Wednesday, August 03, 2011

"Asian-Designed, American-Made"

i'm not really sure what to make of this article... specifically these sentences:

"Betabrand and Japanese designer Tomo Saito have combined high-end Japanese fabrics with the artisanal sensibility and precision sewing of San Francisco seamstresses to create unique Tokyo-style cargo pants with a distinctly Western fit."

- san francisco seamstresses don't corner the market on "precision sewing". they're lovely and way more talented than me with an industrial machine, but just trust me on this one. in my experience, the best production sewing came from factories in thailand.

- and what's with the "distinctly western fit"? under the "fit" link on the olive japants it says "...In keeping with the Tokyo fashion scene, these pants are slim-fitting..." so, if they're citing the tokyo fashion scene, do they mean west as in west of SF? or west as in westernized? as in influenced by the UK or north america? it's like japants are the successful experiment demonstrating fashion hybrid vigor...

- you may or may not know this about me, i worked in the garment industry - domestic & overseas manufacturing/production(in chicago & sf) - for about 10 years... and again in my (limited?) experience, the San Francisco seamstresses are mostly asian immigrants - mostly chinese. in fact, a large section of professionals in the SF garment industry (like SF itself) is asian or asian american. so, what's with the distinction below:

"Offering exquisitely detailed Asian designs and San Francisco craftsmanship, our latest batch of Japants provide a Far East fashion fix for folks who like to buy American," explained Betabrand founder and CEO Chris Lindland. "It's an itch they didn't know they needed to scratch."

maybe i'm being too sensitive, but i can't help but be reminded of my writing residency in florida in 2005 where almost every gas station and motel had "american owned" on their signage. i couldn't help but feel a mix of anger (why do they have to explain that?) and fear (exactly who are these people who need some kind of concrete assurance that the goods and services they consume are american (and sans hyphen)? )

it also reminds me of the big (ignorant/clueless) cheeses who helmed the various companies for whom i worked. they had absolutely no idea (or cared really) who actually made the garments we produced nor realized that oftentimes our factories overseas were better managed than some of the sweatshops that we contracted with domestically - including san francisco.

ennyhoo... i really like the idea of betabrand. it's just this article and some of the copy on their website rubs me the wrong way... and again, the domestic (mostly asian immigrant) seamstresses/factories i worked with in SF were absolutely wonderful/unforgettable, hardworking, efficient, knowledgeable and soooo helpful. and i can't help but feel like they got shortshrifted here.

there's my two cents... thanks for coming by and reading... :)

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