Sunday, September 5, 2010

Institutionalized Fashion

Cindy Shuai
Post # 6
“Fashion as an Institutionalized System.” Fashion-ology.
Mikey Easey, Fashion Marketing
Photo Cred: Zeitgeber & Me

Lanvin x H&M Designer Collaboration 2010

According to Kawamura in "Fashion as an Institutional System," Paris has been able to retain it's dominance as an internationally known fashion capital, due to it's highly structured fashion system. Furthermore, she highlights the complicated process that France goes through to maintain it's power and image, which includes "members of the organization, fashion show schedules, fashion gatekeepers, government support, the nurturing of young designers" and much more. Interestingly, one of the strongest parts of the French fashion system is it's hierarchy. Since there is a division between "Haute Couture, Pret-a-Porter for women and Pret-a-Porter for men," it's fashion system can retain a sense of exclusivity which separates it from other fashion systems in well-known fashion cities like New York, London, Milan, etc.

I found this to be really fascinating because just a few days ago, Lanvin (one of the oldest French fashion houses) announced it's new collaboration with H&M. Instantly, I thought that this kind of goes against the French fashion system, because it takes away the exclusivity of one of their strongest fashion houses. However, Alber Elbaz (the creative director for Lanvin) stated that this partnership does not mean that Lanvin is becoming "public." Instead, he argues that Lanvin is making H&M more "luxurious." In some ways, I think that this is true - because Lanvin does not need this recognition, it is H&M that needs it. Lanvin's collaboration with H&M helps to strengthen the fast fashion retailer's reputation, makes it more appealing, and essentially legitimizes it. Furthermore, it is obvious that the quality of this collaboration will not be as good as actual Lanvin clothing, which helps the fashion house retain some of it's exclusivity.

Lastly, many designers have already worked with H&M in the past (such as Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld, Rei Kawakubo for Commes des Garcons) on small collections.Which makes me wonder...what does this mean for the future of fashion and various fashion systems? Will Paris be able to hold on to it's reign?

Watch the video! Alber Elbaz is adorable.

30 Day Challenge Update - Wow, the challenge is almost over! I still haven't purchased anything new or unnecessary, which I'm pretty happy about. For the most part, I did not find the challenge to be that difficulty, but I think that has to do with living in Davis - where there isn't really anywhere to shop, besides GAP. I'm sure that if we were living in a major metropolitan, I would have had a super difficult time. Overall, I think that this was a really good and fun experiment, and I'm definitely going to practice it more in the future. But I guess... right now... I am glad that the challenge is about to be over, just in time for Lanvin X H&M, hahahaha.

Alison Wu
Blog #6
Inside Source:
"Fashion as an Institutionalized System." In Fashion-ology.
Outside Source:

Classy Ed Hardy

I don’t know much about tattooing, and unfortunately, sometimes, I judge people who have tattoos. We all have to admit that tattooing does have a certain stigma surrounding it, and it’s not without reason (see exhibit A). There are people who take tattooing too lightly, and suddenly, their bodies look like a five-year old took a crayon to them. Not to mention, tattoos are often synonymous with drunken mistakes. Throw in some Ed Hardy T-shirts, and you’ve got the makings of a horrifically bad L.A.-based reality show. Suffice to say, when I saw Paul Mullowney’s article I was unsure of how tattooing would fit into a fashion class. I’ve also seen too much of Ed Hardy designs on Jersey Shore-type individuals to have any good impressions about the brand. This article surprised me.

I’ve never really connected Ed Hardy and tattooing together. Mullowney states that Ed Hardy is considered to be the "Godfather of "Modern Tattooing’". In fact, Ed Hardy is credited with "carefully and lovingly looking after the spiritual and cultural growth of what is now a world-wide boom of Japanese-style tattooing." With a little extra research on Japanese tattooing (specifically irezumi), I found out about a kind of tattooing that takes way more time and commitment than it takes for a person to drink a few shots. In fact, irezumi “can take up to five years of once-a-week visits to complete and cost more than US$30,000 to complete” (Tao of Tattoos). This kind of tattooing is a respectable artform. So how did Ed Hardy, an avant-garde artist, become associated with an over-exposed and (sometimes) tacky brand of clothing? It’s the money and the marketing. Celebrities were one of the first to popularize Ed Hardy designs in 2008, and the public, as always, latched on with fervor. Clothing with Ed Hardy designs were affordable and can now be found everywhere. What was once reserved for the sensible artsy types is now readily available to people with questionable motives (see exhibit B). Now, I won’t be caught dead in an Ed Hardy T-shirt, and it’s a shame because his artwork is really beautiful.

Compact Challenge: Just one more week! Yay! I’m excited for a shopping trip but this past weekend, I did something distinctly anti-consumerist: I dug out my mom’s old clothes and fixed them to be a bit more “trendy”. I haven’t used my sewing machine in a long time, nine years to be exact, and I’ve never before used it to fix up old clothing. The other times I’ve looked through my mom’s closet, I’ve dismissed her clothes as being too Catholic-school-girl or having too big shoulder-pads, but its fun to make something new out of something old.

Sylvia Lee

Blog 6

Inside source: Paul Mullowney Ed. “Wood Skin Ink: The Japanese Aesthetic in Modern Tattooing” reader.

Outside sources:



Image sources:



The Westernized Japan

While reading Dorinne Kondo’s article “The Aesthetics and Politics of Japanese Identity in the Fashion Industry”, I found it interesting that the westernization of Japanese clothing began in thr 1860s starting with military soldiers then leading to the royal courts and finally to the public. According to Kondo, “Western dress was a symbol of social dignity and progressiveness”(468). Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War made them more adaptive to European influences and western clothing was a good representation of public employment. Western clothing symbolizes progression because in a way it represents adaptation and openness to new ideas. Initially, there was a hesitation to fully accept western clothing as some prefer their traditional kimonos. However later on, outside the home the Japanese would wear western clothing while wearing kimonos indoors. This practice has become a general rule for generations.

