Thursday, March 20, 2014

Blog 4-Diane Cabaluna

It is the last and final week of the Be Green Challenge. I will be honest and say that I have given in. A purchase was made in honor of me even though I did not buy it myself. I recently went the the Warriors game over the weekend with my family and my mom bought me a shirt at the store because I was the only one in the family who didn't have any Warrior gear on. I admit, I really did want a shirt too because I felt so out of place at the game wearing a button up and cardigan(I don't go to many basketball games okay?)



In Kawamura's article "Adoption and Consumption of Fashion," it is mentioned that consuming becomes a way to identify yourself. For example, just because I was at the Warriors game and all the fans were decked out, I felt the need to assimilate and identify with them, I felt so out of place before my mother bought me a shirt. I can definitely see how people use consumerism today to buy the new latest thing to "look cool" or even fit in.

In the article "Driving Teen's Egos," it talks about how teens today are always surrounded by advertisements and it makes them consume more than past generations. Since they are always told through internet advertisements or television commercials that they need this new phone or this new shirt to look cool, they are very vulnerable since they are still developing and find comfort in purchasing these items. The marketing strategy they use for teens today is "you are what you buy."

Inside Source: Kawamura, Yuniya. "Adoption and Consumption of Fashion." 2005. Fashion-ology: An Introduction to Fashion Studies. New York: Berg Publishers.

Outside Source: http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun04/driving.aspx

Blog 3- Diane Cabaluna



Since I felt very guilty about making so many Valentine purchases last week, I was very conscious about my choices this week and have not bought anything at all. This Be Green Challenge is more challenging than I thought because I figured that I would have no problem not purchasing things until I realized that I often buy things for others. Speaking of buying things for other, after reading the article "Abercrombie & Glitch," I have an embarrassing confession to make. I actually bought one of my former significant others one of those "its a Nguyen, Nguyen situation t-shirts," and he loved it. This was in high school and I didn't really think about it at the time. It was one of my other South East Asian friends who actually told me about this site and she purchased a "What the Heo?" Shirt from here with a picture of a pig on it because "heo" means pig. I think the difference between this is that it is an Asian owned company whereas Abercrombie and Fitch is not. This reminded me of how we spoke about how when a Westerner wears a culture's traditional clothing, it is offensive and they should not be wearing it because they have not gone through the hardships and do not deserve to wear it.


You an check out this site below and see the other shirts they have. 
http://www.anhoi.com/




 Although this is different from having Abercrombie and Fitch selling them because with their history according the the "Abercrombie & Glitch Article," they do not have the best reputation respecting other people. I don't really find it hard to believe that they didn't know that this was offensive since they do not have the greatest track record. For example, they only want a certain "look" when it comes to their employees and they do not even make any plus sized clothing because their brands only targets specific communities.

Inside source: "ABERCROMBIE & GLITCH / Asian Americans Rip Retailer for Stereotypes on T-shirts." SFGate. N.p., 18 Apr. 2002. Web. 01 Mar. 2014. 

Outside Source: http://news.msn.com/pop-culture/abercrombie-and-fitch-under-fire-for-not-making-plus-size-clothes

Blog 2- Diane Cabaluna


I thought I would breeze through this challenge due to the fact that I no longer shop as often. Unfortunately Valentine’s Day was this week and I spent a lot of money but it was not on myself. I bought a lot of gifts for my friends which included a bunch of baking supplies, chocolates and Valentine socks from Target for friends. Although I do not consume a lot for myself, I noticed that I often buy things for others. Whenever I get a paycheck, I think about all the ways that I use money to get my parents nice which brought me to the conclusion that often times we think that buying things for others will make them happy. We are obsessed with the thought that the amount of money we spend on someone shows how much we care. 

