Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

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Design studio at a garment business in L.A.’s Jobber Market (Photo: Lauren Lancaster)[1]

In the presentation, Professor Christina Moon introduces us to the social relationships and cultural conflicts between the design and manufacturing of fast fashion in Asia and the United States, especially focusing on the memory, migration, and labor. That stuck me as particularly intriguing this week. Moon also reveals the truth, in The Secret World of Fast Fashion, that “young Koreans are the driving force behind fast fashion—a phenomenon whose rise is less a story about corporate innovation than one about an immigrant subculture coming of age.”[2] In my opinion, the arguments made both in the presentation and in the article are not simply based on a single theory and are not always directly made. This is mainly because Moon takes an open position and does not try to fit everything into one answer or category. As an anthropologist, her method could be seen as a wide fieldwork in which she tries to understand different groups of people. Moon shows what the anthropological approach and ethnographic research are about; namely, the views of people rather than a straightforward answer. Further, this resonates with activist Grace Lee Boggs’ statement in Reimagine Everything that “We have to think of education and young people not as a problem but as a solution”.[3] She underlines the fact that “we’ve all been damaged by this system—it’s not only the capitalists who are the scoundrels, the villains; we are all part of it.”[4]

Moon’s in-depth research reminded me of my undergraduate dissertation (Designing in America today, manufacturing in China tomorrow?), in which I evaluated the supply chain management strategies used by U.S. fashion retailers that design in America and carry out their manufacturing in China. I chose this subject after gaining experience from a work placement at Li & Fung’s New York subsidiaries, which specialize in designing and producing high-volume, time-sensitive goods for leading retailers and brands worldwide. Li & Fung USA is very similar to Korean families-run businesses in East Los Angeles. However, I did not know at that time this could potentially be expanded into an ethnographic research. So I decided to include a virtual chart of the supply chain for today’s post. My intention is not to show how the system operates, rather I want to complicate the flows and power schemes by emphasizing this web of circles around one target – consumer. We, sometimes as consumers, are at the center of the game who have freedom to reimagine everything and transgress social constrains fundamentally.

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Fashion Industry Virtual Supply Chain[5]

[1] Christina Moon. “The Secret World of Fast Fashion.” Pacific Standard, http://www.psmag.com/business-economics/secret-world-slow-road-korea-los-angeles-behind-fast-fashion-73956 (accessed 04/02, 2015)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Grace Lee Boggs. “Reimagine Everything.” Reimagine!, http://www.reimaginerpe.org/19-2/boggs (accessed 04/02, 2015)

[4] Ibid.

[5] Myrna B. Garner and Sandra J. Keiser. Beyond Design: The Synergy of Apparel Product Development (New York: Fairchild Books, 2012)

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