Thursday, June 12, 2008

Last Post

I'm glad to be going back to Davis. Although I am going back to the rest of my finals, and yeah...that's not good. At least I get to graduate on Saturday. Hoo-ray for me. It's been a long time in college, and I'm glad to get out of the learning curve for at least a year. Afterwards though, I'm going to be going back to school for a long time.

In getting ready for graduation, I'm going to buy a lot of stuff. 'Nuff Said. I'm going to buy Metal Gear Solid 4 for sure...that I am looking forwrd to. At least I'm kind of over buying new shoes. Anyways, I want to leave this with a poem from David Budbill and his book called Poems of a Mountain Recluse.

What Issa Heard

Two hundred years ago Issa heard the morning birds
singing sutras to this suffering world

I heard them too, this morning, which must mean,

since we will always have a suffering world,
we must also always have a song.

This poem is a pretty good one for me. It's been a really rough week and this kind of made me smile. It shows that I have a lot more suffering to deal with, but there are always things that can chear us up. There are lots of things to look forward to.

In terms of this class, the project was pretty interesting. I don't know if it changed me in any way, but I did eventually see the point of the whole thing, and I can consciously say I thouht about what I bought...or in this case, the lack of what I bought. If anything, I hope that I learn to taper in some of the needless spending that I occasionally do, especially since I am entering the realm of real life. But, real life means real money right? haha. I am interested to see what is to come.

This class was an interesting first try. We had our problems, but it was a chill setting and different opinions were heard. I'm glad that I got to be a part of it and hope that others get to experience a class like this. Not only did I learn about some fashions in haute couture, but I learned to actually attempt to accept the unification efforts in South Korea right now through my research assignment. I'm pretty glad I had to redo the assignment I wanted to do and looked toward cinema to see nationalized movements in the Korea and outside of Korea. I think I learned a good amount.

Best of luck to all, have a good summer, and enjoy the rest of school. I'm done, checked out, and finished. Peace.

-Billy Durham

Japanese Fashion

This is not a good day. I have so much to deal with, and I hate Fresno immensely. It is definately not that great of a city. Too much drama, too much racism, too much crime. Not enough fun, night life, or college activities to do. Still, it was the place of my childhood, and I'll give it that.

I hate it here, but at the mall with my mom, I saw a lot of Harajuku stuff. I know I've talked about it here and there, and that Gwen Stefani was trying to popularize something; but I really wasn't aware of how popular it was. None the less, most of the stuff there was last season. There were tons more from this season, though it didn't seem like it was as much. I wonder if the fad already died off, or is it still going to be practiced for a few more years. I don't see a whole lot of people wearing it, but college is a good place to see all kinds of fashion. While no longer speaking of Harajuku specifically, it's interesting to note the diversity of fashion styles that come out of places and are represented even further away. Alot of early and current Japanese fashions are depicted in our reader in pictures following the Kawamura article on Japanese teens and street fashion.

While the Japanese are known for originality, they took many ideas from Western clothing. Before 1860, Japanese was totally indiginous in dress style, but afterwards they began to incorporate Western ideals for clothing (Kondo 466). While not incorporating all ideals, generalized Western dress permeated the world around. Throughout the 1900's, Japanese fashion utilized Western fashion and hybridized the ideas to make them original.

In the 1980's, Japanese style became popular around the world. Following that period and even currently, Japanese style is becoming increasingly popular and fashionable in all terms from Paris, New York, Tokyo, and even Seoul. Although many designers borrowed some ideas from Western culture, the pieces that Japanese artisans form are distincly Japanese. Because of their style, Japanese designers are sought after and soon, as Dorinne Kondo's article the "Aesthetics and Politics of Japanese Identity in the Fashion Industry," Tokyo will be recognized as a center of fashion, rather than a place of production.

Missing Post

So, I wrote about "Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture Through Textile Art" by Ava L McCall. Here is what I remember of it.

I went over to my friend Houva's recently and saw a pretty nice tapestry hung on his wall. As I was asking him about it, he started to tell me the story panel by panel. It was pretty interesting, and it was particularly ineteresting that our reader had an artile about Hmong textile and history. Because of the lack of a written language before the 1950's, the Hmong culture was pased down through oral tradition. In an effort to preserve history, they began sewing detailed tapetries including life moments to tell a story.

Because of the history behing Hmong immigration, many negative perceptions are forced onto the Hmong people. While looking at this tapestry and many others on the internet, the stories of Hmong lifestyle are inspiring and nothing short of amazing. Each panel tells a story, and the color usage is representative of class status as well as feeling. Intricate patterns are sewn into each panel and the artwork involved is amazing. Attention to detail and style of stitch is greatly worked into every aspect of the tapestry. Because of respect, I can't tell the story behind his tapestry, but it was amazing.

The textile art of the Hmong community has recently received much acclaim. In terms of recording history, the textile art is essential as some of the few surviving primary sources behind the Hmong culture. Furthermore, textile art as an artform has received much acclaim throughout the United States as well as in some parts of the world. These tapestries are essential to preserving Hmong history as well as educating the populous about the Hmong culture.

Post summary and I want cool kicks

In response to the few posts that will follow, I was out of town and unable to use the internet due to a family emergency that needed my full attention. In an attempt to stay somewhat scholarly while at home, I did my blogs and saved them through word. I am now back in davis and putting them all up. Sorry about the many posts, but yeah...thanks for reading.

I want cool kicks,

So, this assignment in class makes us think twice about buying things spontaneously. As I do know myself, if I pre-meditate buying something, I won't get it. I have to just go out and do it. Just like Nike...just do it. I know that I can always figure there are better things to spend my money on. Although I do need some things, I can always talk myself out of it, so this assignment has shown that I don't really need to get as much stuff as I normally buy. I don't mind though.

Anyways, I do want to buy new shoes. So, what do I buy right before graduation? I want to say I will never wear Nike's again after taking this class, but I fear I am not going to be faithful to that statement, so I won't bother. I have a nasty collection of many shoes, so I don't really NEED shoes, but I want them. I have over 25 pairs at my house, a decent few pairs at my girlfriends, and at least another 30 pairs at home that I don't really wear. I don't think I am a collector of shoes at all, but according to the Sneaker Freaker article in our reader...I do know about drop dates and limited editions. I'm fairly well informed with sneaker forums and stuff like that. I still don't think I'm a collector, I can't afford it.

I view a collector as someone who cherishes there collection. I know I've complained about this before, but I was looking at shoes and going through online catalogues and thinking that the article "Sneaker Freakers" by Hans D.C. was kind of narrow minded and ridiculous. A collector shouldn't really wear out their shoes, because they collect them for a be collectable. I wear out all my shoes, eventually. All my favorites at least, and I'm still working on many pairs...and maybe I'll fail on some I'll never wear again...but still. According to me, I'm no collector of shoes, I just like them. To Hans, I am the true collector who wears all their kicks at any given time. How can I be labeled a collector by someone else when I think I'm not. Is it a mindset or something? I think people that wear all their shoes doesn't exclude them from being a collector, but taditionally a collector of antiques, like the example Hans uses in his article, doesn't use them. They just display them.

My friend, he's a collector. He has a walk in closet full of shoes he will never wear. Some of those shoes are worth more than my ps3 and a ton of electronics thrown in. If he wore some of those, I think the "collector community" would give him a thorough smack down. He displays them, to me he is the model of a someone who would be labeled a collector.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

last entry

I can't believe that I have survived almost a month of not buying clothes. I can honestly say that I did not think I would survive this long. I admit that I have had a few slips a mascara here a bikini top there but, that is nothing compared to things that I would usually get that would just be "excess" according to Kawamura. I will attempt to make this last for another month because I think it would be challenging for me and plus it would definitely help my wallet. A confession I have is that when I felt I was getting weak and was going to buy something I would go on the Nike website and look at all the shoes and I would think about the fact that they would use slave labor and that their workers would be underpaid. By thinking about how unfair these corporations treated their worker it gave me more self empowerment not to buy things. This idea especially worked for Forever 21 because before our project I would buy things at Forever and would not give a second thought about it but, now that I am more socially aware, I think about the social conditions that these garments were made under and it disgusts me to think I am contributing or have been contributing to these unfair working conditions. I am really glad we did this project because not only did I save money this month but I am more aware about the things that go on around me and I feel less ignorant about the world =D

Monday, June 9, 2008


I was looking through my roomates fashion magazine and i noticed that damnn there aren't really any asian women in it. What is up with that? Now that makes me a little pissed that asian women aren't really represented because i deal with that a lot in my line of career. It's been a known fact asian women aren't well represented in the media and no lucy liu does not represent 100 million asians worldwide. I looked through some other magazines and asian women are really shown as delicate china dolls or fierce "dragon ladies" as discussed in "Images of Asian/American Women in Multicultural Advertising" and "Race and Beauty: a Comparison of Asian and Western Models in Women's Magazine Advertisements". Caucasians really like depicting us at the two opposite ends of the spectrum. We're either seen as really submissive or as dominatrixes which is ridiculous because most asian women in america are nothing like that.
SO i think i have not done a complete 180 in my life in consumer practices just because I'm really broke so I haven't been able to fully see if i can hang when it comes to shopping with a conscience, but i WILL say that what I have been doing lately has been wayyyyy more globally friendly and I'm pretty happy with myself. Its definitely a far cry from when I just really appreciate the prices of things and just splurge because I can and my mom would appreciate me saving money. Now i know that me saving something comes at the price of costing someone else their rights and the eradication of shady factories in other countries. Its really easy to dismiss someone else's suffering when its not in front of your face although you've always known about the conditions. I guess this blogging in itself is realllllly green. This was a pretty good way to spread the message and a good reminder of what it is thats really important and not just brand names and appearance.


