seen as something to celebrate. In the past, however, they have frequently been reasons for mistrust and derision. For minority individuals like Keyana, standing out from the crowd could easily be a source of self-doubt and shyness, especially during adolescence. “Growing up in Singapore as a girl of colour, I knew I was different,” she reflects. During her formative years, she describes “constantly second-guessing the outfits I would pick from my wardrobe.”
Was it a fear of attracting attention that held her back? “It took a lot of time for me to establish comfort in my own uniqueness and style. Once I accepted them, however, I flourished.” A quick scroll through Keyana’s enviably-curated Instagram feed (her handle is @heykeyana, in case you were wondering), it’s evident that she has indeed embraced her style.
Learning to love herself
So how does a person come to love what makes her so unlike the rest, turning what alienates her into what connects? For Keyana, the answer was dance, through which she regularly turns her body into art via movement. “All my friends and family know how spontaneous I am when I dance. Every time and anytime I hear music, it’s impossible for me to not groove and move along to it.” With musical preferences that lean heavily towards R&B, her current moves of choice are—in no particular order—the Smeeze, the Kangsta Wok, and the Woah.
Fashion, too, shapes Keyana’s identity and art form as much as music, given that clothes can completely transform the way she carries herself. When asked about her wardrobe choices for the video, Keyana shares, “I love brightly-coloured and patterned designs because they will never let you fade into the background. They’re a great reminder to own your look with confidence, which is why I love Desigual’s vibe. The pieces from Desigual are super comfortable as well, which is a bonus since movement is important to me as a dancer.”
Scroll through to get more fashion inspiration with Keyana’s top picks from the collection, now available at Zalora.com
Keyana’s tip: Ground printed pieces by pairing them with denim
Keyana’s tip: Dress up your jeans with a printed shirt and a statement jacket
- Tweed and denim jacket, $314
- Floral print shirt, $209
- Distressed jeans, $189
- Fringed cowboy jacket, $274
- Sock sneakers, $159
- Studded backpack, $169
- Patch-print platform trainers, $159
You’ve got it, so flaunt it
Sometimes, visibility is thrust upon people, and at other times, it is consciously declared. Having experienced both situations, Keyana has these words of wisdom to offer those who are afraid of being judged for being unique: “Standing out can be terrifying, but as cliché as it sounds, you really do only live once. We don’t have all the time in the world to do what we really want. So why stop yourself because you’re afraid of what others think? Just flaunt it!”
Surprisingly, social media has also provided plenty of reassurance, through the discovery and appreciation of others’ uniqueness. “It has introduced me to so many beautiful and singular personalities, such as @wuzg00d, @alealimay, and @iamdanileigh. Scrolling through Instagram inspires me every day.”
Why is celebrating difference so important? Here’s Keyana’s take: “It helps us understand, accept, and love all kinds of people. We are all on life’s journey. Why not make it an easier and happier one by supporting each other?”
Known for flouting the rules and doing things its own way, Spanish fashion brand Desigual is all about authenticity, non-conformism, diversity, equality and the freedom to be yourself. Shop the A/W ‘19 collection at ZALORA.sg and get ready to express your individuality through the brand’s versatile urban clothing and accessories.
Director: Joel Lim
Video Editor: Jovontae Simon
Hair: Ash Loi/Sonder Hair using Keune Haircosmetics Singapore
Makeup: Grego Oh
-Brought to you by Desigual and Zalora.com-