According to an online website, western clothing has become so popular because it is much easier and convenient than the kimono. In addition, western clothing is more affordable as a typical kimono ranges from 10,000 to 1,000,000 yen. A survey indicates that 80% women would like to wear kimonos but many young women don’t know how or where to buy kimonos.

As for the Compact Challenge, I am proud to announce that this is the final week of the challenge and I still have yet to purchase something unnecessary. I think I can keep this up for a couple more weeks as it has become easier for me to resist the temptation of material goods.

Marcella Lee
Blog #6

[ Outside source: ]

[ Inside source: Kondo, Dorinne. “The Aesthetics and Politics of Japanese Identity in the Fashion Industry” Reader. ]

The Journey of Ed Hardy

Andy Le

Blog #6

Inside Source:

Paul Mullowney Ed. “Wood Skin Ink: The Japanese Aesthetic in Modern Tattooing” reader.

Outside Source:

This is the finale and ending of the compact challenge! I have successfully completed the compact challenge without purchasing new clothes. Although I am not shopping, I am still wasting money involuntarily through unexpected expenses such as the tumbler in my car breaking down, which locked my steering and made it impossible for me to start or move my car. Stranded at the corner of Anderson and West Covell at the local Shell gas station for four and a half hour in the blazing heat is not very fun. After getting my car towed to a repair shop in West Sac, I am glad the mechanic only charged me $150. Hopefully, my car will not pull stunts like this in the near future.

This week’s article inspired me to further investigate the infamous designer Don Ed hardy. I personally had no idea that his clothing line stemmed from the Japanese Edo period 1600 -1968. Before his tattooing days, he started out as an etcher. According to, etching is “to cut, bite, or corrode with an acid or the like; engrave withan acid or the like, as to form a design in furrows that when charged with ink will give an impression on paper.” Before reading this article, the concept of etching was very unfamiliar. In order to introduce this new concept to myself, I watched a video that was very interesting and showed the complexities of etching. It is remarkable and interesting that Hardy utilized his skills in etching and created additional careers for himself such as painting, tattooing, printmaking, and a clothing line that highlights his intricate images. While Japanese art is refined, cultured, simplistic, and subtle, Hardy spins his Asian influences to cater to nonconformist look such as the stereotypical bad boys, hotrods, and biker boys that no parents want their children to hang out with. Looking at his clothing website, one notices the intricate and colorful designs that are similarly depicted in Asian art. However, Hardy chooses to mix Asian inspired creations like the dragon with national American and rebellious images such as eagles and skulls to create a unique twist and fusion of the two cultures. His creative talent does not stop at clothing and art. In 2010, Hardy created a line of sex toys and condoms. While sex in Asian cultures is hardly ever talked about, Hardy’s new creation puts sex and pleasure on the forefront. This enticement and selling of sex in addition to his clothes and art for me, makes Don Ed Hardy’s brand reputable. His empire really demonstrates success and honesty through procreativity and acknowledgement of their Asian inspirations.

Damini's offer lenghae

There have been several shops that have popular Asian fashions. One of retail shops discussed by Claire Dwyer that offer Asian products is named Damini's. According to Claire Dwyer, Damini's is a company that "specialize(s) in suits and argue that their designs are mainly driven by trends in the Western fashion market rather than from the sub-continent" (Dwyer 66). Damini also chooses to specialize in lenghae. Lenghae is a "a three piece ladies garment. Comprising of a long skirt blouse and veil. The skirt component being the lengha, the blouse being the choli and the veil being the dupatta." ("The Indian Lengha"). The lenghae is a product that the Indian diaspora would be attracted to. When Damini choose to incorporate lenghae products for consumption, he not only offered it to Asians, but also to non-Asians. Damini aims for a "fusion between East and West" (Dwyer 67). By choosing to aim for both, the styles that are offered in the shops still contain aspects of what a lenghae is. Moreover, the lenghae has not only become a clothing for the Indian community to wear, but also became a commodity that non-Asians choose to possess.

Ahh! The compact challenge is almost to its end. It is actually hard to believe since I have stuck to the challenge for a while. I have been waiting for a while now to start my fall shopping. I find it hard to believe that I lasted over a month without buying new clothes or such. It will be relieving to go back to my regular shopping mode.

Alice Phun, Blog #6


Inside Source: Claire Dwyer. "Tracing Transnationalities Through Commodity Culture." Reader.

Outside Source:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yakuza Tattoos in Popular Media

Blog #6

While reading Mullowney's article, I found it interesting how Japanese tattoos were at first art of the common people from printing blocks and then evolved into a higher status of yakuza culture through tattoos. There is also deeper meaning behind these tattoos as Mullowney mentioned that it was a badge of the working class and it was about becoming the artwork. Now, these tattoos have become fashionable for the new generation of working class youths who want to "touch their Japanese-ness," for those who have their own interpretation of their heroes, and for those who just love the exoticism within this artwork (like American culture).

It's interesting how yakuza tattoos have become popular and appeared in popular media. I believe that it's due to Western influence that these images of Yakuza tattoos have shown up in popular media, such as movies, shows, and video games. I believe that these tattoos are popular among individuals of this generation because of the exoticism these tattoos express and the Western idea of being an individual for Scrase states that, "Unlike the yakuza world, which employs tattoo as a statement of collective identity, newer wearers appear to regard tattoos as statements of individual identity (Scrase 163). Yakuza tattoos appear to be very unique and have many symbolic meanings so it's possible that people today want to express that in their own individuality by getting yakuza-like tattoos. Influence from the popular media portraying these tattoos may also play a major role in these tattoos among today's inviduals.

There is a video game series called Yakuza that features some of the characters having tattoos.

[image source: ]

The movie, American Yakuza also features yakuza tattoos.

[image source: ]

Although Japanese yakuza tattoos are getting popular today, there is that possibility that the tattoo culture in the yakuza may slowly die out.