My friend just came back from Korea and she brought with her a friend that has never really been to California so i decided to take him to San Francisco to get a taste of one of the best parts of this state. Now of course after sightseeing and window shopping at the block where Abercrombie, Gucci, and all the other high end designer stores reside, i HAD to show him chinatown. I've grown up visiting chinatown every year and its always been my favorite place to go in SF because everything is dirt cheap and the food is bomb! This time however I decided that instead of going to buy things because i'm really broke i decided to just observe the items being sold since I'm blogging anyway. All the items insanely cheap probably because they utilize labor from china. Everything is mass produced and dealt out to many more places than just chinatown. Now that i think about it, it kind of means that all these years that i've asked my mom to buy me stuff from chinatown that some child half the world away was losing their childhood because of my consumption like we read in "Transnational Commodity Flows and the Global Phenomenon of the brand". I don't really know they're suffering because of my actions and i'm glad that i don't just think "oooo Cheap!" anymore. Now I am a little more considerate of my choices in products and that's definitely good because as child growing up and even now my goal eventually is to be humans right activist (and an animal activist as well). I'm also very fond of buying those asian themed purses from chinatown because no one really carries them so brands don't really matter. I just get them for really cheap and they look cute because like in the article It's "Hip to be Asian", asian themed items are starting to really catch on and i love it because i'm proud of my heritage and its great that people think its cool now. BTW i didn't buy it because as before stated i'm broke and a little more conscious of my decisions.


So I was looking at my closet and I realized that I don’t really purchase expensive brand name clothing anyway. I always thought I overspent money on superficial things on clothes. I mean I definitely do sometimes but I’m not a compulsive shopper or anything. I probably go shopping once every 3 months. I spend most of my money on food if anything. I’m not a person to do a complete 180 turnaround or anything and find that small steps are the best for me if I am to actually change myself. So I figured that it wouldn’t actually be too hard to just switch from shopping at stores like Abercrombie and H&M (albeit this store was a hard one to give up) to getting things I needed from a thrift store. I have a costume party coming up for a fraternity that I’m really fond of and I needed accessories so I stopped by the local thrift store in davis to get them hoping that I might at least find something because I’ve never really had good experiences with thrift stores. I tried to find a tie-dyed shirt and some 70’s themed gym shorts but only successfully found blue gym shorts that were in surprisingly good condition. That boosted my morale as I was getting a little unnerved not being able to find the shirt. I found a lot of other things in the thrift store that actually caught my eye and thought I actually might just want to purchase in the near future when I actually have money. I think that we put too much effort into getting brand new things from department stores and not really thinking that we could spend a lot less just looking at someone else’s junk and making it our treasure for wayyyyyy cheaper. I mean some things weren’t exactly brand spankin’ new or anything but there are a lot of things that people wouldn’t notice were second hand. I mean does it matter anyway? My closet tells me that I keep a lot of things that I should have thrown away already anyway. So I spent 3 bucks on the shorts and I had the tye-dyed shirt left to find. I didn’t want to make one because that would require me to buy a shirt and obviously that doesn’t work for this experiment. I called up a few friends and found nothing. Luckily my best friend’s boyfriend had a party recently for another fraternity that held a tye-dyed themed party so I had my pick from many shirts that they tye-dyed themselves. I guess you could say that my attempt to be green wasn’t amazing but it was my small step towards helping out third world country exploits to be put to an end. So I figure if I do this, maybe over the course of a year I’ll probably save a lot of money and be one more customer that discourages big corporations from taking advantage of those working in factories that have horrible working conditions like in China. By the way I recycled too this weekend. I NEVER recycle.

It's Only the Beginning

Thank you everyone for giving the compact experiment the good old college try. It's one thing to read about the woes of society and another to 'walk the walk'. For those who will/have not consumed in 28 days straight, you may find that you don't need to wait by the computer or mall for that 29th day to come just to order or buy something- anything.

The first week was tough, not because I wanted or needed things, but simply because it's hard not to go on automatic mode and just buy. As the weeks moved along, I am reminded once more of how much excess I have already. It makes me slightly ill and in dire need to purge, like King Kong on top of the Empire State building.

Truth be told, I don't think it will be difficult to carry on with this lifestyle. It does help that I have limited resources, and it feels good to save. I wish us all good luck in the future. At the very least, it's gratifying to have all this information and our short (long?) three weeks experience. I plan to continue posting with updates of my progress. Would be great to have your support through this journey. We don't even have to cite any more.

Is this the end?

wow guys. last blog post! Reflecting back on the past 3 weeks I can honestly say this project has been a success. At the very least, we've all saved tons of paper by blogging instead of wasting paper. Overall, I'm very impressed by the efforts put forth by all of us and can only wish the rest of the world could take something from our dedication to staying green. I had the mentality going in to the project that after it was over, life would just go back to normal. The more I tried doing this project legitimately, however, the more it's grown on me as a lifestyle. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a tree hugging hippy now but I've definitely become more efficient in how I consume. No longer do I just buy whatever I want at Walmart(I only shop at Walmart because I'm a poor college student, I still hate the company), instead I can walk away from almost any compulsive buy with a smile on my face. I'm doing my part in rejecting the business model of some company exploiting people in third world countries by having them work in conditions that lead them to "often suffer the effects of chemical inhalation."(Mathiason, 2006) For the time being I've also given up driving since my car is still broken and I have my bicycle. I've been getting to class on time, getting plenty of exercise and I've saved lots of gas. What a deal! The goal at the start of this project was to be able to take small steps in becoming green. I never knew I could get so far this quickly.

Have a great summer guys!



We've all made it, 28+ days of being green and kicking consumerism out of our lives. We are one step closer to a better life, which does not have to center around consumption. Anyways, when I were studying for finals with my friends, I told them about my green project and I was taunted as being crazy and how I were able to do such a thing. For them, their last purchase was yesterday or the previous weekend when they bought a “much-needed” eye liner or a cute top. We partake in such consumerism knowing that we do not need uncountable articles of clothing in our closets.
However, clothing is more than a fashion statement, it is a style of life and self-expression for many. It influences attitudes, creates dispositions, and both emphasizes and reflects preferences.(Perrot) But we have taken it to another level by the buying power we have been granted and US government’s propaganda of excessive consumption. In our individualistic society, we seek to define ourselves in terms of our clothing. By dressing in a certain way or by owning certain number of clothing items, we validate and reward ourselves for our accomplishments. “In Western culture, clothing and immediate surroundings are used to protect and project a sense of self in very literal ways.” (Craik) Therefore, our lives are surrounded by and revolve around clothing and fashion that it has become a second nature for us as we partake in these everyday acts unknowingly.

The End

No doubt that by taking this class I have learned so much about fashion, clothing, culture, and society. Moreover, by doing our class project, I have come to a further understanding of globalziation and how it affects industries and people all around the world. My understanding of this issue have made me very knowledgeable about the affect of consumers' needs on industries development. But most importantly, I have related myself in practice those ideas, fashion, clothing, culture, and society.
In "Fashion as an Institution System in Fashio-ology", Kawanura believes that fashion is not necessarily clothing but an institutionalized system and a cultural symbol. Fashion is a general social institution that affects and shapes individuals and society as a whole. According to Kawanura, fashion institution only exist in cities where fashion is structurally organized. It involves with economic capital and social capital. So little did i know that fashion does not mean to buy what is "in" for the current season. By understanding this concept, I consider a lot more about the details and not just simply see buying new clothes as my way to express fashion.
The idea of globalization and trans nationalities also amazed me in the way that I have never thought or taught in my past years of education. In "Tracing Trans nationalities Through Commodity Culture", Claire Dwyer talks about how to look at transnational ism through the lens of cultural commonality. to seek to extend the social space beyond the confines of specifically defined ethnic groups.
ASA 189A not only taught me just about fashion, clothing, culture, and society. Beyond that, it showed me more about the detail concepts. By being green and not buying new clothing, I have saved up so much compared to how I used to spend my every pay check. I am proud that I have kept up with this project. I can honestly say that in the future, it will become a habit of mine to be green.

The Journey of a Culture

During one of our many nights of procrastinating, my friends and I wanted to watch a movie. One of my friends suggested the movie "Journey from the Fall." A movie about the life of a family that was tragically affected by the Vietnam war and was forced to emigrate to America.

After the movie, we all reflected on our emotions and experiences of growing up in America as an Asian-American. Although I am considered a first generation, I was too young to understand the hardships that were required of my parents to make a living in America. We all concluded that our lives were spoon fed to us. This made me resent myself for my ignorance and bliss while i was growing up. I feel as if I have taken my parent's efforts for granted as I enjoyed the life that I was given, and had not worked hard enough to repay the gratitude that they deserve. These combination of thoughts opened my eyes to the hardships of war that Vietnamese families had to endure.