According to Ava McCall’s “Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture through Textile Art,” Hmong clothing has very detailed patterns. These patterns all serve a purpose and have a meaning behind them. It is not uncommon to teach young Hmong girls how to sew because the women usually sew clothes for the family and by sewing on these very detailed designs it represents not only their culture but shows that they spent a lot of time working on it and in a way shows how much they care for their family because they took a long time to sew on the design, kind of like a labor of love. It is even mentioned that even the poor wear designs on their clothes. This connects with the statement I made previously about how you purchase things for other people in order to make them feel special because you worked for that money and are displaying your affections by buying them nice things, which is similar how Hmong women will take the time to make an intricate design to put on a loved one’s clothing. 

John Bingham’s article “Cycle of ‘compulsive consumerism’ leaves British family life in crisis Unicef study finds,” that parents are buying their children materialistic items to make up for the time they are not able to spend with their children due to long work hours. This shows that people often think that buying things for their loved ones will show how much they care and that the more expensive an item is, the more they care about the person. 



Sources

Inside Source
McCall, A. "Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and CUlture through Textile Art." The Social Studies; Sept/ Oct 1999; 90, 5; Ethnic News Watch. Page 230.

Outside Source

Blog 1- Diane Cabaluna


During the next four weeks, I am partaking in the Fight Consumerism and Be Green Challenge. The rules I will attempt to follow will be not buying any new products and if I do decide to purchase something, it should be used. Although this does not include items like food, hygiene products, ect. I’m using working or in class so I rarely have time to shop aside from the times I go home for a long weekend or break so I do not think this will be that big of a challenge for myself. Although my former self was a shopaholic. I found myself buying things just to buy them or just because they were on sale. I ended up with a closet full of clothes with the tags still on since I never wore them and I created a vicious cycle of buying things I didn’t need, donating them and then shopping to reward myself for donating items. This is because buying things nowadays is so easy. 

We live in a world where instant gratification is possible. We can easily buy the new latest gadget and the question is no longer “can we afford it? but do we really need it?” (Richardson). According to Jamie Anne Richardson’s article “Breaking the Consumer Addiction,” we live in a day and age where we do not even need to step foot into a store in order to consumer, we can shop from the luxury of our own homes in our pajamas on the internet. In fact, “we don’t even have to have a credit card handy with PayPal” (Richardson).

Purchasing things are very convenient as well as cheap today. When I would walk into a Forever 21 and see a $5.00 blouse, I never thought that the cheap price actually paid with a very hefty price of of an overworked and underpaid employee. The article in our reader “Santa’s Sweatshop,” goes over the the concept of subcontracted labor. Many companies use subcontracted labor because it is cheaper and since the laborers are not directly under them, they “do not have any control” over what happens to the laborers. When are are exploited, the big name brands cannot be held accountable for any of the mistreatment of the laborers. The whole concept of this became real to me when we watched the film “Made in L.A.” in class because I was not just reading about this a topic but I got to see the faces and hear the stories of these women who were being exploited by Forever 21. It was upsetting to watch but very necessary to realize that injustices are real and we as consumers are a part of it BUT can stop it. Each time you purchase a $3.00 scarf you are support the mistreatment of these people and in order to stop this, we can first off, stop shopping there and then educate others about what is happening.



I don’t mean to end on a cynical note, but it is not likely there will be any change because people still want $7.00 dresses, and because this does not directly affect them, it is so much more convenient and easy to turn their heads the other way. 

Works Cited 

Inside Source Made in L.A. PBS, 2007. DVD.

Inside Source Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman and Ito. "Santa's Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, It's
          Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift-- And Under What Conditions." Reader.

Outside Source Richardson, Jamie Anne. "Breaking the Consumer Addiction." Huffington Post. N.p., 27 Mar. 2012. Web.



