When I first came to China, I quickly became disinterested in the oodles and oodles of (usually fake) Burberry, Coach, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton products that pollute the Chinese fashion system, and I thus stopped documenting it; recently though, I thought it might be a good idea to photograph every instance of this “trend” so that I could clearly demonstrate the extent to which the aforementioned “cultural goods” have permeated all classes of Chinese society. Below is just one example:
The reason why I chose this subject for today’s post was not because of her bag (BORING, seen it about a bajillion times so far) but because of her sweater… It reads: “What’s Going On”, “Focus on You”, “Join the Club”, and “Come With the Lumber Girl Beat”. Save for the last one (I have no clue what that’s supposed to mean), these phrases are SOOOOO indicative of the Chinese mindset when it comes to consuming “fashion” products.
Let me explain:
1 – What’s Going On: This isn’t a “whatsup” kind of “what’s going on”, but rather a “I have no f*cking clue what’s going on here” as in “I just consume Western things because Western = Modern”. So clueless.
2 – Focus on You: This is sooo a one-child policy mentality I feel… Younger generations are so into themselves and their competitive sartorial consumption, but I’m so over it. I mean, they are all just buying the same, conspicuous, Western stuff.
3 – Join the Club: This phrase wasn’t immediately recognizable from the photograph, but I’m so glad I scanned the fine print… Remember the Nov 27 Post on “Fashion Theory” about imitation, conformity, and individuality? Well, this phrase is all about the Chinese comfort with conformity, and applies exactly to how most Chinese people choose to mindlessly consume Big Western Brands so they can conspicuously and readily communicate their status as “upper class” and part of the “Club”.
There is certainly already a group of consumers that don’t really believe in this “Club”, and I spotted one such individual in the subway the same day:
I mean, it’s super literal, and it’s like a whole paragraph!! But at least she practices what she preaches, and I agree with the ideology. She seems much more informed to what’s going on in terms of globalization and conflation of culture and all that jazz than her Coach-clad comrade by the pond. Her jacket reads:
“We would like to mix and match, with all kinds of culture, to create, a fusion of our style. We make classic contemporary, clothing for any and every, situation timeless style.”
Grammatically it’s not the most flawless of manifestos, but it’s still a pretty good one. I hope that there is a true mixing and matching of cultural materials (i.e. clothing) from all countries… But with regard to the Chinese situation, Western products should be transformed, not just transferred; they should be adapted, not just adopted. Too often I see Chinese people buying Big Western Brands because of the meaning that the products are imbued with, but this situation causes unfortunate reverberations through the Chinese fashion system… If the situation continues to go on like this, we will end up with a bunch of Burberry/Coach/Gucci/LV-clad Chinese clones (a future post), and I don’t think anyone can stand looking at 1.6 billion of ’em.