[Compact Challenge update]
I haven't bought anything since my last blog post... just food. haha.

- Hope (Hyeon) Nam

[inside source: Paul Mullowney Ed. “Wood Skin Ink: The Japanese Aesthetic in Modern Tattooing” reader. ]

[outside sources:
Scrase, Timothy J., Todd Holden, and Scott Baum. Globalization, Culture and Inequality in Asia. Rosanna, Melbourne: Trans Pacific, 2003. Print. ]

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gothic Lolita Fashion in the U.S.

Blog #5

While reading, Kawamura's "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion," I found the section about gothic lolitas kind of relatable. I must admit, I went through a gothic lolita phase for a bit. It started in middle school when I was exposed to Japanese Rock. Even though I was really into gothic lolita, I actually started to wear it in my second year of college. My friend helped me make my outfit and I wore gothic lolita for the first time.

[photo: Christian W.
model: Hope N.]

Before I started to wear lolita, I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. I went through LiveJournal communities (forum-like blog communities) about gothic lolita to confirm my outfit before wearing it. A LOT of American girls would refer to internet communities for lolita fashion help. I even looked through all the lolita styles available- carefully deciding which one I'd like to wear. I think I was going through the process Kawamura talked about concerning website communities, rules and topics about the fashion. Due to these websites, I was even aware of some of the brands available for lolita fashion. The communities were harsh as well- you couldn't just wear anything and say it was lolita. One website I found to be very helpful was According to the website, my outfit may be considered as gothic or kuro lolita. In the communities, there were many times where a girl would post pictures of herself wearing a black puffy dress and claim she was wearing lolita, but many users would flame her and criticize her outfit. Official lolita brands would be a big deal, for many girls would search for deals on Japan Yahoo! Auctions or even sell their used items through the community.

Many of these lolita girls would wear their outfits at lolita meet-ups and especially at anime conventions. It's amazing to see how much lolita fashion has impacted in America. For example, Lady Gaga and Lil' Mama wore lolita a few times.

Lady Gaga in Shiroi Lolita
[image source: ]

Lil' Mama in Sweet Lolita...
[image source: ]

Also, in the recent movie Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, a character is seen wearing gothic lolita.

Gothic Lolita...
[image source: ]

Thankfully, my gothic lolita phase died out quickly since I don't want to spend so much on official lolita brands. However, it was a very fun experience even though my outfit wasn't official, but the style was correct. It makes me wonder if a street fashion would ever develop in America and become such a craze within a community...

[Compact Challenge update]
In my last blog post, I stated that I failed and bought a shirt... Ever since then, I haven't bought anything materialistic...

- Hope (Hyeon) Nam

[inside source: Yuniya Kawamura. "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion." Reader.]

[outside sources:]

Consuming Orientalism

Cindy Shuai
Blog #5
Kim and Chung. “Consuming Orientalism: Images of Asian/American Women in Multicultural Advertising.”
Harry M. Benshoff and Sean Griffin. "America on Film: representing race, class, gender, and sexuality at the movies"

In the article of "Consuming Orientalism," Kim and Chung wanted to explore specific examples of how American media consumes gender relations to the Orientals in images etc. It was easy to see how different cultures has become a style or taste that one can adapt. Asian women are portrayed in a certain oriental fashion, and in a way to sell the culture to the public. I was reminded of the book "America on Film: representing race, class, gender, and sexuality at the movies" I remember the book being quite controversial for evaluating some of the film classics such as The Jazz Singer and The Grapes of Wrath, as well as Disney movies such as Lion King. The film dedicated a section to the white relations to the ethnic groups: with Asian Americans as one of the sub-groups. The book is now used in some film studies classes as a textbook, and I only read partial of the book on Asian Americans, yet it wasn't something that I haven't learned already from lower division of the Asian American studies courses. However I remembered it as one of the first time to recognize the Asian American in unfair treatment by gender as a part of the big picture of America film.
Back to the subject of selling culture, there are now more updated versions of technology to better serve the needs of the American public, sarcastically speaking of course. As Iphone/Itouch becomes a new frenzy, there is now a new Iphone/Itouch Application that lets you browse, select, and download pictures of "cute Asian girls" to your Iphone/Itouch. Understand that the creator(s) of this application is smart in his/her exploitation of the Asian culture, combined with the new obsession of American men in Asian women. The creator(s) are obviously smart in that there are just pictures, and as long as they have Google image or Yahoo image that they will never go out of business. This particular service is coincidentally called the "Cute Asian Girls" Iphone App. How original. And if that doesn't infuriate you as it is, the description of the application says:

Are you down with the asian persuasion?

Cute Asian Girls gives you HUNDREDs of photos of the most beautiful asian girls you have ever seen. Whether you’re looking for asian girls with weapons, or girls in maid uniforms, or even just the casual girl in a summer dress, we have them all! Our photo collection is growing by the day and will continue growing by the truckload. Every day will introduce new photos for your viewing pleasure.

Download as many asian girl photos as your heart desires for free after you buy the app. Use them as your wallpaper, send them to friends, or set them as your contact’s photos.

I rest my case.

On the other hand, compact challenge is going okay, since some of my friends and I are packing and cleaning out our apartments and are trading clothes that we have "outgrown" (aka got fatter) or things that we don't wear anymore. Other than that, packing and moving makes me spend too much money as it is, therefore it's not like I had plenty of money to spend anyway.

PS. My friend was webcamming with her friends on my computer and print-screen-ed to take a picture. However the tag of opened site for "Cute Asian Girls" was showing, and everyone accused me of watching pornography. I felt wronged by this blog.

The End.

Consume this and that

According to Yuniya Kawamura, "the model of modern-day consumption originated in pre-revoluntionary court life, especially that of Louis XIV of France (1638-1715) who was known as 'the consumer king'" (Kawamura 90). Louis XIV of France had consumed items to display his political power to others, not just to show off his wealth. Louis XIV is the model who began consumer culture as a way for people to know who he is and what he represented. Modern-day consumption still exists for people to express their political position, power, or status. Although the models of consumption has changed and so has the products of consumption.

