Thursday, April 30, 2009

My first instinct upon hearing about the compact challenge was to clean out my closet and pick out the clothes that I don’t wear anymore. I picked out several items of clothing and I started designing my first top. After several failed attempts at stitching and draping, I decided to rip the whole project apart and use the material to make a bag and a belt instead. The top wasn’t something I’d honestly wear in public—the fit was not flattering--and the look that I came up with was extremely out of date.

I took a lot of time to reflect back upon the project and I questioned whether or not what I was creating could be considered fashion. Fashion has always been associated with the idea of progression. The point is that fashion is supposed to be forward moving: fashion is about novelty. Well, if I created something out of old, torn, and outdated clothing, can it still be considered fashion?
I also reflected upon what I saw in the mirror when I tried on the top. To put it mildly, the top just did not flatter my figure. The colors did not come together at all. This made me question the notion of beauty and aesthetics. Does it have to flatter a person’s figure in order to be considered aesthetically pleasing? Do the colors have to pull together to compliment each other? Can a garment be a rainbow of colors and patterns, can a garment be asymmetrical—not form flattering—and still be considered beautiful?
I also tried to critique whether or not the top that I had designed could be considered creative. I got the impression from reading the fashionology book that in order for a garment to be considered creative, there must be a credible outside source which labels it as creative or not creative. But what if I was the only one who judged the garment? Can I still label my work as creative if there were no credible outside sources to validate it as such?

<3 Shirley Chan

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lululemon’s “Seaweed” Clothing

I officially started the Compact Challenge today! As part of the process, I decided to clean out my closet. I wanted to get rid of duplicate items.

What I have too many of are scarves. I love scarf because they come in so many shapes, patterns, and colors. I especially went too far with the purchasing of scarf in China during my study in Shanghai. I bought each scarf for a little over a dollar. My consumption of cheap goods has not only took up a lot of my closet space here in the U.S. but it caused me to go over my luggage limit on my return flight from China on United Airlines.

While cleaning, I found my white Lululemon scarf (scarf shown in picture is the same just different color) with two balls at the end of it side. My boyfriend had bought me a really expensive scarf for Christmas with the hope that I would stop buying more. It was 70 dollars. I have never bought a scarf for more than 10 U.S dollars. So I asked myself why I kept it again. Then I recalled my main motive. It was all because Lululemon claimed the scarf had “Seaweed” in it, which was supposed to have some healing effects for the wearer.

This seaweed is supposed to “reduce stress as well as provides anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, hydrating and detoxifying benefits” (CBC News). Without doing my research, I kept the scarf for that reason. However, after a few months, I found several article including one from NYTimes who debunked Lululemon’s claims. This caused a lot of problems regarding the seaweed content. Other articles claimed that the seaweed content is actually 5% and while 95% are wood pulp fibers made by a unique Lyocell process. That content is said to be environmentally-friendly, bio-degradable (Alter).

The revelation made me feel as if I was just another subject sucked into the consumption mode because of a desire derived from a marketing claim rather than because of rationality. How often can I say that “my clothes have seaweed in it?” this propaganda got the best of me. Just like Kawamura claimed in her “Fashion-ology” book, "people in society are susceptible to all kinds of propaganda”(pg86). This scarf was the first clothing item that I cared enough to research on, and I must admit, it made me feel better knowing what I am wearing.


Phung Kim Vo
Blog #1

"Out of Africa" Appropriation

The New York Times ran a fashion article called “Out of Africa” about the Spring ’09 fashion season on March 30th. This article cited Louis Vuitton’s new “It” shoe , “Spicy”, Orlando Pitta’s sculpted hairdos for Dior (which also featured “Africana” inspired shoes with fertility symbols carved into the heels), and Junya Watanabe’s “bold prints” as examples of “Africa chic”, which apparently the new hot trend with top designers these days.

This article is a great example of Lise Skov’s discussion of the colonialist gaze of journalists in “Fashion-Nation: A Japanese Globalization Experience and a Hong Kong Dilemma” from Re-Orienting Fashion: The Globalization of Asian Dress. The article even states, “the colonial world has also been mined for inspiration.” There is little to no acknowledgment in the article of the vast differences between the countries/regions of Africa that have been "mined", assuming that there is one grand aesthetic for all of Africa, a continent with millions of people. This discredits the historical influences on dress in Africa, assuming that it is all what is "natural" for the people to wear, rather than influenced by distinct cultures, histories, and needs of the diverese peoples that live there.

As stated in “An Analysis of Modern Fashion Designs as Influenced by Asian Ethnic Dress” by Yu, Kim, Lee, and Hong, the West has adopted Eastern dress to fit Western lifestyle, not only in form but also in the way it is worn. The article concludes by noting, “the irony is that one step on African soil in this high and mighty footwear would probably bring even a hardened fashionista to her knees. Yet, in fashion, the dream creates desire.”

