Genuine Diversity in Fashion? (by Guest Blogger Yukari Kawanami)

Culminating Project

IMAG0622My research question is “How could Eurocentric fashion transform into genuine diversity without threatening one’s identity and national identity?”

My research collection for this question looks at the global fashion market from two different perspectives: Eurocentric fashion has threatened national identity and true diversity, while people have started realizing the importance of being who they are in fashion. Eurocentric fashion has utilized globalization to spread their status over the world, and fashion in the other countries has to match its designs with the European style to survive. On the other hand, more people are discovering themselves and have stopped following the European trends as many used to do. From these two perspectives, I would like to approach my research question.

The Research Collection

Wu, Vidal. “Can Fashion Be “Ethnic – Inspired Without Being Grossly Racist and Eurocentric?” torontostandard.com. Toronto Standard. 22 May. 2013. Web. 29 May. 2013. This article criticizes a Eurocentric global fashion market that has satirized the other nationalities’ symbols of their cultures that came from their histories, regions, and people, by taking the symbols apart to commodify them. At Chanel’s Cruise collection 2014, shown in Singapore, a model was holding a cricket bat to show Singapore culture; however, cricket actually belongs to its British colonist. The author is questioning how fashion can be inspired without Eurocentric violation. This article was from the Toronto Standard, a digital newspaper based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In addition, all information is clear such as the author and dates; therefore, this is an authoritative source.

Commentary: In the current fashion global market, people have to consider how to make a foreign approach to making clothes commercially viable for a Eurocentric global market. If clothes are not Eurocentric, they seem not to sell. So this way of globalization has given people stereotyped ideas of nationalities’ cultures because designers take a part of foreign fashion to look still Eurocentric. This fits my theme because I am exploring how we can truly celebrate globalization while being proud of each culture in fashion.

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Reinach, Simona Segre. “Fashion and National Identity: Interactions between Italians and Chinese in the Global Fashion Industry”. Business & Economic History On-Line. 7. (2009):1. Ebscohost. Web. 30 May. 2013. This is an academic article discussing national identity in interaction between Italians and Chinese who make and sell fashion together. The long-term stereotypes, “Italy has a fashion” and “China is the main producer,” have given Chinese designers a hard time when creating Chinese identity in fashion. As a result, they use their partners’ country that is considered sophisticated, “made in Italy.” This article is a part of a broader project between Italians and Chinese. The author, Segre, conducted her research in Italy and China from 2002 to 2009. From her actual work in the places, I could see reliability in the article.

Commentary: There are so many stereotypes all over the world based on a country’s history and media. Because it’s been easier to access foreign media, people’s ignorance towards different cultures has gotten bigger and bigger. Those stereotypes once created are difficult to remove; as a result, people have to live with it, and in this case, Chinese designers cannot show their national identity that they should be proud of. This information contributes to my thesis. I have seen most fashion designers in different countries use English and French for their “names” to look European or New York fashion so that people would recognize their designs. This is killing their national identities and widening stereotyped globalization.

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Zina, Saro-Wiwa. “ Black Women’s Transitions to Natural Hair”. nytimes.com. New York Times. 31 May. 2012. Web. 1 June. 2013. This article shares black women’s transitioning regarding their hair. More black women started to cut off their chemically straightened hair and to embrace their natural hair. This is not the result of anti-Eurocentric ideals of beauty. They started to put higher values on self-discovery and health. This article is from the New York Times published in 2012. Since this is a well known daily newspaper and the article included adequate information about the author, this article is reliable.

Commentary: Even though this is about hair and fashion is about clothes, it tells a significant story that black women are trying to be more who they are and embrace their identity. They are proud of being black; as a result, they started to seek their beauty, not the one defined by Euro centrism. This idea definitely applies to my theme. Fashion is a tool to show one’s identity, so no one should pretend to be someone else. People should wear something that shows who they are; meanwhile, they are celebrating national identity.

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Yeoman, Ian. “Pricing Trends in Europe’s Fashion Industry.” Journal Of Revenue & Pricing Management 6.4 (2007): 287-290. Business Source Complete. Ebscohost. Web. 27 May. 2013.  This academic article talks about the changing global fashion market. In 2007, Europe shares 40 percent of the luxury market ; however, Japan alone accounts for 25 percent and China for 5 percent. Because of this, the European fashion industry has been fretting over its future. Due to economic and global changes, the European old style of luxury fashion started collapsing. This article is from a peer reviewed scholarly journal from Ebsco Host, so it is a reliable source.

Commentary: This article is discussing the change in European fashion and does not talk about the international market much; however, I found it related to my theme in terms of how fashion is changing in historically the best fashion field. The European luxury fashion market found that they cannot last without transformation to meet consumers’ needs. This fact gave an idea that things are changing, and more people started to accept things came from different cultures. This is a hope of my theme.

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Grimberg, Jorge. “Brazilian Fashion’s Identity Crisis.”  Businessoffashion.com. The Business of Fashion. 1 May. 2013. Web. 28 May. 2013.  This article discusses Brazilian designers from a business perspective. Due to Eurocentric globalization, Brazilian designers have to feature European trends in their lines to survive. The local government started to support them to keep their national identity. This article is from a website called Business of Fashion that was founded in 2007 and gained a global following as a daily resource for fashion business. It shows adequate information to the public, so I consider this as a reliable resource.

Commentary: This topic is related to my theme regarding the importance of keeping national identity. It is the result of Eurocentric globalization that local designers have to match their designs with European style and cannot celebrate Brazilian identity in their fashion. Because Eurocentric fashion has been taking over the global market with the help of globalization, local identity will be more valuable and needs to be kept.

The Public Writing: A Letter 

YukariLetterJune 8, 2013

Blake Nordstrom

1700 Seventh Avenue, Suite 300

Seattle, WA 98101

To whom it may concern:

My name is Yukari Kawanami, an international student at Marylhurst University in Oregon from Tokyo, Japan. I have admired your company’s product promotion towards diversity and globalization. I am writing in regards to my research question for a writing class, “How could Eurocentric fashion transform into genuine diversity without threatening one’s identity and national identity?

Through volunteering for Dress for Success and my life in several countries, fashion has been a tool for me to express who I am and to keep my identity. Fashion in the United States is different than Japanese fashion and significant to me. However from my perspective, this “global fashion” market in the U.S. has been Eurocentric, and I do not see true diversity or globalization in the fashion. Even parts of national designs are deconstructed, which is causing people stereotype other ethnicities; as a result, people are becoming more ignorant about different cultures.

As a student majoring in business, I had an opportunity to analyze Nordstrom Inc., and I was disappointed at the Eurocentric fashion in Nordstrom in spite of advertising its diversity. However, as globalization gets developed, people embrace their national identity and self-discovery while appreciating intercultural interaction. Why is fashion still Eurocentric although everything else is globalized?

I wish that not only Japanese but also other regions’ significant fashion could be spread all over the world without being Eurocentric or stereotyped. I believe it is the time to truly celebrate diversity. I would appreciate it if you responded to this question in a way that will result in spreading genuine fashion diversity.

Sincerely,

Yukari Kawanami

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