Today, people continue to consume to express who they are through certain brands or items that they possess. As Jennifer Craik mentioned, there are "distinct hierarchies of status and brand or label recognition"(Craik 75). When many people consume products they do it to gain a status or to uphold a status that they wish to maintain. Through brands or labels, there is a separation of class and hierarchies. Brands are distinct when they are designed for the elite and are often times too expensive for the middle class. Now, brands and/or labels are part of the modern-day consumptions that the elites desire and keep up with. Elites provide the fashion example and take the lead, while others follow their lead.

Since I have been in Davis for the majority of summer session two, I do not have any shopping places of interest. I really only want to purchase food or drinks. And, there are plenty of places to eat in Davis. However, there are some boutiques and shops, but they are too expensive for my taste to buy anything. It is a good thing that the only I only want to be a consumer of food and drinks in Davis and not clothing. That is why I have been able to follow the rules of the compact challenge.

Blog #5
by: Alice Phun

Inside Source: Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology: an Introduction to Fashion Studies. Oxford: Berg, 2005. Print.

Outside Source:
Craik, Jennifer. Fashion: the Key Concepts. Oxford: Berg, 2009. Print.

Parallels Between Shibuya Salesgirls & Fashion Bloggers

(Fashion Blogger: Susie Bubble of Style Bubble, image via Refinery29)

“Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion” cites Shibuya 109 salesgirls as trendsetters, who have power over their peers -- “the salesgirls are so influential in setting the new trends that the teens would buy the exact same outfit that the salesgirl is wearing.” Furthermore, many salesgirls “contribute to the buying of merchandise and designing for the store labels” because they know exactly what their peers want. These salesgirls are so important that they become known as icons/role models, appearing in street fashion magazines and more.

Immediately, this reminded me of fashion bloggers. According to CNN, fashion bloggers are able to draw in readers by posting up personal outfit photos. Fashion bloggers have been able to attract large readerships (presumably teenage girls, like those who follow Shibuya salesgirls), as well as labels, designers, and other fashion gatekeepers. For example, Rumi Neely (of the blog Fashion Toast)who lives in San Diego and majored in political science, has designed a dress and a tank top for RVCA, modeled for the line's fall look book and ad campaign and signed with NEXT Model Management” because of the fan base that she acquired from her personal fashion blog. Similarly, Jane Aldridge (18-year old fashion blogger of Sea of Shoes) can cite “Kanye West among her fans and is working on her own shoe line.” Although not mentioned in the article, many other fashion bloggers have attained success in the fashion industry (through modeling, designing, magazine features, etc), as well. Like Shibuya salesgirls who became designers, bloggers do not typically have fashion degrees or industry experience. Instead, they are alluring because they understand street fashion from an insider perspective.

Personally, I really like the concept of fashion blogs. I think that bloggers are much more appealing than celebrities/magazines because they are relateable. Everyday people can read a fashion blog and understand someone who has an interest for fashion, but also still leads a normal life. Similarly, I can see why Shibuya salesgirls would become such big icons, because Japanese teenagers can feel like they understand where they come from. In this sense, by being able to influence readers and teens from various subcultures, Shibuya salesgirls and fashion bloggers are democratizing fashion. They are demonstrating that trends/style/aesthetics are not simply guided by legitimized gatekeepers, but that it can emerge from the streets, as well.

Yet at the same time, I think that this “relateable” appeal of Shibuya salesgirls and fashion bloggers can be used by labels to sell their products. For example, if a fashion blogger becomes really popular, designers can send them free items to wear. And once they wear it, their readers will want it too (and the label will profit from it). Likewise, Shibuya 109 would have their salesgirls dress according to a monthly theme and “many customers would purchase [those] items,” because they wanted to dress like the salesgirls. In this way, companies are able to use the influence of salesgirls/bloggers for their own benefit. Unfortunately, this can detract from the organic appeal of street fashion and fashion blogs. However, I think that street fashion/fashion blogs can maintain its integrity as long as these icons (salesgirls, bloggers) are able to stay true to their own personal sense of style, and not just do whatever labels dictate.

(Fashion Blogger: Rumi of Fashion Toast, image via Refinery29)

30-Day Challenge Update: I haven't broken the challenge yet! Yay! A few days ago, I went to Arden Fair Mall, and I found everything to be so unappealing. It wasn't even a challenge for me to not shop because 1) the clothes that I could afford looked poorly produced, cheap, and it was obvious that they would fall apart after a few washes, 2) the clothes that did not look cheap (high quality, designer garments) were completely out of my price range. After this challenge is over, I probably won't shop as much as I used to. I'm starting to realize that I don't need a lot of clothes, and that it's more fun to find different ways to put together outfits, from garments that I already own. I have a strong interest in fashion, and I want to express it in a different (and smarter) way, than just buying tons and tons of disposable clothing.

Alison Wu
Blog #5
Inside Source:
Yuniya Kawamura. "Japanese Teens as Producers of Street Fashion." Reader.
Outside Source:

“Coolness” as a birthright

Parminder Bhachu’s article “It’s Hip to be Asian” says it all: it’s now kind of cool to be Asian. Bhachu discusses how Indian culture is making a mark in Britain’s pop culture, and it’s not just limited to fashion. Indian food is also a popular fad in the UK. For the Indian individuals in Britain, Bhachu feels that the popularization of Indian culture is “a positive reaffirmation of ethnic identities.” If kids want to be hip and cool, why not kill two birds with one stone and have them reconnect with their heritage in the process?

