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. # 3

Man!! I LOVE being Indian. I love the traditional attire, (mainly because I look hot in them =) the music, the movies, the bindis and everything else that is Indian. Even though im a third generation Fijian Indian (which means that my great grandparents were from India and every generation thereafter were born and raised in the Fiji islands), I like to think of myself as "Desi". This is because I am not native Fijian (we look completely different).

So let me get to the point. When i watched the video in class about the bindi being appropriated, i honestly did not feel insulted. I think that it is ok for westerners to adorn the bindi. The bindi was traditionally worn by only married Indian women to show that they were not single anymore. This bridal bindi was only red in color. Later, different colors of bindis were used by single Indian women as a fashion statement. The bindi lost it's "religious" or "significant" value, other than as an Indian woman's cultural possession. SO since the bindi isnt as important anymore (many Indian women hardly ever wear it), i think it is ok for westerners to experiment with it. Afterall, can we honestly say that we haven't taken or appropriated elements of the Western world?

According to Kim and Chung in "Consuming Orientalism: Images of Asian/American women in multicultural advertising", orientalism by the westerners is very detrimental towards Asians. Indians are seen as exotic. While this may be true, i think that something as minute as the bindi, should not be of concern in regards to the Indian culture....we have bigger things to worry about the appropriation of the Kamasutra. I wrote a 10 page research paper on the appropriation of the kamasutra a couple years ago. Maybe in my next blog, i'll enter some of my findings.

peace out!


I am not sure about everyone, but some times I sit in front of my computer and reflect on life (I think most people call it procrastination). Most of the time when I do this, I think about one person: my grandmother. My grandmother passed away 5 years ago, but I constantly think about her because of all the hardships she went through to support her family and her survival through the chaos of living in China after World War II.

I remember during the first couple of classes, Professor lectured on China and footbinding. Although my great grandmother was dead by the time I was born, my dad was old enough to remember her. My great grandmother had her foot binded as a child and lived her entire life with "tiny feet". My dad and aunts always felt sorry for her because she could not walk by her 60s. I used to believe that footbinding was a way to keep woman in a "subservient domestic state ... [and] ...rendered them sex objects to satisfy certain perverted erotic fantasies of men" (Ko, 1997). However, my relatives never remember an instance when my great grandmother complained about not walking. She embraced it and thought it was a shame that footbinding is lost. For her, footbinding was a beauty and class symbol and she continued with her footbinding practices until her death. So what is beauty? Not only is it determined by class, but also defined by the people living it. Like fashion, beauty is an idea and changes with time. When fat was considered a sign of beauty, people followed it. Now that it no longer holds true in our society, new ideas of beauty takes it's place.
People try so hard to achieve "beauty" today. From weight lost pills to diets to buying expensive (or overpriced) products to achieve the "look". Like the women in "Language of Dress in the Middle East", buying the most expensive clothes is just a way to achieve beauty for those of that socioeconomic class. Beauty has become a class label. Maybe paying hundreds and thousands of dollars to diet to that 5'8" 110 look, is a way to achieve that socioeconomic class we all aspire to be in - the upper class Dior, Gucci, LV carrying gents and ladies.
On the same note, I read an article about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's plans for the birth of their twins. 70 million dollars mansion, flying Angelina in a helicopter to a nearby hospital...WOW...and still looking stick thin. I think everyone is so jealous and envious of them because there were so much bashing about can only wish you were them!

I neeeeeed new flip flops

ok maybe this is a cry for help or something because I really need new flip flops. I usually get my flip flops from old navy because i'm broke and they come in a variety of colors and fit well and comfortably. I obviously cannot buy them considering the agenda at hand but i really need flip flops. I guess what this blog is more about is the consideration of ebaying it. I have never bought anything from ebay not because i don't want to but because i don't know how to work it. SOOOOO since my friend has an account i'm going to ask him to order it for me. I realize although its hard on me not to get them right away although i desperately need them i'll save money and a trip to the mall. So like a good humanitarian that i'm trying to be, i went home and looked up where they were made just to be a little more conscious. They are made in China, not good. This project is realllllly harder than I thought because i've had these flip flops for a year and a half now. For those of you that just wear tennis shoes...that's a LONG life for flip flops that you wear often. So i pull out an old pair of vans although they match with nothing that i'm wearing and i walk outside, get ridiculed by my friend who's a fashion guru and suck it up. So i go back in and change my whole outfit and I look like a punk rock kid. I look at my clothes that i put great effort into matching my shoes with and decide to go out with that. So when i got home and decided to write this blog i realized that what i'm currently wearing relates to the article "A Crowded Street as Streetwear is Disseminated into the Mainstream, What will Become of an Underground Movement". I don't actually know what i'm wearing. I think i'm pretty sure i know how to put together an outfit that looks good that's so called "underground" looking but until that article i didn't know that those clothes even meant anything or that some people get offended that the people wearing those clothes don't know the "story" behind it. Does that make me a poser? i just like them because they
look good but what do i know. It also reminded me of the article "Japanese schoolgirl Inferno" where their looks actually mean certain things or who or what they actually represent. I don't know if i should care or if i'm being ignorant and just wearing something because i like it, like when Caucasians sport bindis not knowing what i really represents or how much the people of that culture resent them wearing it. Anyone wanna answer this one?

Vietnamese ao dai... blog #3

Last weekend my mother attended a typical Vietnamese wedding and wore a fushia and purple "ao dai," the traditional Vietnamese dress, that she purchased in Vietnam a few years ago. I've always looked at the ao dai as being the same as other ao dais that I see other ladies wear. But since taking this fashion class, it made me wonder what would an "authentic" ao dai be like. Is there are different cut? Would the colors be more demure? And finally, the ao dai that my mother is wearing, is it a more fashionable version that is catered to Viet Kieu tastes due to the revival of the ao dai in the 1990s (Ao Dai Revival, Valverde)? Other questions come in mind also, such as who designed it, where is the fabric from, and etc. As we live in the age of globalization and commodity culture (Tracing Transnationalities, Dwyer), one can never be sure which networks of production a garment has been through to become what one would purchase as the final product. Clothes in my eyes can never be seen as simply as before.

ok so I did slip (entry 3)

