Sunday, May 31, 2009
I thought of this question for a good couple of days and I came to the conclusion: Yes. I've rationalized the reason why to the simple understanding of why the product was made in the first place—produce as many and sell as much product to the public as possible, even with no regard of how it’s made. No matter how cheap the product is bought and consumed, if there is no understanding of how it’s made and where it’s made, it may still go against the consumer challenge and disregard the environment. Or even the way they are produced, with the idea of bad labor conditions with harsh standards. With that being in my mind, I knew that I could not purchase the clothes. Score for one for me and zero for consumerism.
I leave you with a thought from this video if ever the thought of buying clothing comes to mind.
CHRISTIAN BORGONIA BLOG #5
Kawamura, Yuniya. 2005. Fashion-ology: An Introduction to Fashion Studies. New York: Berg Publishers.
Its the last weak of the compact/anticonsumerism challenge and I am at quite an end. I must say that though everything looks very appealing, I am a college student and have little to spend on such luxuries. Most goes to food alcohol or other. I decided however, that I have observed the majority of the challenge without making a frivolous purchase.
In fact, I believe that stepping out and making a conscious decision to challenge consumerism. I have done numerous articles on being green and thus feel I am aware of some ways to make purchases. Living in an apartment, I have to pay to wash and dry my clothes. I thought "why should I pay to dry my clothes when its so hot outside". I took a trip to the hardware store and made a purchase to reduce my impact on the planet. It was both financially satisfying and morally fulfilling.
I did however, still want to buy an actual piece of clothing. We have discussed in the class modern fashion and particular trend setters. Japan, in particular, has had a major impact on how I perceive trendiness and the importance of personal image.
But of course, during my excursion on the internet I stumbled across counterfeit clothing, significantly cheaper than an original. I did however pass them up as I wanted to buy a local piece of clothing.
My search led me back to the SPCA thrift store. After searching through endless shirts I found an obscure and unique shirt that would be a pretty big hit this summer!
I, like many of my peers, am graduating from UC Davis. Out in the professional world, one needs the proper clothing to succeed in interviews and corporate America in general. This type of dress, for males like myself, comes in the form of a suit. The only problem with dressing professionally is that suits are quite a monetary investment. This poses a difficulty for many who graduate and head into the real world. They are usually already in debt and cannot spare the high investment of buying multiple suits, or even one for that matter. The national retailer, Men's Wearhouse, has come up with a solution for this problem. The campaign "dedicated to empowering unemployed men by providing them with professional work attire that will build their self-esteem and make a good first impression during job interviews" (Gently-Used). The deal is that men who have multiple suits can turn their lightly used suits in for a future discount. In turn, people can buy these suits at a reduced price. This benefits all parties involved for obvious reasons. There is a long standing notion that this style of dress is a symbol of corporate America and the business class. This is a direct example of “fashion as a cultural symbol” (Kawamura 39). This suit drive is not only going to help the business of Men's Wearhouse, but it will achieve the promise made by the creation of this campaign. More importantly, it will give new graduate males a chance to compete in an already competitive world.
Gently-used Professional Men's Clothing being gathered during National Suit Drive
Campaign. 25 August 2008. Atlanta Highland Herald.
Cyril Torado #5
As I read this weeks reading, while on a short family road trip to San Francisco this weekend, I set myself on a mission to pay close attention to the consumers at the San Francisco Centre Westfield Mall. I particularly wanted to focus on what consumers were buying and why consumers were purchasing certain products (was it because it’s currently in style or because it fit the individuals own style). My focus was due to something Kawamura said that stood out to me from our reading in Fashion-ology. “By focusing on public consumption as the definition of fashion, the role of conspicuous usage that is open to inspection by others is stressed. Fashion behavior entails some display of one’s preference hierarchy, some outward manifestation of inward evaluative judgments” (Kawamura, 2005).
Because of this particular quote I wanted to try and focus on the public consumption of fashion in San Francisco. While I was at the San Francisco Westfield Mall I randomly went up to four small groups of shoppers and I asked them all the same question; “What did you buy? Did you buy it because it’s currently in style or because it fits your own personal style?” Out of the four groups - two groups of graduate students, and two groups of middle aged shoppers – both groups of graduate students were buying clothes that were affordable for them and that they felt fit their own style, but were also in style. Where as the two older groups of consumers were buying more expensive clothes that they felt were well worth every penny because it makes them look professional.
Based on the answers I receive from the four groups, I came to recognize what Kawamura was saying; consumers base there consumption of fashion on the inspection of others, while also displaying there own preference hierarchy that is influenced by others. In addition, I also see how I have currently been taken out of the institutionalized system of fashion, because of my participation in the compact challenge. Lastly, I’d just like to say that although I have been to San Francisco plenty of times, I had never gone to any of the luxurious malls; so I wasn’t aware of the challenge I would have to endure from not buying anything, also I wasn’t aware of the plethora of expensive stores that awaited me.
"Fashion as an Institutionalized System." In Fashion-ology.
"Graduate student consumers group #1 interview." Personal interview. 31 May 2009.
"Graduate student consumers group #2 interview." Personal interview. 31 May 2009.
"Middle age consumers group #1 interview." Personal interview. 31 May 2009.
"Middle age consumers group #2 interview." Personal interview. 31 May 2009.
In today's age, nothing is ever enough. We always want more; more shoes, more clothes, more money, more everything! We have all heard that more is not always better but it does not always resonate when have to have something. The key is minimizing, reducing clutter can be the first step to a simpler and less stressful life. For someone, like myself, who has had a difficult time controlling spending habits and a pack rat by nature, this can be difficult.
When buying clothes for the new season, try to go through your things before you go shopping. If you already have 5 pairs of denim, it may not be necessary to buy another. This alone can save your upwards $300, depending on your taste for designer denim. Going through your closet at least two times a year prevents you from buying things you may already have or that are very similar. The same goes with your kitchen or garage. Another tip is to get rid of items you have not worn for over year; this will increase the amount of closet space.
Similar to fashion, minimalism is constant. In fashion, you cannot simply do it once and then you will become fashionable. For example, you have to keep up with fashion every season or your knowledge becomes irrelevant. In the same sense, you must continue to minimize your spending and clutter to reap the benefits of a simpler life. You cannot only go through you closet once and remove everything you do not need while continuing to buy everything you want when ever you go shopping. Eventually that initial effort to reduce clutter will become irrelevant.
