Week two of the challenge has been quiet... I haven't visited any stores or bought anything new--I've been recycling a lot of my clothing--I think a few people have noticed, but it really doesn't bother me. For this week's reading, I refreshed myself with some history behind the Hmong motifs that are sewn in Hmong clothing. In McCall's article, "Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture through Textile Arts", the author illustrates the history behind the story cloths and the hand sewn textiles. Ever since I was young, I was sewing these motifs into these cross stitching fabrics without know what it meant; it wasn't until more recently when I became more interested in the meaning behind the motifs that I started researching more into what it meant. I realized that sewing had become a lost art within the Hmong community; not very many 2nd generation students sew anymore. Although there has been a sort of revival for Hmong designs from some Hmong community members, it has not been loud enough to receive recognition compared to more successful non Hmong designers.
Just recently, a set of Hmong-designed patterned scarves were being sold at the Hmong Festival New Years. This sparked a huge interest in customers who identified as Hmong. This had never been done before and it was so popular that most of my Hmong friends had one. For a moment, I thought it was cool to have one, however, I also didn't have second thoughts until later when the feeling of exploitation came up. I vowed to myself not to get one no matter how nice it looked, but the following week, my cousin had bought me a Hmong-designed scarf! Overall, I don't feel too bad because someone else had bought it, but I also have a terrible feeling because whether I bought it or not, the person buying has already participated in the role of consumerism.
Now that Hmong-designed clothing are popping everywhere now, I hope people will appreciate it whenever they do see it being worn by somebody. The act of sewing is a very important aspect of Hmong traditional clothing and it is crucial to understand what the motifs mean in order to better understand the Hmong culture. Here is an example of a Hmong-designed clothing, made by a successful non-Hmong (actually Vietnamese) designer who sells her clothing for $300+ an item. Most of the reason why this designer is successful is because of her unique background: she was born in Vietnam but moved to Germany when she was very young. She has had a better upbringing and more resources to help with her upward mobility in the fashion industry compared to other Hmong designers who are still trying to make a name for themselves in the Hmong community. (THU THU)
For more information, visit her site: http://www.thu-thu.com/en/Collections/
Inside Source: Ava L. McCall. Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture through Textile Arts.” Reader.
Outside Source: http://www.thu-thu.com/