I first learned about the Vietnam War in my high school history class. The details of the war were very vague. I never bothered to put much thought into the actual affects that a war can have on a family, let alone a country. The movie depicted how life was affected through out the whole country.

I was able to understand the article "Ao dai revival" better, after reflecting on this movie. The disappearance of the traditional Ao Dai was significant because the whole country was affected. Everything materialistic was put aside in the time of war due to the human's animal instinct of self preservation. The revival of the Ao Dai was a part of the Vietnamese's recovery post-war. The movie also expressed how a simple dress could bring so much joy to the female protagonist.

In the article "Women, Citizenship and the Politics of Dress in Twentieth-Century Philippines" demonstrates the different values that a dress could bring. The importance of a culture's attire is critical through the value and status a person can maintain.

It's not me!

My mom came to visit me today. After I picked her up from the airport, she told me she bought some new shoes for me for work. And little did I know, they were Nike shoes. Oh yeah, the "fashionable" and "lovely" Nike. The box was as fashionable as the shoes, yet the "made In China" tag made me think about our project of being green. I have never bought any Nike products in my life. I have never been interested in Nike's style or and their high prices. I don't know why some people are crazy about Nike.

Even though I was never interested in Nike products, but I have never felt the way I feel about Nike right now. After taking this class and reading about globalization and how many industries have moved their production processes offshore into other countries. Countries like China and Vietnam are the perfect examples to prove how these industries are by affected positively economically and politically by globalization. On the other hand, theses industries have also violated workers rights in so many ways. In "Transnational Commodity Flows and the Global Phenomenon of the Brand", the author talks about today's global economy and commodity flows links consumers from one side of the world to the peasant manufactures on the other side. Nike as an example of these countries utilize the global flow to its advantage. Nike is a corporation built on the historical anomaly of uneven development. On the production side, peasants are paid pennies to the shoe but the shoes are then sold for extravagant prices in other parts of the world. The way these corporations deal with workers in the third world is completely without humanity. It makes me sad to see how many people are so blinded by the name of the brand and the style, and how careless many consumers are about how the products are being produced and where they come from.
Again, in fashion, production is influenced by consumption. In "Adoption and Consumption of Fashion", the author talks about those in the court readily assimilated the fashion that he adored even though it put them in debt. And how the fashion statement becomes a new type of fashion that is marketable so as mentioned earlier productions is influenced by consumption.
After all, the suffers of those workers in the third world countries are caused by consumers. So little do people realized that the products they consume everyday are produced by workers under a low standard working condition. Realization is the most important step toward being green. Even though this project is coming toward to the end line but I believe no matter what happens, i will be more careful of what I consume from now on.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

proper gym attire

Everybody is trying to put in their hours at the gym to get that summer body. Some people may have never set foot inside a gym before in their life. All I have to say is “Shame on you, the ARC is awesome and it is FREE!” I am a “gym rat” myself, although I may not look it. My diet has been horrible for the last 2 quarters and I have a real nasty sweet tooth; BUT NO EXCUSES! For those who are getting started, I will try and help you with what is appropriate attire and what is not.
As far as I know, the only official rules in the weight room at the ARC concerning attire are: no jeans and no sandals. Jeans will degrade the leather on the benches and cause them to tear. Sandals are a no brainer; you do not want steel dumbbells falling on your footsies. Other than those two restrictions, anything else is pretty much fair game, or are they…?
The following are unwritten rules of fashion inside the weight room which I live my life by. To truly be accepted inside a room full of stinky, sweaty, testosterone driven people you have to become a stinky and sweaty person. Try to look as “tore-up” as possible. Take myself for example. I head to the gym immediately after class and everyone can agree that I look like, for a lack of a better word “crap”!
A lot of people make the mistake of prettying themselves up before heading to the gym. You are here to sweat not hook up; although more power to those who hook up in the weight room. The problem I have with these people is that they are there to socialize, thus occupying equipment and space in an already crowded and hostile environment.
Proper gym attire can be linked to the fashion hierarchy in the Ming Dynasty (Chang). Cut off shirts and wife beaters should only be worn by the truly fit and the ladies, not the hairy brothers. The gym is not the place to be rebellious with your fashion Chewbacca (Kawamura). Certain people should be allowed to wear certain things and others not. I know I sound like a hater; but in my defense, I am well documented hater and if you are in the weight room as much as I am it becomes unbearable.

p.s. yall some really coo cats and it's been really coo kickin it with all yall for the last 10 weeks. goodluck with finals and ill catch yall around.

consumerism at its worst.. or shall I say best? blog #6

This past weekend, I took my sisters and my nephew to the bay for a family day. While at Pier 39, my nephew wanted to go into the krazy hat store and he asked if he could buy a hat. Since it was on sale, I told him that it was fine. After trying on countless hats, he couldn't find any that he really liked. I then told him that the next time we come back, he could continue his search. He disagreed and set out to search again for a hat, any hat. At this point I was getting peeved because he wanted to buy something just to buy something; not for any other reason. When I told him we had to go, he threw a hissy fit. The situation reminded me of myself (and NO not the throwing a tantrum part haha) when I would shop, not find anything, but feel the need to buy something. Consumerism is so ingrained into our lives that we constantly feel the need to buy... buy... buy. On a side note, there was the Vietnamese straw hat at the store and I find it a bit annoying that it would be grouped with the other "Krazy" hats that one would wear for occasions such as Halloween.

i found the image on where it's called a "deluxe coolie straw hat"... no comment.

To continue with my thoughts, not only feel the need to buy, but would actually fork out money for things we don't really need. For example, on another visit to the bay, my friends and I stopped by Japan town. I love taking pictures with the machines they have where you can alter your background, add decoration, write messages on the picture and etc. The advertisement for the machines has these two Japanese girls on it with cutesy backgrounds and colors. I also noticed the same advertisement when I was in LA. It reminded me of the article "Cuties in Japan" (Kinsella) because people of all ages buy into the "cuteness" and pay 6 to 9 dollars just to take these cutesy pictures. On that occasion, there was these two white couples who rented kimonos from the shop down the hall so that they can take these pictures. It was ridiculous to me. I felt that they had no right to wear what they did. It seemed cliche-ish to be in Japan town, wear kimonos, and take pictures with a Japanese picture booth. It reminded me of the class video about mis-appropriation and how it can infuriate another because I felt myself that it was a bit too much.

Consumerism Strikes Again!

I admit it - I have fallen prey to consumerism! I went to be bed super stressed and super late Friday (technically Sat morning) and all I could think about was BUY BUY BUY. I needed something to get my mind off finals and everything related to it, so when my friend called me Sat morning about breakfast and doing something - shopping immediately came to my mind. I've tried really hard to suppress the shopholic in me but I was weaken by studying and finals. I went to Vacaville and was lured into the Coach outlet store by their bright lights and people. I was happy to be inside and be treated like a queen - waited by sellspeople with their calculator, friendly smiles, nudges on encouragement, and very VERY low prices! $62 for a coach bag! I just couldn't resist! Right after I paid and walked out the door, "Santa's sweatshop" (Hoinstein, et al) hit me across the face. Where did my products come? Where's the Union label? How do I ask the sellperson where the products come from? Curses!!!! And right as I was slapping myself for my stupidity, my friends stood there laughing at me!

As the day continue, I was dragged from store to store by my consumer-friends. Right when I thought my day was over, my friend screams and dragged me and company across the parking lot to Sanrio. Oh boy! I've given up on Sanrio because of their extremely high prices, but they try to trick you into buy with promo for a cute hello kitty fan for $5 if you buy $25! My friend couldn't resist, but as I watch her shop, I saw all the different types of Japanese trends in our readers (sorry, no author/sources). I saw the Takenokozku, Lady's, Kogal, Gals, Gaothloli Hello Kitty and I thought to myself, before this class, I would have thought it was just a marketing scheme, but now, I was surprise to see they were all there. Even different Sanrio characters were dressed as various Japanese fashion, but no one knows about it! They just thought it was cute! Is it ignorance or just redefinition of cute or kawaii? Does Sanrio lose its meaning here? My friend tried to explain to me that Sanrio makes things small and "cute" to target females (according to his Japanese History class), but according to Kinsella the original intent was to think about the innocent days...

Oh! check out this month's Marie Claire. There's an article in it about Asian females choosing to be concubines because they want to buy things. The article also mentions that these females are usually from poor areas of China who wanted to achieve something better than what they have in rural areas. Maybe that's why we've become such consumers over the years. We want to achieve what we didn't have in the past.

entry 6

So instead of spending money on clothes for the past month, I have been investing in food instead. I've also been doing stuff to keep my mind off shopping but, its getting extremely difficult due to finals and me being stressed. Yesterday, I decided to reorganize my closet once again and I noticed the different ao dais I had in storage. My mom had wrapped and store all of the Ao dais that I had collected over the years some of them were my own and others were the ones that my aunt gave me when I visited her. This reminded me of the articles we read in class about the Ao dai by Leskowich and the one by Professor Valverde. When I was looking over the different Ao dais I had, I noticed that each one was made of a different fabric or the cut was different. My favorite one was a purple one that my Aunt recently gave to me that was cut in a halter style. For as long as I could remember I have always like different styles of Ao dais and never really liked the traditional cut very much. I have noticed that Ao Dais have been deconstructed over and over again in Vietnam and the US through the different influences whether it be cultural or the current trends. I am completely influenced by this because when I would need an Ao dai I would always try new things with it like go to an Indian fabric store instead of a Vietnamese one or change the collar into a boatneck. It is because the Ao dai is so versatile that I feel as if it is not just a national dress but also something that is perpetually trendy.

