Thursday, May 15, 2008

Money Isn't Only 'White'

Is the fashion industry's attitude toward featuring 'minorities' changing?

This overly optimistic Times UK article, titled Jourdan Dunn is the color of money, seems to think so.

While I agree that small steps are being taken, I disagree with many of the statements made in the article, and am actually kind of horrified by them.

Why do I dislike this article? Let me count the ways...

"Beauty is what sells."
-So, does that mean non-Caucasian women that don't sell are ugly? And why does it always have to be about money? Yes, I know we all have to pay the bills, but shouldn't you have a greater purpose than just putting 'stuff' out there to make a buck? I think it should be about making a difference, creating meaning, and having the freedom to express yourself.

"Fashion is aspirational, magazines are aspirational, and to aspire you need to be able to identify to someone - at least a little. And readers don't identify with ethnic women. They don't see them as aspirational."
-First of all, you just need 'a little' in common to be able to identify with someone - that common thread could also be an emotion or experience. Secondly, you don't always have to identify with someone to want to aspire to be like them. Lastly, fashion magazines are not read by only white women!

"The ideal of female beauty in the fashion industry today is childlike... ethnic girls who fit into this stereotype are almost always the ones who succeed... Asian girls, with their uncurvy, boyish figures and neat features often fit into this mould, but models with pronounced African features - large, full lips, wide noses, and different facial proportions, as well as more curves, bigger bottoms, and fuller breasts - do not."
-Seriously, can we create a huger generalization about the physical appearances of these women? I've come across many Asians and Africans in my lifetime and they all have been different sizes, shapes, and colors. Stop putting us in a box or "mould" - we are all different!

"These days, ethnic beauty is pretty much invisible."
-The word ethnic has been tossed around and abused by the fashion industry. Ethnic = ethnicity = every single ethnicity. Ethnic does not refer to just cultures outside of Western and European societies. So, oddly enough, this statement is in some ways true (shocker!), because the representation of all ethnicities is "pretty much invisible."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Extending the LV's

WWD reports that Louis Vuitton is offering a 'soundwalk' of Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing by three local celebrities, for a reasonable Louis Vuitton price of $17. The audio tour guide is available June 16 here and comes out in conjunction with the approaching Beijing Olympics.

Wow - and not to the price - but to their marketing and business skills! I would love to be a fly on the wall at their meetings and get to hear them talk about expanding in the Middle East and creating special products for traditional Indian women.

I recently read The Cult of the Luxury Brand, and remember that Louis Vuitton was a constant example of a luxury goods company succeeding internationally. They are such a crazy, ahead of the game brand. They seem to always be jumping on things when they're not even on the radar. And, that talent and ability to swoop in and capture new markets is what makes them one of the top brands in the world - in sales and recognition. I think that doing this audio guide for China, especially with local celebrities and not 'Western' celebrities, will reach out to the local customers well because it brings them closer to the celebrity, their hometown, and most importantly, to the brand. For tourists, this is a nice treat to get a Louis Vuitton produced product with some history and culture attached. Genius.

While Louis Vuitton has never really been an aspirational brand for me, I definitely admire their business skills!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


My cross-cultural class was usually a snore, but when my professor introduced the Ndebele people to the class last term, their use of bold, mostly primary, colors definitely perked me up.

I love bright colors and playing with contrasting colors, which sadly doesn't show in my mostly monochromatic wardrobe (I really need to work on that). However, the Ndebele people really inspired me as I saw pictures of them and their surroundings. As my professor was going through the slides I felt an urge to buy some beads and blue and yellow paint to create my own stunning art. I wish I had kept my notes from the class so I could share some interesting information with you, but I have a tendency to tear out the pages from my notebook and use the remaining for the next term.

And I'm not the only one finding inspiration in their colors and shapes. Susie Bubble and Diane Pernet both mentioned a Ndebele inspired by collection by Stella Valentic and Julie Kechichian at the Hyeres Festival.