Kawamura, Yuniya. "Fashion as an Institutionalized System" in Fashion-ology
"How To Reduce Spending and Clutter" from http://hubpages.com/hub/Minimalism_How_To_Reduce_Spending_and_Clutter
After going to John Mayer's concert last July of 2008 in San Jose, my respect level for him as a guitarist increased exponentially. I was in deep awe of his ability to play the guitar while it was rested on the floor and he was kneeling over it. But beyond his guitar playing, the one other thing that really struck me was his tattoos - specifically the one on his right forearm. There was something about the rectangular shaped tattoo that really drew me into the appeal of it and so much so, that one of the first things I did when I came home from that concert was to find a tattoo similar to that but was not permanently stamped onto my arm. Not long I discovered Henna tattoos, which were temporary tattoos that originated from Indian culture and have been popularized in mainstream society.
I never got the tattoo up until recently and after going through the thrill of having a pseudo-tattoo imprinted on my arm, shaped rectangularly and along my forearm, I (in all honesty) realized how big of a poser I truly was. But in addition to that, I also realized how much media really impacts my decisions and in my influences in virtually any form of fashion. In this particular case, it mirrors the concept that Maira discusses of how media (i.e. pop, hip hop music) influences popular culture and defines what is then "cool" (Maira, 2000). While having this tattoo on my arm was both a mimicry of John Mayer, it was still original in the sense that no one else in my network of friends and friend's friends had such a style, thus giving my image a sense of uniqueness that plays on both the idea of being both visibly unique and similar simultaneously that Kawamura discusses. (Kawamura, 2005) These justifications that I constantly made about this tattoo was merely a justification of how I was pulled into the marketing and plan of the media.
Overall, this experience adds another aspect of the Compact Challenge for me to consider. While I have looked into used products and spending less on things that are not necessary, I also need to keep considering how media influences my spending as well, and how that effects my choice of style, which in some cases inevitably effects how much you need to spend to attain what you want.
Hugo Da Rosa - Blog #6
Sources: Sunaina Maira - "Henna and Hip Hop"
Yuniya Kawamura - "Fashion-ology"
Image sources: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_zXZns6dH4Jc/SJsGJqdcfZI/AAAAAAAAAEE/Cz7XpCA7Xqc/s320/john-mayer-harley-pasternak-03.jpg
Consumerism, It’s everywhere, whether we like it or not. Imagine a world where we live in a safe pleasant and an unpolluted environment. And we actually know our neighbors and are able to interact with each other, be it a small town, the suburban area or even a city neighborhood. That sounds far fetched as of right now, but if we change our ways of living, there may be a day where changes can be possible. In the reading “Fashion as an Institutionalized System” by Yuniya Kawamura she states that fashion in not only clothing but fashion affects and shapes individuals and society as a whole. I interpret this statement by saying that if individuals continue to be caught up in the expensive fashion world; the affects of individuals begin to go above and beyond to purchase the latest fashion available. In which this affects and shapes the individual negatively.
I think it is safe to say that we, as consumers purchase things that please the eyes and once we are unsatisfied with the items, we store it away in our house, apartment, dorm etc. And once the time of the year of spring cleaning comes along, we throw away our stuff into the trash. Have you ever wondered where our trash and all the things we do not need any more go? In a particular article, John Romano states that “anything you can imagine, anything you can throw out, is here (at the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority’s Mid-Connecticut Project)… Other people (in other countries) hold on to something for years. We change with the market. I buy my iPod today, but if next year there’s a better one, where’s that one going? In the trash” (Chief Engineer) Even from John, do we see the wastefulness of individuals throw away. An iPod that was purchased the first year for approximately $100- $200 will be thrown away the next year for an even more expensive iPod the next year, does that make sense? I’m not sure, but whether I’m cheap or not, there are other ways to save the first iPod that was thrown into the trash. There are many organizations that would happily except used clothing, electronics, furniture, etc. like the local Salvation Army, Goodwill, local churches etc. This not only makes the organizations and the people in need happy, these “acts of kindness” will make yourself happy with an accomplishment. Even an individual that cannot give up the “ways of consumerizing” than an individual can give away their belongings that they do not need any more to those that are in need.
Image #1- http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/autopia/images/2007/09/22/suburb_2.jpg
Image #2- http://www.whatcombetterskills.org/images/goodwill.jpg
- Kawamura, Yuniya. 2005. Fashion-ology: An Introduction to Fashion Studies. New York: Berg Publishers.
I know many people who are obsessed with Hello Kitty, Pooh Bear and of course, Nike Sneakers. It’s cool that people love these characters and brand. However, it is not cool when I have a mother who is obsessed with Korean drama. I like to watch them too, but the fact that she buys the DVDs from online stores, watches them once, and puts them in a pile in the corner of her room makes me angry; especially after starting this compact challenge.
It is such a waste of space and money. She used to rent them from Vietnamese American rental stores in Oakland such as Hong Kong rentals. Now that she has the internet, it is cheaper for her to buy the DVDs or stream it online rather than rent them. This in turn causes a big problem because not only are the rental places not making the same revenue, it harms the environment. People who buy DVDs will eventually throw them away, which causes this earth to be filled with more trash verses renting, where people can reuse the same DVDs multiple times. According to Kevin Zhu, “Digital film delivery may displace physical films, videos and DVDs, thus threatening the long-term survival of video rental stores and other middle layers in the value chain.”
As for me, the compact challenge made me cautious of my consumption as well as the people around me. I hope that my mother will one day return to renting DVDs rather than purchasing Korean Drama. This would help with the space in my house, the environment, and my own time.
On the same line, the obsession that my mother has with Korean drama reminds me of something that Kawamura mentioned in her Fashion-ology book. She said, “Without the act of reception and consumption, the cultural product of fashion is not complete” (pg 89). To relate it to my topic, the Korean Wave and Korean pop culture (fans religiously keeping up with the media as well as economically consuming items pertaining to the Korean pop culture) would not be complete without the consumption of so many around the world. My mother is one of many in the US and Asia who have been impacted greatly by the Korean media industry, consuming all Vietnamese over-voice Korean drama that comes out. She is apparently the first in the San Pablo/Richmond area to get the latest Korean drama (dubbed in Vietnamese). Nevertheless, my mom always says you need to study and do well in school, but when I try to study, she wants me to help her find DVDs!