The Other Obstacle, People

It seems the biggest obstacle to keeping green (compact) is not my own will but rather the reactions of those around me. Whenever I think I need something, like toys for my puppy (that I know I cannot buy), friends would say, "hey, you signed up to fight consumerism, your dog did not". Or worst still, "would hate to be you, got three cool tops this weekend". There has been lack of support and at times, full on taunting. Simply by choosing not to buy anything new in 28 days, I'm all of a sudden that odd freaky one. Should I judge people's behavior though? If you think about it, it's over 50 years of embedded consumer culture created by the US government post WWII and supported by industry through aggressive advertising and mass production (Featherstone). Consumer culture, like anything else in society and media in general, has a way of seeping into our very being. I akin the success of such campaigns to notions of standard beauty. When did the white blond woman become the standard beauty amongst people of color? As Bell Hooks and Peggy McIntosh may explain it, it has very much to do with the white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist, hetoro-normativity in our society. It is those in society that prescribe to this thinking that are allowed to produce. Their products are meant to appeal to their own kind but has successfully seeped into all other segments of our society. Impose evil master plan and watch the hapless drones obey: check!


This blog is kind of really late. The reason being is I was up for 4 consecutive days and 3 consecutive nights trying to get all my projects done. As a result the nonsense that everyone was anticipating had to wait just little bit longer. As usual, much of these “all-nighters” is spent doing absolutely nothing productive. I found myself chatting online with whoever was still up in the late hours, watching Kobe jump over cars on YouTube, and window shopping.
Instead of looking at shoes I no longer support, I was looking at jerseys I can’t afford. Jerseys are in many ways similar to shoes in terms of marketing and targeted demographic, and in so many ways different. Jersey commercials do not exist for the fact that there is no need to market them. They are subtly advertised whenever an exhibition game is occurring. Jerseys are also strongly driven by hip-hop as with other clothing (Maira). All the cool “gangsta” rappers are sporting the most popular jerseys in their music videos. Jerseys are just as popular and competitively sought after as shoes among the online fanatics (Hans D.C.).
For some time now I have been after the Dallas Cowboys’ Emmitt Smith 1994 75th Anniversary White Variant Jersey. I stopped checking the online forums and as a result I missed the drop date. The size I am after is sold out and the jersey retails at a ridiculous $300.00 USD. Hard to justify a three hundred dollar jersey but I want it and as soon as this shopping embargo is lifted I will do my best to try and not buy it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008 # 6

I got a new friend request on myspace yesterday from a local Fijian Indian henna artist. I accepted her request figuring that I might need to hire her when I getting married (hahhhaahah). Well i was looking at her pictures and apparently she does a lot of events where she does henna. Her artwork is very impressive - Check it out ...however, what struck me as odd is that her main picture was a white girl's hand..with henna on it..placed on a white male body. This definitely reminded me of the "Henna and Hip Hop" article by Sunaina Maira. I wonder if this henna artist has ever felt angry that our henna is being used on white people when traditionally it was meant for religious ceremonies such as weddings. But can we really blame her? Henna has become commodified (Skoggard). She is obviously making profit from an ancient artwork used for religious functions which she was lucky to have the talent to do. Maybe i can't really blame her. But I wonder if she still feels angry or if she would do it on people other than Indians if she weren't being paid.

Have a great summer was awesome getting to know y'all!! Prof. Valverde, I'll definitely keep in touch with you for that letter of recommendation ;^) ...and yea, im so excited! Finally taking one of professor Maira's classes next first one ever!! Please put in a few good words for me ..hahahahah


Upon a re-reading of Dorothy Ko's article, "The Body as Attire," it elicited thoughts of modern adornments and the requirements of the workplace. In high school, a friend showed me a brochure of accepted appearances for associates working the booth. I don't understand, natural hair colors, two piercings, no visible tattoos. It was in a way, similar though without the extreme results of Han Chinese being required to assimilate to the Manchu way. If they didn't, they were celebrated by the Han majority for having sound, loyal morals. If they did, the Manchu would exploit them as an example for other Han Chinese, prompting retaliation from the majority towards these "traitors." It is not as serious in the case of changing appearances to fit the business model but it is similar in the humiliation one can receive for giving up what constitutes as hard-earned identity. Piercings and other bodily adornments such as foot binding and hair queues take time to cultivate, revealing dedication and status of the person. The further along one is in cultivating this adornment, the more serious this identity is for that person. This sub-culture of piercings, tattoos, and odd hair styles have a negative connotation that is stigmatized by corporations, despite the fact that some of these practicing this sub-culture are some of the nicest and most considerate people I've ever met.

Because of the serious time commitment to attain these adornments, it is difficult for others (i.e. foreigners) to appropriate these trends. In "Henna and Hip Hop," commodities like henna and bindis have been easily appropriated by westerners by stylizing their packaging as "kits." It was a DIY TEMPORARY identity kit for westerners to engage in "exotica." For the exorbitant price of about $25, one can adorn their bodies. But Sunaina Maira indicates that there are more expensive kits, complete with silver bowls. So does money make the identity? Adornments like piercing and tattoos take time and most importantly, money, as footbinding did to indicate social status. But for the price of $80, a DIY henna kit imbues the buyer with more authenticity. But in either case, money is an important factor to gain an identity that one is not born with.

So... Money to attain identity, wasteful or satisfactory?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

so green im brown

I can start wearing shoes again now that my toe is almost healed up. Unfortunately almost all my shoes are still in the trunk of my aforementioned broken car which is still parked at the Applebee's parking lot. =( Biking with flip flops is a recipe for disaster so out of desperation to get to class on time this morning I stole my roommates chucks. Maybe it's a stretch to call it theft but I definitely did not ask him. hope he doesn't have athletes foot. oh well. I don't try to eavesdrop but I find it ironic how while I'm blogging about sharing shoes the ladies tabling for the Imani Clinic next to me are talking about the lack of self control they have when it comes to buying handbags and shoes. The statement that stuck out most was something like this, "Who needs rent, i just want those shoes!" Our society is so enveloped by consumer culture that the ability to weigh priorities have left some of us. I hope she buys some really big shoes.

Kamasutra # 5

I recall in high school, i had just started dating this black guy who asked me "so you must be great in bed coz you know that Kamasutra huh?"...i was shocked...firstly coz he came off like such a perv..secondly coz he had "consumed orientalism" (Kim & Chung) and bought into Indian women being exoticized. All he probably knew about the Kamasutra was what the orientalists had turned it into; a highly sexualized text that is focused solely on sexual positions. It was once a book of love and discipline for the hindus..not just about sex. The orientalists from the west however took it, appropriated it (lecture-video)and commodified it. It was now up for sale on the shelves of western bookstores when it was initially just owned by Indian women of higher class.

Ok so I admit, i do know alot about the Kamasutra actually but only coz i did a research paper on it a while back...younger Indian women of a noble class were given the book of love when they were getting groomed for marriage. In it, the book had lessons about how to treat your husband good, to respect him, and had everything for a well-rounded wife. it even required that the lady who was given the book learned the arts: dancing, singing and playing instruments. It was a book that bettered the Indian woman. then when the woman got married, she was able to give the book to her husband, who then read the men's share of the book. in it, he was taught to do for his wife everything she does for respect her, love her and please her. So given the fact behind the kamasutra, doesn't it seem so pure and uncorrupted? it wasn't just about sex.

Then came the westerners (dun dun dun). A man named "Sir" Richard Burton got his hands on the book and translated it. Obviously, during translation, things are left out or misinterpreted..especially if the interpreter is culturally unaware. And of course he only took what he wanted to take from the book; the GREAT sexual positions.

So yea, the next time a guy asks me if know the kamasutra, imma kick him in his man business (so feminist)

trade offs... blog #5

While finishing the class paper this past weekend, I found that through my research, couture clothing are produced in a "friendly" environment (Kawamura); which obviously makes sense. But as a student I can't afford the high priced, couture lines, therefore in order to keep up in a sense with what is fashionable, I have to shop at the cheaper alternative places. I'm placed in a dilemma; buying clothes from high end couture lines which will probably rack up my credit cards, or buy cheaper clothes that are knock-offs but are made in poor conditions. As a student with little means, the latter choice makes more sense even if I have to turn a blind eye to certain things. And if fashion is suppose to represent a social status (Stewart), then I'm sad to say that as a student I'm at the bottom of the food chain.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

So much for saving money...

I got a parking ticket. $35.

And I saw a movie. $9. Sex and the City. Highly recommended for fans.