Appropriating certain styles without consideration of why they are used where they originated is why this conundrum results, in my opinion. Take, for example, lobe stretching, a recent trend in body modification that has been accepted by middle class youth across America. Lobe stretching in Africa is a symbol of community in many senses, connecting one's physical appearance with the traditions of one's tribe. In America, the practice has been appropriated to acheive the exact opposite purpose, seen as rebellion from the mainstream and an assertion of a deviant self. However, I am willing to bet that no suburban teen would take lobe stretching to the lengths (literal lengths of the lobe) of many African tribespeople, or to begin practice lip stretching or nostril stretching. It is also interesting to note that many African people practicing stretching often use seemingly Western objects (plastic cups, bottles) as stretching tools. Talk about recycling Western mass production!!!(assertations made here inspired by my reading of Victoria Pitts' "In the Flesh" for my research project)

For a great analysis of the New York Times article, visit the site Racialiscious.

Alison Tanner Entry #1

Lady Gaga "Fashion"

while i was writing a paper i was listening to me itunes. Lady Gaga's song fashion came on and it immediately reminded me of this class and the reading that i just did. it reminded me of the while diffusional theory (kawamura). the whole song was about the diffusion on fashion. part of the lyrics was:
I need, some new stilettos
Can't walk, down the street in those
You are, who you wear it's true
A girl's just as hot as the shoes she choose

this whole passage is about how people will choose fashion over practicality. you cant walk dont the street but what does that matter since you look good, i mean thats all that matters anyways. the second theory of the diffusion theory stated that diffusion process is based on the decision of many people to choose a certain fashion.(kawamura) and this passage just proves that theory.

the song goes into more detail by agreeing with the whole fashion doll idea. celebrities get to wear all the hottest clothes, and then the trickle down affects happens to mainstream america. iA part of the lyrics says that she is a mannequin, which is true because many designers use celebrities to show off their designs. due to the privacy of fashion shows the only way for their fashion to go mainstream is to have celebrities wear their brands. it was interesting to me that an artist would actually sing a song about that. i dont know if she really had the intention of saying all these but it educates the world.

since i dont know how to upload a video from the web, because this site only allows me to upload videos that are in my computer, so heres the link to the song:
Lady Gaga - fashion

Jennifer Ma

Monday, April 27, 2009


Since I have first heard of the Compact Challenge, I have found it very hard to not want to buy things that I see in stores. I have, however, realized how many different things I buy that I don’t actually need. Whether it’s shoes, clothes, or whatever, I realize that I have become addicted to shopping. However, when I heard about the Compact Challenge, I realized that what it was saying was actually a great idea. I mean, when I look at all of my things, how much of it is things that I need, and how much of it is just things that I WANTED.

Since I was a young child, I have always heard the term, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Because I learned this in elementary school I never thought about it that much. However, as the economy moves on, I feel that everywhere I turn, I hear the phrase whether it’s from a person, or something I see. Although I haven’t thought about it much in the past, I now realize that it’s something that I really need to start considering. Not that I don’t recycle because I do. However, I feel that at the same time, there is a lot more I could do to “be green.”

This past weekend, I was at the mall and of course there were many things tempting me to buy them. I feel especially this way if I’m going to stores that I can usually find many things that I want to buy. (ex: H&M/Forever 21/etc.) So did I buy them or not? YES, I did buy them. Honestly, at that point in time, I didn’t even remember about the Compact Challenge and that I was supposed to be saving money and buying things from thrift stores, etc.

Sometimes when I buy things, I justify it as okay because it was an in-expensive buy. For example, at Forever 21, their clothes tend to be decent and inexpensive. However, one thing I did not realize, is the work that went in to opening this store that thousands of people shop at. In the news article, "Forever in Trouble?" by Chuck Byun, he discusses the making of Forever 21. Forever 21 was basically opened by a hard working Korean immigrant who was searching for the American dream. After going through the hardships of working hard and staying late, he and his wife were able to eventually open Forever 21. This store is currently one of the most popular stores among teenage girls. When I read this article, I found it interesting because I never thought about how the store opened. All I really thought about was the clothes I liked/wanted from the store. I think this is how a lot of people are. As a society, we tend to just look at the things we like wihtout realizing all the hard work that went into the making of it. We tend to not really care about where it comes from as long as we like the fashion of the clothes. This seems to come from the idea that fashion is the only thing that matters.

I’ve realized that the world has given most people the mindset that when they see something they want, they just HAVE to get it. In Yuniya Kawamura's book, "Fashion-ology," she states, "The fashion system is about fashion production...influential leaders of fashion, and institutions that help create and spread fashion are participants in the system." (page 88) She's completely right!!! We tend to see a lot of influential figures in the media who have trendy clothes and it makes us want to buy, buy, and keep buying so that we can constantly keep up with the latest fashion. We see celebrities who have beautiful clothes and we just want what they have and therefore and sucked into buying new things that will bring us closer to what celebrities have. And sadly, I have fallen into that trap. Whether I see a celebrity wear a certain style or something else, it makes me want to go out and buy more clothes/shoes/etc. I hope that starting now, and continuing through the next weeks, I will be able to resist from all the temptations that shopping brings and instead, either not go shopping, or just learn to control myself when I see things that I want. I think that if I can learn to control myself, the Compact Challenge will come to me a lot easier than if I just ignore it.