This may be the case for Indians in Britain, but does this same phenomenon occur in the United States as well? Personally, I think there’s a limit to the “coolness factor” of Asians in America. Yes, Asian restaurants are extremely popular, and eating sushi still seems to be the epitome of cool. In the fashion industry, Asian models are often regarded as being exotically beautiful. This is, however, as far as the “coolness” goes. If being Asian were so cool, Hollywood would be saturated with Asian actors, which is, very blatantly, not the case. One of the latest scandals in regards to Asians in Hollywood is the movie “The Last Airbender” by M. Night Shyamalan. This movie based off of a cartoon was considered by many to be a slap in the face to Asian Americans. The cartoon, although produced and directed by Americans and aired by Nickelodeon, was about Asian characters in an Asian setting. You would assume that Shyamalan would cast Asians to be in his movie adaptation. He didn’t, and it was a glaring mistake. The movie bombed at the box office and with the critics. Some people have stated that casting white actors as Asian characters may have contributed to the movie’s failure and have even accused the movie of “racebending”, playing off of the movie’s title (“Super Bowl Kicks Off ‘The Last Racebender’”). What’s even more upsetting, to me at least, is that Shyamalan is an Asian (Indian) director. Why didn’t he want to cast Asians in his movie? (The one Asian who is in the movie was cast in the role of the bad guy.) Could it possibly be because he didn’t think Asians would be good enough (read: cool enough) in the role? We may not ever know why Shyamalan made his casting choices, but if “coolness” should be my birthright, why don’t I feel cooler?

Compact challenge update: I’ll admit it: I’m jonesing for a good shopping trip. And no, I haven’t cracked yet, but I will soon. I’m afraid that all of the anti-consumerism culture that I absorbed during the last four weeks will go flying out the window when I step into the mall and spy my first sale. Here’s to hoping that this compact challenge sticks with me after this class is over.

Sylvia Lee
Blog #5

Inside source: Parminder Bhachu. “It’s Hip to be Asian.” Reader.

Outside source: []

Image source:

Buying fakes are ok

Materialistic goods are important factors in determining one’s social status. The more a person consumes the more it displays their wealth. Their wealth is represented through their consumption of goods. For those who cannot keep up with the consumption fad they have to resort to purchasing counterfeits in order to have a taste of luxury life. According to the book Fashion-ology by Yuniya Kawamura, “Under these conditions, emulation or imitation is increasingly significant and meaningful as a strategy by means of which people lower in a given social hierarchy attempt to realize their aspirations towards higher status, modifying their behavior, their dress and the kind of goods they purchase” (Kawamura, 96). In other words, for those who purchase imitations to have a false reality of having a high social status, they know what they own is fake but at least they can project a false sense of wealth onto others. In a way it’s like living a lie, they can fool others but not themselves.

According to a website, buying imitations have become socially acceptable for consumers. Many people who regularly purchase counterfeits proudly tell others that they buy fakes. More and more people are choosing to buy fakes as oppose to the real thing because for one it’s cheaper and second they don’t see the point in paying the full price for the real thing.

As for the Compact Challenge, I’m proud to announce that this is the second to last week til the end of the challenge and I still haven’t purchase anything unnecessary. But this is partly due to the fact that I have not have the chance to consume this week, which isn’t a bad thing. Hopefully, I can turn this anti-consumption challenge into a personal habit.

Marcella Lee
Blog #5

[Inside source: Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology An Introduction to Fashion Studies. New York: Berg, 2005.]

[Outside source:]

Lady Gaga , The Wondergirls, & Kaci Battaglia

Andy Le

Blog #5

Inside Source:

Meenakshi Gigi Durham. “Displaced Persons: Symbols of South Asian Femininity and the Returned Gaze in U.S. Media Culture.” Reader.

Macias and Evers. “Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno.” Profile images. Reader.

Outside Source:

I am now in the fifth week of the compact challenge and I have not purchased anything. I have a few friends that work at GAP and this week they gave me a 30% coupon applicable for all purchases at Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Gap Outlet, and Banana Republic Factory Store in-store. Although, I was tempted to go to the store and use the coupon, I refrained myself from going to the malls and outlets. In order to entice my curiosity, I went online to look at the clothing selections and the sales. Although I had the option of using the coupon and purchasing clothes online, I do not like to pay additional money for shipping. In addition, I like to try on the clothes before I purchase them to ensure a nice fit. By shopping online, this process is prohibited. I am very confident that I will complete the compact challenge and save money even with temptations such as coupons and online shopping.

The article, “Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno,” accuses Japanese girls of being unoriginal and thieves of fashion. They do not have fashion sense and are constantly stealing and mimicking looks from biker gangs, school girl uniforms, gonguros, anime, and celebrities to dress themselves with. However, I do not think this is true, and acknowledge that fashion is created in Asian countries like Japan. It is the westerners and for lack of better words white people who steal ethnic fashion styles and propel them into the public eye and media. The article, “Displaced Persons: Symbols of South Asian Femininity and the Returned Gaze in U.S. Media Culture,” simply displays fashion as a temporary entertainment for American consumption and fads. These trends and styles are easily adopted and discarded without taking consideration of its origin and meaning. All the styles that are stolen from ethnic people are used to popularize and sexualize the American White body, and compensates the ethnically Asian or yellow body. Lady Gaga is the epitome of Japanese fashion. Her British designer, Alexander McQueen, is noticed for his dramatic, deviant, and sexualized clothing. He has won designer of the year four times and used the style of avant garde to receive widespread commercial consumerism, success, and appeal. In his latest design for Lady Gaga, her album cover, “Dance in the Dark,” relied heavily on leather, latex, and vinyl material to create clothing for her cover. The jewel incrusted dress she wears looks very similar to the Asian pop star group, The Wondergirls, except that it is on a white body. In addition, the dress that is later featured on a cover is of Lady Gaga wearing a gold and sparkle origami dress that has overlarge exaggerations of the critical points on the body such as the waist, shoulder, elbows, and ankles. This Japanese inspired dress is a replication of a traditional origami dress that fits tightly on the body and exposes the natural and voluptuous curves of the body. By concealing the body with more fabric and using dramatic exaggerations to enhance the body, McQueen achieves the same affect like the traditional origami dress that shows elegance, beauty, and sophistication. What looks like his creation is really a Japanese design. This concealing of origin is the reason why people believe that Lady Gaga’s wardrobe is authentically American inspired when it is actually Japanese and more so Asian influenced. A new and upcoming artist named Kaci Battaglia has used Lady Gaga’s stylistic pieces in her video called “Body Shot.” This spread of fashion from one white artist/celebrity to the next slowly blurs and discredits Asian fashion and their creative talents. By tracing pop culture, one can find these strong connections back to the homeland.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pink Toasters, Can Openers, and "Shoulder Massagers"

