Trying to Escape “Cheap”

As racial stereotyping still plays a part in the current society, its no surprise that its prevalent in the fashion industry. Specifically speaking of Asians, Minh-Ha T. Pham explains the idea of how this group of people are associated with cheapness. This derives from many American companies moving manufacturers over to Asia in places like China in the early 1970’s. Once these companies started moving over seas, labor costs were cut significantly.From there, this stigma somehow attached itself to the Asian community. With garment workers mostly being Asian, the cheap labor became associated with anyone that was Asian it seems.

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Above shows an editorial shot for Interview Magazine in August of 2017 by Billy Kidd. From just looking at it, the photo speaks for itself. It’s an Asian model in the setting of what it seems to be a Asian community wearing a Chanel branded Asian conical hat, carrying multiple handbags on a tool for what Asian farmers use. It was revealed that this was shot in Chinatown, Manhattan.

There is so much wrong with the photo. For one, that hat is traditionally worn by Asian laborers working in the sun, however this is only for those working in fields. Not all Chinese workers have a job in a rural area, there is a great deal of industrialization. Asian Americans and immigrants work so hard (for generations) to break the stereotype that was unwillingly placed on the culture and for a photo like this to mock the hard working people who enter the US without anything is very insensitive. Being on Chinese decent, this image is very insulting in that an Asian model is being displayed and shot in the stereotype that is attached to her culture.

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The display of the counterfeit bags is also a stereotype placed on those of Asian decent, mainly focusing on Chinatown. The editorial is almost mocking in that the model is seemed to be selling knockoffs of designer bags while wearing an “illegitimate” designer conical hat. The comments feeding into this Instagram (above) posted by the photographer himself speaks measures for the culture appropriation that is given from this photo.


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Many audience members were disheartened by the post and that it was actually used as a fashion statement, something used for self expression. Although the photographer apologized and stated that his intentions were never depict an Asian women selling counterfeits, the affect that it had on those a part and not a part of the Asian community were anything but positive ones.


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