Week 9: Pre-Class Post

The chapter starts out with a quote from Gandhi saying that, “Only their insularity and unimaginativeness have made the English retain the English style [of dress] in India, even though they admit that it is most uncomfortable for this Indian climate. I venture to think that thoughtless imitation is no sign of progress. Nor is every reversion to old habits tantamount to accepting back the hand of time. Retracing a hasty erroneous step is surely a sign of progress.

In class  we talked about how the Europeans felt a need to reinforce the “Europeanness” and how clothing was just one of the means to achieve that. That got me to think about the Indians whom have conformed to wearing European clothing to feel more accepted and become assimilated within European culture so that they can become seen as European as well. This assimilation of fashion is more than apparent still to this day. The one that comes most visibly to my mind is influence that European fashion has on the Asian fashion industry. However, the interesting thing is how there is no distinct line between the fashion and to whom it belongs. And it makes me ask the question, “Who’s imitating who?” The word FOB is not an unfamiliar term. Many people use this term loosely and it can be used for generally anything about an (particularly Asian) individual. One of the most common, however, is fashion. I hear people loosely throwing around phrases like, “She dresses fobby” all the time and after taking a glance at the girl, I’d agree. What is so different about Asian and American fashion? The basic individual pieces of clothing are the same: cardigans, T-shirts, tanks, skinny jeans, leggings, etc. It’s not only how they’re worn that seems to differentiate the two but also who the wearer is. The individual in the left is dressed similarly to the one in the right, but the response is most likely going to be different. But why? Lately, if you walk into an urban outfitters or forever 21, you see a lot oversized T-shirts, cardigans, leggings, skinny jeans, stripes, and plaid. According to the bloggers, these pieces of clothing add up to make a fobby outfit. If dressing like a FOB is so undesirable, why do these clothes exist here in the states?

I found some interesting definitions of fab fashion from a blog. One blogger posted, “in my opinion, it’s suspenders, converse, knee high socks, fedora hat, plaid shirts, oversized shirts, stripes.”

Another interesting description of FOBs:

Fob boys:
White t-shirt from Hanes (v-neck or crew – doesnt matter)
black pants
white socks
slippers (now theyre upgrading to Nikes!!)
Black plain hat
bangs with bleached tips on the side of their face
drivig Honda Civics or Acura Legends with loud fart cans
walk around saying “wassup my n*gga??” like its really cool and hip

Fob gurls:
Really REALLY tight jeans that reveal you have absolutely NO booty
Boot cut jeans so that you can showoff some cheap $5 heels that you got from the asian markets
wear make up that dont go together like some BRIGHT RED lipstick
Oh and some pale make up that will show your face is COMPLETELY whiter than your neck
Only hang around the boys listed above
and lastly, always have cigarettes ready in your Fucci purse to give to your fobby bf listed above”

What do you think about these descriptions? Agree/disagree?

In this case, do you think fashion influence is one-sided (e.g Is it America influencing Asia, Asia influencing America, or perhaps both?”) How so?

In the end, is it about the clothes or the wearer?


–Helen Kim


12 thoughts on “Week 9: Pre-Class Post

  1. The way in which Ghandi choose to wear his loincloth in persuasion to influence his fellow Indians to reject the Western society is really interesting in contrast to FOB fashion. FOB fashion, as described, is fashion that may have a sense of rejection of common trends and western cultures. In response to the questions posted at the end of your entry, I do not really agree with the definitions of FOB fashion that are listed. I think they originate from someone who isn’t bias to the trend. I believe FOB fashion is trendy and very common in European culture. A majority of our campus sports oversized t-shirts, leggings and funky jewelry. While doing research about further FOB fashions I believe there is a distinct FOB haircut fashion that is way be more noticeable than clothing fashions. I think overall there is an influence on America influencing Asia and vice versa. Fashion catches on very quickly and styles that are appealing, no matter where they come from, spread quickly.

    I have never thought about the idea you discussed in your post that there is no distinct line between fashion and whom it belongs to. In addition, I find it interesting that most major labels are constructed in foreign countries, such as China, and then sold for 500 times the construction cost in western culture societies.

  2. This is veering a bit off from your original blog post, but your imagery of baggy shirts got me thinking about a store I saw when I was L.A. There website is under construction, so that’s a useless example. But here is the French website. http://www.brandymelville-france.com/index2.htm It’s called Brandy and Melville… and California is the first place I have ever seen it. The way it works is their clothes don’t have sizes… they are all “one size fists most.” This struck me, because they are replacing “one size fits all” which would be on a scarf or beanie and replacing it with most. I was thinking who these people are; “the most,” and who are the unlucky individuals that are not included? Most of their clothes were either really small and tight or baggy in a way that would only flatter a very thin girl, and many were midriff bearing crop tops! How can someone who is 5’9 and a 150 pounds fit into the same dress as the 5’0 ft 100 pound girl? Why is it necessary to have a store with only one size? Personally, I knew there was no way there shear, short, and tight tops and dresses would flatter my figure- so I was banished to just look at the accessories. I don’t think that these particular clothes would flatter or fit “most” women, more like a small group of them. Are these clothes sending a message that every woman should only be one desirable size?