Steph Hirsh

image 1:
image 2:
image 3:
Byun, Chuck. "Forever in Trouble?" KoreAm Journal. April 4, 2003. Class Reader.
Kawamura, Yuniya. "Fashion-ology: An Introduction to Fashion Studies." 2005, 2006. Page 88.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Paradox of Nike *sigh*

What Price Glory?
As the clock strikes past another hour, I realize that I am still sitting in front of the computer wondering what I can write about. Then I finally understand what I could do. After looking through a fellow classmate's blog entry, it occurred to me that within the compact challenge there lies a paradox. The so-called paradox stems from me being a sneakhead of the worst kind. This lifestyle wreaks of being overly excessive but an essential part is also buying used. Rare shoes in this culture are a status symbol. According to "Just Doing It: A Visual Ethnographic Study of Spectacular Consumption Behavior at Nike Town", "a manager, stated, "'I've never really understood it, but it fascinates the kids!'"(364). The possession of great rarity is a representation of the extraordinary means the buyer took to get it. So there in lies the paradox. The only way to buy the older more respected shoes is to buy them used at a good condition. And on the other hand, the purchase of these shoes are so overpriced that the only green part about them is the money being exchanged. So when it comes to the shoe game, where does one find a happy median?

First off, it's important to note that the most desired pairs of shoes are the ones you can't get anymore. This runs counter to Kawamura's ideas in Fashion-ology. The author states that fashion has to be up to date (21). But what is seen here is the opposite. Because the older the shoe means the longer you have been in the game. That's the status symbol. A pair of rare shoes from a couple years ago versus a pair of shoes that just released is like True Religions to Levi's. Yeah, like that.

So as for the compact challenge, I'll keep you updated. It seems to me there is no median but perhaps I haven't looked hard enough.

Cyril Torado #1

Here's a video of DJ AM and when you watch it, try to see what I'm talking about when it comes to older things being what's in and how much this culture wreaks of being over excessive.

Alternatives for Obtaining "Designer" Clothing

When I first heard about this compact challenge on the first day of class, I realized that this would be impossible for me. I am probably the biggest culprit to this consumption society we live in. I can admit I go to the mall every single weekend. The least I would spend is about $50 each time. Shopping is a hobby of mines, and a damn expensive one to say the least. So after hearing about this challenge, I thought about how I would be able to do this. I wanted to see if I could do it, so I started the challenge a little over a week ago. (April 17th). I'm a very selective shopper, as when I go to the mall, I only go to 1-2 specific stores. I always end up buying something at my favorite store H&M, and Urban Outiftters.

Everytime I go, I always buy the newest stuff they have out that week. I would say I spend about $300-$500 a month on clothes alone. Then there's shoes. I have over 20 pairs of Nike SBs and Vans. Shoes are the 2nd most important part of an outfit that's how I see it. Rarely will you see me outside in public, where I am not matching from head to toe.

Lastly, I am a denim fanatic. I love wearing designer brand jeans such as Rock and Republics, True Religions, and Evisus. Jeans are the most important aspect of an outfit in my opinion. Most of my designers cost about $200+. To me, Fashion is a way of distinguish class, and I'll admit, a part of me wear designers just to be "better" then the next person. In Fashionology, Kawamura, states that fashion is a social custom. It is a much larger perspective then just clothing. It's also about social and classification.

So you ask how and why am I able to consume so much and not feel the economic consequences. Well the truth is, I'm usually broke as a result of shopping too much. The past several months, my shopping and consuming ways has decline somewhat. I've found other alternatives to buying these designer clothing I like. Just last week, there was a denim sale going on right here in Davis.
They were selling designer jeans for 40-60% off.

Other ways I have been saving money, but at the same time still consuming these clothes were from earlier mentioned on this Blog was from trade Exchanges. Like the Buffalo Exchange that was recently mentioned, there are Dunk Exchanges that occur in San Francisco that I go to, that sell used Nike SBs for very cheap. I actually also have been going to Thrift stores a lot lately, and I am fascinated by the clothing they have their. You could easily take these clothes and create your own style and fashion from scratch. Also, my ex girlfriend use to be a major thrift store geek, who always bought stuff there, told me about it. I'm still dependent on H&M and Urban Outfitters for my source of clothing right now, but I can see myself going to thrift stores more. It's been almost 1.5 weeks, and I have yet to buy a single piece of clothing. I'm finding myself with about $100 extra this past weekend. I spent that money and treated my friends out to a dinner at Tony Roma's.
Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology. New York: Berg Publishers, 2005

BLOG #1 Tung Vo

Nike Considers Going Green?

When it comes to consumer culture, Nike is notoriously known as its strongest catalyst. You can't help but think of sweat shops, money, and big business when talking about the popular athletic brand. I'll admit that I'm guilty of owning a number of Nike jerseys and sneakers, myself. However, in 2008, Nike has made strides toward becoming more socially responsible and environmentally friendly.