Cuties In Japan explores the popularity of kawaii culture. In 1971, Sanrio began to sell cute culture, by making fancy goods with cartoon characters. These cute characters were found on a variety of products, ranging from pink toasters to a can-opener. Kinsella describes cute culture consumption as an escape from adulthood - “cute culture has provided an escape exit into childhood memories…the overwhelming desires of young Japanese people in the 1980’s, reflected in cute culture, were to escape from real life as completely as possible” (252). Therefore, Sanrio was able to benefit from the disillusionment of young adults. They took the youth’s desire for their childhood and exploited it for profit.

Furthermore, Kinsella states that the “consumption of lots of cute style goods…disguise and compensate for the very alienation of individuals from other people in contemporary society” (228). Today, Sanrio still sells it’s wholesome cuteness through adult products. A couple of years ago, Lesportsac/Tokidoki collaborated with Sanrio to create purses with Hello Kitty on it, and they were quite trendy among adults. Another example, MAC Cosmetics teamed up with Sanrio to release makeup with Hello Kitty’s image and it was an international hit. It makes me wonder, are these adult consumers compensating for a lack of emotional connection with other real adults? Is Kinsella correct?

However, I think that the most interesting example of cute consumption is the Hello Kitty vibrator. According to the New York Times, “in 1997, Sanrio…introduced the Hello Kitty shoulder massager…unknown to Sanrio, the product soon made its way into adult sex stores as a sex toy.” After a few years, Sanrio discontinued the item, because it was controversial for their reputation. Later, in 2007, the “shoulder massager” was reintroduced into the Japanese market, but there were no intentions to distribute it in the USA. Interestingly, the article states that adult sex stores hope that it will be distributed in the United States again one day, because it was one of their best-selling items.

I think that the product was a best-seller for several reasons. Firstly, it matches Kinsella’s argument on consuming as compensation - these customers could be buying the Hello Kitty vibrator as an attempt to make up for their “alienation” from others in society. Or maybe, consumers were purchasing it simply because it was “cute." Yet, on the other hand, it’s popularity could have been because the product subverts the wholesome image of Sanrio. By selling a shoulder massager as a vibrator, adult sex stores were inadvertently demonstrating the ridiculousness of purchasing random items just because Hello Kitty is on it. It shows that you can’t consume your way back into your childhood, and that innocence does eventually fade away.

In the end, no matter what the reasons are, I still think that this is a very compelling example of cute/kawaii cultural consumption.

30-Day Challenge Update: Well, things have not really changed. I still haven't purchased anything and I don't plan to. After last week's discussions on sweatshop labor, I've decided that I want to really make an effort to become a better and smarter consumer. In the future, after this challenge is over and I've started shopping again, I'm definitely going to pay attention to the product's origins. Also, I am going to make a bigger effort to support local designers, such as by shopping on - which is kind of like ebay, but for originally designed/crafted/sewn products (as well as vintage) by small designers from all over the world.

Alison Wu
Blog #4
Inside Source:
Sharon Kinsella. "Cutes in Japan." Reader.
Outside Source:

Cindy Shuai Blog #4
Sharon Kinsella. “Cuties in Japan.”
Kan Xi Lai Le April 2009
Dah Xie Shon Le Mei May 2010

The article "Cuties in Japan is documenting on how the culture has developed this extreme obsession with cute style. Girls compete with how they can be cuter, they are obsessed with dressing cute, acting cute, talking cute, writing cute, etc. and it is common in Asia. This culture is more than just the American trend, but it is a cultural movement to me. I have recently watched subbed Asian talk shows and if a girl is not cute in the way she dress, talk, walk, etc then she is not considered attractive, and sometimes even worse that she is not considered a girl. This is displayed in the celebrities in the two extremely popular television shows, to showcase celebrities who are cute and speaks softly and makes innocent cute faces. This culture that makes the girl into one kind of personality is extremely trying on the Asian females, as in the public only desire after one kind of girls, and any other kind of personality is seen as manly and unfeminine. This picture was taken a car show in Japan of a import car model. Yet if you see the style of import models in Asia car shows in comparison to the car models anywhere else, the models will greatly differ in the scale of "cuteness." As a person who is about to embark on a 9 month journey to tour Taiwan, China, and Japan, I am honestly scared because I do not fit into this scale of cuteness. I guess I will have to see.

As for the compact challenge, I realized that I have redirected my money spending towards food, and services industries. I now frequently visit restaurants, cafes, and salons. I am not sure if this is good for my figure, which is fine because I have no new clothes to try one anyway. :( Other than that, when I told my parents of this challenge, they were unhappy. As both of my parents are from the medical field, they told me of the horrors of parasites of used clothes etc and they asked me to not buy any used clothing for the fear for my health. Not sure if I should be putting this on this blog, but at least it's one aspect of looking at it.

Cute Culture

(My muse…)

Anything that is cute is extremely hard to resist. Those childlike heads, small mouths, and big round eyes are almost irrespirable. Cute merchandise almost never fails to attract consumers, especially young female consumers. According to the article “Cuties in Japan” by Sharon Kinsella, she states that, “71 percent of young people between eighteen and 30 years of age either liked or loved kawaii-looking people and 55.8 percent either liked or loved kawaii attitudes and behavior” (220). This goes to show that a majority of people prefer cute or kawaii-looking people, while more than half the people liked anything that was considered cute. At some point in their life, many young girls have found themselves attracted to Hello Kitty merchandise, myself included. I have managed to never fail to walk out of a Sanrio store without making a purchase. Plus those cute little gifts they attach to your purchase makes everything worthwhile.