B Morita Blog #2

So as to avoid flooding with several haphazard blogs I feel that I could better phrase my experiences as a reflective look back at the knowledge gained this past quarter. Coming into this class I had no Idea of what to expect as my knowledge was very limited to the various cultural backgrounds. Being largely unaware of he various styles of ethnic clothing or the significance in the history behind them I found a lot of the information refreshing. The building of the context and history that is imbued into the various styles of fashion, was enlightening as I found myself becoming less Oriental in my understanding. Much of my knowledge base has been skewed due to growing up in the US, and my perception of the various ethnic wear had very little meaning to me besides just dressing up. From the struggles encountered by the Hmong to keep their history through embroidery or the struggle to preserve the Vietnamese traditional Ao Dai, I found myself examining the use and wear of these clothes in a vastly different light.

In learning of the process behind fashion as well I found myself enamored in learning of the various aspects that go into the trends and their effect on society. I did not think much about the difficulty to make it in the fashion industry as I am not one to be very fashion conscious and about the only brands that I was really aware of were the limited selection from which I would purchase. My initial thoughts before taking this class were that the strong popularity of Asian designs and styles was indicative of a strong Asian presence in the fashion industry. This however was not the case as learning about the exclusive nature behind the fashion industry made it difficult to be successful in a industry largely dominated by white choices. This like many other aspects of American living will require time for influences in the APIA community to be able to make it into positions of authority. I doubt that the US will ever get to the status of Japanese fashion where trends are created in that form of free style through personal expression. I do however like seeing that not all trends in the US are trickle down and that some fashion movements have worked their way to the top from the streets.

Moving onto the topic of social implication for the various ethnic styles as well as the psychological interpretation that takes place from observing who is wearing what clothing I found the topics to be unexpectedly complex. It is simple enough to understand that what you wear is in a way a reflection of your character, beliefs, and personal style. However going beneath the superficial to examine aspects of dress, such as how the impression of the clothing changes when the person wearing the clothing is of a different ethnicity was insightful. Concepts such as Orientalism, Asian-Chic, and Indo-Chic were things that I had seen all along but never critically thought about. The simple fact that difference in ethnicity can change the mood expressed by the clothing was new to me. I had never considered why people like Madonna or Gwen Stefani garnered so much attention when wearing "Oriental" styles.

Overall this class has opened up dialogues that previously I wouldn't have acknowledged let alone recognize and I feel that what I have learned has become a valuable asset. I will likely continue to be casual as far as my own fashion sense is concerned, but my ability to break down aspects of what I see has greatly expanded. Thank you for the tutelage and I hope to be able to put these contextual filters to good use in my coming years.

Blog 1- Michelle Tran

-->
            The Be Green Challenge was something I was quite anxious about ever since my professor first introduced it to my class. I was nervous about losing the freedom to buy things and restricting myself from purchasing new items from stores. However, I was really excited on the possible insight and experience I would gain due to the restraints I had to uphold. I ultimately felt the challenge would make me more aware of my purchases and where my money was going. At the same time, I was pretty confident that I wouldn’t struggle since I knew my spending habits and my practical and rational mentality.
Majority of my money is spent on groceries that I later use to cook and frugal clothing that I buy from thrift stores, eBay, and online deals. I think the biggest challenges will probably holding back on the shoe purchases. “Once a sneakerhead, always a sneakerhead.” Let’s just say that when I pack to go home on the weekends, I struggle to limit myself from packing only 2-3 pairs of shoes.  It’s even harder when I pack for vacation and extensive trips. Speaking of which, I would really love to travel to Sapa to purchase indigo and the transparency on how the fabrics are made. KeoK’jay, which means bright green or fresh in Khmer, has a post on how, who, where, and what are indigo fabrics are made.

 

Fabrics found in Sapa

As much as I experience the love and hate relationship I have for sneakers, I pride myself for having “sneaker knowledge,” I am na├»ve to where the leather is manufactured from and how many shoes are imported to the US. In the reading “Global Commodity Networks and the Leather Footwear Industry: Emerging Forms of Economic Organization in a Postmodern World,” it presents statistics and data along with the origins and history of the leather footwear industry the U.S. partakes. U.S consumers “trends and patterns” affect the global economy by forming “social and economic organization in industrializing areas.” (Korzeniewicz) The reading reminds me of the documentary on modern American sweatshops we are watching called “ Made in L.A” where people in America are exploited to make clothing stores such as Forever 21.

