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Random fashion thoughts - Part II (A New Hope)

Discussion in 'Streetwear and Denim' started by LA Guy, May 15, 2015.

  1. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member

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    To be fair, the American involvement in WWII on the European and Asian fronts were very different.

    And it's also unfair to say that American media has not "otherized" (a term I hate, but it's easy to use here) Germans, and other European nationalities, for that matter. I mean, it's not hard to figure out why Christoph Waltz, his acting chops aside, makes such a compelling villain.
     
  2. g transistor

    g transistor Well-Known Member

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    Why do you think Japanese otherization here is different from British otherization here?
     
  3. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member

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    I think that perhaps the underlying issue here is the idea of "appropriation" that assumes some sort of ownership and non-ownership, that just runs contrary to the way that cultures actually interact and take things from one another.

    In cooking, we typically see this taking of inspiration as a good thing, partial and misunderstandings notwithstanding. Not sure why we need to take an adoption of an image as bad unless shown otherwise.
     
  4. shoreman1782

    shoreman1782 Well-Known Member

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    lovebythebuffalo sets the alarm bells ringing because he's very honest about his interest and the contrast between his apparent background and what he likes is so stark. I mean that dude could not be any whiter, and he has "Enjoy the Native American culture" in his profile. Is that a description of himself or an order? The interview doesn't really help, saying "I’ve traveled to New Mexico a lot of times"--everybody hates a tourist--and he has 800 pairs of Nikes, which signals that he's an obsessive, weirdo collector even by the standards of Styleforum.

    If he were younger and less earnest not standing in front of some terrible cabinets, if his life were staged better, I doubt it would set off so many alarm bells.

    I mean, I posted a photo of myself in a noragi in my suburban kitchen, so I'm not saying I'm blameless.
     
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  5. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member

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    I should add that the Chinese appropriation of western cooking methods and ingredients has led to "Hong Kong style western food", which is freakin' delicious. Give me a baked seafood rice or a porkchops and onions in a tomato jam over rice, any day.
     
  6. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member

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    I actually like that he is not better staged.
     
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  7. g transistor

    g transistor Well-Known Member

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    But I think that Fowler has a point in that with some of her examples– most Urban Outfitters using the Navajo name, profiting from it, and then arguing when they get a C&D. There is still a definite and widespread of colonial imperialist mindset when it comes to using different cultures' work for profit and not out of respect. Then it gets to the point where that line gets really blurred, too, in the case of Visvim and our previous conversations about this.

    Contrast that with Pendleton, which has a long history and many would say positive relationship with Native nations. They still got a lot of flak when they started to go more "fashunz," too.
     
  8. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Well-Known Member

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    Yea, that's the main problem I had with the article. It's like, even if I accept this, where do we go from here? Even NA communities make and sell NA-inspired clothing and jewelry. Do we just not support those things as well? How do you imagine NA-inspired clothing that doesn't exist in the context of history and modern politics?


    I guess that's fair.

    Sometimes when I read criticisms of it, I get the sense that people are mixing up those depictions with the kind of big-nosed, funny-faced, toothy smile of Chief Wahoo. I don't think RL's depictions are racist in that sense. But I guess it's become a sort of logo. I'm just not sure it's any more guilty of any sin than what could be generally said of NA-inspired designs. Unless we're just saying it's guilty of lazy design on the part of the fashion designer, which is fair.



    John Dower has a really good book called War Without Mercy, which takes apart WWII propaganda against the Germans and Japanese. I think he makes a really good case. The stereotyping of Japanese was very different from that against the Germans, and it was tied into old Orientialist attitudes about sneaky, evil Asian people that goes back to when Asians first landed in this country. They were always basically seen as untrustworthy and unfair, and when you go through US history, that stereotype often resurfaces in hard economic or political times. See the 80s collapse of the US auto industry and hate crimes against Asians in Detroit (sometimes non-Japanese). Or the idea that a rising Japan would mean a hostile corporate take over in the US. I don't think people have ever feared other white people "taking over" this country.


    Maybe British is a bad example because I'm not sure we even really otherize the Brits. Do we?

    But to take an example, in the Japanese bespoke shoe thread over at CM, someone made the comment that Japanese shoemakers are inherently harder working and "craft orientated" than British shoemakers. Basically they pay more attention to the craft; less on business. It's some artisan sitting earnestly in his studio, perfecting his work. Never considering traveling abroad to meet clients, never cutting corners.

    I just think it plays into all these weird Asian stereotypes that make them seen as different from white people. Hard working and analytical, but oddly sometimes honest to a fault or sneakily plotting at every turn.

    We had a discussion a while ago about rude Chinese people. And just like there, I think it's important to make a distinction between cultural, political, and economic dynamics, and race. It's true there's an upcoming economic class in China that's really gross -- brand whoring, rude, demanding, self entitled, etc. But that's a cultural and political economy story; it's not about something inherent to a "Chinese gene." Similarly, I got the sense (maybe unfairly) that the commenter thought there was something special about being Japanese that lent advantages to shoemaking, but wasn't present in more relatable Brits.