Okay, I admit that I did slip over the weekend but, in my defense I blame the long weekend. I bought a bikini top that went with a bikini bottom that I had bought two weeks ago while on a shopping excursion with my aunt. I found the bikini top on Ebay and was not hesistant whatsoever in purchasing it because it completed the set! After I had bought it them I realized that I was the epitome of consumerism buying things that I did not need however, since I did buy it on ebay I'm not sure if it is new or not. I still feel guilty about going on Ebay and doing online shopping because all that did was tempt me even more. One thing I noticed about myself even more was that shopping is a HUGE part of my life especially when I'm bored. I caught myself shopping online five times already today alone and today is not even over yet! This is why I decided that in order to avoid tempting myself and buying something else I will focus all my attention on my papers and studying for my final. Hopefully by channeling my energy on something extremely time consuming I will not think about shopping or worse buy something. My addiction to shopping reminded me of Kawamura's article and I remembered in it she talked about how fashion is excess while, clothing is a necessity. This quote really made me think about the useless items that I buy on my weekly shopping rendezvous. During moments of my weakness I would usually come up with reasons to justify my purchases such as "Potato sacks are making a comeback this year..." sarcasm aside, I would come up with any reasons to make me feel guiltless about wasting money. I remember there was this one purchase that I made that I highly regretted till this day; it was a Sanrio handbag that for some reason appealed to me at the time and despite my denial of it now there was a small part of me that thought I could rock the whole Japanese cutesy look. Reminiscing about this reminds me of the article on Japanese street fashion that we read in class a few weeks about the variety of streetwear that Japanese teen would wear. Even though I was not aware that I was being affected by the influence of it at the time I realize now that I was. This was an eye opener to me and I think the next time I do shop I am going to think about the reasons why I buy certain things and where do these influences come from.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

hello 2

I always liked hello kitty as a child. I was never really that feminine or so called girly at all but one thing I did realllllly like was hello kitty because they had yummy gum and cool stationary. I already have a few things like necklaces and alarm clocks that are of hello kitty characters(btw I bought these recently). I went to vacaville today to help my shopaholic friend feel better from her breakup with her bf of two years and for the 50th time ran across the official Sanrio store(home of hello kitty and friends). I walked inside feeling giddy and then realized that I'm not actually supposed to purchase anything due to the assignment and I was....ummm pretty sad..... However i thought about it and realized that I probably shouldn't promote this kind of production as i am unaware of where it comes from and who actually made this product. In the article "Forever in Trouble" it discusses how the garment industry employees are mistreated and how poor their working conditions are. This hello kitty store also mass produces clothing and bags other than trinkets. I was holding a pink rhinestone necklace with the iconic hello kitty face on it and was so eager to take it home but I took a second glance at it and was really torn because it was so pretty and yet it was representative of mistreatment of disadvantaged individuals. I noticed that 50% of the consumers in the store were Caucasian and that struck me because I noticed how much asian culture has influenced the American society as discussed in the article "Asian Fashion Entrepreneurs in London". The author talks about how traditional Indian suits have greatly influenced the London fashion industry, how it is in now even though it was ridiculed before. I remember when it wasn't cool to be asian and even other minorities made fun of "chinky" eyes and our "ridiculous" customs. I remember having to go up against so much discrimination which probably explains why I grew up with so much aggression and pride in my culture from constantly defending it. Anywhoooo, i put the darn necklace down and walked away partially because i was irritated that so many Caucasians were sporting it and I didn't want to promote indifference the world's culminating problems of human expendability. This project is kind of hard for a day to day thing I'll admit. However, I do want to stop human trafficking one day so this is one step towards the betterment of humanity so I guess every little thing helps.

Pheeeew, that was close!

Thank you class! Thanks to this be green project, I saved myself $400. I was this || close to buying an over priced shirt I didn't need. I'm an impulse buyer, and it's been killing me financially. This shirt that I was so close to buying is a Visvim shirt, a popular Japanese brand, considered to be the high fashion of street clothing.

I think it's interesting how Japanese Fashion has become so popular in the United States now. The trend of "Westernization of Japanese Fashions" is reversed to the Japanization of the West. (i know i know, Japanization is not a word).
Dorinne Kondo's article, "The Aesthetic and Politics of Japanese Identity in the Fashion Industry", talks about the process in which Japan's clothing was westernized. The article mentions several mediums in which this was achieved, such as mandating military officials and schools kids to wear western style uniforms. Well, today we see a Japanese fashion trends increase in the U.S. Most of this can be attributed to celebrities icons such as Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco sporting the latest Japanese clothing on their videos and in their concerts.

Even Lupe acknowledges this Japanese trend in one of his verse, "i am American mentally with Japanese tendencies".

I know these over priced Japanese clothes is all hype, but man, you can't help but think they're cool.


back from houseboats!

This memorial day weekend was awesome! My friends and I spent 4 days living on houseboats at Shasta Lake not having a care in the world. The trip can quickly be summarized as drinking, sleeping then followed by more drinking. Overall it was pretty helpful in terms of our project because I was completely away from society and thus unable to make purchases of any sort. What I noticed however, was a weird economy developing amongst everyone on the trip. Money completely lost its value since it couldn't be used. The bare essentials such as water, food, beverages, and for some cigarettes, skyrocketed in value. As the trip went on and these supplies became more scarce, their value increased as well. At least on one occasion someone offered $30 for a pack of cigarettes but was quickly refused. I'm pretty certain that if the same person had more money he would have increased his bid. It seemed the only way one could acquire goods was through bartering.
This experience enlightened me in how fortunate we are to live in the consumer end of the world. While we are contemplating which pair of Nike sneakers to splurge on, people in third world countries are counting their pennies just to put food on the table. According to "Santa's Sweatshop"(Holstein et al 1996) these are the same people who labor day and night to make items that such as the previously stated Nike sneakers. Houseboats was definitely a fun experience but I'm glad that due to this assignment I've been able to take something from it instead of JUST killing braincells and getting a tan.

These concepts are not static...

