Monday, February 17, 2014

Blog # 2

Barbara Peanh

After finishing up my first week of the Be Green Challenge, I find myself struggling. Last week I vowed that I would be more consumer conscious by being an ethical, green, and an activist consumer who would stop stalking online shops to deter me from spending. I faltered miserably because I constantly find myself on websites just online window shopping. Although I didn't actually buy anything or had any intentions to, going on these retail websites are just as bad because I'm exposing myself to new styles and new trends that I am psyching myself into wanting and buying.  On the other hand, I have done a pretty decent job in not consuming this past week. The only few things I purchased were hygiene essentials necessary for my upcoming trip and food because I don't have enough time to cook for myself. Also, considering Valentine's Day had just passed, I typically buy myself flowers (I know this is slightly pathetic) however I ended up taking some flowers home from work. A local flower shop distributed flowers at my workplace for the sake of advertising their business before the holiday, and I took them home instead. This was my way of making myself feel special, and ending the advertising techniques of this company to my customers so they don't consume plants and flowers just because it's a holiday.

For this week's reading, I read "Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture through Textile Art" and author Ava McCall explains how the Hmong clothing is very intricate. The textile artists use many layers and incorporate different signs and symbols that represent cultural beliefs, physical environment, and geometric patterns that represent Hmong people, culture, and lifestyle. Hmong girls are taught to sew at a very young age because all Hmong women are responsible for making the clothing for the entire family. Textile art is very unique on clothing because it helps Hmong people culturally identify families. For example White Hmong women wear black plants or white pleated skirts with embroidered aprons and highly decorated shirts and collars.

Reading this article reminds me of fashion branding and having distinct and unique pieces or trends which encourage people to consume items such as clothing garments. For Hmong people, their clothing is a representation and tangible display of their culture. In the article, Chao Yang says "Even if you are really poor, you have to get some design on the collar of the shirt. You could not wear it without a design." This statement is very true and reflects how brands affect fashion in our modern day consumption. The brands and logos similar to the Hmong textile art, is necessary for authenticity and identification of the brand. For example when one think of Missoni, the iconic Missoni zig zag print is associated with the brand. Missoni's way of luring in their consumers is by having "iconic patterns that appreciate the heritage of the brand, modernized with fashion silhouettes and on-trend color, keep the Neiman Marcus customer coming back season after season" (Ken Downing). Such unique textile arts like Hmong clothing and the Missoni pattern is what contributes high consumption of garments for those who are especially into fashion.

McCall, A. "Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and CUlture through Textile Art." The Social Studies; Sept/ Oct 1999; 90, 5; Ethnic News Watch. Page 230.

Binkley, C. "How Missoni Keeps Iconic Brand Fresh." The Wall Street Journal: Life and Culture. Retrieved from

Hmong women in traditional clothing at New Years celebration in Fresno.
Decorated shirts and collars*

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