    I guess most of all, the Japanese fetisization here sometimes feels vaguely Orientalist to me. And I think Orientalism is different from exoticism.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
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  9. shoreman1782

    shoreman1782 Well-Known Member

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    You like him better for that fact? Or you just don't like the idea of staging such things?

    If he were taking the photographs crouched next to a campfire staring into the middle distance instead of smiling goofily into the camera, I don't think we would even notice him. Adding that layer of artifice wouldn't make him any more authentic but it might at least signal that he understands how ridiculous he is.

    Here's a British Vis-dad with similar taste who doesn't look as silly, partly because he doesn't dive into the NA thing quite so headfirst but also because his posts are "better."
     
  10. jet

    jet Well-Known Member

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    At least this guy has decent taste in cigars.
     
  11. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Well-Known Member

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    If you haven't seen it, I think this one of the smarter takes I've read on cultural appropriation in fashion.

    http://time.com/2840461/pharrell-native-american-headdress/

    A bit more nuanced than "don't use ethnic minority designs."
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  12. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member

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    I suppose that I just have a soft spot for nerds AND I don't like the idea of staging such things. So many things on Instagram are so staged, that this type of earnest silliness seems refreshing to me. It seems to me, from the interview. that he realizes very well how silly he is and is perceived to be, but is happy to do his own thing.
     
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  13. Coldsnap

    Coldsnap Well-Known Member

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    Cigars... I'm going to Cuba in two day. Any fashion I should bring back?
     
  14. Gruff

    Gruff Well-Known Member

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    This. People need to distinguish between "appropriation" and "influence." Cultural exchanges have happened since time immemorial - that's the main way ideas and trends get local/regional/global dissemination. That's called "influence."

    Conversely, I view "appropriation" as a more base form of cultural influence where someone takes the idea or product of a particular culture and attempts to profit from it without acknowledging it's origin or otherwise providing any benefit to the originating culture. However, at some point the idea of cultural appropriation can reach an absurd horizon where it becomes merely an exercise for social justice warriors and not a valid critique of an actual phenomenon.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  15. g transistor

    g transistor Well-Known Member

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    But I think the biggest issue is that it's difficult to say what's simply influence and what's appropriation. Is Visvim using native american headdresses and native american faces on t-shirts appropriation? Does his use of the names shaman and native american designs in his footwear and subsequently charging a ton for it influence or does it border exploitation? It gets murky, especially with fashion where a designer does provide value, even if they are using traditional shapes, motifs, etc. Does Visvim or RRL actually provide any benefit to the originating culture at all?

    Cultural exchange has been happening for forever, but a lot of it was rooted in Orientalism and Colonialism. That's precisely the conversation that we're having—does this influence in fashion subversively promote colonial and imperial ideas of other cultures, thus continuing a cycle of oppression/exploitation that people still generally don't acknowledge exists?

    While I generally don't call "CULTURAL APPROPRIATION" for everything I see, I don't think it's clear cut or easy to distinguish.

    @Rosenrot sent a great read about it when we were having this conversation a while back in the Discord server (which y'all should join if you haven't). I can't find it, but maybe she can link it again.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
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  16. g transistor

    g transistor Well-Known Member

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    It's a personal thing to me, I guess. I think there's a big difference between using the image of a person (an romantic image at that, of the stoic Native American male) and plastering it on things to represent an entire people than using patterns, colors, general design influence.


    Yeah, I see now. I do think that Japanese fetishization here is vaguely Orientalist. I think a lot of it is exoticism that eventually manifests itself in a mild Orientalism. We're suckers for that type of shit and that type of marketing. I mean people still hate Made in China but love Made in Japan, or how many mentions of "Japanese cotton" do you see, etc.
     
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  17. Gruff

    Gruff Well-Known Member

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    I totally agree, it's not easy to distinguish between the two. It's a fairly large grey area, just like a lot of questions in life.

    For my part, and I've raised this before on the forum, but I get uncomfortable with brands like Visvim and RRL. I don't own any Visvim but I do own a ton of RRL and I don't feel right wearing RRL's pieces that more overtly depict Native American representations.

    Like the "chief head" or whatever it's called, basically the profile of the man with the headdress, that appears on so many "Western" themed pieces. I think it's deeply fucked up to wear that on a sweater or cardigan - it's basically treating an ethnicity like a decoration. There'd be hell to pay if it was a depicting a black person or Latino, even assuming it wasn't an exaggerated caricature, so I don't know why it's acceptable to wear things that depict Native Americans, i.e. actual people, as decorations.

    On the other hand, someone here mentioned that Hiroki actually trained with Native Americans in, I think, Alaska or Washington state at one point, so perhaps he's more truly "influenced" versus "appropriated." I still feel like some of the stuff Visvim produces walks the line, though.

    Just my little rant.
     
  18. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Well-Known Member

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    Why would there be hell to pay if there was a black person or Latino on a piece of clothing, assuming it wasn't some exaggerated caricature? That doesn't make any sense to me.
     
  19. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member

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    This happens all the time, btw, for iconic black and latino figures. I think that a tee-shirt of Che Guevara is issued to every college student at some point.
     
  20. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member

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    Iconic white and Asian people too.
     

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