So, it's been almost an entire week of not buying outsourced products, and it's been rather interesting to say the least. Because I am involved in several extracurricular activities, I have also had a lot of semi-formal, end-of-the-year events. Being the self conscious person that I am, I felt like I had to buy a new outfit for each of these events. But this time, I couldn't do that because of my commitment to not buying these products. Needless to say, I was frustrated at first, but was able to solve my "dilemma" by borrowing outfits from friends and wearing old dresses I hadn't worn in awhile. I liked utilizing my resources and this experiment has prompted me to be creative in these situations. And, although I don't mean to sound conceited, I did get compliments about what I was wearing at the last three events I attended.
After reading my last entry, I realize my bias may have oversimplified a very complex situation. After reading Tracing transnationalities through commodity culture by Claire Dwyer, I realized that no single source could or should be blamed entirely for the results of globalization. In the article, Dwyer mentions how cultural products are not transferred directly from one culture to another. Cultural commodities are often depicted in that manner but, like the South Asian women merchants in Britain, their designs were developed with several different influences in mind. And so, I believe this concept can be applied to the consumer products made in sweatshops and garment factories. I still believe that these workers should not have to work in some horrendous conditions. But I cannot single out the the owners of these sweatshops or even the executives of these corporations who allow their products to be made under these conditions. Like the influences of different cultures on the South Asian dresses in Britain (Diasporic Connections: case studies of Asian women in business by Irene Hardill and Parvati Raghuram), the cycle of globalization is caused by practically every human being on Earth, as consumers and producers trying to make a profit and use these products to continue their lifestyle. It is much too easy to blame a single source for adopting these production patterns when the workers, consumers, and executives all continue to fuel this system of oppression. I also still believe that the executives of these corporations can stand to lose money from their own salaries in order to improve the labor conditions of these sweatshops. This poses me to ask the question: who decided that the labor of the mind was a more valuable asset than the blood, sweat, and tears put in by the labor of the body?

Monday, May 26, 2008


Memorial Day weekend came and passed, while I stayed at home hesitant that if I go to the mall I will definitely end up buying something. I did go grocery shopping however, and tried to buy everything Organic which has definitely doubled my food expenses.
Anyhow, so I sat at home and watched the Cannes Film Festival on TV as the the celebrities attending the Cannes Film Festival appear one by one displaying their best couture gowns while the critics scrutinized every detail of their donned fashion. At this point, I was drooling over the extravagant gowns and elegant dress, wishing for one of those high fashion items myself. Then, being a student in Asian American fashion class, I thought about why that is so?

As Kawamura states in her Fashion-ology book, the celebrities function as fashion leaders in our society today and we try to emulate their styles. Every little accessory they don immediately becomes fashionable and we desire to own it. This can be seen in Madonna’s case of making the bindis fashionable and "Liv Tyler rested dreamily on henna-adorned hands on the cover of a 1997 issue of Vanity Fair" further orientalized mehndi. (Maira) We borrow from everywhere, in many ways, we don’t really have a style of our own, it has been picked out and intentionally made famous and publicized by the celebrities. The fashion critics and magazine editors serve as the gate-keepers who choose the specific fashion from high couture houses to be made public. So they actually decide what will be in stores every season and what we will wear. Thus, when we long to have the jeans and dresses that the celebrities wear, we are just propagating the chain of fashion propaganda. While we might think that we have a unique style, one can argue that it is not so because we are all buying the items already picked for us. The more I thought about this, the more annoyed I got and the same dress that appeared gorgeous few minutes ago didn’t seem so appealing any more. And I switched the channel to something more pleasing, which can be very unique and personal—Food network.

I almost slipped

I have to admit that this weekend was the hardest for me especially with all the sales that were calling my name and the fact that I usually shopped when the weekend came around to release stress. It was also torturous sitting through my daily conversation with my best friend Liza who was incessantly talking about her recent purchases at Nordstrom during their annual sale which is advertised as "the biggest sale of the year." However, I could not completely deny myself of not going to the mall, so instead of shopping I went window shopping. I was surprised to find out that there was a Steve and Barry that had opened up so I decided to check it out and see what it had to offer. Since the store was celebrating its opening there was a store wide sale and everything was 8.98. This sale spelled T-R-O-U-B-L-E for me but, fortunately I was able to restrain myself and started to focus on where certain items were made and imagined the process of production of those items to distract me. One item that I noticed were the sneakers from Stephen Marbury who designed the shoes specifically for Steve and Barry. The idea behind the everyone unlike Jordans or Nikes that run for hundred of dollars. These sneakers were also made in China similar to Nike and Jordans but unlike, its more expensive counterparts the price of shoes is a form of advertisement itself. I thought that this was a smart marketing tool compared to the glitz and glamour of Nike commercials. However, I bet the process of production is similar to that of Nike through the usage of sweat shops in China and Vietnam. After my little contemplation about sneakers I headed to Forever 21 to look at the new dresses that had just come in and I was not surprised to find styles that were exactly designed like some dresses that my cousin had in his boutique. I was amazed at the fact that despite Forever having so many lawsuits against them they are still infringing copyright laws to bring new designer styles to the masses. In a way I think Forever 21 is like the David to the big designers Goliath. However, I do think twice about buying things from Forever due to their poor treatments of their employees now.


I have been without cable television for the past year so naturally I don’t watch too much TV. When I do want to watch TV, as was the case this Saturday, I turn to the web. While I was relentlessly searching for Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Finals online, I had stumbled across a few mislabeled Kobe Bryant Nike commercials. These commercials are relatively recent and I have never given them much thought until now. I will not go into the validity of the stunt; simply apply the laws of physics on your own time.

The biggest concern is that there is absolutely no mentioning of the shoes quality, craftsmanship or rigors of production (Skoggard). When promoting a new line of shoes its worth mentioning that these sneakers incorporate the next generation of air soles or are made of some hybrid, carbon fiber, extraterrestrial technology. But there is no need for that type of honesty; nothing sells better than having one of the most marketable athletes in the world jump over an expensive car.

The video has been viewed millions of times and generated tens of thousands of responses since its initial debut in early April. The actual “Kobe Hyperdunks” are not expected to be available to the public until July or August, in time for the summer Olympics. Again Nike is successful in penetrating the minds and wallets of those “sneakerheads” and “collectors” by creating this media blitzkrieg (Hans). It’s an exact science that specific “colourways” will become extremely limited in the coming months based on all the hype and reasonable price tag of $110; it could retail at over $170 and would still sell.

These shoes are so hot that I am honestly thinking about rescinding my pledge to no longer buy shoes. I am a weak soul so feel free to scream and yell at me in class at any time. On that note, I will leave you with part two of Nike Kobe Hyperdunks.


