Pre-Class Post: Week 11

The readings related to consumers and how people who buy clothing can interpret it in different ways. These readings relate to what we have been discussing in class.  Different cultures have various ways of wearing clothing. For example, in the “Work of Consumption” article, they say ” The Cultural constraints on women’s dress practices are far more pronounced than on men, who can create a smooth, continuous line, enveloping their bodies to perfection with the combination of suit, shirt, and tie(323.)” Women are looked at more carefully and judged on what they wear. We have discussed in class how women are categorized as certain types of people or from certain social economic backgrounds based on what they are wearing. However, on the other hand men aren’t judged as much and can get away with wearing something simple.

In other countries and cultures, clothing and the way a woman presents herself has a lot to do with how she is viewed by others and her identity. For example, in China a women’s hair and shoes serve as ways of bringing up topics like morality, and national spirit. Everything from clothes to shoes and accessories can be interpreted as certain messages. People can relate certain looks with certain stereotypes. If a woman wears heels that is viewed as dressed up but if a woman wore long leather boots with a skirt or something revealing, they would  be judged as showing a different message. Nowadays, there are many stores and fashion places that sell clothes that are inspired by different cultures. I know that Forever 21 is one of them. Many times when I got into Forever I see very colorful dresses or shirts that remind me of clothing that I have seen in Mexico. This is an example of something I would consider a Mexican inspired dress. The bright colors and flowers are what makes it resemble something that people in that country would wear. You can see these type of dresses when you go to the markets in Mexico.

I’ve also seen clothes that look like clothes that people would where from Asia or other countries.

This shirt is called Mayan Princess Tunic. I think that they included the name “Mayan” in the title because that is what they think would resemble the Mayan people and culture. Just like with the “Studio and Soiree” article where they talked about the Chinese Dragon Robes and how they were to show what status the people wearing it had. A lot of fashion that we have today is brought from outside cultures and countries. Many people are inspired by what used to be significant dress of that country or culture.


7 thoughts on “Pre-Class Post: Week 11

  1. I think the use of ‘Mayan’ in the title of this tube tunic is nothing more than a marketing technique to suggest to the buyer that the material is reminiscent of something worn by royal Mayan women and therefore holds some kind of traditional character. The reality however, is that the tunic is made from 100% rayon, a semi-synthetic material with a printed pattern in a manner probably not following any particular custom or ritual. The Maya peoples constitute a diverse range of the Native American people of southern Mexico and northern Central America and after researching their traditional dress, elements such as the sleeveless nature of the tunic, the synched-in waistband and shortness of the garment have very little correlation with the white, loosely fitting dresses, splashed with brights colours around the collar and hem seen on the bodies of Mayan women.

    From what I can gather, Forever21 have taken a wholly traditional and symbolic style of native dress and morphed it into a stylish, fairly cheap item of clothing to be sold to young girls and women. In terms of the kinds of dress the Maya peoples chose to wear, the tunic loses any form of tradition and respectability that the customary white dresses hold. Once again this is evidence of a culture clash where the West chooses certain elements (here the bold prints and name ‘Mayan Princess’) and disregards others to reinvent garments into sellable and appealing pieces for today’s market.

  2. I think the first commenter made an interesting point about how we often pick and choose what part of the culture we wish to dress like. I think that stores like ‘Forever 21’ do so because it makes the fashion more accessible for the every-day girl. However, I am unsure about how this is viewed by people of that culture. Take the Mayan Princess tunic for example. As hannahshariatmadari explained, besides the the bright pattern, this tunic is not representative of the traditional dresses Mayan women where. Is picking only a component of the dress of this culture offensive and a disservice to the culture? I still haven’t fully made my decision on using elements of other culture’s style and making cheaper versions to sell to the masses. Who should be wearing what clothes?