So Carrie in the movie (and the TV show for that matter) has a shoe obsession. As Hans D.C. so eloquently put it, the New York haute couture wearing columnist was a "mad collector" of shoes and seeing what she wore in the movie, I concur. Many times throughout the movie, Carrie stresses to Mr. Big on the importance of a bigger closet. She was even willing to swallow her pride to get a pair back (I don't want to spoil the plot!). Hans even furthers the concept by establishing the shoe-collecting sub-culture as a game, but he differentiates himself from others by wearing his shoes. Which brings me to my next point...

Why collect clothing and not wear them?

As Beverly Jackson established in her article, shoes can be a huge indicator of social status, whether one had bound feet or wore heels, conveying a western ideal. So as a shoe collector, only stylistically rare shoes of some significance would be collected. But shoes are also utilitarian objects, so why not wear them? It's understandable if a Faberge egg collector didn't walk around wearing the egg but shoes are useful. It would appear then that collecting is a waste of resources, hoarding what could be used by so many other people. A collection that doesn't get displayed for more than one person's joy is but a mere waste of space.


Thinking of our project and our oh-so prevalent consumer culture, we need to address the issue of clothing. Clothing plays a huge role in our everyday life, in consumerism and in the fashion world. Clothes are so politically charged that we often do not even consider it in that manner. Yet, time and again, clothing has proved to be such a distinct racial, cultural and ethnic marker that it is difficult to consider it out of that context. In our post 9/11 world, Middle Eastern, Arab and South Asian Muslims and their clothing has specifically become a problem leading to hate crimes at the hands of many extremist groups.
Women with hijab and men with turbans are automatically labeled as “terrorists.” Yet, it became hip to be wearing the keffiyeh, the Palestinian scarves that even appeared in mainstream stores such as Urban Outfitters. As both Maira and Gigi Durham note in their articles, this is commodification of the elements of the “Orient,” by accepting certain aspects of the culture without understanding the politics involved with it. Such appropriation really “…speak to the mutually constitutive categories of the “East” and “West,” recirculating imperialist tropes that have taken shape over many years.” (Gigi Durham) So, when Rachel Ray wears a scarf resembling anything like a keffiyeh in a commercial, it is no longer aired because the company does not want to be supportive of that part of the world, the Palestine or the Middle East in general. Such notions are problematic because a culture is commodified and sold to the public solely for consumption and the public is to accept it blindly without showing any support for the culture or their causes. Clothing, thus, is highly political and has proven to entail serious implications in terms of supporting or rejecting certain ideals.

Capitalism & It's Power to Exclude...

Watch this clip:

This is a trailer from the documentary, BOMB IT.

-" The biggest art movement in the history of human kind"

-"We live in a capitalistic society, therefore people with the greastest access to funds get the most amount of space."

-" People believe that they live kind of neutral public space, what they don't realize that is what's neutral to them, may be excluding a lot of people."

How does this relate to our ASA189B Asian American Fashion class and what we're trying to do with this project?

Speaking "Kawaii"

Last night I was on aim with my sister who is at UCSC right now. At first, I was the only one talking so everything was fine. Once my sister responded, I was so lost & confuse. She is one of those extreme aimers who made up their own lingo. So our entire conversations was filled with her "cute" words such as "tomolooooo" and "kekeke". After 30 mins of not understanding half of what she wrote, I suddenly felt like the Japanese parents who had to deal with their children's new "kawaii" language. I remember when my sister began to use these words, it was a way to hide her conservations from our parents and "by writing in the new cute style, it was almost as though [she] had invented a new language in which they were suddenly able to speak freely" (Kinsella, 224). Thinking back, I feel sorry for the Japanese parents dof that period. I remember my parents felt left out because they did not understand the lingo we used on aim. It was something that was solely for the younger generation and that parents don't belong. I remember it as a form of rebellion against the constant watch of my parents and thought I was doing such a great job at it. Instead, I think it caused our generation gap to expand.

What probably made it was worst was when my sisters began their own fashion and deviated from what my parents thought was "normal" for females. I remember my sisters had jeans that were bleached, ripped, painted, and began bleaching their hair blond or dying it dark purple and red. Like the Japanese females mentioned in Kawamura, 'Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion', my sisters were the consumers. For the first time, high school gave them freedom to consume anything they wanted because of their jobs. It was make up and clothes every weekend and "fashion is of the utmost importance for them because they want to stand out and be noticed" (Kawamura, 787). Consuming became a way for them to rebel against my parents strict Chinese normals because what they bought belong to them. They were in control of their own lifestyles for once and I believe that's probably how Japanese teens felt at that time. By design and consuming a rebel/different fashion culture, they become the leaders of it and finally have the right to control their decisions.

designer bags

Over the weekend I was hanging out with my best friend Liza and out of the blue she told me that she was going to buy something that she swore to herself she would never do...I paused for a bit wondering what she was talking about and whether it was illegal or not..after she interrupted my contemplation she told me that she was going to buy a designer handbag *sigh of relief*. However, this got me thinking about designer handbags because honestly what are DESIGNER handbags these days? What are they worth after the invention of knockoffs? When I was younger I was all about designer handbags because it was trendy to be seen with one but, now that I'm older and wiser, I'm beginning to rethink the whole concept of shelling out big bucks for these handbags. I was first introduced to designer handbags in my freshman year of high school by my friend Vi. We would spend time on the phone talking about the latest LV or Gucci bag obviously we could not afford it ourselves but, our parents could. Despite being a newbie to the craze I was a smart shopper so I would look up articles on how to spot a fake because in my high school having a designer bag was one thing and identifying a fake was another. I would spend hours looking at these articles and now, looking back I realize it was such a waste of time. Anyway, back to the present I decided to go shopping with my best friend for her "designer bag" and on the way there I would spot tons of LV bags carried by women and men of all ages. This is made me realize how widespread designer bags really were now. They are completely accessible to the general population via a knockoff or Ebay. This accessibility of certain designer handbags was definitely an example of the trick down effect that was talked in the haute couture article we read earlier in the quarter. The question in my mind was whether the accessibility of these bags through knockoffs were hurting the credibility of the bag. In my opinion I think it does because nowadays when I see someone carrying Gucci, Chanel, or LV to name a few, I think about the authenticity of the bag. I also think knockoffs have made designer bags more generic like a Jessica McClintock dress for prom( no offense to anyone who wore this to their prom).

Monday, June 2, 2008

joining the fixed gear army!

Just like Ari, I am now part of the fixed gear bike sensation that is taking the UC Davis campus by storm. Unfortunately, this was more through necessity than by choice. Though I have been faithful to my pledge of staying green, fate has not rewarded my endeavors. The reason for getting this bicycle, aside from ridiculous gas prices, is that my car stopped working yesterday. After a fulfilling meal at Applebee's i was looking forward to driving home and going into a glorious food coma. Instead I spent the following 2 hours changing my spark plugs and checking everything else in my engine bay with no success. Hopefully Mr. Towtruckman will be nice and not tow my car. Realistically, this car is probably totalled as maintaining it has become way too expensive as of late.
Being an optimist, I'm actually looking forward to biking on a regular basis. Based on there are several advantages to biking over driving. The most obvious advantage is that I will save money. I will also be able to get exercise everyday (if i decide to go to class. Third, I will be helping the environment by not polluting. Last, there are situations where biking can actually be faster than driving. I guess I won't have to worry about missing the bus and having to stop 10 times before I get to campus. Now that I think about it, this is just the higher powers forcing me to be green. Why couldn't they have given me a Prius instead?

Note: the bike was given to me by my roommate for free!


blood diamond

So i haven't really had time to go buy anything lately because I've been pretty busy with school and OTHER things i can't mention because they're private. I've had a really down and out week on top of getting yelled at by my mother who says I don't pick up my phone but really i just don't have service and she doesn't leave voicemails so i don't know. But usually she calls me to yell at me anyway so i'm glad i don't have service sometimes. Anyway since I'm doing this project and I didn't have the time, energy, or money (btw my credit card got stolen recently and there were many charges incurred that weren't mine)(*sigh) to go out and figure out what I was going to write, I decided to talk to my mom about a movie we watched awhile ago together. The conversation with my Mom only dampened my day on top of the fact that we have the research paper due tomorrow. I asked her how she felt about the movie Blood Diamond starring Leonardo dicaprio. Now if you've seen it you know that the movie is pretty much a depiction of the atrocities performed upon the locals in Sierra Leone in the 1990's for that very shiny rock on your hand. We can go to De Beers and ask for rock that costs thousands of dollars to grace our hand just so we can feel better about ourselves but now knowing how it actually got to jewelry stores as the end product. This may sound ignorant to you but before i watched that movie I had no idea that this was the process involved in getting that ridiculous status symbol. In the movie a south african by the name of Solomon Vandy searches for his family that he is separated from when he is kidnapped by rebels who force him to pan for diamonds. The synopsis is a bit long so you can look it up online or really take time to watch the movie because its really good. So anyway my mother tells me that she thinks that movie is really tragic. Now the great part is that my mother LOVES and i mean LOOOOOVES diamonds so you can imagine how she responded when I asked her if she would still buy diamonds from questionable sources that don't state they don't purchase conflict diamonds(diamonds that come from places like sierra leone). She of course told me I was being silly and that she would definitely still want diamonds no matter how they were acquired. I think my mother is getting remarried soon so i'm pretty sure she's getting an engagement ring from her douchie fiance (pardon my language) so I asked her if she could request a conflict free diamond from him and she said no because diamonds that come those places usually cost more and she wasn't willing to have him spend a few hundred dollars more for the same size rock or in other words with those few hundred dollars the diamond would be bigger. I asked her "EVEN after seeing that movie and all those violent crimes committed you still don't care??" She explained she couldn't do anything about it anyway so she wasn't about to change her mind. All i have to say is that i'm disappointed at my mother. I don't understand how people could be so insensitive just because it doesn't affect them or that they could deal with it because they gain something out of it. Honestly, its just a rock that's really shiny or as my Dad used to say a piece of carbon that was super pressurized and heated for a gajillion years. That's all people. BTW for those of you that REALLLY reallllly like diamonds but have a conscience, on facebook there is a site called brilliant earth that sells fine jewelry with conflict free diamonds. They also donate 5% of their profits to underdeveloped countries that were ravaged by the diamond industry. I encourage you to watch the movie and feel sympathy for those who aren't as fortunate as we and i pray that one day my mom stops being so selfish.