  3. The last blogger you mention is obviously a very un-informed, narrow-minded individual, I’m not sure if he/she is trying to be funny or just rude but from what I have seen of ‘FOB fashion’ I think its fabulous. Finally a group of people, whether they’re Japanese, Chinese, American or Swedish leading and establishing a trend which honestly requires a lot of work to get right but which can be heavily experimented with as well as being very accessible in nature. Having never particularly experienced this trend in the UK, I am steadily viewing this look as one of the best on campus. Its daring, it requires ‘effortless effort’ and it gets heads turning. Isn’t that one of the biggest purposes fashion serves?

    In terms of who is influencing who, I see how it could be viewed as a two-way partnership. As mentioned earlier by Janelle a staggering amount of the fashion industry host their manufacturing warehouses in Asian countries where labour and materials are cheap. Westerners may criticise ‘FOB’s’ for flaunting fake purses, however how many American’s can afford the real thing and even if they could would they really value a designer bag as much when they find out there is a strong chance that a ‘FOB’s’ knock-off was made under the same roof as the genuine product?

    Linking in with Josie’s point of the ‘one size fits most’ most, it is clear that the genetic figures of Asians and Americans is very different. Skinny jeans and baggy t-shirts, white socks and mary-jane’s and choice to stay tan-free and remain a paler, more natural colour aren’t necessarily efforts to make a statement, its fashion that works for them. Western women come in all shapes, however with the average dress size of American women currently estimated at 14, of course people are going to criticise the ‘FOB’ trend – mainly because they can’t wear it themselves and look good. Although there are many people who say its doesn’t matter what size you are, where what you want this cannot possibly ring true with all trends and styles. The ‘FOB’ look is meant for a traditionally, slim, petite Asian figure, of course Westerners are welcome to take elements of the look and perhaps suit them more to their figures, however a look will never perfectly fit unless it is set on the canvas it is intended for.

  4. I personally do not agree with the descriptions of FOB fashions in your post and to answer some of your questions I think that in the end, when it comes to criticizing what people wear, it always comes down to the wearer and not the clothes.
    I have to agree with Hannah that the blogger you posted about must be very un-informed and narrow-minded. On this campus I have been subjected to conversations and have overheard comments about the Asian exchange students on this campus, particularly woman, with students criticizing them on how they could even possibly think of wearing heels to class with students staring as if they are dressed inappropriately. I personally believe that the Asian exchange students that are stared at for their high heels actually make up the majority of the most fashionable people on this campus. This all got me thinking about how the campus culture of America when it comes to fashion is to dress down in sneakers, uggs and sweats whereas in other countries dressing up in heels may be a normal and everyday thing. I also think that the use leggings, cardigans and oversized shirts aren’t pieces of clothing only worn by ‘FOBS’ or should be seen as bad ‘FOB fashion’ but more so pieces of clothing and the right “ingredients”to make for a fashionable, comfortable and easy to put together look.

  5. I think we can all agree that the comments made by the blogger in your post about FOB fashion are offensive (especially the comments about the girls.) That being said, before this post, I also, have never given much thought to FOB fashion. However, now that you have brought it to my attention, I have recalled some comments made by my friends regarding FOBs. There are two in particular that I can think of. One was my friend who was searching for a black, puffy coat and he explained he was looking for a coat like “all the Korean guys where.” I’ve also had friends who admire the fact that many Asian girls where high heels to class and have expressed the desire to do the same.
    In the two cases I have provided, it was FOB students influencing American students in style. It is hard for me to say if the other way around is true, although I imagine it is. I think people are consistently gathering inspiration from the people around them, whether it is subconscious or not. We are always making decisions on what we do or do not like, what we find inspiring and interesting, what we wish we looked like.
    To answer your last question, I definitely think the body the clothes are on plays a huge part in how we view the clothes. I feel as if we have seen it countless times throughout class. We do not just view the clothes alone; we take in to account who is wearing them.

  6. According to the blogger to dress “fobby” is seen as sin. However I think it has a lot to do with who’s wearing the clothes because I’ve seen Americans of all types of ethnicity dress in similar fashion and I have thought several different things. On some people the style seems cool and it makes other want to copy it. However as a “fob” girl is described, on certain people (as in the individual) that particular get-up can just be seen as tacky. I think that Asian and American styles has influenced each other. There was a period in American fashion that was popularized by Gwen Stefani where Japanese inspired clothing were all the rage in stores like Wet Seal, Forever 21, etc. I find it interesting how if the individual is Asian and they dress the way that is described they’re called a fob but generally if an American born person dressed in that way they are seen as hipsterish. Definitely I think it’s who’s wearing the clothes that makes a particular style cool vs. unacceptable.