This weekend was in many ways perfect. No school to worry about on Monday, the weather wasn't too hot, and most importantly I kept up with my goal to be green. It's been almost a week and now I feel great, especially because I am still going strong. So, I rewarded my dear boyfriend =] to dinner. It wasn't just any dinner, we had sushi/Chinese buffet! Too much food plus too much soda equals major weight gains! Alright, back to being green. While i was eating my mountain like stack of food on all three of my plates, I couldn't help myself from observing the people around me like I always do. I observed the way they dress and act, among other things.

I noticed that most people in the restaurant are very superficial about their looks or can be and I did this through pure subjective observation, the evidence being there made it all the more convincing. Even at a buffet restaurant people were wearing heels and carrying brand purses still keen on being stylish despite a first come first serve buffet experience. From my own experiences, I know that most of them have a lot of clothes that they don't ever wear, being a victim of this fashion cluster as well. As these thoughts were going through my mind there was a Caucasian man walking in wearing a shirt with a dragon and tiger on it. For a second I just thought it was very unfitting and ugly on him, and then I thought about the article I read in "Re-Orienting Fashion". "Designing Diasporic market: Asian Fashion Entrepreneurs in London", Parminder Bhachu talks about her observation on Indian cultural influences on the mainstream fashion market in London. The suit which was worn by Indian women now has sold and even remade to many people around the world. And this guy walking right in front of me was probably just as influenced by many people who wore or seen wearing shirts influenced by Asian culture. It made me sad that there is no originality anymore to a lot of things.

Also, in "Santa's sweatshop" the piece talks about globalization with companies like Levi's, Guess, and Disney. Consumers has the power to make decisions regarding their purchase. But who would really thought about the meanings and the work that put behind each item that you purchase. People now days just blindly purchase what they see on TV, or what they think is "in". But fashion trends changes as fast as everyday. What about the idea of keeping green, and where did originality go?


थौघ्त थिस वौल्ड बे कूल

hmmm... just thought i'd throw this stuff in here..hindi script..too bad i can't read or write in hindi..speak it fluently though!! haha


Indian clothes # 2

Ok so im trying to think if I accidently bought something which we've been trying not to. It's weird but I feel like I buy things unconciously. Like I know that we're doing this little experiment and I'm trying to be really good about it. But you can only imagine how hard it is when I have to sit here and think about whether or not I unintentionally broke any rules of the experiment. But glad to report, I haven't. I have been avoiding going to stores at all.

Last night, I went to an Indian Prayer session at a family friend's house. These things have a fairly big crowd with about 30 people there at least. We had all donned our indian Salwaar Kameez, saris and jewellery. As I was sitting there listening to Hymns, and looking at everyone's outfits, I couldn't help but think about the "Diasporic Connections: Case Studies of Asian Women in Business" article by Hardill and Raghuram. I was thinking about how Indians go crazy looking for gorgeous Indian outfits in America. There are about 10 popular Indian stores in Sacramento that we go to. It's like a competition. Whose clothes look better. I was thinking about the owners of the stores and that they all seem to be Indian women. The husbands have a partnership but it is the wives that stay at the store and literally run it. However, come to think of it, I don't think that any of these business women actually design the clothes. They all order their clothes and most of these have the traditional look. Maybe we need a store in the Sacramento area that designs indian clothes to suit the needs of the customer? I was also thinking about where they order their clothes from and the amount of profit that they make. Each outfit is around $100-$500 USD. Considering that Indian Rupees are substantially smaller in currency, they must make a lot of profit. But whenever we bargain with them to lower the prices, they always say "well I have to make some profit too."

On a random note, I was digging through my purses tonight and found an old knock off louis vuitton purse. I remember when i first bought it, not many people had a really good replica so I was proud to carry it around. Now, there are so many replicas around that the average Jane has it. That's why now that purse is an OLD knock off Louis vuitton :D There's nothing special about it anymore because consumers’ needs cause counterfeiting products to increase according to Decker in "Knockouts of Knockoffs." In my opinion, when there are too many counterfeits so that everyone has the product, the product loses it's value. It is no longer something that no one else has. It is no longer everyone's envy ;^) So here is yet another reason why im doing well with this experiment. I currently have no desire to own a product that may be easily replicated. If i pay top dollar for something, it better be one of its kind. And I think it's going to be a while before i find something one of its kind :D

im out!

Each day gets harder!

I don't know about everyone else, but this project is getting increasingly harder. I am a make-up brush collector (weird - I know, but whatever!). At the end of each month, I head over to Sephora and buy myself a make-up brush. I call it a treat to myself for working so hard this month. However, this project is breaking my tradition! So Friday came and I headed over to Sephora, but all I could do was look but not buy! Same goes for Memorial Weekend Sale shopping. As my girlfriends shop, all I could do was try and watch. The good part is that I am saving my credit card and my checkbook from the end of the month pains, but it breaks my heart to leave my favorite store without a BRUSH! Enough of venting...

I hope everyone knows by know what happen in Sichuan - an earthquake that left millions of people homeless and thousands of people killed. As I was reading up on news about it, I stumbled on an articled by the Associated Press, "Quake brings rare freedom for journalists in China". This article is saying that the earthquake is providing journalists with freedom to report about China (namely the earthquake) and to publish photos of the destruction and pain residents of Sichuan are facing right now. If freedom of press is being expressed in Sichuan right now, what other types of freedom will come with it? Especially with the Beijing Olympics coming up in a few months, will China relax its grips? We can definitely see that China has relaxed its fashion constrains in the last 10-15 years by allowing for "fashion" to take the place of the Communist jackets. Will Western influences play a bigger role like in the Japanese fashion industry after the Earthquake in 1923 (Kondo)? How will Western influences change China's policy in the next couple of years because of the aid given to China at the moment to combat the devastation of the Earthquake?

However, Western influences tend to take over once it claims victory over the country. As seen in the Indonesia dress style (from blue to red and the wearing of suits and pants), Western style has co-existed with traditional attire (Niessen). Yet, is it really co-exist when the traditional attire is worn less or plays a smaller part? It's shouldn't be called co-existing, but struggling to survive and be past on to future generations. If that is true, then won't China see Western influences as an enemy to the years of "communist foundation" and "stability" leaders in China had fought, and worked to achieve. So, if the leaders see it as an evil, would they refuse any foreign aid?