entry 4

Alright, I am not proud to admit this but, I did in fact slipped last week and bought something that I did not need. I did not even realize I had bought something until it was too late. I bought blue mascara and I'm pretty sure I bought it because I saw an advertisement for it in a magazine and that somehow sent a subliminal message to me. After I bought it and realized that we were doing this project, I felt like the epitome of consumerism buying stuff that is advertised. However, while I was looking for the mascara I had time to look at advertisements for different make up brands and I noticed the one that of the brands had a collection that was suppose to be "colors of the East" or something similar to it and my first immediate thought was Appropriation. The funny thing is after I walked out of the store I saw a Caucasian girl wearing a bindi and I just wanted to go up and rip it off of her head despite the fact that I was not Indian. I felt frustrated because I wondered if she knew the significance behind wearing it or was she doing it for fashion? I also thought about how I did mehendi when I was younger and how I did not know the significance of it but did it because I thought it looked "cool." After taking this class I have noticed how ignorant I have been. I am glad that I can recognize the theories that we've learned in class and apply it to real life. By applying these theories to real life I am able to understand how I contribute to consumerism and it also makes me socially conscious when I buy things.

so I've noticed that my second blog was deleted...that really sucks. Anyways, I've been kind of lagging on this thing, I'm not so good with journals and stuff. But, the project itself is slowly growing on me. I can honestly say when we started, I thought it was pretty lame and easy to fake; but, I have consciously looked at some products and even sat around and thought about where they come from. So, maybe not a farce, but a different perspective, ya? By the way, I still haven't bought anything. Not even food...that could be a problem. As far as I know, I am still a participant though.

Last week, one of the articles dealt with the the popularization in Indian fashion around the world, but more specificaly London. Naturally, London isn't the CENTER of the fashion world, but they are quite influential. With elitest Hollywood stars making there stay in London, there is a lot of potential for top-down influence over American audiences and so on and so forth. I think popularization of cultural styles for other adaptions can always be interesting, but meanings oftentimes get lost in the new adaptions. New styles are for looks only, the meaning behing the fashion is lost, usually. In this sense, probably. But, considering how influential both countries have been to one another in the past century or two, it's amazing to think that popularization of cultural fashion is barely starting to permeate Western ideology. Is it good, is it bad? I don't know...but I think that it's a small step at worst to understanding one another just a little better.

Until tomorrow, maybe even later today,

-Billy D

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I have made it so far and I have not bought anything. Ok, save for gifts for friend’s baby shower and birthdays. But, really nothing for myself. Anyways, this weekend was the baby shower where after playing several “bottle chugging” and “make a baby” games, I met a young woman who is traveling to Japan over the summer. She has been there a few times and when asked about her past experiences, reflects that Japan is in many ways like US. She said that every time she goes it seems that Japan follows similar trends and moves along the same direction as the West. The same can be seen in Kondo reading, where the article also states that Japan in many ways tries to build a national image based on the West and the modernity we associate with that part of the world.
Why is it that only West is associated with modernity and other nations try to emulate the Western ways in order to come into the global perspective. Western fashion has gone global whereas a lot of Asian fashion is still confined to local regions of that country. However, I think that as Niessen states that fashion should be reoriented to include the Eastern perspective, a new approach must be employed when defining fashion as such constraints of including just the Western side of the world must be removed and redefined.

i will think of a clever title for this post in time for class

“The more indulgent you are now, the more you will regret it later. Save your money.” (Yahoo!) That little bit of spiritual knowledge is courtesy of the horoscope tab off yahoo dot com. I’m moderately superstitious; not very much into astrology but to have my horoscope unfold the way it did was pretty cool. I will heed the advice of the horoscope and start saving some money. Something great better be coming my way soon or I will get fairly agitated.
There is nothing new for this week in terms of not buying anything. I read professor’s post where she called Kobe and me a bunch of tools! (Valverde) Kobe has feelings too and he needs that multi-million dollar contract from Nike to feed his family and stuff. As for me, it’s hard to defend myself against those allegations.
I’m stressing out at the moment over all this work so this post is not up to par with the other intentionally irrational and ignorant, yet honest rants I’ve produced in the past.

Can't give up Forever 21 =^( # 4

Ok so I know that this class is supposed to raise an awareness against consumerism. However, I LOVE forever 21. Their clothes are cheaper than department stores and quite trendy too. When i get paid, i like to buy a new outfit every week (hadnt been doing that much lately though even before this project, which made it easier for me to go along with this project). Forever 21 is affordable so that i can afford to buy a new outfit every week. I know that im choosing to ignore everything we've learned about forever 21 in the Forever in Trouble" article by Byun, but hey, I'm a college student who likes to TRY and look good lol. So as soon as this project is over, on the 29th day, im going to Forever 21! ...SORRY!! ..its like an addiction though...and im going clubbing to celebrate the end of finals and the beginning of summer...gotta look good!!!!!

My boyfriend had his first day off in 2 weeks this saturday. He only gets one saturday every two weeks off and i wanted to buy him something. HOwever, i had to stop myself and even started to explain to him why i didnt go into forever 21 to buy anything. He had a shocked look on his face "Like yea right, you won't actually keep up with that crap" ... i told him about the information in the "Santa's Sweatshop" by Palmer (such as people get paid so little for the labor) and that it was one of the major reasons why we were trying to be green for 28 days. He said that he was proud of me...but then looked at me funny when i told him that i was going back to buy something on the 29th day. MAN im starting to feel guilty again!

Till next time....

it only gets tougher... blog #4

This weekend, my friends and I went out to the bay to hang out and check out some clubs. I was VERY tempted to buy new outfits for the weekend. So I went shopping in the morning on Friday with the mind-frame that I would buy something if I found anything that I really, really liked. We frequented one of our usual stores, Forever21. While looking around, it made me think about the article "Forever in trouble" for the obvious reasons. It made me wonder which ones were knockoffs since I don't particularly pay attention to designer duds; what's new and what not. And then it made me think about the conditions that these clothes were made under ("Santa's workshop") which made me feel extra guilty for breaking the pact, so luckily I didn't find anything that I really, really liked. After leaving Forever21, I didn't actively try to shop at other stores because I knew that if I didn't try to look then I wouldn't find anything. I ended up recycling some of my old clothes and was able to enjoy my weekend just the same.

It's hip to be Asian... or just adopted

So my very white friend (she is indeed, a pale lass) is a nanny for a very wealthy Indian family for the last two years. As part of the family, she is taken along on their travels (Europe, India, Laguna Beach, etc) and learns much of their Indian culture. What pertains to this course is the gift she received from them while on their trip to India: a sari. A honest-to-god authentic sari that they even taught her how to wear, lest she walk around without the right pleating and look like a poseur. This reminds me of the gifts of salwaar-kameezes in the article by Parminder Bhachu in London. Unlike the subsequent commodification post-diaspora, her case is very much the real thing.

She came back from the trip in full-on sari/bindi gear. It became apparent that it is not a mere commodity for her because she has a reason to wear the sari. Then it occurred to me that it was easy to label it as such. It was because I've known this girl since high school that I can't immediately label her as some hack. So is this appropriation?

This is also the friend where I first experimented with henna. Sunaina Maira discusses henna and its prevalence in stores compared to pre-indochic times. When "white" people wear henna, it's trendy but when the "other" wears it, it becomes exotic at best. As an Asian-American person, I was wary of how I would be perceived with henna all over my hands. I am caught in both appearing "exotic" and blindly following trends. I have certainly not appropriated the culture and I did not want to waste $20 worth of henna to look plain. It would appear then that in the case of multicultural individuals, it is especially far more difficult to maintain identities in our melting pot.