Inside: Movie: Director Almudena Carracedo. “Made in L.A.” (2007)
Miguel Korzeniewicz. “Global Commodity Networks and the Leather Footwear Industry: Emerging Forms of Economic Organization in a Postmodern World.”

Blog #4 - Bryan

Bryan Bui
Blog #4

The last week I almost completely forgot about the challenge and bought something. I can't recall what it was but it was either a hat or a pair of shoes. I a sucker for those two things because of my idol. I always wonder how people get their fashion senses and when I think about it it is probably from celebrities. Whether they are on YouTube, music artists, or movie stars it is what we see and like. In the U.S. most of what we see is from the media but there doesn't seem to be much of a mainstream culture of fashion. There are shows for it but the mainstream audiences watch shows where fashion is not the top priority. Needless to say the actors still are always dressed beautifully and that has an impact on the viewers.

Japanese fashion happens in a much different way. In our reading "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion." we found out that Japan happens in more of a bottom-up model where teens tend to make fashion trends and styles. We also talked in class how department stores work much differently in Japan. The stores actually seek out managers to put together ensembles for mannequins to help shoppers see what looks good. It is very different than in the U.S. where most people shop on their own without much help from the store. Another aspect in the reading was kawaii items. Basically cute items that are most likely popular because of the nostalgic feeling they give us. I am definitely guilty of this for I still have all of the stuffed animals I had as a kid. The number one kawaii thing to me, or to the mainstream society, is Hello Kitty. I find her lame and much prefer Doraemon but that's besides the point.

Thinking of Japan I always thing of anime and video games and it got me thinking about fashion in video games. Video game characters are always dressed in very unique ways and it generates a lot of cosplay. I searched up "fashion in video games" and did not really find much except for one article. It was not really what I was looking for but it talked how companies were thinking of fashion games because girls were a pretty big percentage game players. To me a fashion game would be too hard to make because it would lack the freedom to do anything. A game that could do that would never be finished because there would always be something to add. I was more interested in how games affect fashion but if I really think about it I could probably get that answer looking at Japanese fashion. Much of the fashion is inspired from anime, manga, and games. It'd be awesome if more people made clothes from very popular games. Some have but I think it should happen more because video games do create some awesome clothes.



Inside source: Yuniya Kawamura. “Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion.” Reader.

Outside source: Adams, Rebecca. "Is Fashion Gaming The Next Marketing Frontier?" <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/24/fashion-video-games_n_1622149.html>

B Morita Blog #1

Going with what I'm somewhat familiar with I decided to look into the various subcultures of fashion in the Japanese fashion scene. I had some knowledge and experience on the matter before I had taken this class but found myself learning several aspects to the fashion trends that I had never thought about. I knew about two thirds of the various styles that we had originally seen in the slides at the beginning of the quarter but some of the trends I had never heard about. Other aspects that I found surprising would be the various sub groups and adaptations to which I would have scarcely been able to differentiate before. I had know to some extent the various subgroups of the lolita trend but was unaware of how many interpretations had been popularized. Another group and the various adaptations that surprised me was how the look of the ganguro has been altered and adapted into so many forms of the manba fashion trend. I find that these fashion trends to be a interesting look into the psychosocial behavior of Japanese youth where the variation of dress styles is much more eclectic and personalized. Those who follow the various trends are able to differentiate the minor nuances and pass judgement on whether the authenticity in a ensemble follow the nature of the style. I was taking a look over this site to observe the various fashion trends that they had identified and found that they likely would have a difficult time trying to find and categorize every existing trend. http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/tokyo-fashion-field-identification-guide  The teens acting as the designers, gate-keepers, and critics to the various trends has allowed a much wider and free form of fashion expression that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world yet.

