Our reading from this week focused heavily on the relationship between Asians designers and their immediate and extended family, as well as connections with other Asians in the garment industry. The Beautiful Generation described these relationships to have both positive and negative aspects for the young Asian designers. One designer interviewed, Jennifer, states that “being Asian is like a secret weapon….. “most of the owners and sewers are Asians and they all want you to do well” (77). The book also described some of the negative effects of having these connections, reflecting on how some designers felt as if their families and other relations some times over stepped their bounds and were overly critical of their work. The dynamics of these relationships are especially complicated because while the designers are grateful for the help their connections provide, they feel like they cannot talk back or disrespect these individuals who they often consider their elders. This got me thinking about the way family, friends, and culture shapes the way we relate to fashion and style. For example, on the show Say Yes to the Dress, brides to be often bring an entourage of family members and friends to their appointments, which often results with overzealous mothers, mother-in-laws, and sometimes finances playing a huge factor in the Bride’s choice of dress
- What do you think about the fact that shows like Project Runway document the family life of Asian designers in depth, but don’t focus as much on the family of other designers? What does this say about particular cultures and the representations of those cultures in the media? Is there a tendency to romanticize that which appears foreign or Other?
- What do you think about the fact that the book The Beautiful Generation focused heavily on Asian designers who already appeared to have the potential for bright futures and privilege, such as those who were attending prestigious schools like The University of Berkeley, before they changed career paths? As well as the fact that many of these designers had connections in the garment industry or lucky breaks? What does this say about the fashion world, are accesses to privilege and connections necessary to “ make it”?
- Discuss how your own family and culture has shaped your own relationship to fashion and style.