"Nike Considered Design" is a new line of Nike products which integrates sustainability principles with newest sport innovations. Its efforts include using materials within 200 miles of factories, recycled rubber, and utilizing materials such as hemp and polyester. Currently Nike Considered Design created footwear for its six categories (basketball, running, soccer, men's training, women's training, and sportswear). It hopes to have all footwear meet Considered standards by 2011, apparel by 2015, and equipment by 2020.

Jeff Staple, member of Nike Considered Design team, explains how the line came about.

In the video, Jeff Staple talks about the struggle he went through to gain support for a sustainable shoe. According to Yuniya Kawamura in Fashionology, it is important to produce culture with a product. She states, "today's designers place the strongest emphasis in recreating and reproducing their image, and that image that is projected through clothing is reflected on the designer's personal image," (Kawamura 2006). By creating and promoting this one line of eco-friendly designs, Nike will redefine their consumerist image.

Nike Considered Design's "Air Huarache 09"

Nike Considered Design has incredible potential to change not only the face of Nike but the shoe industry as a whole. If Nike actually goes through with their plan to produce all shoes under their Considered standards, it is likely that competing companies will do the same. Hopefully all shoes will adopt these design practices, too.

For those of you who truly can't follow the compact challenge and find yourselves craving a new pair of sneakers, consider scooping up a pair from Nike's Considered Design line. Even though you, yourself, aren't the most sustainable, at least your shoes will be!

-L.J. Lualhati

Fashionology by Yuniya Kawamura

Dictating the Masses

Modern consumerism is often based on corporate decision making. Large businesses are able to fashion styles and thus dictate fashion trends. However these businesses also have the power to influence areas other than the clothing industry. Take for example Abercrombie and Fitch. It certainly has a sense of "trendiness" about their apparel, appealing to the younger generation. It also seems to determine what is sexy or attractive. Their men are stacked with a triangle build. Their women are thin and alluring. In general, however, the population is very unique, with very few fitting their particular standard for attractiveness.
Individuals must stop concerning themselves with popular notion of beautiful. It also addresses the methods by which corporations use to control the public and their customers. This is certainly one example of "gatekeepers" that define and control the nature of style and fashion.
In some sense, the masses are allowing this to happen, buying into marketing ploys.
This particular experiment openly confronts and challenges standards established by the "Market". Surely, the public recognizes the manipulation at hand. The question is, however,
whether the public cares to resist these images.
No doubt the messages is clear as over 100 men shopped shirtless in an Abercrombie and Fitch Store. Men of all shapes and sizes, fat, thin, tall short, young and old, stormed the retail store in search of a new top. Considering the store advertises with many shirtless men, it is ironic they were so against the demonstration. Question: what would happen if the demonstrators were all models, fit and formed to Abercrombie and Fitch's image? Buying into these marketing ploys simply allows corporations to manipulate the public. The people must know. And knowing is half the battle.

How to be sustainable AND fashionable!

In celebration of last week's Earth Day, I've decided to blog about Eco-Fashion! Currently, the most prominent topics in sustainability seem to be issues surrounding plastic consumption: water bottles, trash, grocery bags etc. However, during the compact challenge have you ever given your clothing consumption a thought?

Now many people donate their used/unwanted clothing to charities such as "Goodwill" and "The Salvation Army" which is a great way to be sustainable through reuse. Although, most people are unaware that most items donated which are stained, slightly damaged, or simply unsellable are thrown away. To reduce overstocking their thrift stores, many items are still going into our landfills.

Because fashion is fluid and continuously changes, our landfills continue to be filled with textile waste. According to, Americans produce 2.5 billion pounds of post consumer textile waste, annually. This is 10 pounds of waste per person. (For more statistics on this issue click here.)

Naturally, all of us are guilty of clothing consumption but it is important to resist consumerism and be responsible for what we do with our textile wastes. Instead of giving away unwanted clothing try reusing/redesigning them into new items for your own use. "Threadheads" are a group on youtube who make DIY videos that can inspire you to reuse your unwanted textiles and keep you from shopping during the compact challenge!

This specific video is an Earth Day special featuring a clothing recycling organization, Wearable Collections. The video also offers a DIY on how to make a picnic blanket out of old shirts! (perfect for studying on the grass on campus during warm days!)

Unfortunately, I missed this year's "Trashion Show" on campus, because it was last Thursday during our guest lecture at 12pm. In general the show is put together every April by the Student Fashion Association and the ASUCD Environmental Policy and Planning Commission. It features creative fashion of recycled/reused materials. So support the design students, and come check it out or participate in the years to come!

I participated during the first annual Trashion Show (in 2007). Here are some pictures that may inspire you all to consider sustainable fashion during the compact challenge and as consumers in the future! Enjoy!

Garments during judging. (Left to Right) A Dress of reused fabric scraps, caution tape, and neck ties!

A closer look at the fabric scraps & caution tape dress.

The rouged dress on the left is of old puff coats and fabric, while the white gown is made of rags and t-shirt scraps.

Hopefully this will inspire you all to reuse and reinvent before buying new clothing and donating your old clothes to charity. Not only will this help you save some cash, but it will also keep your waste out of land fills!

