Thursday, May 29, 2008

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?

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