Regardless, the government will never be the real sufferer. Since we can't spend our money on clothes, shoes, etc., I encourage everyone to make a small donation to help people in Sichuan. You can do it on the red cross website. Just think about what you want others to do if you were in that situation....

New Identities

Joycee here.

Looking at labels is only the beginning of our newly-evolving consumer consciousness. If there was one surprising fact I learned in this course, it is that Forever 21 is the brainchild of a Korean family. The creation-manufacture-retail convention in corporate franchises over here on these shores goes from western idea, outsourcing of labor, and finally into western consumerism. So to realize that a well-known and popular franchise that is a staple in malls and also unsurprisingly, arrived at these low prices because of outsourcing is attributed a family from a country of manufacture is illogical.

One reason Forever 21 surprises me is because of the decor. There is an European flair in decor that although the clothes are hung on every possible wall space and crammed into every corner, the decor appeals to my senses. These efforts of investment convince customers that the product is somehow higher-end and classier than clothes from other similar stores (Wet Seal, Rave, Charlotte Russe).

Before the experiment started, I visited and patronized the new sister chain of Forever 21, For Love 21 which is an accessories-only store for the first time... And spent an exorbitant amount (to Forever 21-esque standards). Despite all these criticisms on cheap labor and hackneyed designs (Forever 21 lawsuits in the last few years accusing their designers of copying), I actually quite enjoyed shopping there and found "deals" on some items.

I suppose I shouldn't immediately assume that in a comparison between Forever 21 and other higher-end stores that outsource their labor, because of Forever 21's lower prices, they are either giving us cheaper products or treating the workers worse. Forever 21 should probably be appreciated for their "honesty" in pricing most of their items less than $20. It probably costs other stores the same to produce a similar product that really has no more quality than a tunic from Forever 21 but the price for consumers is three-fold.

necessary evil? ... blog #2

This weekend while cleaning out my closet, I decided to actually look at the labels of the clothes I own. And of course most of the items in my closet were produced abroad in countries such as China and Vietnam. When you shop for clothes, you don't think what were the conditions that these clothes were made under, whether or not it was humanitarian ("Santa's Sweatshop"). You think about whether or not certain items fit well with your style or if it suits you, and in most cases about the price. If it is affordable and what not. There are two stores that come to mind when thinking about cheap prices for clothes and for food; Forever21 and Walmart.

Forever21 sales cheap clothes that imitate certain designers at a cheap and low price comparatively to the real deal. When shopping at Forever21 you don't think about the piracy and copyright issues ("Forever in Trouble?"), you are more focused on getting cute clothes at a decent price; although Forever21 has raised its prices since I remember first shopping there.

The same story can be said for Walmart. At super centers you can find comparatively named brand items at a noticeably cheaper price then stores such as Bel-Air and Safeway. And you also know, but choose to ignore, how Walmart treats its employees unfairly by paying low wages and offering meager benefits; yet people still shop at Walmart, I myself included. When you live in a declining economy, what other solutions are out there. It's only logical for people to find the best way to save their money, even if it means turning a blind eye to some issues.

Therefore it leads me to the conclusion that stores such as Forever21 and Walmart are like necessary evils. Knowing this, how can we change for the better if our options are limited?
I guess this "going green" project will help me see that there are a lot of things one can live without. And to not feel the need to purchase things just to purchase them; to change for the better.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

yO! This is Ari.

yO! This is Ari.

So our mission is to not buy anything new. Great! This sounds easy enough considering that I’ve been doing this with my clothes for the past 6 months. This may sound gross to some of you, but I’ve been wearing the same pair of jeans for the past 6 months. That’s right, you read it correctly. The same jeans every singl

e day for the past 6 months. If that’s not being green, I don’t know what is.

To be honest, I didn’t originally do this to try to save the earth, but because it’s actually supposed to be fashionable to buy one premium pair of raw denim and try to wear it out. The goal is to keep on the same pair of jeans so that it’ll start fading to your lifestyle; leaving marks from your daily routine. This trend started in Japan where most of premium denim are fabricated by master artesian. As we all know from reading, “Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion” by Kawamura, most of Japanese fashion is inspired

by the West. The Japanese didn’t invent denim, the just mastered it and made it better. I wanted to illustrate how fashion in Japan is, “no longer controlled or guided by professionally trained designers but by the teens who have become the producers of fashion.” But if I did so, I wouldn’t have anything to elaborate on for my next blog!

For this post, I'll give ya'll some eye candy and show you the evolution of my Jeans.

Day1: Shipped from Japan

Day 2: 1st time worn: ( my butt is on the right)

4th month:

6th month (Present day): One wash. I would like to mention it was HAND washed, saving electricity, sparing the earth.

For those who think I'm making up the notion that this is a trend, I kid you not! There is actually a subculture of denim heads out there. I have this forum to prove it:

-Ari Simphoukham

Friday, May 23, 2008

And So The Battle # 1

Initially, when the Professor mentioned the Anti Consumerism Movement, I thought to myself "wow, that must take a lot of determination, sucks to be them!" I truly thought that I would NOT be able to do something of the sort. I was an only child uptil 9 years of age, so I got what I wanted. Then when I turned 15, I wanted to feel responsible and buy everything for myself, so I got a job. Unfortunately, instead of saving the money and spending it wisely, I became a shop-a-holic. My styles are always changing; whatever is the trend, I follow if I feel I can pull it off. Of course, this means that I am always buying things which becomes popular through the diffusion theory, the decision of many people to adopt a certain style (Jones, Leshkowich & Niessen 2003). I've gone from urban, to emo, to preppy to all (wow!).

So you can only imagine how i felt when some smart ass yelled out "Let's do this as an experiment in lieu of the final!" I was thinking that I would most likely do better on the final than this experiment. However, after taking into consideration the many political, economic and social factors that "fashion" is comprised of, I decided that maybe I CAN give it a shot. After all, 28 days isn't that bad, is it? I'm NOT Paris Hilton, so this might actually be easy. And it's true, I do not know where any of the things I own, came from. Could I be contributing to the exploitation of workers in sweatshops? (Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman, Ito). These thoughts, paired with my own selfish need to get out of an actual in-class final, I am actually trying to adhere to the rules of our experiment. It is now day 4 and I have NOT bought anything unnecessary. The fact that I don't get paid until next friday might also be a reason why I haven't. It'll be a REAL test once I get paid. I hope I can stay strong.

Hello Kitty... blog #1

Sanrio has always been one of my favorites stores ever since childhood and through this class I have began to look at it through a different lens.

I can remember the days in elementary school when things like Hello Kitty and Lisa Frank were popular items. I remember as early back as the third grade when I would buy different stationaries that featured characters such as Hello Kitty, Twin Stars, and Pippo, and write notes to my friends and such. And although that was more then a decade ago, I am not ashamed to say that I am still a Hello Kitty lover today. Some might think it's childish to for a grown person to still like Hello Kitty, but I don't agree. Just because you are a certain age, it doesn't mean that you can't like "cute" things. That being said, I'm not likely to buy Hello Kitty stationary or things of that nature these days, but I would be inclined to buy items that are more tasteful and not so cheesy. I feel that one's tastes can mature with age. These days, I enjoy shopping for Hello Kitty jewelry. There are a few pieces in the Kimora Lee line that I like, that are highly over priced, but I feel it has a more refined look that would suit someone like me. If they weren't ridiculously over priced, I might have perhaps bought a few items, but I guess in a world where there's knock offs and cheaper imitations everywhere you look, to put a label on it and to over price it is to try to capitalize on the "authenticity" of it ("Knockouts or Knockoffs" Melissa Decker).

Thinking about the "Cuties in Japan," the article by Sharon Kinsella, I can reflect on why I still like Hello Kitty; maybe it's because it symbolizes my childhood when things were carefree and you didn't have any worries. In the world that we live in today, our day to day life is full of stress and there's always something on your mind. And if Hello Kitty helps me to remember the feelings of childhood to bring a little extra joy to my life, then I don't see anything wrong with it. You can be young at any age, it's just a mentality.

Linda Le

baby GAP

For most of us, GAP doesn’t conjure images of young women working in sweatshops and even Nikes continue to be the fad item we all yearn to own. We are a part of the excessive consumer culture ever so present in the US that it has almost become synonymous with us Americans. Being on the receiving end, we do not understand or just simply neglect the relationship between excessive consumption and sweatshops present in our world today. Critical of the big companies such as GAP, my experience today has taught me that there are alternatives, if one is willing to look for them.

As I was looking for a gift for my friend’s baby shower, a cute little outfit on display in baby GAP’s window appeared irresistible. But I was taken aback from even entering the store knowing that this little dress is made by women who can barely afford to clothe their own children. I refused to partake in this inhumane consumption where “sweatshops are a reality of globalized economy” yet companies claim that “It is not a situation in which we are abusing people or there are health issues involved.” (Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman and Ito, 1996) In fact, it is quite the contrary because workers face horrific working conditions and even suffer health problems caused by these circumstances. Picturing these inhabitable conditions, the little dress didn’t seem attractive any longer. Instead, I went to local Mother and Baby Source, a little shop filled with all baby necessities as well as organic clothes, to purchase my gift. I think I made a difference today, although it is minute on a global scale but it is a step away from the vicious cycle of exploitative production and irresponsible consumption. We do not need everything we buy, and we certainly don’t need closets full of clothes. Therefore, I think that as responsible consumers, we have to realize that “Clothing is a necessity whereas fashion is not.” (Kawamura, 2005)

Thursday, May 22, 2008


What simpler way to preserve the world and all its wonders than by not contributing to its destruction. The idea of preservation through conservation is not so much a challenge requiring the contributions of every individual, but rather a solution. Despite what those “haters” may think, I have decided to approach this Compact experiment semi-seriously. I’ve already begun to cut back on my consumption of the finer things in life; so if all goes accordingly, I won’t go crazy and drop out of college after 28 days.

While at work during the morning hours of Saturday, April 19, 2008 I had made what is to be my final purchase of any Air Jordan and Nike affiliated footwear from an online retailer…for the foreseeable future. Like a majority of shoe collectors, I am a poor college student who will be in debt until my late 70s despite a coveted credential from an institution of academic prestige. The lack of monetary funds, overdraft charges and melting credit cards made my decision to stop fairly easy.

It would be great if I could honestly credit the horrid working conditions in which my shoes were made for this early retirement…But that would be a lie (Skoggard). The truth is this young man is financially deprived and “cash rules everything around me” sometimes. Many of the shoes in my collection will be going on sale in the coming days, weeks, and months. Maybe somewhere along the lines, as my shoes gradually disappear, I can convince myself that I am doing it for reasons other than money.

Made in China

Joyce here.

"Made in China." Magical words that inspire the worst thoughts. For the bike exhibition at the MU on Tuesday, we used six Ikea wooden easels made in China. As the day got older, forces beyond our control (i.e. the wind) blew our huge timeline measuring 3' x 12' standing on four easels to the ground. Luckily, the timeline which was mounted on four gator boards fell as one and thus did not tear. That first fall was lucky. Later in the afternoon, the wind got stronger and blew the timeline down again. Except this time, while the timeline was still intact, the easels were not. They were made in China, afterall.

Two of the four used to support the timeline exploded, like literally, into splinters. We rushed to salvage what we could but the easels were too far gone. One of my groupmates mutter, "Well they were made in China." I protest at this assertion! I calmly told her that this was an Ikea easel, we got what we paid for.

This brings to memory the recent onslaught of accusations towards Chinese products and their supposed inferior quality. I say supposed because the products are designed and made for the Western consumers. The rules of capitalism and consumerism WANT low prices but high quality. One cannot have both and must accept the consequences of choosing one or the other.

I too used to laugh at cheap products when they break, shrug and say it was made in China. But no, that is no longer entirely true. Consumers are the people that can never be satisfied. They detest the disagreeable work conditions yet spend an astronomical amount for a pair of shoes. They criticize the manufacturing government for not regulating the workplace, but still scoff at a correctly-priced t-shirt made under conditions that these people prize.