Phung Kim Vo
“Internet-Based Distribution of Digital Videos: The Economic Impacts of Digitization on the Motion Picture Industry”- Kevin Zhu
T-shirts from freshjive Spring 09 collection
According to Pallay, there's the exclusive consumers and there's the mainstream consumers who only search for "the fashion derived from the streetwear movement, such as printed hoodies or colorful sneakers, and not the movement itself" (Pallay 2). Needless to say, Threadless, as a "newbie" to the playground, cannot compare to established brands such as Stussy, 10. Deep, or Freshjive. However, given Threadless's phenomenal success in recent years, it has become one of the biggest business serving the mainstream-consumers end of the spectrum. However, if we throw the exclusivity out of the equation, T-shirt designs from the name brands do not differ much from Threadless' designs. This may be contributed to the fact that quite a few brands are going with "collaborative projects with young artists," the "undiscovered talent" (Pallay 3).
As seen above, it is hard to distinguish which tees is from which company, at least to the not-in-the-know consumers. If companies like Stussy starts going for the "undiscovered" young artists designed T-shirts, then Threadless certainly would be a worthwhile rival. With a community of consumers and artists alike that continuously contribute to the selection and production process of each T-shirt, Threadless gives the consumers the freedom of choosing a (not so) unique design to wear, promoting the individuality aspect of streetwear. To the "real" streetwear consumers, Threadless may seem like a streetwear-wannabe brand. Yet it certainly satisfies the need of providing the "look" to the mass, especially when Threadless doesn't dictate its T-shirt production. It may be new, but definitely "it's making streetwear interesting again" (Ukula Fashion).
Moreover, with the price range around $20 a tee, Threadless does justice for most average consumers who are not concerned with the streetwear movement. With a good amount of participating artists submitting designs regularly, Threadless also provides a avenue of choices unavailable at other brands.
However, as a graphic design student, it appears to me that most of the designs on Threadless are mediocre at best. While there are certainly great ones, tacky DIY styles dominate the selection. This is probably one of the major aspects that keep the mainstream consumers and the exclusive consumers apart. As Threadless thrives on great quantity, it suffers from poor quality. This might be a good thing, otherwise there would be no distinction between the trendsetters and the followers.
by Nghia Trinh
Pallay, Jessica. "A Crowded Street as Streetwear Is Disseminated into the Mainstream, What Will Become of an Underground Movement?" 2007
Ukula Fashion Threadless - skinnyCorp.
1st image from highsnobiety.com.
2nd image from threadless.com.
3rd image from stussydirect.com.
These two pictures are from Versace Fall 2009 and Versace Spring 2009.
But take note of the similarities here. Both are jewel toned, short dresses with a revealing back. And both advertisements feature Gisele in direct lighting with little to no props. Is this a fashion recession or an idea recession?
In this weeks Kawamura reading we related how fashion was a large institution that perpetuated the status of its top designers. This relates to our week two reading on designers and their varying ability, input in the design process, and actual creativity beyond being the public faces of their companies.
As we can see with these Versace ads as example, there is a constant recycling of ideas in the fashion industry (though usually not so close together). How many have read that we are currently experiencing an 80's trend, or that designers are producing a lot of "The New Look" these days? What are designers actually making through their own creativity and what are they simply reappropriating from the past?Donatella Versace recently gave an interview on her opinion of the 80's trend:"I knew that trend was coming. I knew exactly when every designer was going to start doing it. And I couldn't, because I was with Gianni doing the '80s, in the '80s. I have so many pieces in the archives that I could put right out on the runway and they'd be perfect. [laughs] In general, I think, yes, we can look back, but not that much. It's too literal. Like shoulder pads. We belonged to that time. But for me, it doesn't make sense today. You can play with it for one season, but it's not going to be revolutionary. I think we should move forward, not back. To define the era we live in is very difficult. How do we define it? We define it by music. That's different today. We listen to different music than we used to 10 years ago. Fashion is struggling to define itself today. For me, I'm concentrating more on fabrics, on the technological aspect of fabrics."
Well, she may not be looking as far back as the 80s in her design archives for ideas, but.....
There is an obvious disconnect between the star designer and the designs produced in this example. While Donatella would like to appear as the creative designer who is actually innovating, her designs show an obvious lack of change. However, it is her media image which matters. The Versace name still has a worth despite their current designs lack of creativity.
As the quarter draws to a close, so does the compact challenge that Professor Valverde suggested we try out. Even though I haven’t been consciously focusing on the challenge every day, I have found that my habits of consumption have improved greatly; I think I only purchased a couple of items of clothing this quarter and an iPod case, and I’m pretty proud of that. I have been doing some serious online window shopping, but I really like looking at sites such as American Apparel, which showcases a plethora of organic clothing and makes efforts to reduce chemicals in their production of cotton and cares about issues of immigrant reform. The article “Santa’s sweatshop” states that “In an era when the economy I necessarily a global one, it is impossible for consumers to avoid products made under less than ideal labor conditions” (Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman & Ito, 1996). This does not appear to apply to American Apparel, which clearly states on its website the issues that it cares about.
There are definitely instances where my “compact challenge mindset” has come into play this quarter, also. When my girlfriends and I go out, there are many times when they stress about having “nothing to wear” or “nothing new to wear,” and I find myself telling them that they have entire closetfuls of clothing at their disposal. (I’ll admit, I am guilty of saying that I have “nothing to wear” as well). They often tell me that it is simply embarrassing to have their pictures taken wearing the same outfit more than once, and I just wonder when exactly it was that Davis night life became synonymous with the night life of Hollywood socialites.
In Fashion-ology, Kawamura mentions something that illustrates this perfectly. Kawamura states, “By focusing on public consumption as the definition of fashion, the role of conspicuous usage that is open to inspection by others is stressed. Fashion behavior entails some display of one’s preference hierarchy, some outward manifestation of inward evaluative judgments” (Kawamura, 2005). I think that so many people today are caught up in what their clothes mean to other people that they lose track of what their clothes mean to them. I am not sure if individuals will get out of this pattern, because consumption is so enmeshed with image.
Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology. 2005.
Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman & Ito. "Santa's Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, it's Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift--and Under What Conditions." 1996.
EBay has not only become a company, but an institution in its own right. It involves all those in the fashion institution, but now also includes individuals who have made purchases and can build their own mini-company by reselling items. These individuals add more factors and levels of production when they ship items, post up new items, etc. EBay enables fashion trends to flourish with the sale of cheaper imitations of designer items and sometimes designer items listed at cheaper prices. Many times fashionistas buy pieces from a designer's collection from the current season, but once the season passes, has no more use of the garment. However, trends usually do not fall out that quickly for the masses and many other people would still be willing to wear last Fall's Prada for a fraction of the price. eBay also presents an outlet for many struggling designers whose clothes may not be appreciated by the masses but as "Fashion-ology suggests...any item of clothing is capable of being appreciated and can be turned into fashion" (45). So there might just be a few people who may like a certain aesthetic and more likely than not, you can find it on eBay. Just like in the instution of fashion, there are those with higher status and those whose command certain categories. These people are called "Power Sellers" and have more "Star Power" than others. They obtain star power by receiving consistent positive feedback and they are easily accessed by going to the "Stores" option on the eBay homepage. Regular people are able to build names and businesses out of their items and just as in fashion, make a name out of themselves by providing quality services and products.
So when you need something new, look no farther than eBay and you are sure to find it!
Saturday, May 30, 2009
“Fashion, as an institution, produces hierarchy among all makers of clothes by adding social, economic, cultural, and symbolic capital to clothes…luxury clothes are only meaningful only in relation to non-luxury clothes…luxury items provide a sense of superiority as an image and added values are attached to them.”
The first thing I thought about when reading this quote is the professionals in fields such as law and business. I thought about the lifestyle that has developed out of this professional culture and the conventions that dictate what kind of fashion is accepted in these fields. This made me think about the Kawamura quote because I started questioning what it means to have on a black suit versus what it means to have on a torn pair of jeans. Why is it not acceptable to wear the latter in the court of law? It is because there is a symbolic meaning behind the suit that gives it status in the professional world.
Because these dress codes are so rigid, it is often difficult to deviate from the white dress shirt black slacks norm. But what about the consumer culture behind professional attire? It doesn’t seem like the professional field really encourages the reuse of clothing, nor does it seem to encourage combining unique colorful pieces within the outfit. I think that this is one of the ways that the professional field keeps itself distinctive from those that can’t afford this type of fashion.
What about the bubble up process of fashion where it is the consumers who dictate what is and what is not fashion? Could that ever work in law or business attire? How can one fight this luxurious consumer culture in a field that so dependent on luxurious spending? Where attire can make or break one’s climb up the corporate ladder?
p.s. Do you know how much karma debt I’d have to pay as an Asian child if I didn’t make it into law school…?
fashion as an institutionalized system, "fashion-ology"
I took the weekend off and flew down to San Diego to spend some time with my best friends. As I am staying in my friend's apartment, she was packing some of her clothes for me to bring back to the Bay Area in preparation for her move back. She comes out of the room with a pair of heels that she says she only wore once. I asked why she only wore it once and she told me that these heels hurt too much. She said these heels were only good for "walking from home to the car into the restaurant and back into the car." This brought a question to mind. Do people buy clothes for their own comfort and for themselves or do they buy clothes that makes them look nice and other people will like it?
As I was reading the article "The Aesthetics and Politics of Japanese Identity in the Fashion Industry" by Dorinne Kondo, I was especially interested in the parts where she mentions how Japanese fashion changed due to accidents and disasters. She talks about how Japanese fashion changed when the Great Earthquake happened in 1923 because a lot of the people's clothes along with their homes were destroyed. This gave them a chance to change their wardrobes into more westernized clothes. She also talks about how the traditional Japanese kimono was held accountable for hindering the people from safety or even causing accidents like the fire of 1932.
The kimono became less common due to the fact that it was very bulky and just inconvenient for daily routines. In the same light, was the kimono worn for an identity posed to the outside or was it for oneself to be traditional? Today, many people like my friend buys clothes because they look nice and fit with the occasion but they don't try on the clothes. According to the article describing the history of Kimonos, they were worn to uphold tradition to others in Japan. As technology advanced, they were being mass produced and no longer as expensive and extensive to make. However, they were fading out because they were very inconvenient. This is where the concept of comfort and ease overrules the outer appearance. The picture of the lady with the kimono display how much effort it takes to dress up in a kimono. It is also very inconvenient to move around in this outfit especially in daily routines. It is also very hard to escape in a emergency. Therefore, the concept of being convenient and comfortable is definitely more practical than being stylish.
1) "The Aesthetics and Politics of Japanese Indentity in the Fashion Industry" by Dorinne Kondo
2) Kimono History http://www.japanesekimono.com/kimono_history.htm
Carmen Yee Blog #5
What is hard for me now to handle is the fact that I am forcing this idea of being greener and refraining from buying while simultaneously being inspired by a class to be more fashionable. Maybe not necessarily inspired as much as frightened because it seems that those who do not keep up with evolving fashion trends become outcasts in society or slaves to a hierarchal class system. This has led me to believe that to be successful in this world, fashion is an important socioeconomic lubricant to consider. Therefore, I always believed that I would eventually get into fashion when my time and resources were not so heavily consumed by school and work. However, I also believe that even though I may be sporting clothing indicative of pre-millennia fashion, these clothes are not boring because I am not boring and I once heard from someone (maybe in this class) that you wear the clothes, clothes don’t wear you. Essentially, by wearing my more-than-a-year-old clothes with confidence and swagger, whether they are boring or not is irrelevant.
In this week’s reading of Fashion-ology, Kawamura inserts a line by Laver: “People who always do the same things and wear the same clothes, are themselves bored and make them boring for others” (Kawamura, 44). I disagree with this wholeheartedly. I may wear the same clothes, but even among the clothes and accessories I own, there are an infinite number of ways to mix and match items to create a different look, if I cared about variety that is. If the clothing I wear is out of date and out of fashion magazines or other legitimizing authorities of fashion, I don’t seem to notice, or at least no one has pointed this out to me. I seem to fit in fine wherever I go, and if I don’t for any reason, I enjoy the concept of standing out and being different or unique. However many people don’t share this idea. The following video shows some wacky tips on living large for cheap:
When I graduate, I will become more aware of fashion trends and popular attire because I will likely desire inclusion into certain social and economic groups that require some conformity to fashion. And maybe, when I become more enlightened in my own personal tastes, I will venture off into my own styles becoming a fashion setter rather than a fashion follower. All these choices will have ultimately been influenced by this class!
Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology An Introduction to Fashion Studies (Dress, Body, Culture). New York: Berg, 2005.
Jesse Kailahi Blog #5
My grandfather unfortunately passed away in 1998, and more than ten years later we have a few key items from his lifetime of consuming, and he did not consume that much in all reality compared to my mother or I today. When both of my grandparents on my mother’s side had passed away, all of their items became ours, including furniture, books, kitchen items, clothing, music, and other normal household items. The clothes were donated to charity and the rest of their items still remain in our possession, contained in a time sealed fortress I like to call our dirty little secret, our storage unit. We never visit it; never take items out, and rarely ever admit we have one. To get an idea about what I am talking about, check out this YouTube video of a tour through a storage unit. But why does my mother hold onto my grandparent’s furniture as well as a few of her possessions she never uses in this storage unit? When looking at consumption from a historical perspective, Kawamura explains how “the department store materialized the values, attitudes and aspirations…it infused goods with cultural meaning. Material symbols helped to reorganize the cultural meaning” (93). In the same way, my mother has attached a meaning to these items that is more than just material. In order for me to understand myself and how to combat my own consumer habits, I need to look at my families to find out where I learned what I learned and why they taught it to me, intentionally or not. My goal is to make sure what Eileen Chang says does not continue in my family, as she describes how “people in the past went laboriously about their lives, but all their deeds end up coated in a thick layer of dust” (429). It so happens that my father had a storage unit too, one that stifles my mother’s, for a couple of decades of his life. He could never find anything in there, but I remember we would visit it when I was little and try to find items he claimed were hidden beneath many layers. Most of his items were his possessions but there was also his mother’s and father’s items in there too, both of whom had previously passed away as well. Maybe my situation is unique in that my grandparents on both sides of my family had been deceased for a while and I have seen how both my parents have dealt with the material items they left behind. Because of this, as grim as it sounds, I have been constantly telling my mother that she needs to get rid of a lot of the junk in our home because I can only imagine that when her time comes, I will be left with a house full of items, knick knacks, furniture, junk and treasures-but little to no way to find out which of her possessions were junk from the possessions that are treasures that I should keep and pass on to my children some day. In our lifetimes we will accumulate a plethora of items, memories, papers, and more, but what will our children think when they sift through all of them, trying to make sure the parent they knew was actually the person these items represented. Thus, I have informed my mother that this summer when I come home for the last time from Davis with a truck-load of my stuff to contribute to our collection, we need to separate the trash from the treasures, because often they are intertwined, the treasures are treated like trash and eventually become un-savable. Of his entire lifetime, a few key items we will always save from my grandfather’s possessions include his piano, photographs, army uniform, the music he had written, and some antique furniture he or his grandfather had made. Thus the question I find myself asking is, if I were to die tomorrow, how would my loved ones remember me? Of course they would have the memories we have shared, but their last in depth look at my life would be through my possessions and the story they tell. My possessions would tell that I hold on to meaningless items because I need them to feel secure and that I have very few treasures. I think it is more important to surround yourself with what is important to you than to burden yourself with items that may have meaning, but not a positive, healthy meaning. Thus, this week I am challenging myself to start packing up my important items and separating them from the items that just burden my life even though I do not want to admit it. Also, I have informed my mother that this summer we will be emptying the storage unit and finding new homes for many of the items because she needs a fresh start and so do I. We both need to free ourselves from the material objects that have become a representation of family memories, and simply remember the family memories.
Heather Crane, Blog #5
Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology An Introduction to Fashion Studies (Dress, Body, Culture). New York: Berg, 2005.
Chang, Eileen. “Chinese Life and Fashions.” Article: “A Chronicle of Changing Clothes.” Duke University Press, 2003. 427-441.
Storage Unit Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmXVKhL_uAY
Just yesterday I took a trip to Vacaville Outlets to take a look around (I'm too poor to buy anything anyway). I went into the Marc Ecko store, as it is the closest thing I can identify with. And you wouldn't believe what I saw there. The store in general was like any other store: it had clothes with displays everywhere sale signs etc. However the most striking difference was the video playing on multiple (10+) monitors: really really hot girls ironing and folding clothes in skimpy bikinis in a large room of some sort which vastly resembled the store itself. And I must say, the videos, somehow, made me much more likely to purchase a sweater even though its like 90 degrees outside now. Of course I did not give in to the temptation: I was too hot to think I needed MORE clothes.
As in the Hip Hop video, the power of the image is almost the most important. Hip Hop legends talk about the importance of physical appearance as a medium of identity: shoes, clothes, cars, women, etc. Ecko definitely portrays this fundamental theme with advertisements for Red, a particular brand of shoe geared towards the younger generation.
The impact and trendiness of hip hop can be seen as Japan, infamous for its style,has taken to the movement as well. However, the movement is quite different from that in the US. In the US it is a style of culture and way of living. Many hip hop artists grew up in the streets and lived a life of difficulty and hardships. Hip hop in Japan, on the other hand, seems to revolve around the dance aspect of the culture. Hip Hop follows the mainstream scene while the US focuses more on the obscure. The differences are astounding.
Some of the Hip Hop characters also specifically said that image is not at important. They didn't care about having the dopest shoes or the hottest ice. Clearly it is possible to evade the marketing ploys.
AntiConsumerism may be less about buying the products and more about resisting image and culture. Whenever you see something that looks cool, think twice!!