As Kawamura in Fashion-ology states "Production influences consumption, and consumption influences production," (Kawamura 2006). Based on this concept, I believe if we as consumers change our habits and make better decisions on what we buy and how we dispose of our materials, maybe manufacturers will follow suit.

Thanks for reading everyone and good luck! =)

- Elaine de Lara
Blog #1 - Threadbanger Video -

Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology. New York:Berg, 2006.

Conscious Fashionistas

A couple weeks ago my friend Aldwyn planned a surprise birthday outing for our friend Golda. He brought us to this trendy coffee shop called "Coffee Shop." At Coffee Shop, a group of four women were showing a collection of clothing they had rummaged through at thrift stores and were re-selling them. If you look in the bottom right corner of the picture, you can see the racks of clothes. They call their service and company the Conscious Fashionistas. They provide a personal stylist and shopping service to people who do not have time to do their own shopping. Their twist, however, is what I found interesting. They do they shopping for you, but they do the shopping in vintage and secondhand stores. From their "Fashionesto" they state, "At Conscious Fashionistas we believe that over-consumption of material goods poses a threat, not just to our wallets, but also to the ecological well-being of the planet." They also have a designer who re-designs and re-purposes clothing.

At the time, I did not think much of what they were doing, and thought that they were doing was actually quite silly. However, after the first couple weeks of class and rethinking what kinds of things I had done to do my part in trying to "go green," clothing was not a part of that. Now with the compact challenge, I see that what they are doing is actually quite helpful to the environment as they reduce waste and reuse clothing. I am for sure not the best consumer when it comes to fashions and clothing. I read fashion blogs, magazines, and spend countless hours just looking at clothing. I can relate to the three properties of fashion as presented in Kawamura's Fashion-ology (pg 20-21). "It is up to date. It must be "in fashion" which means it must be appropriate for the present time" (Kawamura, 21). I am simply amazed by what people can do with clothes and I create ensembles with my own little twist. This compact challenge, will indeed, be a challenge for me. Although, I am excited to see what I can do with clothes I already have and see if i can do anything to bring them up to date.

Raphael Sarmiento
Blog #1

Barbie to Guzz-me

I know this sounds very egotistical, but I'm going to admit right off the bat that I'm a pretty good consumer. It sounds bad, and I know there are a lot of thriftier and better consumers than me, but I'm proud of my spending habits. My biggest splurge to date would probably be my 100 dollar haircut for when I lobbed off 17 inches for charity, I had a pretty good paycheck back then and it felt good. Oh, and another big splurge that comes to mind is U.C. Davis, Davis has driven me into (student) debt! Here's hoping it'll pay off... A regular splurge of mine would have to be the occasional eating out, this includes the chips you sometimes see me eat in class. Besides those three instances, the majority of my consumption is well thought-out. Prices are compared, deals are sought after, and patience is exerted. To be a good consumer, I think it's important that you also consume little, and if so consciously.
So I had some trouble thinking of the topic of my blog, school, rent, utilities, food is what I basically buy nowadays, if I was still in San Francisco, I’d be shopping more, but since I’m not, I didn’t want to do a project that wouldn’t change anything. Then I realized one thing that puts my consumerist pride to shame, my habit of drinking from water bottles. I know it’s bad! I know! I swear I know! I’ve grown up drinking pre-boiled water, except in restaurants, which I’m pretty sure they serve tap anyway. I’ve gotten so many free, reusable water bottles, I think it’s time I start using them. “Forever In Trouble?” by Chuck Q. Byun emphasizes the need for consumers to take responsibility, but I wonder if the manufactures of the water bottles are to blame as well. For some reason, I’ve never gotten used to Davis water; it has this metallic taste to it, so I’ll start off slow by boiling my own stock.

But why stop there? Plastic is one of the world’s most common resources but is non renewable. Plastic comes from gas, in turn, more plastic consumption equals higher gas prices, chew on that. So I looked up this article about how to use less plastic and realized another big impact I could have on reducing plastic was abolishing the use of plastic bags. When I’m in Davis and I always choose plastic over paper. Why? Because it’s outlawed in San Francisco, and I line my garbage cans with them. In actuality, I’ve don’t need all that plastic. A lot of times I double-line the heavier products so they don’t ripe, and the outer layer ends up being ripped anyway, rendering it useless. So in addition to abolishing water bottles, I’m going to use only my canvas bags when buying anything!
Good luck everyone with your own projects! Happy Blogging!

Janice Lam

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gleam with Jeans or Shift to Thrift?

Ok, let's be real. My initial thought when hearing about the compact challenge was, well - screw that. I wasn't going to give up my consumption habits for a 10 week course that would probably not have a major impact on me after the final exam. So, being the sometimes stubborn person that I am, I went out that following day to Sacramento's Nordstrom Rack to pick up a pair of Rock and Republic skinny jeans for my girlfriend. Though I knew she was going to enjoy my gift to her, a sudden jolt of discomfort struck me when the register rung up $119.08. Even after brushing off an idea or lifestyle such as the compact challenge so quickly, it was difficult for me to walk out of that store not acknowledging the fact that my consumption habits do need to be reassessed. I mean, why did I need to purchase a pair of brand-name designer jeans to please my girlfriend when I could have purchased another pair of similar or equivalent quality for a fraction of the cost? At that point, it was inevitable for me to start thinking about the aspects of the compact challenge and how changing my own habits could effect both me and the economy.

