Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

So you went to Franklin & Marhsall?

July 27, 2007

Almost anytime you read an article about Japanese or Chinese pop-culture- especially J-pop culture, you read about t-shirts or jackets bearing English sayings or slang that mean nothing. In fact, trying to understand them causes severe aneurysm.

Whether it’s appropriating military chic or grabbing images from a culture without quite understanding them, it’s not just Asian fahsionista’s. Cameron Diaz made news when her Maoist-themed bag raised protests in Peru. Now, unless her film “The Invisible Circus” had a deeper impact on her than previously expected, I don’t think was supporting the Shining Path.

So the other day at work, a customer is wearing a Franklin&Marshall shirt. F&M ( is a school out in Lancaster, PA. Deep in Amish country. I was there in 1984 for a summer program… high school kids taking college classes and revelling in the company of fellow geeks. Another friend of mine went there for his college years.

F&M shirts aren’t something you see in New York often. I ask when he went, and turns out he didn’t. He was from Brazil, and he just wore the shirt. I’ve seen a bunch of other customers, all of whom wore the F&M shirt, none of whom had ever been in Lancaster, PA.

Which is a shame. You can get some amazing Corn chowder there.

Having since looked around, and found out these random college shirts are part of Chip&Pepper’s line, I’m really curious about the random culture borrowing that is universal… not just a Western Imperialist thing.

I know when I’ve culture borrowed for fashion, I’ve known what I’m wearing. Some socialist realist art here, a bit of Japanese there, Blue Marlin’s fictional sports shirts and sweat shirts- mostly Irish- all of which I could somehow identify with or get.

I guess I picked them because they had a personally relevant cool, not just general ‘foreign cool’.

So what do you think? Is looking cool, or knowing the significance of what you’re wearing more important? Or are we doomed to the fashion equivalent of the Tower of Bable?