  3. The “Mayan Princess Tunic” is a perfect example of people outside the culture pick and choose what they want to be represented as “Mayan” and how they make up stories to revolve around it. By simply calling something Mayan, doesn’t make it so just because you think that these are the qualities that should make up “Mayanness”. This is a perfect example that reflects on the dragon robe.
    But in the end, my thought process is who cares? The outfit is cute. Borrowing some elements from here and there shouldn’t be something to frown upon. It leaves room for creativity even though some may leave with an exaggerated story (Lady Antoinette and her dragon robe).
    I personally love forever 21. They have a whole bunch of stuff for a cheap price and that’s good for me cause I’m not a picky person when it comes to clothes. I just care about whether or not it looks good on me.

  4. As of late, I as well have seen many items of clothing names like the “Mayan Princess” and “The Spirit Shirt” and have even seen one fashion blogger in particular, say that she is obsessed with Native American culture and wears the clothes similar to those sold in F21. F21 will always be what it is, as Hannah said, morphing traditional pieces of clothing into something modern that young girls and young woman can wear at affordable prices, while using the name loosely, such as Mayan Princess, when really the clothes shows no REAL correlation and respect to Native American culture.

  5. A woman’s body shape can play an important role in how they are perceived to everyone else. Certain things that look good on a slimmer woman’s body may not have the same effect on a woman who is shapelier. They may come off as being very promiscuous but in reality they are not all that way. In the hip hop community many women are seen to be represented with this illusion of promiscuity. This has a lot to do with the media. When we see a music video of a famous rapper usually he’ll have tons of women surrounding him dressed in very tight clothing and at times revealing. These images create stereotypes of any woman that is involved within the hip hop community. Another example would be the wearing of shorts. In Mexico, shorts are not a very common thing for women to wear in an everyday basis. When you do see women wearing shorts they can appear to have the same image of promiscuity as depicted with women who wear very revealing clothing. This has a lot to do with a cultures values and beliefs. Clothing that is normative in one country can be considered as something else in another country.

  6. I agree with the assertion that women are judged often and harshly based on their clothing. However, I do not believe that women are the only ones who are placed into certain categories, such as social class, according to what they wear. Men are also often categorized due to their clothing. For instance, the men in the documentary about the Zoot suit riots, we were exposed to the extremely high level of discrimination that young Latino men endured because their clothes, Zoot suits, made others categorize them as low class individuals and criminals. The criminalization of these men, which was largely due to their clothing, demonstrates that men, like women, are placed into categories simply because of their fashion choices. Hence, I must also disagree with the argument that men are not judged as much and can get away with wearing something simple. I do not think that men are permitted to dress modestly, while women are not. For example, every day I see an incredibly large amount of women walking around on campus wearing sweatpants and t-shits. Their outfits seem just as simple as those of the men who wear jeans and t-shirts. I believe that the actual difference between women and men in regards to fashion lies in how comfortable each gender feels dressing modestly. Basically, while most men seem to be content and comfortable wearing shorts and a t-shirt, some women might dress this way for the sake of physical comfort but may feel uncomfortable in other ways. By uncomfortable, I mean they might feel like they are not dressed the way they should be according to our culture’s standards and thus they feel inadequate in this aspect. I believe both women and men should dress however they want to whether it is for physical comfort, even if it means having to resist succumbing to our culture’s fashion standards, or social acceptance.

  7. I agree with Hannah’s post regarding the U.S.’s attempt to mimic other cultures through the production of cheap garments which only slightly resemble the actual culture supposedly marketed. In the example of the Mayan tunic being sold, there are only a few elements that resemble true Mayan dress. This is the U.S. picking and choosing elements they think will sell and be profitable to them.

    I also agreed that putting “Mayan” in the name was a marketing technique to sell the dress. However, we lose all regard for the culture when we only pick and choose what we want to use. The processes of making the clothing are not the same and in a way we are losing the rich traditions the Mayan people have. While I think it is impossible not to borrow from other culture’s dress, I do believe there is no reason or right we have to label these clothes with the cultures names. Though we are a powerful nation we do not, at least should not, possess the power to define cultures.

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