In the last couple of weeks, I have coincidentally passed by an array of thrift stores in several different towns and cities while walking to another destination. In each passing, I would be reminded of this challenge and would then be reminded of the $119.08 that I uncomfortably spent. What had struck me even more was the fact that after visiting the Buffalo Exchange, a thrift store located in downtown Berkeley, and briefly skimming through the clothing selections, I realized that the quality of the clothing is just as good as any other mainstream store and the prices were substantially lower. It then helped me realize that I did not buy the pair of Rock and Republics for the quality of the product, but rather for the fact that it was seen as a highly desirable "novelty" (Kawamura). That also, a pivotal reason to why this brand of denim is such a sought after commodity that its ability to inflate their prices gives the notion that their production quality is superior (Kawamura). Simply put, I was sucked into commercialization and thought buying something of high monetary value would equate to happiness. Clearly, I thought wrong and though my girlfriend did in fact appreciate the gift, it was not necessary and now puts me in a position where I am more conscious of my personal spending.

Hugo Da Rosa
Sources: Fashion-ology by Yuniya Kawamura
Image 1: Rock and Republic Sales at

Image 2: Buffalo Exchange in Berkeley, CA from

Anything but clothes

Why do we celebrate Earth day? It only happens every April 22 and then passes without us even realizing it. Although the day sound trivial, I think we could have made it more entertaining and fun. I recall Earth Day 2009, I was on the bus and I saw a pretty dress made out of.... trash bags and candy wrappers? Even though I could not take a picture of it (unfortunately) it was beautifully designed that I had to take a second look at it to make sure it was what I thought it was. The skirt was made of Twix and Three Musketeers candy bar wrappers and the body was made of a black trash bag with the candy bar wrappers made into a faux jewel in the center.

I know we are all pretty familiar with the infamous Anything But Clothes party, although I wasn't until I looked it up on Google. I found that it is a pretty popular college themed party and as the name suggests, you can show up dressed in anything but clothes. That dress reminded me of an ABC party. Imagine coming to school dressed in something made of things we throw away or take for granted. The whole point of an ABC party is to be creative, right? Well, I thought to myself why do it for a party when you can do it for Earth Day?

During Earth Day, most of us do little things as pick up trash or turn the lights off for a few hours. Why not make a fashion statement by showing up wearing a blouse made of duct tape and pants made of trash bags? Sure, they're not the most fashion forward but as we have learned in our ASA 189B class if the society as a whole accepts it and begins wearing it, then it becomes fashion. The good thing about making clothing items out of every day things, the ideas are endless and so are the materials. You would not have to spend large amounts of money for those Rock & Republic jeans that the "fashion forward" are wearing.

I know everyone wants to be a trend setter like Coco Chanel, however she is quite famous for her lifestyle (Kawamura 68). She did not know much about clothing production (Kawamura 64), so she heavily relied on her seamstresses and tailors (Kawamura 68). Unlike Madeleine Vionnet and Madame Grès, Chanel's name still lives on. Although ironic (since Vionnet and Grès who were both trained), it seems that people who have ideas and connections can make clothes. Honestly, anyone would make a definitely fashion statement dressed like they got dressed in the dark. I'd definitely accept anyone who'd wear trash bags and duct tape, creative and inventive... I love it. Imagine how much money you'd save and one day... those luxury designers would follow suit.

Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology. 2005.

Christine Erfe blog #1

A Persistent Compulsion

Professor Valverde suggested that we try taking part in the compact challenge, or at least thinking about how it affects us. It involves the practice of not buying anything new, with respect to clothes, furniture, etc. If we need to buy something, the idea of the challenge is to buy it secondhand. I thought, “Why not? I’ll try the challenge. It can’t be so bad.” Little did I realize how often it is that I buy little things here and there until I actively tried not to.

I find that stopping myself from buying new things is more difficult because I am subscribed to updates from clothing sites such as Urban Outfitters and 80s Purple. I regularly receive email updates about new items, promotional sales or coupon codes I can use on their sites. I really like the clothing from these sites, but am usually reluctant to purchase anything unless it’s on sale, because of how pricey everything is. Nevertheless, I am proud of myself for having only purchased a couple of new items since starting this challenge (a couple of t-shirts for my taiko group).

I was surfing around the aforementioned sites earlier today and found myself wondering why I and so many others feel this compulsion to buy new things. I know that I, along with many of my friends, are guilty of opening up our closet doors and bemoaning having “nothing to wear,” when it is clear that our closets are far from empty. I think it is useful to note Yuniya Kawamura’s point that “a definite element of fashion is change” (Kawamura, 2005). I don’t know if it is something innately human that triggers this need for novelty, but I am sure that the fashion industry capitalizes on it. I think of celebrities getting their pictures taken 24/7 by the paparazzi, and I know that is it severely frowned upon to wear the same outfit more than once in the public eye – something along the lines of fashion suicide. I’m not sure where the outfits that celebrities wear go, but this seems wasteful to me as well. However, I did come across an article here that said the "queasy-making economy has already affected fashion in subtle ways." It looks like being more green-conscious in this time of recession is in, so even those in the fashion industry are becoming more aware!