Hip Hop We got Your Kids. In Class Video
Hip Hop Culture
I was just kidding about the title to this blog. (Or was I?) Anyhow… I had the chance to spend some quality time with my cousin yesterday. When he arrived at my house to pick me up, the first thing that I noticed was that he was all decked out in new LA Lakers apparel as well as a Nike headband and shoes. I knew that game six between the Lakers and the Nuggets was going to be held later in the evening. So I had a feeling that was why he was dressed up. However, I decided to ask him anyways why he had new clothes on. I wanted to know why he was dressed up like a basketball player when all we had planned was to go help my aunt kill the weeds in her backyard. My cousin then confirmed to me that he was indeed in basketball clothing because of the game; he wanted to show support for the Lakers. In addition, he told me that he was going to go play basketball with some friends after we were done helping my aunt. "I am going to need the need the 'proper' attire," he said. Overall, recalling my conversation with my cousin made me realize two things. First, it made realize that the sports industry is an institution. According to Yuniya Kawamura, "Fashion as an institution produce hierarchy among all makers of clothes by adding social, economic, cultural and symbolic capital to clothes, which are then transformed into luxury, elite clothes" (55). Looking at the sports industry, it can be seen that it does all of those things that fashion does. Take Nike, for instance. Nike sells sports products. In order for the company to sell its merchandise, professional athletes are usually hired in advertisements. When audiences see these ads, it makes them want to get the products that they see. To them, having those advertised items will help them play a sport better. In addition, it will help them have a "sense of superiority" because they have products that elite athletes have/use (55). The whole cycle then just repeats itself. Here is a commercial that I found. It clearly exemplifies what I was trying to say above. (The kid in the video knows that Lebron and Kobe are respectable basketball players. Because of that fact, he tries to inquire information about them. He wants to know how they became great basketball players. For instance, he states: Kobe, do you practice your dunks?" A statement such as this shows how fascinated he is with these players because they are perceived as some of the world's finest basketball players. In additon, by asking so many questions, it shows how he is trying to find a way to be like them. This includes knowing what type of shoes they have. Overall, this example shows how people on the top of the social ladder as well as the economic ladder are leaders of institutions. A trickle down effect will result, and then people will start to copy the fashion, for instance, of the elite.) The second thing that my conversation with my cousin reminded me of is that there is a way to be green, fight consumerism, and still support one's favorite team at the same time. One doesn't need to have a jersey, headband, etc. that has one's favorite team's logo on it. Instead, one can simply reuse the clothes that one already has. For instance, one can wear clothes that are the same color as one's favorite sports team. A simple shirt will do. By reusing what one already has, one is fighting consumerism as well as showing some love for his/her favorite team.
Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology An Introduction to Fashion Studies (Dress, Body, Culture). New York: Berg, 2005.
I was just kidding about the title to this blog. (Or was I?) Anyhow…
I had the chance to spend some quality time with my cousin yesterday. When he arrived at my house to pick me up, the first thing that I noticed was that he was all decked out in new LA Lakers apparel as well as a Nike headband and shoes. I knew that game six between the Lakers and the Nuggets was going to be held later in the evening. So I had a feeling that was why he was dressed up. However, I decided to ask him anyways why he had new clothes on. I wanted to know why he was dressed up like a basketball player when all we had planned was to go help my aunt kill the weeds in her backyard. My cousin then confirmed to me that he was indeed in basketball clothing because of the game; he wanted to show support for the Lakers. In addition, he told me that he was going to go play basketball with some friends after we were done helping my aunt. "I am going to need the need the 'proper' attire," he said.
Overall, recalling my conversation with my cousin made me realize two things. First, it made realize that the sports industry is an institution. According to Yuniya Kawamura, "Fashion as an institution produce hierarchy among all makers of clothes by adding social, economic, cultural and symbolic capital to clothes, which are then transformed into luxury, elite clothes" (55). Looking at the sports industry, it can be seen that it does all of those things that fashion does. Take Nike, for instance. Nike sells sports products. In order for the company to sell its merchandise, professional athletes are usually hired in advertisements. When audiences see these ads, it makes them want to get the products that they see. To them, having those advertised items will help them play a sport better. In addition, it will help them have a "sense of superiority" because they have products that elite athletes have/use (55). The whole cycle then just repeats itself.
Here is a commercial that I found. It clearly exemplifies what I was trying to say above.
(The kid in the video knows that Lebron and Kobe are respectable basketball players. Because of that fact, he tries to inquire information about them. He wants to know how they became great basketball players. For instance, he states: Kobe, do you practice your dunks?" A statement such as this shows how fascinated he is with these players because they are perceived as some of the world's finest basketball players. In additon, by asking so many questions, it shows how he is trying to find a way to be like them. This includes knowing what type of shoes they have. Overall, this example shows how people on the top of the social ladder as well as the economic ladder are leaders of institutions. A trickle down effect will result, and then people will start to copy the fashion, for instance, of the elite.)
The second thing that my conversation with my cousin reminded me of is that there is a way to be green, fight consumerism, and still support one's favorite team at the same time. One doesn't need to have a jersey, headband, etc. that has one's favorite team's logo on it. Instead, one can simply reuse the clothes that one already has. For instance, one can wear clothes that are the same color as one's favorite sports team. A simple shirt will do. By reusing what one already has, one is fighting consumerism as well as showing some love for his/her favorite team.
Friday, May 29, 2009
This week I wanted to talk about what we discussed last week. Last week we discussed alot about the Japanese fashion culture, such as "Kawaii" and the Lolita complex trend in Japan. However, in this blog, I want to focus on Japanese Street Fashion.
As we all know, Japan has been one of the rising nations in the world when it comes to fashion. In Yuniya Kawamura's piece of "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion", she discussed the idea of Japan having a lot of influences in the fashion industry. Japan has been making it's mark in the fashion industry for a few decades now, but has been more so in the past few years.
The question we raised in class was "How did Japanese Street Fashion Emerge?" Did it emerge from mimicking Western fashion, or was it their own style? I believe that Japanese street fashion was highly influenced from Western ideals. However, in my opinion, Japanese street fashion is much more unique than American's street wear. Kawamura explained that Japanese Street fashion is so unique and different even though they took their ideas from the West, is due to the fact of the influences in Japan.
Kawamura states that it is the teenagers of Japan that was revolutionized Japan's street fashion. They dictate where the trend comes and goes. Even countries nearby, know that teenagers (high school girls) are "designers" and know what are the newest styles. Many Japanese adults and kids mimic these highschool teenagers and that's how this Japanese street fashion trend starts. Kawamura's idea that teenagers are producers of fashion holds true also in our society.