As far as my compact challenge is concerned I don't purchase clothes very often so I don't often run into situations of conscious consideration when purchasing clothes. Most of my shopping for food is done in batch from costco at 2-3 month intervals with my only other outside purchase usually consisting of clearance items. Occasionally visits to the farmers markets yields some purchases of local produce but for the most part I do not purchase much.

As a visual I did cosplay before to go to a convention with a friend who designed and made my set of clothes as well as her own. The style we were going for was a bit of a punk/lolita version of the uniforms characters wore in the series.

Blog #3 - Bryan

Bryan Bui
Blog #3

This week hasn't really been much different than the past two. My schedule has been the same with school, work, and club work leaving me with no time to physically go shopping. I was tempted to get new work shoes because the ones I wear now hurt my when I wear them for too long. I could go to a thrift shop and purchase a new pair but shoes are something I want to buy new because it is for my feet. Clothes I can just wash so I don't mind if they are from thrifting but my shoes have to be new and comfortable. Since the challenge is still going I am left only to deal with these shoes for one more week. In reality though I could just keep using the same shoes, they aren't too bad, just some days they hurt more than others.

This week we read "Abercrombie & Glitch: Asian Americans Rip Retailer for Stereotypes on T-shirts." which was about a shirt line that Abercrombie and Fitch made to cater to Asian buyers. The shirts ended up being really offensive and after much protest they were taken down. My favorite part of the reading was when they apologized saying "The shirts were designed to appeal to young Asian shoppers with a sense of humor." Basically not saying what they made was racist or offensive but that people, specifically Asian people need to lighten up. It was really annoying to read this and I did not know they did this. I knew about other issues they faced like firing a girl for wearing a head dress, which to me was hard to pick a side, but even before that I never liked Abercrombie and Fitch.

Fashion is supposed to be controversial to turn heads and get attention but sometimes, like the case with Abercrombie and Fitch, it can be too much. Another example that I thought of while reading this article was a pair of high tops Jeremy Scott made for Adidas. He based them off a toy from his childhood but African Americans saw it as commodifying slavery. The shoe was quickly taken down and Adidas promptly apologized. Perhaps it is because I am Asian and not African American that I do not see the huge issue with the shoes. They chain and shackles are orange and made of plastic. I thought of it more as a way to keep your shoes from being stolen (figuratively, they wouldn't actually stop anything) but it just shows how different people and communities act when they see something that offends them.



Inside source : Jenny Strasburg. “Abercrombie & Glitch: Asian Americans Rip Retailer for Stereotypes on T-shirts.” Reader.

Outside source: Considine, Austin  "When Sneakers and Race Collide" <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/fashion/adidas-cancels-release-of-shackle-sneakers.html?_r=0>

Blog # 2 - Bryan

Bryan Bui
Blog # 2

This week was not that challenging at all because I was very busy with club activities as well as midterms and papers. I had very little free time and most of the time I did I used to relax doing other things like watching YouTube videos or playing games. I also work around fifteen hours every week which gives me a decent income that I could use for clothes or shoes but I usually use most of it for food. One thing that has made it harder is my girlfriend came up this week to visit. I wasn't really sure of how it works if I bought stuff for her but I just assumed that if I did it would break to rules (also a good excuse to not have to buy her anything). Whenever shes up she wants to go shopping, even if she doesn't get anything. I don't mind at all but I generally don't like to go shopping because something always catches my eye and then I have to fight the urge. Luckily I had this challenge to make it easier for me to hold back.

In Creating Identity, "Defining Culture, and Making History from an Art Exhibit: An Unfinished Story: A Tribute to my Mothers’" Valverde talks about Chau Huynh's work and how it springs controversy within the Vietnamese diaspora.


Her pedicure basin was painted yellow with three red stripes in the interior to resemble the Republic of Vietnam's flag with yellow power chords plugged into a red outlet. Her quilt was a mixture of both the Republic of Vietnam and Socialist Republic of Vietnam flags. The basin struck controversy basically because it made the Vietnamese diaspora look demeaning and the plug added a hint of communism because it was attached to a red outlet. The flag probably sprung even more controversy because it literally combined the communist flag with the south's flag. In Valverde's interview with Huynh, it is clear that Huynh meant both to be a tribute. The basin as a tribute to the diaspora working hard but still sending money to family back in Vietnam and the quilt representing her husband (a Viet Kieu) and her (from Vietnam) being married despite being different. To me it just shows how the anti-communist views of the Vietnamese diaspora still have a strong hold on the community and it halts progression.

This makes me think of the Brian Lichtenberg brand that basically takes the premise of other brands but he just tweaks it a little by changing a few words or adding his name. I am not adept in the laws of copyright but it seems a little too easy for him to do this, especially when his clothes have the same font. Despite what I think, his brand still excels and it does not seem like it has much opposition from the higher brands he mimics. The high brand names could probably do something about Lichtenberg but I suppose they don't see him as much a threat. The high brands still do very well even with Lichtenberg doing what he's doing. He is basically creating a new area of fashion because his brand is almost like the higher brands but is more affordable.

Both these examples, though very different, just show how two different communities can react to something that could or could not be an issue. To me Huynh's work is awesome, particularly her quilt, and she is trying to create a bridge between the diaspora and home country but the community won' have it. Brian Lichtenberg created a bridge allowing regular people a more affordable option to items that resemble higher fashion and the higher brands are stopping him allowing this new fashion to grow.

Inside source: Kieu-Linh Valverde. “Creating Identity, Defining Culture, and Making History from an Art Exhibit: An Unfinished Story: A Tribute to my Mothers’.” Reader

Outside source: "Brian Lichtenberg Talks About the HOMIES Collection and His Thoughts On Streetwear" <http://hypebeast.com/2013/6/brian-lichtenberg-talks-about-the-homies-collection-and-his-thoughts-on-streetwear>

Blog #1 - Bryan

Bryan Bui
Blog #1

When I had to start this assignment I had my doubts about whether or not I would succeed. I used to be a very spontaneous buyer couple years back but now I try and hold back and not give into instant gratification. It is not very hard since we and in the middle of a school year so my opportunities to go shopping are close to zero but what always gets me is online shopping. I am already pretty good and avoiding my usual online shops so I'll just have to keep it up but at least I have an even better reason to do so.

The hardest thing to keep myself from buying are shoes. I am what you might call a sneaker head (barely, in my opinion) but I had a bias towards Adidas, a brand loyalty if you will. I already knew about Nike's exploitation in the past but even before that I just never liked them or wanted to support them. In class we watched a documentary, directed by Almudena Carracedo, entitled "Made in L.A." that showed the hardships of sweatshop workers in a factory that produced clothes for Forever 21. The factory was located in L.A. so the workers were able to get their message out of the exploitation they faced as factory workers. In our reading, "Santa’s Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, it’s Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift—and Under What Conditions." we read about many more companies that underwent much scrutiny for their exploitation of labor, like GAP and Guess. Many other companies I never knew (but in the back of my mind probably assumed) exploited their workers just to make more profit. All this was a little shocking so I decided to look into my bias brand (against my better judgement) to see if they had a dark past as well.

Adidas was the official sportswear of the London 2012 Olympics and because of this they were being watched much more than usual. This led to the media discovering that Adidas was exploiting their workers in nine Indonesian factories that were contracted to make the Olympic shoes. They were being paid much less than a living wage, around 5,000 rupiah (less than 50 cents) an hour. Adidas worked on giving the sweatshop workers better pay but it isn't all Adidas' fault. The factories producing their shoes won their contracts by being the lowest bidder and Adidas does not care how the costs get so low they just accept it and rake in more profit. Adidas, and every other company, should be aware of this but they aren't because it doesn't directly affect them. 

