Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mao, A Fashion Icon?

I would first like to start off with the compact challenge. It is perhaps the most personal assignment I have ever had in college. It has been quite difficult. When I turn on my computer, my fingers instinctively begin to search for new sneaker sales and upcoming releases that I have to keep my eye on. I found myself on the verge of collapsing as I found a pair of Jordans for a decent price. I painfully had to close the window and just hope that this deal with be at some later date. But I digress.
The readings this week were particularly interesting. I chose the Skov article in the Re-Orienting Fashion as the main focus for this blog entry. This piece was a commentary on how designers in the Hong Kong fashion industry have had to "exoticize" their designs in order to suit the interests of Western fashion. It was first done in the 1970s by Japanese designers as an attempt to appeal to consumers in Europe and North America.
As the decades have progressed, and styles have changed, one would expect that Asian designers would not have to, in a sense, sell out their culture in pursuit of fashion creativity and design. However, designers have been increasingly pressured to adopt "exotic" designs that are supposedly meant to reflect Asian culture.
This presents a skewed commentary on the sheer creativity of Asian designers. By expecting Asian designers to "exoticize" their designs, it creates yet another cultural binary. Instead of global fashion, being well, global fashion, fashionistas and critics place a distinction on what is inherently cultural design. Because of this, an emphasis is placed on the ethnicity of designers and how well they can incorporate their race into their designs.
Needless to say, Asian designers have adapted to this system due to the over commercialization of high fashion. There are few designers who have stood out amidst this Western industry led conformist fashion era. Designers, instead of playing on old designs of Chinese dress in Hong Kong, have begun to develop fashion based on the actual present cultural distinctions in surrounding eras. These designs range from political in nature, to a modern commentary on things such as gang violence and drug abuse. The designers responsible for such foresightedness and creativity are William Tang and Peter Lau. William Tang is known for his designs based off graffiti found in inner city areas stressing the evils of imperialism. Peter Lau is known for his usage of the Chinese flag on designs for lingerie. Both concepts are extremely provocative but more importantly show refusal to adherence to European concepts of cultural fashion.

Works Cited

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

Christopher Quach
Post #2


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