When you look at our society, it is mostly the young generation (us), that starts many mainstream fashion trends. A common trend in today's society is the "hypebeast" look, that many young teens and children today are wearing as their style. What started out as a type of style from the streets from teenagers, has become a everyday style wear. Wikipedia defines hypebeast as "It originally refers to a streetwear enthusiast who is only interested in having the latest trends." If you think about it, it's very similar to how Japan's street fashion as evolve.
If you look at these photos, this is typically how a hypebeast style would look like. The hypebeast look usually consist of skinny jeans, a pair of nikes, a fitted hat, and flannel. This is the look that is what's in right in our society, and kids today are looking up to it and are mimicing it as well.
Yuniya Kawamura. “Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion.” Class Reader.
Also what was surprising was that this company even creates shoes with college logos on them such as Cal, Stanford and Duke.
This company is taking notice of the fact that many people are now going “green” and trying to buy environmentally friendly products and clothes. This is related to the idea of “fashion as a cultural symbol,” (Kawamura, 39). In this case, the new fashion style shows how there is a new green culture. And therefore producers of fashion and designers are trying to create things in response to the new culture that is being created. Kawamura also brings up fashion in terms of it being “… an institutionalized system in which individuals related to fashion, including designers… engage in activities collectively, share the same belief in fashion and participate together in producing and perpetuating the not only the ideology but also fashion culture which is sustained by the continuous production of fashion,” (Kawamura, 39). In relation to green fashion, this shows how numerous designers and companies create products that are environmentally friendly. This particular company uses things that are re-used or organic materials in order to make shoes that more sustainable for the environment.
In relation to the compact challenge, these shoes show that the uses for things that could have been thrown away are quite great. And I do own a pair of these shoes, the green ones pictured above. (But I bought them way before the challenge began.)
-Jasmine Lim (Blog #5)
“Fashion as a Institutionalized System” by Yuniya Kawamura in Fashion-ology
Simple Shoes Website: http://www.simpleshoes.com/info/index.aspx?g=info
Image of Simple Logo: http://www.simpleshoes.com/images/Misc/sgw/sgw_simpleLogo.gif
Image of Green Polka Dot Shoes: http://www.thegreenloop.com/Simple_Carousel_Polka_Eco_Sneaks_p/simple-ss08-ecosneak-carousel.htm
Image of Flip-Flops: http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Womens-Toe-Foo-cal/dp/B001G0WP88
“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… Fashion--ology suggests that any item of clothing is capable of being appreciated and turned into fashion” (Kawamura 45).
Following fashion has always been thought of as getting rid of what’s old and buying what’s new, but clothing doesn’t have to be brand new in order to be fashionable. So, how can we have fashionable clothing without buying new clothes? By making them. Or rather – by reworking what clothes we already have. If you’re like me, you probably have tons of clothes lying around that you don’t wear anymore because they’re “out of style.” With a few snips and stitches those clothing items can become something new and exciting – something fashionable.
I think it’s interesting how anti-consumerism seems to exist to spite the institution of fashion. In our class we learn all about the fashion system and how much a part of our lives it is. Then we are asked to turn around and basically remove it from our lives. As a bunch of students that decided to take an Asian American Fashion class, you would imagine that most of us are fashion-followers. Novelty is a major component of fashion, so how could we possibly stay fashionable if we aren’t allowed to buy anything new? However, the definition of “novelty” includes not only newness, but originality and innovation. Kawamura writes:
Your boyfriend’s old shirt can become a mini-dress, a pair of jeans can become a bag, or some lace and buttons can turn an old skirt into something right off the pages of the latest fashion magazine. Designers like http://www.cherylfudge.com/ have based a whole business on reworking clothes. There are a lot of videos online that can show you how to do this, and even more web sites such as Threadbanger and CraftStylish that have tons of ideas and step by step instructions on reworking clothing.
It can be fun for those of you who like arts and crafts, and if you don’t know how to sew you can always take a few lessons. Sewing is always a useful skill to have. Plus, you get the chance to be a designer and create something that matches your own style. And you’ll have an item you can be sure no one else has. Your old clothes can have a new life, and you can have your own couture without maxing out your credit card.
- Carmel Crisologo
Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology An Introduction to Fashion Studies (Dress, Body, Culture). New York: Berg, 2005.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
In one of this week’s article, "Fashion as an Institutionalized System," by Yuniya Kawamura, I realized something about how my compact challenge has been going. Every season we see the "in" styles, but who defines what is in style and what is out of style? The answer is simple: us. We define what is "in" style by the clothes we buy or the clothes other people buy. Fashion experts seek to be the first to create the next "in" thing but overall, there is not one specific person who decides what is fashionable or not. People, media, even magazines [image on right] tell us the way that we can keep "in fashion" and keep up with the latest trends. In Kawamura’s article, she discusses how we learn from the fashion system that there are certain ways we have to dress for certain occasions. If it’s a fancy thing, we have to dress up. If we’re just going to school, we can dress casual. Different clothes for different events. People, companies, and things have determined what specific things we need to wear for certain things we attend. However, is this really necessary? As a community, we spend so much money on clothes that we probably don’t need all because we feel we need them for a special occasion. If we buy a fancy dress for a special occasion, then suddenly, we wear it once and never again. All because of the special occasion we spent a ton of money on something that we’ll probably never wear again. WHAT A WASTE! There’s no law that states that we need to dress up for certain things, and yet we constantly are buying things for that one special occasion because the world around us makes us believe we need to. In the article, "The Aesthetics and Politics of Japanese Identity in the Fashion Industry," by Dorinne Kondo, she discusses how in the first at the Shirokiya Department store, fourteen people died because the kimono prevented them from making a quick escape. It just seems like these girls were probably wearing a kimono because at the time, that was the fashion and that’s what everyone was wearing. Because they felt that they needed to wear it too, they wore them and because of that, they ended up dying because of how bulky the kimono can be. If they hadn’t let the fashion world get to them, they might not have died because they might have been wearing whatever clothes they felt like wearing. Even though it isn’t one specific person telling us what is fashion and what is not, we still let the fashion world or others around us dictate what is "in" fashion and what is not, and because of that, sometimes it can be harmful.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Anyhow, yesterday I went through the reader and looked at the different portrayals of Japanese fashion from pages 320-330. In my heart, I knew that if I wore anything similar to the styles seen on those pages, I would get some form of ridicule from people. More notably, if I were to wear an outfit and make-up of the Mamba fashion, I would really get a lot of heads up since Fairfield is not use to seeing such a thing nor do I believe a lot of people know that it is a type of fashion acceptable in Japan. Nonetheless, that did not stop me from becoming inspired to dress in my own “unique” way. (When I use the word “unique,” I mean something that goes against a norm in society. Here is a link to a dictionary’s meaning.) Originally, I wanted to dress like the Takenokozoku because their fashion was neither too “outrageous” nor too “normal” for me. However, I did not have anything in my closet that was similar to lady’s blouse and bottom on page 320. And because of the challenge, there was no way I was going to spend money in order to achieve the look. As a result, I decided to reuse articles of clothing and accessories that I already have. I came up with this:
As one can see, I did not achieve any of the styles seen in the reader. I want to point out that I did use different items from different styles to make my own style. For instance, I had a boom box like the Takenokozoku and boots like the Gonguro. (So what if they weren’t platform boots; they were still boots!)