Christine Vo

Images from:

A New Way to Enjoy Vitamin Water

When I first heard about the compact challenge, I though that it was going to be pretty hard to not buy things. The compact challenge made me realized how much I buy when I don’t necessarily need it. Like my mom always said, “Is it a need or a want?” But since, the challenge has been introduced I haven’t really bought anything except for food and things that I actually need.

The only thing I have gotten is a new bag. I didn’t buy the bag, instead I made it. And what did I use to make it? Well, I tend to drink Vitamin Water at least once a week and so last year I saw these bags that were made out of old candy wrappers and they looked really cool, so I decided to make one out of the labels that I would have just recycled. "The sociological understanding of fashion involves an analysis of consumers who adopt fashion and their consumption behavior because the consumers participate indirectly in the production of fashion." (Kawamura, 89) Just as I made an eco-friendly bag. It seems like many companies are trying to design and create products that are eco-friendly. They are trying to cater to the needs of the consumers knowingt hat they want to have products that are better for the environment. I thought it was going to be an easy thing to do, but the technique that is used is pretty time consuming. This is the site I found that had step by step instructions:

The bag I ended up making is quite awesome. All I had to buy was some string and a zipper to finish it off. It’s water resistant and pretty sturdy actually. So how does this relate to the compact challenge? The bag I made is environmentally friendly because the primary material used was old labels. But, what I did get from those labels was a fashionable and extremely stylish clutch. (Below is the bag that I made.)

I then found out that these bags can sell for quite a pretty penny. Check this site out: On there site they state that "they develop unique gifts and fashion accessories for the eco-minded individual. [There} objective is to merge design with social and environmental consciousness..." I don’t plan on selling mine because after all the time I spent measuring, cutting, FOLDING (around 840 pieces), and sewing; it wouldn’t be worth it for me personally to sell it. (But I have given away the one I made out of newspaper.) I plan to make more bags in the future and especially want to make a clutch out of soda can tabs.

So far, the challenge is going well, and I hope to continue to not buy things. =)

-Jasmine Lim

Friday, April 24, 2009

Where Did You Come From?

So last night I showed up at one of my weekly dance practice in an American Eagle striped blue long sleeve button down shirt and a tailor made black trousers/slack. Excuse my descriptive details but I feel it's needed since we're in a fashion class and have been discussing the idea of fashion and identity for the past few weeks. This is not, however, in any way how I "brand" myself. Nonetheless, here's the conversation that followed:

Team member: Damn, man, where did you come from?
Me: ... From work? ... Why? (something about my clothes?)
Team member: Nothing, you look all dressed up...
Me: (knew it)
Team member: ... spiked hair and sh1t.
Me: Oh yeah? I was a cashier.

I was puzzled, a little bit. To me it was nothing close to what I would call "dress up." If we relate back to the question asked at the beginning of the course, "How do you dress?" and the common answer of "Whatever fits me," then we'll see a contradiction. If it is true that we don't give much thoughts about what we wear, then why do we have certain "critique" or comments or assumption of what other people wear? To be clearer, to be able to put on clothes without giving any thoughts, it is required that we disassociate clothing (materialistic) from "identity branding" (conceptual). But the fact is, we are opinionated of what people wear (including ourselves). I have never given it much thoughts before but clothing, as the materialistic manifestation of fashion, speaks to one's personality, social status, occupation, self-confidence, etc. (Kawamura). And I realized people DO judge what one wears, and that I too am looked at by other people (duh!)

Do you not have any comments on Vic's dress?

Another note on the compact challenge, at first I thought it only applies to fashion (which comes down to clothes), but it seems like it challenges consumerism as a whole. Not so bad I suppose. Ever since going to college, I only shop (clothing) once or twice a year. Most other time, it was handed down to me by my older brother, the ones that are perfectly fine but he's just got bored wearing them (he shops every month or so, checking the stores regular for deals). Maybe I should talk to him about this, but I would no longer get 'free' clothes :O.

Anyhow, I think I'll be fine in the clothing department. On the other hand, I've been thinking of buying a new gaming/graphics design rig. My three-year-old laptop is doing quite well, except for the much outdated graphic card. Even when my excuse for buying a new rig is to do graphics stuff more efficiently, I can do just as well on my current laptop. And it all comes down to fighting that urge of buying because of "wants" and not "needs." But the good news is I've put off this plan for more than two quarters I'm doing fine in this department too.

Kawamura, Yuniya.
Fashion-ology. 2005
Image: from the site.

