Sunday, January 17, 2010

Asian inclusion in fashion and the question of forced exoticsm: Stephen Dimal blog 3

In the fashion industry, an industry that is primarily based on finding novelty and new trends, it is interesting to think about how it has been a long process for Asian Americans to get involved within fashion, whether that be as the designer or as the model. In chapter 7 of Re-orienting Fashion titled Fashion-Nation by Lise Skov, she discusses how "in the 1980's when high fashion became multicultural in an ambivalent process in which Western supremacy was spectacularly undermined, and yet subtly reinscribed" (Re-orienting Fashion p. 217). As Asian Americans continue to try and gain access to success commercially in Western standards, we continue to challenge Western supremacy, yet continually fall into Western Stereotypes which then reinscribe Western ideals. In Fashion-ology Yuniya Kawamura mentions that "according Gramsci, hegemony refers to the situation where certain social positions of dominance exert their social authority as a result of their power appearing and being experienced as legitimate...the ruling class controls...the means of producing beliefs about reality" (Fashion-ology p. 71). Although it was made out for Asians to gain inclusion into fashion, it was inclusion based on the terms of western success. In Re-orienting fashion they did mention certain instances where some designers did fight against these western influences, however, many times Asian fashion is still considered exotic or as the "other." In the video that I have put at the end of this blog, it is of the rapper Jin the Emcee, who had a song named "Learn Chinese." Although he is challenging certain stereotypes of Asian Americans by being a somewhat successful rapper, he still has to make songs where he mentions that he is Asian, and even at the end of this song you hear them say "first Asian rapper, first chinese rapper" thus having to set Jin apart as being an Asian rapper as opposed to just a talented rapper.

Asians trying to gain inclusion into Western commercial success are no doubt talented people, however does Western society use it's control to make sure that Asians or Asian americans only have a certain amount of access to success? Do we need to distinguish ourselves as exotic or as the other in order to be recognized for our talents?

p.s. for the compact challenge, I have succeeded in not buying any clothing or any new things of that sort, however I am still having problems limiting the amount of times I eat out. There are many instances where friends are celebrating birthdays which end up costing almost double what it should because of gratuity. For the compact challenge I will strive to continue being more frugal.

Works Cited:
"Fashion-Nation: A Japanese Globalization Experience and a Hong Kong Dilemma" Lise Skov
Re-orienting Fashion: The Globalization of Asian Dress 2003 p. 217

Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology: An Introduction to Fashion Studies. New York: Berg, 2005. p. 71


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