As for this experiment, I already live a brandless life. By that, I certainly do not mean I don't buy by brand only - I do own brands. But the reason for that is not because I want the insignia to establish my status. Brands oft come with other guarantees like quality. It is why I pay more, falling to the thralls of corporations because corporations have the infrastructure (sometimes bad infrastructure) for good work to be done. There is too much unknown in lesser known brands, even in clothing. I will pay extra for a top that compliments my body but at the same time, I also shop at thrift stores for the occasional oddity. So my shopping mantra is in line with my life mantra - everything in moderation.

Eating Green

In an attempt to be more green, I tried to research green recipes. My results - nothing I really liked. BUT this research reminded me of an episode of Colbert Report when he was making fun of Rachel Ray. Apparently, Rachel Ray did a commercial for Dunkin' Donuts where she was wearing a scarf that closely resembles a keffiyeh. I remember Colbert talking and criticizing Rachel Ray about that fashion choice. Prior to talking this class, I would have no idea what Colbert was talking about and would believe it was colbert just being himself, But this class have taught me about the political statements clothing makes. Rachel Ray might have chosen the scarf because she had no idea that the pattern on her scarf closely resembles the keffiyeh OR she might have known about it and didn't care. As Hoodfar presented in her article about veiling, sometimes clothing should not been seen one-sided. There is always reasons why one would choose to pick a certain outfit or clothing practice. Maybe for Rachel Ray, her environment or her stylist forced her to do so.

On a lighted note, I watched "Sexy and the City" on Friday and I highly encourage everyone to go watch it. Yes it is a chick-flick but it's a good one, especially if you've watch the episodes. In one scene of the movie, Carrie wears a beautiful Vivienne Westwood wedding dress. When I went to Vivienne Westwood's website, I was shocked to see how expensive her line was! Close to $200 for a black T with a seriously Rated R design on it. After a moment a shock, I was thought to myself, I wonder when people would copy her wedding dress design and sell it for much cheaper. sexy and the city gave that dress so much publicity that people are probably dieing to get their hands on it, but not everyone could afford it. Publicity plays such a big part to the promotion of clothing that fashion designs are waiting for magazines to publish something about them (Kawamura, 79). Well this dress certainly got a lot of publicity because it had a full page spread in Vogue, but is the dress really worth that price? For those who have not seem the movie, the dress could be summarized in two words "Cream Puff".

The moral of the movie: it's not about what you wear, it's about the underlying message.

Friday, May 30, 2008

conscience over mind control

I find this exercise revealing in many ways. I had mentioned in class that I really needed someone to go to the the Kanye concert with me, so a concerned student asked me today (also in class) if I had found someone yet. I was bummed to report all my friends are anti-hip hop, have hip problems, or simply too old to hop. Then began the pity party that poor me has to go to the concert by my lonesome. But in this moment of bourgeoise privilege whining, I thought to myself, "how much energy and other resources will this concert consume"? It didn't make me feel good at all.

But really, I was thinking about the concept of need and want. We so desperately feel we need: to be at a historical concert when we can watch it on video; get that cute pair of shoes when we have over 30 pairs already; hit a sale simply because items are cheap; keep up with a trend knowing you'll only wear the outfit once or twice before it's considered dated; keep up with our collections of shoes, jeans, brushes...What of this list do we really need?

If as Kondo discussed, the national aesthetics of Japan is western forms of modernity, I think the global aesthetic is a 'for sale' sign. It's not enough to know we can afford cheap things, a lot of cheap things, we also need to validate this reality on a daily basis. If Neissen suggests a re-orienting of fashion to include discussions from the east, I ask if we can re-orient our minds away from the culture of consumption.

One suggestion is we need to stop defending our additions like it's a nation, sports team or even our identity. We are all victims of and contributors to consumer culture, but hardly clever enough to break away from it. Instead, we use our analytical skills to justify our purchases and defend or habits.

A (really green) friend of mine lamented this evening that there are too many folks who claim to care for the environment but they haven't given up anything. They may trade in their SUV for a hybrid but their driving time remains. That's not a sacrifice. In the end, the only "sacrifice" we will make is letting go of the notions of want and need. Maybe by starting this way, we will understand what we really must give up to make a dent in our new found convictions.

Hey, David, Nike is your slave name. Remove the shackles and stop worshiping the likes of marketing ponds like Kobe (though he's one wealthy pond with his endorsements, his jump is still fake). Instead, keep in mind that there exists many genuine muses worthy of inspiration, like the "Urban Ninja". See below.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ah...Sweet 16

Many of you probably have watched or heard a reality TV show called "My Super Sweet 16" presented by MTV. It depicting the travails of spoiled brat teenagers planning over the top parties. This show makes me sick to the maximum regarding to the behaviors of these innocent yet over maturated kids who are turning sixteen. Oh god, I was bored. I hated myself for turning on the TV. And what do you know, there is my "favorite" show. It is so amazingly disgusting that I couldn't turn away.

I saw kids who are barely developed on national TV showing off their bodies, money, and worst of all their brat like behaviors and attitudes. I saw kids that barely know the life in high school. Yet, they are talking to their parents in such ugly tones. And I saw kids who have zero talent wishing to be just like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton because their rich daddies worked their butts off to raise their families. The demand of consumers often times are influenced by television. Commercials, TV shows, even news to certain extend have influenced humans' wants and needs.

In "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion", the author points out the fashion trends in Japan and its reality. In Japan, production relies heavily on the teenage consumers ideals of fashion. Teens, especially high school girls, essentially guide the course of fashion. It is funny how the most innocent group of people are the strongest targets in this world.

In "Adoption and Consumption of Fashion" author talks about in fashion, production is influenced by consumption. The fashion statement then becomes a new type of fashion that is marketable so as mentioned earlier production is influenced by consumption.

I maybe a hater in such reality shows, but I think I have the rights to be a hater. No matter it is real or fake, these shows creates a sense of negativity in young teenagers. They give kids who watch these shows on daily bases to have the eager to be able to have what they see on TV, and to be something they are not because it is "in". Clearly, consumers are influenced by the entertainment industry, and soon the consumers will be the cause of global warming. It is sad to see that many people still don't realize the affect they are causing. And it is a honor for me to say that I, unlike the others is doing something different for the better.

For the first time...over and over

Hey all,

So, I've been ridiculously sick...that made for a weird memorial day. But, I do have to say, because of month long responsibilities, me and Jon Chang are the most competant captains to ever graze houseboats. We have paperwork to prove it too.

So, since I've been sick, it's been pretty easy following the terms of the assignment, except for getting up and being alive. I haven't really had time to go out at all, but I did stop by Wal Mart. There is tons of junk there, and the supply is unlimited. I can honestly say that it is hard leaving Wal Mart and not buying anything. Probably was worse since I went in under the condition of not buying anything. But, as young as I am, I went to go look at toys, half way hoping to find a new Gundam model, of which I woulda bought regardless of the assignment, but they didn't have it. While looking at random toys and getting jealous of the new things kids have to play with, I started looking consciously, for the first time, at where the products were made. Most were made in China, a few were made in Indonesia, and some were actually made in the Phillilines. I was a little surprised. I'm used to all kinds of places making clothes, but toys have primarily been from China for me. To top it off, the toys made in the Phillipines had great details. Can't be that easy to make them...but maybe it is. Although these toys are cheap, they are probably actually made in near sweat shop settings. Something so innocent and gentle off the store rack could have made someone's life suck. That is somewhat disturbing, but what happens when those shops are closed? Toy production won't stop. Companies will continue making toys wherever they can the cheapest. What happens to the countries when their factories are shut down?

Although the conditions behind the assembly of the toys is sometimes considered inhumane, well who am I kidding, mostly considered inhumane, how can we change the system to treat people humanely and continue to make profits? According to last weeks readings, a lot of factory conditions, especially in textiles, make very few profits. So little that they can't even make things better for their workers for want of profit. It isn't even the factories that get all the money. It's the label. The maker. The man. Would harsher labor laws for importation of good help? Would it just force the company to contract out of the country to another, cheaper country? How do we end the cycle? I'm a little curious.

Of course, we can always just make sure we buy products that state "No child was harmed in the making of this product," but what of it? For every child that isn't harmed...someone else is. The readings kinda depresse me...and left with the impression that there really isnt much hope. What now?

Until Next Time,

Billy D

Busy, Busy

Now that the end of the school year is fast approaching, I luckily haven't had much time to think about all the products I could/shouldn't buy.

But this past Memorial Day Weekend was particularly brutal, with all sorts of sales going on and my family's tendency to spend our quality time together shopping. But I managed to not do any frivolous spending. I did encounter something interesting over the weekend. After eating sushi with my family for lunch, my sister pointed out this store entitled Ichiban ("number one" in Japanese) and funny enough, it was a Japanese-type dollar store. So I examine all the trinkets that are displayed in the window and it made me laugh how novel and somewhat patronizing these things were. There were all sorts of junk items that were so cute and cheap, the store seemed to be making quite a profit. But why were they making this profit? After reading "Afterword: Re-orienting Fashion", I realized how much consumer products that carry this "authentic Asian" label are deemed as ethnic others in American society. "Fashion remains a Western Orientalist construct." (Niessen, 254) While both Fashion-ology and Re-Orienting Fashion both realize that the definition and confines of fashion have expanded tremendously, fashion still presents a very modern (West) vs. traditional (East) dichotomy. These trinkets from the store Ichiban represent the "Kawaii" concept that we've all read about in class before (Cuties in Japan by Sharon Kinsella), but somehow markets these products to an American audience by conceding to this dichotomy. Interestingly enough, these products were most likely not made in Japan, but they somehow represent a "Japanese" product. Does it have to do with Kawaii, or an even larger institution of oppression?