Blog #1

- Nghia Trinh

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Unnecessary Baggage

Paper or plastic? Well if you asked me six hours ago, I would have said, “Plastic please.” But since I have officially started the Compact Challenge, my new answer is, “Neither.” Part of the Compact Challenge is to reduce, reuse, and recycle. And after looking at several websites, it can clearly be seen that plastic and paper shopping bags are quintessential counters to the ideal goals of this challenge.

I visited two websites. According to, the production of plastic bags utilizes “less energy and water” compared to paper bags. Also, the production generates a smaller amount of air pollution as well as solid waste. On the downside, plastic bags are excessively consumed. According to, over 500 billion plastic bags are expended globally each year. In addition to being consumed excessively, they are also not properly thrown away once used. Instead of being recycled, they are found in places such as the creek of our very own UC Davis Arboretum. Another reason why plastic bags should be avoided is because they serve as a potential threat to wildlife as well as human beings.

“WARNING: To avoid danger of suffocation,keep this plastic bag away from babies and children.”

As for paper bags… According to, the main concerns as to why we shouldn’t use paper shopping bags are:

A.They require chopping more trees down.
B. Like plastic bags, they are not being recycled. And as a result, they once again become litter.
Collectively, these facts show that although they help to carry our bought goods and random paraphernalia, paper and plastic shopping bags are evil, and they sure aren’t eco-friendly!

Thus, rather than using paper and plastic shopping bags during these next twenty-eight days, I will TRY to use canvas bags (or tote bags as they are commonly called). I have to admit that my overall past experience with using canvas bags is not very good. For instance, I bought two eco-friendy bags from Costco two years ago. The only time I ever used them was on the day that I actually bought them. One bag is currently stashed somewhere in the closet. Meanwhile, I use the other to stash all of my books and school junk in. I am hoping that things will be better the second time around. I must say though, only five hours into the challenge, and so far I am doing well. (I went to Raley’s and bought falafels a few hours ago, and I walked out of the store without a bag! :D)

For those of you who are interested in trying out canvas bags for the Compact Challenge or for the hell of it, purchase them at any nearby supermarkets near you. You could also find them here:

Link 1 and Link 2

Some are quite pricey for my pleasing. (Over twenty bucks for a grocery bag? What?!?!) But I guess it’s worth buying for the sake of going green.

I would also like to include this video in this blog because it has some tips on shopping bags in general.

The part that struck me the most when I first saw this clip is the part where the lady talks about canvas bags. While advertising them, she states: “Some are actually very trendy now.” “Trendy” and “in fashion” are two words that are intertwined as one to me. So when I first heard that statement, it made me think about how Yuniya Kawamura said that something is not “in fashion” unless it has been adopted by the majority of a society (2006). Honestly, I do not see a lot of people using canvas bags unless it's Trader Joe's or some store of that sort. So I would love to see what’s “in fashion” in the eco-friendly bag world. In addition to that, this clip sparked my interest in asking those who use eco-friendly bags why they started using them. Is it because someone inspired them to go green? Or is it pure competitive imitation to gain equality/respect as those who already have gone green (Kawamura 2006)?

That is all for now. Happy Belated Earth Day!!! And till then, take care.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fashion or Garbage Moguls?

Since today is Earth Day, ABC 7’s Good Morning America did a special report on Living Green and talked about the show “Garbage Moguls” on the National Geographic channel, which offers new ways to look at our trash. This new fashion of being eco friendly and going green has spread and is a good way in which to educate future generations on creativity and repurposing products. The show “Garbage Moguls” follows the employees of the company TerraCycle, who use only garbage and used equipment to run their business. The following link shows a school tour they did but also explains about the innovativeness of the company that has been around since 2001. They are a great example for the compact challenge since we can save money and eliminate our waste from the little we do choose to purchase by repurposing—even encompassing our garbage into our fashion. The compact challenge focuses on changing our consumption habits and this company is trying to reform the habits of America by showing creative ways to repurpose items we deem trash—and they are making a profit.

Also, YouTube has a video of “Garbage Moguls” that is related to the future of fashion-repurposing trash into wearable, useful outfits. Check out these two videos as creative ways to start off our compact challenge. We should not consume as much as we do, but for the items we do consume, we should repurpose and reuse them in creative and inventive ways to receive the maximum benefit and make a statement in the process.

The most recent episode of “Garbage Moguls” is on tonight on the National Geographic Channel at 9 PM I believe, but I unfortunately do not have that channel on my cable plan but anyone who does, I encourage you to watch and blog about any new ideas you learn.

Another creative idea from the website: Make a wallet out of a cookie wrapper!

In Fashion-ology, Kawamura explains the origins of fashion as he tells how it began with the "institutionalization of exclusive custom-made clothes known as Haute Couture" and how "the fashion industry is not simply concerned with the production of adequate or pleasant clothing but is concerned with the production of new stylistic innovations that satisfy the image of fashion" (Kawamura 45). All things considered, I believe the reuse of trash such as seen in the making of the poncho by the Garbage Moguls, could be seen as a form of Haute Couture and it is a new stylistic innovation. Whether or not it satisfies the image of fashion can be determined by society as a whole, but at least it is a start in a eco-friendly direction.

Heather Crane