Cuteness plays a significant role in Japanese culture. It’s so huge that it’s a culture itself. According to an online website that I found on cute culture, the cute culture came about when teenage girls introduced it when they used childlike handwriting to communicate with each other. Companies quickly seized the idea and began to incorporate it into their products and their sales skyrocketed. Nowadays everybody knows that anything cute can sell.

As for the Compact Challenge let’s just say that it’s a relief that I haven’t step foot into a Sanrio store in a while or else I would have broken the challenge a long time ago. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still arrested by Sanrio and their cute products. It is already week four of the anti-consumer challenge and I have yet to make an unnecessary purchase. This week was easy for me because I’m stuck at home writing papers and packing for my big move, which isn’t a bad thing because I have an incentive to save money. Hopefully I can keep this up beyond the two weeks that are left in the challenge.

Marcella Lee
Blog # 4

[Inside source: Kinsella, Sharon. "Cuties in Japan." Reader.]

[Outside source: ]

Altered Modern Hanbok

Blog #4

After reading "Korean Alterations: Nationalism, Social Consciousness, and "Traditional" Clothing," I was surprised to see that the hanbok played a major role in the feminist movement in Korea. According to Ruhlen's article, the "new" hanbok represented Korea and the suppression it had to go through. It was a way of remembering history such as the "Cheju Island-inspired clothing" in remembrance of the Cheju Island massacres and liberation from Japan (Ruhlen 121). As a Korean-American and curious about my Korean culture, I remember asking my mom about hanboks and she told me that they were worn as daily apparel but were distinct from commoners and royalty and it eventually developed into only wearing fancy hanboks on special occasions today. For example, I've only seen my mom wear her hanbok on New Years day and Mother's day. Ever since my mom told me this and what I've seen in Korean popular culture, I've always perceived the hanbok as a national icon for Korea. So I find it interesting that the hanbok was also involved in the feminist reforms such as in the book's example of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center and other historic movements.

Even in Korean dramas, the hanbok has been heavily altered, which is understandable as it is a way to reach out to the younger generation. In Korean dramas such as Goong (Palace/The Princess Hours) and Hwang Jin Yi, the hanbok is a lot more colorful and fancier compared to the actual historic ones.

In Goong, the target audience are preteens and up and the story is about Korea's royal family- which is actually non-existent in reality since the Japanese killed them off many years ago. As a way to show Korea's pride, hanboks are frequently seen in this show, and a way to reach out to the younger generation, the main characters are seen wearing fancy eye-pleasing modern hanboks.

The Korean drama, Hwang Jin Yi, was an attempt to bring back a famous Korean legendary national story. The hanboks Hwang Jin Yi wears in the drama are very elaborate and decorative compared to the authentic hanbok. I guess this was another way to express Korea's national pride by expressing more beauty in these hanboks.

In a way, these dramas are involved in historic movements as well for the hanboks in these dramas still reflect the nation of Korea and the struggles it went through (in Goong's case, the royal family and in Hwang Jin Yi's case, Hwang Jin Yi's representation).

[Compact Challege update]
Unfortunately, I lost this Compact Challenge. Honestly, I forgot about it until I had to write this blog entry. I wanted to support KoreAm, a Korean American magazine, by buying one of their t-shirts...

- Hope (Hyeon) Nam

[inside source: Rebecca N. Ruhlen. "Korean Alterations: Nationalism, Social Consciousness, and "traditional" Clothing." In Re-Orienting Fashion. ]

[outside sources: ]

Should fashion and politics go hand in hand?

Week four’s “Women, Citizenship and the Politics of Dress in Twentieth-Century Philippines” by Mina Roces brings attention to the politics behind and conveyed by fashion. Roces writes about Filipino traditional garb and how it is usually worn by women rather than men. Instead, men would wear Western-style clothing. Roces feels that this distinction conveys a very biased idea about Filipino women: that they are backwards compared to the progressive men. Although fashion may seem like a personal choice, that choice is not only influenced by others but also influences others. Fashion is a statement, and in this case, Roces feels like the statement made by traditional garb is a negative one.

Of course, fashion politics is not limited to the masses. The world loves, more than anything, to dissect the fashion choices of celebrities, and politicians are not off-limits. During the 2008 Presidential campaign in the U.S., the fashion world zeroed in on the clothing choices of the women involved. One article from ABC News entitled “Politics of Fashion: Styles of McCain, Obama, Palin” dissects the wardrobe choices of Cindy McCain, Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin. The article came to different conclusions about each woman. McCain was deemed fashionable but sometimes unapproachable with her Oscar de La Renta dresses. Now, to individuals who do not have an eye honed for picking out Oscar de La Renta from Gap, McCain will just seem well-dressed which is not a bad quality to have. Moving on to Palin, the article noted that she was “anti-fashion” which is definitely relatable to her target voters of working moms but also not easy on the eyes. Ideally, politics and fashion should not mix but Palin, with her frumpy clothes, does not really look like a woman someone would want to aspire to be. Lastly, Obama was deemed fashionable and relatable because her clothing choices were not too couture but still very modern and trendy. What’s important to note is that before any of these women say a word, the world will see their clothing and these women will want that first impression to be a good one. Everyone knows that we shouldn’t judge a book by the cover... but, we’ve also all been told to dress for success. Personally, I’d rather play it safe and dress for success.

Compact Challenge update: Being consumed by all the work for ASA 114 and ASA 141 does not give me much time to consume, not that I’m complaining. Summer school in Davis is a surefire way to save money, given that there are nearly no places in Davis to shop. I haven’t had much of a chance to buy anything new much less shop for anything that isn’t food. I have seen more than a few secondhand stores downtown and, once this compact challenge ends, I may visit these stores to see if I can stay involved with the anti-consumer culture.