Hypothetically, I could be saving lots of money

I say hypothetical because prior to this project I was already living a frugal life style. Let's say however, that instead I have been able to save $200 at the end of this project. If I continued saving at this rate through the span of the year, I would have saved $2400. That is a lot of money! Now if this moolah was invested properly, say in a mutual fund, then after compounding and interest the amount would be even more. After a decade of this practice, I will probably have enough money to put a down payment on my first house! That is pretty awesome considering by that time I will have completely adapted to my "green" lifestyle therefore making it seem like free money to me.

People have told me over and over that with a salary below $50,000 a year it is almost impossible to live in Silicon Valley. I propose a counter argument. Here in Davis I pay about $500 monthly for rent, $600 for food, and lets just say $400 for other expenditures. That totals to about $1500 of monthly expenses. Multiply this sum by 12 and you have $18,000 of annual expenses. If you were to make exactly $50,000 a year, after tax that would be around $40,000 give or take some (I'm too lazy to do the exact math). $40,000-$18,000 = $22,000. Let's also say you're making $400 monthly payments on a car because you weren't as smart as Ari and didn't get a fixed gear. Add other random expenses (times where you broke your self control to be green) that total to $3200. That's another $8,000. $22,000-$8,000=$14,000. So theoretically at the end of the year one should have $14,000 in the bank. I GOT MONEY IN THE BANK! (not yet but soon)

Some might say this will be impossible for them to accomplish but for me, I've grown quite accustomed to a frugal college budget. It is true that with this income I won't be able to support a family, but then again I'm fully expecting my future spouse to be making 6 digits, if not more. And like I said earlier, after years of continuously saving and investing, it will pay off when I can finally afford a home. When that happens the borrowing leverage I'll have will open a whole new world of spending options. Of course since I'm green, I won't be spending anything at all.

Sources: "Personal Financial Planning" (Gitman, 2008)

note to readers: this was completely hypothetical. i have poor self control and most likely by the age of 25 will be on the sidewalk somewhere asking for change. At least if that's the case, I won't have a choice but to be green. Cheers!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Biking- The New Fashion Trend

So far so good. The only thing I’ve been buying is food. There’s been many temptations to purchase some new clothes, but thanks to this project I have an excuses to walk away. Although I’ve been doing well in refraining from buying new stuff I don’t need, I have been spending a lot of money at the gas pumps. $4.65 a gallon. Are you serious?!? In an effort to save some money on gas I got myself a bike! Don’t worry, I got it before our pledge started. I try to bike everywhere I go. It’s kinds of hard to do this because I’m so out of shape! Every time I get hungry I would bike to go eat, becoming hungry again because of the bike ride. So far biking around instead of using my car is slowly saving me money. It’s also contributing to our efforts in being more environmentally friendly. Wouldn’t it be cool if biking was fashionable?
According to the book, “Fashion-ology”, biking can indeed be fashionable. Fashion is defined in the book as a symbolic production, culturally diffused. Fashion is not necessarily clothing. It can be other trends, like biking. It can and should be fashionable to bike instead of using the car.  We just need the biking trend to be "culturally diffused" and made popular.

Well, lately many people are making it fashionable to be riding around in their customized fixed gear bikes. In a given day, you may spot one of these single speed bikes around Davis. These bikes are usually customized to fit the riders personality (just like my jeans). These customizations can including anything from colorful tires and frames to specials decals on the bike.

Here’s my bike: As you can see, it’s customized to fit my size. I’m a short dude in comparison to society’s standards, so this bike had to be made to fit me.

You can check out other people's bikes on this forum:

If everyone started to bike, gas would be so much cheaper. All we need is a famous celebrity to make it fashionable. Kanye, where you at?!?

-Ari Simphoukham


I slipped mightily over the weekend because of an unholy closeout sale and then at a shoe store where I purchased the last pair of heels that fit me like a dream at a third of the original price. It would appear that the shopping gods deemed it necessary for me to serendipitously find those heels and an amazing stock of clothing at the closeout sale with my sizes still available.

In Knockouts of Knockoffs, concepts of artistic copyright over fashion are discussed against today's world of nearly perfect copies. It is not just the average consumer that can be duped but also stores like Daffy's who purchased hundreds of Gucci fakes -- they are *that* good. At the closeout sale, I find stylized tops that I've seen countless times at other places but at Mervyn's, who bats an eye? The marked down price tags and the obscurity of these brands is enough to convince me to spend my tip money.

A similar incident happened while shopping years ago between Forever 21 and Wet Seal. I noticed a dress in Forever 21 with a very specific pattern in the fabric. It was a spring dress and I can't recall the style but in mere minutes, I traveled a few stores down to Wet Seal and found the exact pattern on another spring dress. I waved my sister over for confirmation and it was indeed, the exact same dress. We read the tag, went back into Forever 21 to compare prices and places of manufacture -- totally different. But who cares? Is there a qualifying amount of money spent or quantity bought, or perhaps the clout that comes with the brand, that requires legal action to take place and even extra effort exerted by the authorities to stop what could be considered a victim-less crime? If such is the case, then it would appear that fashion has transcended the original artistic endeavor to a game of who has a bigger pair.

However, Decker points out that there is a mafia involvement prompting action by the authorities in Italy who recognize bigger and more dire crimes. So again, it takes the involvement of specific groups that are not originally involved in fashion for counterfeited items to be a serious problem.


I work at a bookstore. I won’t disclose which one, but I do work at a bookstore. At this bookstore I literally get paid to surf the web for stuff I can’t afford and give customers intimidating looks so they avoid asking me for help. There were a lot of young elementary aged kids in the bookstore on this particular day, so I had to turn up my customer repellent a few notches. Seeing kids in the bookstore really makes me uneasy. Let’s be honest, kids steal. I stole when I was a kid, was exceptional at it too. It doesn’t bother me so much that they supposedly steal from the bookstore, just don’t steal while I’m there. It’s the principle of the matter; do not steal from me!

Unfortunately I had to open my register and ring the kids up. Many of the young boys were “locc-ed out.” They had there oversized baseball caps adjusted at just the precise angle and tilt, tall tee’s with images of 2pac and 50 cent and some Nikes covered by their older brother’s baggy jeans. In their defense, I was immediately taken back by their polite manner and mastery of English grammar and sentence structures. That is beside the point, has style and fashion changed so much since my time? I’ll admit when I was younger my folks use to dress me for school. Nowadays it seems these kids are wearing their folks’ clothes to school.

Fashion and style is erratic and waits for no one; they have and will continue to change over time (Eileen Chang). School uniforms were instituted to curb violence away from schools and to keep the students focused. It appears school uniforms have been lax since my tenure. Maybe violence was never the issue as these little Bone Thugs N Harmony showed me they know their “A-B-Cs.

Clothing has a function of utility whereas fashion functions as a determiner of status (Yuniya Kawamura). I suppose by dressing the way they do, these kids are elevating their status as the rebellious, cool, gangsters they are. No one wants to be the nerdy kid with the “highwater” pants. All the young men position themselves to be the alpha male, the tough guy of the bunch, the captain of the crunch. The only way to be king is to show it, with grills in your mouth and baggy clothing.

Maybe I’m old and senile? Maybe I’m just a hater? Whatever the case may be, pick up your pants, turn off that rap music, and don’t bother me at work young people.

Over the weekend, when I was at my parents’ house I was surprised by yet another gift from my mom, a Salwar Kameez. And guess what- It didn’t fit me. I was mad, but it wasn’t the first time this has happened. So I asked her to return it but there was the catch—She can’t, because she ordered the dress from a high-end boutique in India and had it shipped here. Talk about diaspora connections! These dresses are expensive and can run from $100-$500 and as I found out there is a new style every season. So, women buy new clothes every season which are ridiculously overpriced, I think. Anyways, the Salwar Kameez didn’t fit me and there is no way I can return it or exchange it. So I am stuck with an ill-fitting dress that I do not like.

This incident serves as an example of diasporic connections that Raghuram and Hardill write about in their article. Indian diaspora populations have connections back home in the form of these boutiques which primarily cater to overseas populace. There is a rising trend of importing clothes from India which are “in” currently, as opposed to the stores selling “outdated” items here. There is a network established by women here who send for clothes from the boutiques and are willing to pay high prices. My mom found out about it from a friend and immediately placed an order. There is an uprising of a new industry that caters just to overseas Indians who are willing to pay big bucks for their orders and the local boutique owners make every effort to rip them off. And like the clothes shops in London, this sort of business "feed many diaspora clothes markets." (Bhachu) Hence, I think it is only a matter of time until this sort of fashion industry, if it hasn’t already (come on, even my mom knows about it!) becomes more widespread among the Indians overseas who are looking for more trendy and up-to-date fashion. Who knows, maybe even mainstream fashion can draw from it or contribute to it.