Just Got Paid

It's the 22th of the month again. I've been looking forward to this date for a long time. In fact, I wait every month for this date because I get paid on this special day. Usually I reward myself for my half month of hard work as a server and go shopping , maybe buy myself some new shirts from Forever 21. But this time with a mission to be green for 28 days, I was determined not to spend my money on the things that I don't need. Even though I was very attempted to do otherwise after today's class. But from reading this week's assignments I had better ideas about counterfeiting products and sweat shops. I understood we are very privileged of those things we do have, and for those we don't have, there is no need to waste money on the unnecessary costs. Our project saved me nearly a hundred bucks because today I would have spent about one fourth of my paid check on some thing that I don't really ever need.
In "Forever In Trouble?" Chuck Qyun described the situation of Forever 21 owners and their garment workers. I understood that only one simple shirt that maybe sells for about ten dollars is created by many workers' unappreciated and completely underpaid work. Workers like Forever 21's have very poor working conditions and they get paid so little for what they do. It is absolutely horrifying to remind myself about how much of those goods I have consumed in the past have really been building a money making machine that hurts workers worldwide. And of course, how careless I was about those very same issues mentioned.
Also, connecting information from lecture, "Knockouts of Knock offs", and "Forever In Trouble", I understand how counterfeiting products can really hurt companies, designers and especially workers. Melissa Decker in her article talked about the counterfeiting issues around the world. I couldn't help myself from digging through my old bags and pulling out fake LV bags I have purchased a couple years ago when visiting China. Maybe I was embarrassed, I have never worn it before but now I truly understand its global costs. It's been sitting in the darkest spot in my closet still to this day. Today, I finally had the courage to toss it away along with my leftovers from yesterday.
It's never to late to change a bad habit. I dearly hope during these 28 days of being green and actually caring about something relevant to our society, my life, and the lives of others will make me a better person and hopefully, I will have made some sort of impact. And finally, I am very proud about my decisions made today and I hope to continue achieving my goals.

Cheryl He Tang

Like most college students here in Davis, I am broke. More often than not my wallet is empty and my checking balance is near or below zero. I can’t even afford the luxury of buying second hand clothes, let alone Seven jeans or whatever overpriced items they’re selling at the mall these days. It wasn’t always like this. At one point when I was working I spent most of my earnings getting some pretty nice “threads”. After quitting my job, however, I reverted back to being a semi-professional hobo. So since I can’t afford anything right now I decided to look through clothes I already own. After going through my closet I discovered all my Guess clothes were made in America. I always thought things made domestically were more expensive because American labor laws prevented sweat shops from being used to produce cheap clothing. According to the article “Forever in Trouble?” (Byun, 2003) that is not necessarily true. If I decide to buy a domestically made item over something say, made in China, I fully expect the premium I’m paying to go directly to an American laborer. Byun points out that some clothing manufacturers make their clothes here but employ illegal immigrants. These sweat shops are then able to avoid labor laws because most of their employees will not protest in fear of losing their jobs or being deported. They pay their employees the bare minimum needed to survive and then sell their clothes at inflated prices. Consumers are willing to pay these prices because they think made in America must mean better quality and better work environments for the laborers. At least that’s what I thought. It’s easy to put all the blame on these clothing companies. They probably should try to follow labor laws because after all, it is the law. But realistically in a capitalist society the prime measure of success is how much profit you can acquire. In this respect, the companies are only finding the most profitable option viable to them. Although the illegal immigrants work in harsh conditions, they do so by their own choice. The options they have besides working in a sweat shop are not necessarily better if not worse. I can go on forever about this so I’ll leave you all with this: maybe it would help if our government made an international announcement showing how life for an illegal immigrant in America really is like. In this day and age, America is only the land of opportunity if you have money.

Enjoy your long weekend homies.
As I am sitting in my apartment, packing for the wonderful long weekend away from Davis, I remembered our wonderful ASA final project. I wonder, how many people took part in the production of my jeans? It said "made in China" in bright yellow letters, but what were the conditions of the workers there? Sitting there, I realized how disgusted I was at my jeans. If felt like a contributor to the poor conditions that people in developing countries/third world country had to live with. Oh - my poor new, made in China jeans!

However, I do agree with the idea bought up by the article, "Santa's sweatshop", about " today's Third World nation can be tomorrow's developmental success" (Palmer et al 1996). As cruel and inhuman as the idea may sound, this is a cycle. It is true that the workers in these countries are not given what they rightfully deserve. By talking orders at a lower price than others, the the county will get the order. By getting the order, the country will have income. Over time, the country will establish itself in the garment industry, leading to more orders flowing into that country. The country will be able to use that money (if they don't have a corrupted government) to improve the roads, provide health care and free education, etc. Yes, it is true that developed countries have and will continue to exploit the developing country because of lower wages and poor or lack of labor laws, but if this exploitation could provide a country with financial stability and finance to develop, is exploitation a bad thing? Note: I do not believe countries should pay developing countries lower wages and have poor working conditions - the above is only stated to give an alternative viewpoint.

Who is the true contributer to exploitation? I propose it is the consumers. Consumers who aspire to be of a higher class or follow the trends set by the elite or celebrities are the worst contributers to exploitation. These consumers follow the top down theory in which they try to imitate the people of a higher class (Kawamura 78). However, their socioeconomic status may not be able to afford this form of imitation; the results: buying imitation products. This is where Forever 21 comes in and the reason why it has grown to be so big. Humans like to aspire and dream of becoming better people and people of a better class. If we can't achieve it realistically, we try to satisfy ourselves by wearing or carrying something like that. It's a way to comfort ourselves and not feel so bad. "Hey, at least I can afford Forever 21!"