Sylvia Lee

Blog #4

Outside source: []

Inside source: Mina Roces. “Women, Citizenship and the Politics of Dress in Twentieth-Century Philippines.” Reader.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


The compact challenge is still in motion and I have not purchased anything new from any clothing stores. I do not think the compact challenge is very hard. For someone like me who rarely buys anything unless I need it, the compact challenge is simple and easy. I think the compact challenge would be considerably difficult if I was willing to drive and visit the local malls and outlets to shop. Since I am lazy and hate driving, I rather sit at home and relax. I predict that I can probably not buy anything new for about another three months and still be completely sane.

I agree with Homa Hoodfar that the treatment of veiling represents the oppressive patriarch in Muslim societies. The veil has been mimicked and seen in weddings cross-culturally as a method to conceal a bride’s face from the groom until the ceremony and/or exchanging of vowels. I never noticed it before, but grooms are able to clearly display their faces while brides must conceal them. The contrasting dress codes do not blur the social differences, but more so makes them distinct between men and women. To further Hoodfar’s argument, I wished that he incorporated more cultural knowledge into his article from other groups like the Filipinos portrayed in Mina Roces article, which emphasized on the different clothing that men and women wear to work. By including more ethnic similarities with the notions of veiling, I believe that the oppressive and patriarchic feelings can be captured and experienced within all societies of different races and ethnicities.

Today, women and men are capable of gender bending and switching roles. Women can choose to go to work wearing a suit, while men can stay at home and comfortably wear an apron and complete household duties. Although clothing is still a method of symbolic communication that indicates age, class, gender, and ethnicity, the modern communication is a person’s body and physique. Celebrities are constantly ridiculed and spotted by critics and cameras. They must to be in shape and always ready for action (extremely abnormal and unnatural) regardless of the weather and location. If celebrities do not look healthy, fit, and tone and are “accidentally” seen by the paparazzi, then they are black listed and known for having the worst body. The magazine, Starz, is famous for their yearly issue of “Best and Worst Beach Bodies,” which highlights those that look aesthetic appealing and degrades others that do not. The emphasis on the body shows that the clothes are less important and almost invaluable. The primary concern is to look muscular, fit, and tone because the thought behind this thinking is that you will look good in anything you wear. This magazine shows that clothing is a secondary concern and something of the past. The interest now is in the body, and the popular culture creates additive pressure for the public to look like Greek Gods.

Andy Le

Blog #4

Inside Source

Mina Roces. “Women, Citizenship and the Politics of Dress in Twentieth-Century Philippines.” Reader.

Homa Hoodfar. “More Than Clothing: Veiling as an Adaptive Strategy.” Reader.

Outside Source

Friday, August 20, 2010

The influence of youth

I knew that Sanrio was created by Japan. But, it was not until I read the article, "Cuties in Japan," that I learned how the history of the company began by the youth culture in Japan. As the author, Sharon Kinsella remarks, "Sanrio began to produce cute-decorated stationary and fancy diaries for the dreamy school students booked on cute handwriting craze." I was surprised that a company would begin to create cute items to satisfy the cute desires of the youth. The continuing success of Sanrio marks that cute style continues and that the production of the items has spread to meet the demands of not only Japanese youth, but of those abroad. I used to go to the Sanrio store in the malls to buy the cute stuff that I would not be able to buy in ordinary American school accessory stores. I desired the cute stationary that they had because I liked a certain character that I admired. I found it hard to choose from the stationary sets since they were all cute. Now that I think about the purchase that I had made, I bought those items because they were cute. There was no requirement or need to purchase a item in the store. I guess I participated in cute culture.

There is no doubt that the compact challenge has become more difficult for me. I had been around some shops or malls in the weeks that the challenge was continuing and I could not participate in purchasing alot of the items, but only browse. Also, when I watch commercials or trailers online, I notice some new items that I may have purchased if I was not on the compact challenge. Nonetheless, I still have not made any new item purchases since the challenge began.

By: Alice Phun, Blog #4

Outside source:

Inside Source:
Kinsella, Sharon. "Cuties in Japan." Print.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

College Students and Walmart

Although it has only been the third week of summer school, I am proud to announce that I have not purchased a new piece of clothing or accessory for my wardrobe. Instead, I have started packing my clothes, and discovered clothes that I have not had an opportunity to wear. I came to this conclusion because I still had the original tags attached to them.

As I was reading the article, “Santa’s Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, it’s Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift—and Under What Conditions,” I notice that I am a bargain shopper. I shop for what I want and need with the main goal of obtaining the things I want for the cheapest prices. I am also very concerned and worried about the working conditions under which products are made like the U.S. News poll reveals. The long hours and labor intensive jobs with wages less than minimum pay is absolutely unjust. When workers need money, and consumers want lower prices, it becomes very difficult to provide both groups with what they want without hurting the other. In this economy, people are learning how to stretch their dollar. I honestly do not know how to persuade others to discontinue their shopping at Wal-Mart because I find myself shopping at Wal-Mart at times too for the great deals that the store provides. While this article may educate consumers about ways to help Third World countries and their workers, I do not think consumers will stop purchasing from places like Wal-Mart because it cheap and affordable. It allows the lower class to afford a decent living, while the upper class can save money and become richer. How will it ever stop? There is a misconception that students will put a stop to the Wal-Mart Corporation, but I beg to differ. With the rise in college tuition and living expenses, the trip to Wal-Mart will be prolonged and strengthened with Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club providing tuition discounts and college credit for their college employees. This incentive will attract more college students to work at their local stores and promote the benefits of being a Wal-Mart employee.

Andy Le

Blog #3

Inside Source:

Holstein, Palmer, Ur-Rehman and Ito. “Santa’s Sweatshop: In a Global Economy, it’s Hard to Know Who Made Your Gift—and Under What Conditions.” Reader.

Outside Source: