Friday, May 8, 2009

Earth day

So after class today, me and my friend went to go check out the earth day quad event. All around we saw many different types of clothes, jewelry, household items, and foods. While we were looking at some clothing, my friend labels the clothing as "tribal". When I asked her why, she replied by saying, "well doesn't that look like it came from Africa? I mean the patterns and colors scream out Africa to me." From this quote it reminded me of two things; one was the dichotomy that Niessen was talking about in her article of West vs. Rest, and an article that I had read in Time magazine about African design.

Firstly, Niessen talked about their was an consesned thought that fashion only came from the West. Everything else was just traditional clothing. The whole thought that African clothing was tribal was just a way for Western ideals to make something ethnic and exotic. Its basically exploiting traditional clothing to mainstream America. But of course, Africa can't be fashionable because it hasn't risen to the same level as America nor Europe. It has established an strong economic base like other countries have. Since it is "inferior" to the West, the West can freely exploit it any way they want. To me its the same as labeling Asian fashion as oriental. There are labels for every other kind of fashion except for the Western fashion. The western fashion is the norm while everything else is either traditional, oriental, or tribal. It's sad to say but the Western gatekeepers are fully utilising this dichotomy to sell clothing. They know it appeals to consumers, these clothings give off a different feel than regular ones. Many Americans want to go back to their roots or have some kind of national identity with their native country and they think that by looking "tribal","traditional" or "oriental" will bring them closer to that look. But if you think about it, no one in their native country dresses like that. Many people actually do believe in this dichotomy where fashion only exists in the West. In order for other countries to appear on the international fashion stage, they have to have some sort of Western influence, like the Kora people with their Bataks.

The article, well its not really an article but its a series of pictures that depicts "tribal" wear that came "straight out of Africa," and it totally supports the dichotomy that Niessen talked about. The article is called "Out of Africa: It's time to pay tribute to all things tribal, with layers of prints, stacks of bangles and scarves galore." Again with this thought of "going tribal". What exactly is "going tribal"? Well in this article the gatekeepers give a very good definition of it, with many different styles anyone can choose from. The funny thing is that all the clothes that are featured in these pictures are houte couture pieces. You know Africans can not purchase these kinds of clothing, and yet it is still label "out of Africa". These clothes are appropriated from African traditional clothing and fabricated into Western ideals in order to sell their products. It is a genius marketing strategy but it's exploiting a nation's culture. Is that what we have to do in order to sell clothing, by exploting someone else to make a profit?

Jennifer Ma
Blog #3

Pitman, Chad and Mossman, Katie. "Out of Africa." Time Magazine. 1 April 2009. 8 May 2009.

Niessen, Sarah. "Re-orienting Fashion"

No comments: