Tag Archives: discrimination

Material Mayhem

The month of May was one filled with more stories about the fashion industry’s failings than you could shake a stick at. It felt daunting to attempt to keep up with it all. And now that we’ve turned the page on the calendar month, the momentum to keep these important conversations going is dwindling. 

Then, I recognized I had barely made a peep about it here, on what I often refer to as “my real blog.” I’ve written about it a bit all over the place, but without any sort of cohesiveness. I am trying to resist the urge to share thoughts constantly, as they pop into my mind, to share them in the endless streams on Twitter or Facebook. For equal parts archival purposes, I’ll post longer versions of conversations. Let’s begin with something I shared on Facebook on May 24th:

Frustration of the month: the desire to publicly criticize clothing companies whose policies you disagree with – but would never shop at in the first place. I’m very happy to see people think critically about clothing brands, but can’t help but wonder what the end result is. Whether it be American Apparel, Abercrombie & Fitch, Urban Outfitters,  Joe Fresh… I have been seeing this ad nauseum in my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

 

Thing is, the people sharing these links are overwhelming the people who have never/would never shop there in to begin with. The main criticism seems to be about size availability, or explicitly sexist marketing/branding. Are these the most “popular” reasons to criticize a brand? Why aren’t we lauding the companies and brands that we believe do a good job? That design and sell quality products, and respect their workers?

 

Why do we spend so much time and energy in attempts to hold the white male CEOs of shitty brands to account, when they’ve built their empires on these very same toxic attitudes?

 

Wouldn’t you rather laud brands who have challenged those notions?

You can read what my very smart readers had to say by visiting my Facebook page. What do you think? 

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great things on the internet these days

sorry for the radio silence ’round these parts these days! it just so happens i’ve been busy elsewhere these days… in the best of ways. more on that later, but in the meantime here are some links to tide you over. i participated in kickaction!’s 2012 blogging carnaval, writing about how fashion can reflect your politics and your identity. it was fantastic to participate in a great canadian (bilingual) project, and kind of cathartic to write about fashion in a kind of basic way again. read it here, and let me know what you think! there are tons of other great posts too if you feel like poking around and doing some reading.

it also gave me an occasion to post some old photos of teenage me thrifting in small town ontario. those were the days …remind me again why i didn’t buy that awesome one piece jumpsuit?

screencap of the cultural cringe by clem bastow

moving on! a few days later, andrea, my best australian internet friend, came across this article… which happens to quote me! clem bastow blasts the mulleavy sisters for yet another misstep in the terrible vogue of cultural appropriation. a great read i am proud to be quoted in.

i love her final point the best:

…that’s the great thing about fashion: those of us who love it know it doesn’t have to be shallow, culturally insensitive or offensive. Involve yourself in cultural appropriation for the sake of being on-trend and you make yourself all of those things.

i’ve been hesitating to write about this topic again, largely because the conversation is so exhausting, but lately it really feels as though people need a reminder as to why it’s a shitty thing to do. if you follow me on tumblr, you know my tone is going to be either irrational rage, or utter dismay and cynicism when talking about interacting with folks who unapologetically culturally appropriate. what bastow hits on that fills me with hope, however, is that basic encouragement: just because something is trendy in fashion does not make it okay. having conversations about privilege and racism are super important, and hopefully the more people talking about these issues online means more people will think critically about these issues when they go shopping.

it’s also interesting to think of the parallels between the way the australian government treated it’s aboriginal people, and how the canadian government treated its first nations people – but that’s a whole blog post in and of itself, isn’t it? if you’re interested in the latest take on cultural appropriation from a canadian context, i highly recommend Icewine, Roquefort Cheese and the Navajo nation by Chelsea Vowel over at apihtawikosisan.

last but not least, i complained about this on tumblr but felt it deserved a better conversation space. the gracious folks over at shameless magazine let me air my greviances on their blog about what feminist messages get shared online, and which don’t:

I’m critical of the fact that this is the kind of pervasive “feminist message” that gets out there – and that sticks. There is so much space for posts like these ones, of relatively little substance with cheerleading slogans, celebrating white, straight, cis-gendered women, and very little space for real conversations about the work that feminists need to do to be inclusive, and intersectional. I’m talking about bell hooks’ definition of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, because from what you see on tumblr, these posters really only seem to be challenging the “patriarchy” part of the formula. Which needs to be challenged, indisputably! But it’s not enough to JUST challenge the patriarchy, over and over and over.

please go read it, and comment over there. i’d love to talk more about my ideas on these issues.

so! in short, as you can see i’ve been writing about a whole range of feminist issues these days, not all pertaining to fashion. i have lots of great posts more centered on specific questions about fashion in the works for the spring, ranging from the standard outfit posts to an update on the two year anniversary of the critical fashion lover’s (basic) guide to cultural appropriation.

thanks for reading!

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