Adidas: Olympic worker exploitation must stop

Finding this out was a little saddening but it probably won't affect my views towards Adidas. I just won't buy their shoes for at least the next four weeks. I do believe there should be more effort in overseeing sweatshops but it is a hard issue to bring up because almost everything now is outsourced making it harder to find out about any exploitation.


Inside source: Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman and Ito. “Santa’s Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, it’s Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift—and Under What Conditions.” Reader.

Outside source: "Adidas: Olympic worker exploitation must stop" <http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/news/item/1042-adidas-olympic-worker-exploitation-must-stop> 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Blog #4

Christina Nguyen
Blog #4

After four weeks of the Go Green compact challenge, I am happy to say that stuck with the rules and did not break. In the last week of the challenge, I ventured into the Aggie Reuse Store that is located in the Memorial Union. I was enticed by the rack of clothing that sat outside the store. Inside, one can find a range of items include arts and crafts, clothing, accessories, supplies, and more. I was surprised by the about the variety of items in the store. If I had more time, I would love to do arts and craft projects like I used to when I was younger. If I do, I would definitely come here to pick up random trinkets to make jewelry or various embellishments that I could add to my clothing. In the store, they had a section of both men’s and women’s clothing. While it was the clothing on the rack that drew me to the store, I found myself uninterested to look through the clothing. It was then that I realized that I felt this way because I knew that I did need anything. Furthermore, I had gone these past weeks without purchasing clothing (new or second-hand). After spending time looking through the store’s collection of trinkets, I left with a stack of black cards and a Klean Kanteen water bottle that I purchased for a total of 50 cents. I will definitely be coming by again as a way to distress on a budget!


Clothing Section in the Aggie Reuse Store

Before thrift shopping became a socially accepted and “cool” trend, I used to be extremely ashamed that my family and I would get clothing from stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill. When I was in elementary school, I remember always feeling out of place and wanting to be like the other girls in my class. I would try to use fashion as a way to fit in. But of course that did not work because I did not have the “cool” clothes like the other kids. I had the hand-me-downs from my older sisters or clothes from second hand stores. My mother would dress me up in outfits and send me to school and make me feel like I had the best clothes in the world. She taught me to dress well and to be prideful. When I reflect on my childhood, I am happy that I experienced this because it has taught me to be humble and conscious of my materialistic consumption. However, I cannot lie when there are days when I feel like my thirfted items are always not as good than the brand named items that I see being flaunted around me. In these times, I feel like my fashion becomes an indicator of my status and reflection of my identity and worth.

This relates to concepts discussed in Kawamura’s chapter “Adoption and Consumption of Fashion." In this chapter, she discusses the various ways in which fashion is consumed. Additionally, she argues that social identity is no longer defined in that same way as it used to and fashion has everything to do with this. She cites Crane who states that “the consumption of cultural goods, such as fashionable clothing, performs an increasingly important role in the construction of personal identity, while the satisfaction of material needs and the emulation of superior classes are secondary” (Kawarmura 2005). Before fashion was crucial to imitation class and privilege of a higher class, but in more contemporary times it has evolved to signify identity. Despite the pressures to conform to what is fashionable from magazines and other fashion aggregates, people are still trying to negotiate and assert their individuality. So how does one maintain their individuality within fashion in a society that encourages, and even enforces, conformity?

This is the topic of an article written by Daisy Goldstein who questions whether individuality is even possible. In her article, she asks the question: “Is individuality the new conformity?” Through the personal anecdotes she shares, she notes that everyone tries to be different and unique in the face of growing conformity but in doing ends up looking the same. This sentiment is also brought up by Hal Niedzviecki in his book, Hello, I'm Special. While lots of people consume the same types of fashion trends and tastes, Goldstein hopes that her “personality, sense of humor, and way of looking at the world are all exclusive to [her]” (Goldstein 2006). If individuality can be muted through fashion (such as through the production and diffusion of fashion), is there a chance that even these aspects can be dictated by fashion and other external factors? We will have to wait and see what will happen!