After I had my attire on, I decided to test it out in the public. I went to a friend’s house. When she first saw what I was wearing, she asked me if I was serious, and I told her I was. I told her that the youths in Japan had a unique sense of fashion, and it was accepted there. “If that’s the case, then why can’t I have my own style,” I told her. I was greeted by my auntie, my friend’s mom. When she saw me, she also asked me why I was dressed the way I was and whether or not if I knew that it wasn’t Halloween. In addition, she gave me a look as if I was nuts. Before I left my friend’s house, I showed her and my auntie images in the reader. The both agreed that some of the fashion in there were “unbelievable” and “funny” if worn.
As a whole, my experience has given me a better understanding of diffusion as well as an insight on the dynamics of fashion. According to Yuniya Kawamura, “In dealing with fashion consumption, we have to consider the group mentality of those who adopt and wear fashion. Mass fashion diffusion and consumption can be explained as a process of collective behavior among large numbers of people.” I tried to sell my look by advertising. By the reactions I received, however, I could tell that there was no way that my style would make people want to buy articles of clothing so they could dress the way that I did. From the words I received, I could also see the mentality of the group I exposed my style to; they saw me as a stigma for not wearing the fashion seen in present society. Overall, I learned that location is an important factor to consider when speaking of fashion. American culture is not used to seeing looks such as the Gonguru look. In addition, unlike Japan’s street wear, those fashions have not “migrated” here. Overall, I am now left to wonder how people such as my auntie and friend would feel if looks such as the Gonguru were accepted. Would they change their opinions on unique fashion such as the ones that I had worn? What if people accepted my style? Would they do the same? If so, this would definitely be a fine example of how fashion “is not created by a single individual but by everyone involved.”
Yuniya Kawamura's "Fashion-ology"
Yuniya Kawamura's "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion"
Macias's and Evers's "Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno" and Profile images
Did you know that Women tend to have about about 12 cosmetic products in their
vanities? (according to an April 2008 survey commissioned by O.B. Tampons).
With 112,804,773 women over 20 years old living in the U.S., most of this packaging is being thrown away. According to the EPA, approximately 1/3 of landfill waste is from plastic packaging from items such as cosmetics. (for more info please click here.)
What many people aren't aware of, is that most cosmetic containers, specifically those used for makeup, are unidentifiable plastics, and therefore are rarely recycled. Makeup tend to be in disposable containers, and over the years these will pile up in our landfills.
In Kawamura's Fashionology, she explains that "fashion includes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services," (Kawamura, 2006). If makeup companies can design products with packaging that is bio-degradable and safe for the environment, it can be a widely adopted practice in consumer culture. Because production, consumption, and distribution is part of fashion, it is important to keep these socially responsible design aspects in mind, including the disposal of these cosmetics.
Until we can achieve biodegradable packaged cosmetics try these tips for recycling your makeup containers:
- reuse any old eyeshadow pots, compacts, etc. as travel mirrors or travel sized containers for creams, paints, liquids, or any other cosmetics.
*other major makeup retailers such as MAC have offered a take-back program where if you bring in any 6 empty containers you get 1 free lipstick! Origins also has a recycling program for all cosmetics.
- Be smart about your purchasing choices! Buy larger containers for items you use frequently and opt for more organic/natural makeup which won't harm the environment. Also try to choose products with less packaging if not recycle friendly!
Hopefully these ideas will keep our environment and your face absolutely gorgeous!
- Elaine de Lara
Fashionology by Yuniya Kawamura
This past week has provided a great release from the consumer pressures of society since its focus was main on our research project that was due today. Now that the stress of that paper is now behind me, I can now direct my attention to this challenge and reflect on my thoughts on consumerism.
As I continue to participate on this compact challenge, I noticed that I find it easier to consumer less goods and question more about the product itself. I guess the latter is a great idea since I put a lot more effort in understanding the origin of product, how it's made and to what extent are its utilities. Backed up by Kawamura , "Clothing production and fashion production are both collective activities which require large numbers of people to produce the finished product." When I look at all of the clothes and products I have, I now take into large consideration how they are made. In a specific case that most of my colleagues have already touched upon are sneakers. However, my focus will be on a specific shoe I have, the Jordan I. The reason why I chose this shoe is because of the sneaker culture that revolves around it despite the knowledge that these shoes are made a lot cheaper than they are sold. It's hard for the common consumer to understand that the shoe that they purchase at such high prices is produced at such a low price. In addition, the process of creating the shoe from design to mass production is often subcontracted to less-developed countries. In the example with Nike, the process of creating a sneaker is first designed by in-house designers in American and then subcontracted to be created in Vietnam (Valverde).
My job in the compact challenge is now not only to submit myself to being consumer friendly and knowledgeable, but to also share my knowledge about consumerism and sneaker culture with others around me that way more people are aware of this good cause.
For further enjoyment and understanding of the process of designing, I have posted a video that explains the process.
Christian Borgonia BLOG #4
Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology An Introduction to Fashion Studies (Dress, Body, Culture). New York: Berg, 2005.
Valverde, Prof. Caroline. Asian American Studies 189B. Lecture 15 May 2009
Video: The Shoe Game: TheShoeGame.com - Todd Jordan Nike SB Sneaker Design Interview