Blog Entry #1

In our current society, where food is bought in a store rather than grown and picked and clothing is bought in the mall instead of hand-sewn, the average American consumer seems to have lost any capability of self-sufficiency. I realized this as I was searching through my closet for an outfit for the Asian American Studies Banquet. Idleness settled in and I immediately wanted to go shopping for a new outfit instead of creating one. But then I realized our new agreement for ASA 189B and I pouted and sulked. I had become too accustomed to buying my solutions when it came to coordinating outfits or buying food.
After that momentary lapse, I actually found a solution to my outfit problem. It felt satisfying to figure out that I did, indeed find a brown top to match my brown skirt. But after reflecting on my "hard decision", I did realize how completely trivial my "dilemma" was. I was only "deprived" of my shopping for cheap clothes for two days, and I was already complaining. It only made me realize the gravity of America's consumer culture and its' power over the American people, myself included. I admit, I am one of those women who have a closet of clothes but still declare "I have nothing to wear!" Our reliance on the consumption of new products has become so evident, I'm surprised I didn't realize it before. I finally admit that I love buying clothes even though I don't need it. Professor Valverde asked the question who was to blame for this almost repugnant need for consumer products. I still believe that it's the major corporations who gain major profit from playing to human emotions that consumer products are "needed" on a regular basis. But as long as we as consumers keep believing it/not do anything about it, nothing will change.
Exploitation is a recurring theme throughout the articles Diasporic Connections: Case studies of Asian women in business by Irene Hardill and Parvati Raghuram and Forever in Trouble by Chuck Q. Byun (KoreAm Journal) about outsourced products. However, what appalled me most is when reading about the Asian businesswomen and the Korean sweatshop owners. I felt like these business owners should have known best that they were exploiting fellow South Asians or fellow immigrants. But I quickly realized that I had no right to be so critical. I was a consumer of products made at the hands of the underpaid and overworked. Because the business owners, the workers, and I are all a part of the cycle of capitalism, and it's almost impossible to break out of this cycle. However, this brings me back to my earlier opinion, and how it's really the executives of these major corporations who should be the most responsible for the amount of consumerism and exploitation that takes place under their corporations. Because ultimately, this group of people has the most power and money that can easily change the lack of resources for the lowest workers. These executives ultimately have influence but choose not to in order to make more money. Some will argue that's okay, because the entire premise of economics is to gain maximum profit. But where do we draw the line? Is it okay to gain maximum profit at the expense of minimum standard human treatment?
I was pretty skeptical on the first day about how I was going to go about doing this project. I had to admit I was excited and scared at the same time. Shopping is an essential for me it is a way for me to relax, waste time, etc..I did not know how much embarking on this journey would affect me until yesterday when I was forced by my friends to go shopping. When I entered the mall I was faced with all these products that I totally could have bought but ended up just staring at and drooling after for a bit. The trip to the mall was completely torturous for me and my friends didn't help either with tons of questions about why I couldn't buy anything or they would give me really cute shirts and take them away from me. However, I did notice that many clothing items are made in China, not that I'm saying I did not notice this before but, it seemed that there were more items from China. An interesting thing I found out while shopping was that I was paying more attentions to the labels and where certain items were made instead of the item itself. I also tracked the process of production in my head and I would ponder about the labor conditions that items were made under. I also was more socially aware when I walked into Forever 21 especially after learning about all the lawsuits they are facing along with the labor laws their factories are violating. I am proud to say that despite the mall being a torturous experience, it was definitely a learning one as well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Rules

The Rules:

In brief, the rules of The Compact are to buy nothing new except food, essential medicine, consumables such as shampoo, and utilitarian socks and underwear. Some leniency is extended regarding children's pyjamas, gift items sold by local artisans, gift items received by charities, and fresh flowers from local shops. Professional art supplies are iffy, and videos should be rented, if not downloaded. Additionally, Compacters pass on what they no longer need and, in general, try to reduce their environmental footprint.

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact
2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er)
3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

So, here goes for the rules:
  • First principle - don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
  • Second principle - borrow or buy used.
  • A few exceptions - using the "fair and reasonable person" standard -- i.e., you'll know in your heart when you're rationalizing a violation:
    • food, drink, and necessary medicine (no elective treatments like Viagra or Botox)
    • necessary cleaning products, but not equipment (don't go out and buy the Dyson Animal, for example).
    • socks and underwear (utilitarian--non-couture or ornamental)
    • pajamas for the children
  • Utilitarian services (plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, veterinarians, dog/house-sitters, fire/paramedics, dry cleaners, house cleaners, etc.) -- Support local and encourage used parts (rebuilt transmission, salvaged headlight unit, etc.)
  • Recreational services (massage, etc.) & local artisanal items - Good sources for gifts, but should not be over-indulged in for personal gratification
  • Charitable contributions (Seva, Heifer, and the like) - an even better source for gifts
  • Plants and cut flowers - Whenever possible, cultivate from free cuttings or seeds. Ok in extreme moderation (yo, incoming oxy) when purchased from local businesses (i.e., not the Target Garden Shop)--and again, within reason
  • Art supplies - First line of attack: SCRAP. When absolutely necessary (for the professionals and talented amateurs in the group), from local businesses
  • Magazines, newspapers, Netflix - renewals only, no new subscriptions. Even better to consume online
  • V ideo rentals and downloadable music files (non-material) -- freely shared and legal, please
    Some resources
    For fresh produce:
    • Terra Firma (like The Box, but community supported agriculture, entirely sourced from Yolo County farms.)
    For secondhand purchases and for recycling/donating:
    For spiritual support and guidance
    Please pool other great sources you find this year.
  • example posting

    blog #1 - Valverde

    As a professor I constantly look for innovative pedagogical tools. Learning is not about regurgitation from texts but rather using the text as a springboard to gather more knowledge. Memorizing facts to later spew it out in tests may or may not ensure quality learning. So, I was not adverse to the idea of finding alternative ways to process and measure learning (in lieu of a final). We have been reading so much about capitalism and especially the effects such as consumer culture. We notice this clearly in the textiles industry. Institutions controlling ideas of fashion began probably before written texts and the history of these ideas has been well documented since then. For example, from Ko’s writings we know that in the 10th century, the state and eventually its society created class based body image by introducing footbinding for women (Ko 1997).

    With the advent of capitalism, consumer culture emerged and rose to extraordinary heights in the last few decades. With mastermind marketing techniques deployed by companies such as Nike (Skoggard 1998) we are now lead to believe we ‘need’ consumer products or else we will not be happy, popular, sexy…But, in the process to create more products for the hungry consumer, capital exploitation also rises. The more affluent nations target developing ones for their labor in order to make higher profits (Palmer et al 1996).

    These facts do not mean we have to shrug our shoulders feeling there’s not much we can do to fight globalization. That may be the case, but we certainly can take action to change our lifestyles. So, to be a part of The Compact movement in order to recognize how much we partake in the consumer culture is an interesting exercise. I believe connecting our experiences during this process to the readings of the course will constitute an clever pedagogical experiment. Read more about what we are doing below.

    Be Green 101 Welcome Note

    Here we are, trying to make a difference one person at a time one day at a time. We chose to participate in Be Green 101 because we care about the environment and are critical of consumer culture.

    There exists many ways for us to act upon our beliefs. For this endeavor, we chose to only buy secondhand items (with a few exceptions) in line with The Compact movement that originated in San Francisco 2005.

    We hope as students made aware of how consumer culture has harmed societies, we can act accordingly to make change.