  7. lol I thought the descriptions of FOB boys and girls were really funny, but its even more intriguing to me because I had never heard of the term before this class. Its really mind blowing to see how these “hipster” stores really morph the original look of certain fashions. They really do make it more European, because it becomes cooler to wear, which is really sad because it completely loses its meaning. Urban Outfitters is a great example of this, they make it cool to have the Aztec print skirts or the Bohemian look. We also discussed in class how its becoming more popular to wear the faux fur animal head pieces that Ke$ha has made oh so popular, but Im sure that holds some serious background to it and we’re just walking around them because we saw Ke$ha with it on. That’s what these stores do, they completely revamp a style to make it more European, because being European is much cooler than its original meaning.

  8. Although I have heard the term FOB prior to reading this post, I had never thought about it in the context of fashion. In my mind, this term has always been a mere racial slur. Essentially, I have always heard this term being used in a derogative manner. However, I had no idea that the term FOB was also employed to describe an Asian individual’s fashion sensibility. Since I agree with the statement that the basic individual pieces of clothing are essentially the same in both American fashion and Asian fashion, I must also agree with the assertion that the difference between these two types of fashion lies in how these clothing items are worn and, more importantly, who wears them. Nevertheless, I have to disagree with the statement that the individuals in the pictures that are dressed similarly will receive different responses from people. This is only my opinion, of course, but I am struggling to understand why and how anyone would react differently to the individuals in these pictures. Personally, I did not have different responses to the two girls in the pictures or their clothing. I believe that they are dressed so similarly, that it is virtually impossible to have different responses to their clothing or interpret their fashion sense differently. In addition to the vast similarities of their clothing, the two girls have the same type of look. They both appear thin, lean, and pretty. The only obvious difference between the two girls is their race as one is white and the other is Asian. Nonetheless, this distinction does not truly warrant different responses to their clothing; not in my case, at least. In spite of this, I am sure that there are many instances in which two individuals are dressed very similarly but they get different responses from people because of how they are wearing the clothes or who they are. I believe this is an interesting phenomenon that should be dissected in order to counter our prejudices about a particular culture.

  9. I never thought much about FOB fashion before this class and honestly I didn’t even know what a FOB was. But now that I am more knowledgable I would definitely have to disagree with the blogger in your post. When I think of a FOB, a very fashionable and trendy Asian come to mind. I feel like they are challenging the western trends and doing what they feel is comfortable or best for them. Like a lot of people have said above me, I think the girls who wear heels to class are making a statement that instead of wearing Uggs or leggings they can be different and dress on their own accord, whatever that might be. Just because you are from a different place that doesn’t mean that you have to conform to what is considered “stylish” in the new place.

  10. This post is particularly interesting to me because before this class I have never heard the term “FOB.” I was actually extremely confused by it, and agreeing with everyone else who posted, the descriptions given in that website were extremely offensive and inaccurate. Since I have never heard of this term before, the clothing that “FOB” people wear seems to be extremely similar to the dress that is typically worn at U of I. Girls, no matter what ethnicity, wear leggings and t-shirts or cardigans to class all the time. This points to the fact that it must be the wearer that makes the distinction between being “fob” and just a girl wearing the latest fashions.

    I would agree that both American and Asian fashion influence each other. Like we have seen in class, Asian fashion designers are becoming more and more famous. This is kind of like a chicken and egg question, it seems like both fashion industries are playing off each other. Meaning that this influence can’t be one way, it has to be two way. I think that this idea of classifying people based on what they wear extends to all different races and ethnicities. Therefore, confirming the fact that someone people are allowed to wear certain types of clothing and it is just considered normal, whereas others are considered especially fashionable.

  11. white girl who dresses the same.

    I think it is very hard to determine who is imitating who and I believe that it is a mixture of both European and Asian cultures influencing each other. In the end, I believe it is more about who is wearing the clothes than the clothes themselves. As I said earlier I have noticed both styles being worn by white and Asian american girls. When people form language to describe the “others” style, it is a demonstration of who has the power to decided who is imitating who. I don’t believe either culture has a right to claim this certain style was theirs first.

  12. I first heard the word FOB from my best friend, being that she is also Asian. Her definition was someone who was fresh out the boat. In other words, someone who dresses and appears really Asian. I didn’t quite understand how one can determine who dresses FOB because the descriptions on the typical wear for girls and boys are not at all unfamiliar. The same styles are worn by many other people not just Asians. I agree that it might have a lot to do with the wearer instead of the fashion, but that doesn’t mean that fashion has nothing to do with these stereotypical views. In my culture, we have a term for someone who dresses really Mexican. They are called beaners or paisas. It just makes me realize how our own cultures reinforce stereotypical views on each other. In our class we discussed how body type and physical appearance can create a completely different look from others. A white model, for example, would be seen as fashionable if dressed in typical FOB apparel. This is also due to our preexisting notions on what we believe to be fashion norms.

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