Break it down again

So I’ve been sitting on this business plan since 2006 –  my intention is to facilitate bringing my business to life with the help of this writing….I’m working to find my rawr! It has been really frustrating.. it has affected my self-esteem, my sense of accomplishment – there is not one day that has gone by that I have not thought about it. Maybe I will post

To break it down:

Problem: Cultural preservation and poverty (so far my blog is just about the problem
– Cultural heritage is unsustainable – seen as less valuable than “western” ideal
– Through globalization- heritage is replaced with “western” aesthetic
–  Irony- Much of western aesthetic is appropriated and commercialized from cultural heritage of many various cultures

: Translate traditional folkloric clothing to modern design.
-Income is redistributed through sustainable wage (economic justice)
– Reclaiming cultural heritage – cultural esteem is restored (social justice)

My ideal client/reader is educated about social and/or economic justice. She is likely an educated (Bachelor degree in progress or higher) progressive liberal that has at least dabbled in diy and owns at least one pair of TOMS. She considers herself a “free thinking bohemian” has a desire to have a positive social impact/change in her community. She likely reads/has read/ or is aware of cultural appropriation in reference to native american culture. She is empathetic to poverty and has artistic/creative leanings.

That’s all I have so far – I will continue to refine the problem/solution.


Cultural Imperialism, Post Colonialism – Fair Trade Facts

In the previous few posts I explored the Tom Ford Spring 2012 folklore “inspired” blouse – and questioned whether it is “inspired” or misappropriated. Another lingering question is whether there is a difference between appropriation and misappropriation – when power structures are involved. One of the articles cited mentioned that the key factor was whether a person that is not of the minority culture is “authorized” to use/wear the article. It’s unclear who this authority would come from or how it would be obtained.

One of the difficult things in looking at cultural misappropriation of specifically European culture is the issue of “whiteness” – how can one white culture misappropriate another white culture? All whites are the same right? I mean, they are “equal” in terms of power relations right?… this is not necessarily true. We can’t discuss cultural misappropriation without talking about cultural imperialism. Much of the literature on cultural imperialism deals with either philosophical ideas of power in society or between “the west” and Asia or India. From Wikipedia.

“Ogan saw “media imperialism often described as a process whereby the United States and Western Europe produce most of the media products, make the first profits from domestic sales, and then market the products in Third World countries at costs considerably lower than those the countries would have to bear to produce similar products at home.”[8]

In essence what happens is – first the colonial/imperial nation/culture devalues an aspect  or aspects of the minority culture. Then – the imperial nation then adopts the devalued aspect and then commercializes, profits, and resells it back to the minority culture.

I know there is a word for this, I’m not sure what it is yet. But once I find it I will post it here.

Cultural Appropriate or Appropriation? Fair Trade Facts

In my last post I looked at a comparison of one of TOM FORD’S Spring 2012 designs (picture right) and a traditional Romanian ‘ie’ (below). An ‘ie’ is known in the “west” as a “peasant blouse” but traditionally in Romania – The ie has been carefully hand crafted and it’s patterns preserved from generation to generation – each pattern and color unique to specific regions.

The design TOM FORD used as “inspiration” is from a region of Romania called Sibiu. As written here and here

“Embroidery on folk costumes worn for holidays and special occasions (like weddings) follows strict regional patterns and serves also as a sort of secret language known only to people within the different regions.  Sibiu uses graphic black and white motifs, reflecting its Saxon heritage; southern regions of Arges, Muscel, Dimbovita and Prahova use red, black maroon, yellow, gold, and silver threads, reflecting influences of the Ottoman Empire.  Buzau uses terra cotta; Oas uses green and Moldavia uses orange and the Voronet blue made world-famous by its use on the monastery of the same name. Especially beautiful is cut embroidery on white or ecru linen and cotton, done throughout the country.”

You might be asking, so what TOM FORD was inspired by this Romanian design – cultural appropriation doesn’t automatically mean misappropriation does it? This article discusses the difference between the two. The author states: 

Cultural appropriation happens every day, especially in the world of fashion. It’s the loose idea of borrowing, sharing and being inspired by other cultures.


Cultural misappropriation is a land of darkness. It’s a place where one culture (most often one that has an historical record of oppressing other cultures) engages in the unauthorized taking of some aspects of another (most often a minority) culture.

She says the key element here is ‘power’ and ‘authority’ – while it’s ok to share and “borrow” – when it comes to Native American headdresses it is misappropriation when a person wears one that is not “authorized” to wear it. But in the realm of art and cultural capital there is value in the derivatives of cultural symbolism. For example – feather earrings – sure Native Americans maybe didn’t have feather earrings exactly like the trendy ones now but when educated people that know their history see those – they immediately “get” the esthetic sense of Native American peoples. Things carry historical resonance – that’s why pop art often works because it draws from the historical meaning of things to comment on society.

But doesn’t the paragraph above about the intricacy and meaning of embroidery on the ‘ie’ show that it is embedded with cultural capital and holds meaning reserved for only “authorized” people and “situations”  – in other words – who decides the authority?;sz=320×320;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000029272154;pid=600474169;usg=AFHzDLvsjm6RdN97zADNsfCdxqxaWdOrSA;–f–us–443–600474169%2526sourcecode%253Daffiliate%2526pid%253D6673073%2526utm_cp_signal%253D18-75;pubid=557510;;width=320;height=320;sz=320×320;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000029272154;pid=608973525;usg=AFHzDLsMyOl-4drgO6MwH9lb7R5ciP6cPg;–f–us–523–608973525%2526sourcecode%253Daffiliate%2526pid%253D6673073%2526utm_cp_signal%253D18;pubid=557510;;width=320;height=320;sz=320×320;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000029272154;pid=60805209;usg=AFHzDLvS3CdSAOPXx0xnQNr9CtIoyEvkaw;–f–us–100–60805209%2526sourcecode%253Daffiliate%2526pid%253D6673073%2526utm_cp_signal%253D18;pubid=557510;;width=320;height=320;sz=400×400;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028007181;pid=RSRGP5507;usg=AFHzDLtV7z7lk5v5r2f6wMXZMl-WQMdeAQ;;pubid=557510;;width=400;height=374;sz=320×320;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=FV1889;usg=AFHzDLvXJjrHTStekv3Jr42G0SgE2Oogqw;;pubid=557510;;width=320;height=320;sz=320×320;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=LWB1175;usg=AFHzDLsphD-XkIy0x1GD6ZCRHVZfMgjYQA;;pubid=557510;;width=320;height=320;sz=320×320;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000036779680;pid=2000046772_small_CREAM%252FBLACK;usg=AFHzDLveUziOEOKqCaO2GkBEzrl7KY1iMg;;pubid=557510;;width=262;height=320;sz=320×320;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000036779680;pid=1000027910_ONE%2BSIZE_MULTI%252FBURN.G.;usg=AFHzDLschIcuD4PIx-gCtXRKWDfPklaiDQ;;pubid=557510;;width=261;height=320

TOM FORD vs. Romanian ‘IE’

TOM FORD – Spring 2012

This is what Tom Ford has to say about his Spring 2012 collection.

“My focus is really old-fashioned,” he declares. “I want to do classic clothes. I don’t want to do trendy collections that swing around from season to season. I want to do things that will stay in a woman’s wardrobe a long time—quite ‘forever’ pieces. So I’m looking for consistency.” But what, exactly, is a Tom Ford classic?  Something sexy, naturally. “Blouses with a loose, slouchy quality; something fitted at the waist, and with a bondage-y thing on the foot—my favorite is the wedge with the chain-strap!” he says, mulling over his oeuvre. “I’ve streamlined things more this season. I think I’m very classic, because what I do is always based on something you’ve seen before. And yes, maybe there’s something YSL about it. When I left off designing for women, I was at YSL so I’m working through that to be me, asking myself, What do I like? What defines your brand?”

 By “classic clothes” and “something you’ve seen before” does he mean folkloric clothing that has been preserved and hand-crafted from generation to generation in Eastern Europe for hundreds of years? You make your own assessment
Exhibit A:

This is only the latest example of cultural misappropriation of Eastern European folklore – I will be posting more examples and analysis on this blog. Hopefully I can work up to my ultimate goal of starting a fair trade workers cooperative in Romania.

A lot has been written about cultural appropriation in reference and defense of Native American culture. Especially here, here, here, and here. Also, read this Open Letter to Urban Outfitters.

The discussion on Eastern European (mis)appropriation is suspiciously mute. 


Welcome to Life Lotus. Life Lotus is about living congruently – it is an active, living, breathing portfolio tool. In the search for personal branding most social media is geared to compartmentalizing peoples’ lives. Linked In for business. Facebook for personal/sometimes business. My Space, mostly personal. Twitter, a combination of self-promotion and resource sharing, personal and business. All social media outlets ask us to compartmentalize our lives and have different representations of ourselves on each site. The mission of Life Lotus is to allow you to be everything you are in one location. Much like a Lotus flower, our lives, personalities, and interests are multi-faceted. We are not one-dimensional, why should our online personas be? Humans are also very fluid, often developing or dropping interests in favor of others. We are constantly influx and growing – our social media should follow our patterns of growth and development. Life Lotus is meant to be the best of what an online personal brand portfolio can be. Whether you are an artist, a mother, an executive, etc. etc., your life is not static and your full expression should be allowed. Working similarly to a venn diagram, Life Lotus allows you to choose as many “petals” of interests in your private and public sections as needed. A person who writes a blog is no longer restricted to just writing about the one topic that their blog is supposed to be about. Life Lotus

2009 UCLA Grad still unemployed – It isn’t enough to have gone to a top-tier school, one needs to work the elitist matrix – that is, the right socio-economic network contacts, a good financial and emotional base, relationships with employers, and resumes submitted in the window of opportunity. There is nothing a top-tier school will do FOR a person, that they won’t do for themselves.