Inside Source: Kawamura, Yuniya. "Adoption and Consumption of Fashion." 2005. Fashion-ology: An Introduction to Fashion Studies. New York: Berg Publishers.

Outside Source: Goldstein, Daisy. "Is Individuality the New Conformity?" Is Individuality the New Conformity? Maisonneuve, 16 Mar. 2006. Web. 15 Mar. 2014. .



Friday, March 14, 2014

Blog #3

Blog #3
Christina Nguyen

Week three of this challenge went by like a breeze! I have been extremely busy so had not had any time to shop or even venture onto fashion aggregate sites that would tempt me into purchasing something I don’t need. I think it is these sites that get me in the most trouble.  When I look at sites like Pintrest, I start to spot pieces that I like and so want. But since I am on a budget, I would write these items down and bring them with me for when I go thrift shopping and try to look for them there. But in times when I do not have time to shop or money, I spend time trying to mix things up with my outfits and playing around with the items that I already have. In doing so, I have found that I have a handful of clothes I no longer wear and so I hope to be able to find new homes for them.

When thinking about my sense of style, I realize that I rarely own anything with words on them (unless it is from a conference/retreat/club t-shirt). I really dislike sporting brands, graphics, or words. I think I grew up that way since my dad is like this as well. While my father and I won’t be seen in these types of clothing, I understand that others are quite comfortable with this. When reading Jenny Strasburg’s article, “ Abercrombie & Glitch: Asian Americans Rip Retailer for Stereotypes on T-shirt” I was astonished that something like these shirts could be created and sold. The statements and images printed on these shirts perpetuate stereotypes of “Asians” and as the author writes “denigrates Asian men” (Strasburg). I am also at awe at how the company can justify such an action by saying that they tease everyone equally. While they issued an apology, it would not have been done without the social pressure placed on the company. It is saddening to know that without this external pressure, it may not have been seen as an issue.  I showed this picture to a friend who identifies as API. I asked him what he thought of it and he did not find it offensive. He thought it was humorous and did not take it seriously. It was not until explaining its implications did he become aware that it could be offensive. Fashion can have such a large impact on society since it is far-reaching. How else has fashion perpetuated stereotypes?


Victoria's Secret "Sexy Little Geisha" Lingerie 

Back in 2012, Victoria Secret released their “Go East” Lingerie Collection, which included their “Sexy Little Geisha” outfit. This set included chopsticks, fan, and removable obi sash. On the Victoria website, this outfit was advertised as:“Your ticket to an exotic adventure: a sexy mesh teddy with flirty cutouts and Eastern-inspired florals. Sexy little fantasies, there’s one for every sexy you” (Amaya 2012).  Negative backlash grew in response to the release of this collection. This lingerie has been seen as racist and perpetuating negative cultural stereotypes. While some see this geisha-themed lingerie this way, others do not see it this way. Scrolling through comments some express discontent for the people who seek out racism. One comment reads “There are those that will find racism in everything. That's because they make every effort to find it. I am a little curious as to how they know an "entire continent" was offended” (“imgrumpy2” Fox News).  Another individual, states “It's lingerie, not politics” (“nomoreniceguy” Fox News). It is quite interesting how this individual makes the distinction between the two because as I have learned in this class, fashion is indeed tied to politics and that the “Sexy Little Geisha” is an example of cultural appropriation.


Inside source: "Abercrombie & Glitch: Asian Americans Rip Retailer for Stereotypes on T-shirts." SFGate. N.p., 18 Apr. 2002. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

Outside Sources: Amaya. "BrabbleRabble." BrabbleRabble. N.p., 12 Aug. 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
McKay, Hollie. "Is Victoria's Secret 'Go East' Geisha-themed Lingerie Racist?" Fox News. FOX News Network, 27 Sept. 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2014. .