Minh-Ha Pham is an Assistant Professor in the History of Art and Visual Studies Department and Asian American Studies Program at Cornell University. Pham also co-authors the Threadbared blog, and can be found on Twitter at @minh81.
We’re witnessing a remarkable shift in China’s relationship to global fashion: once “the world’s factory,” in Asian American fashion scholar Thuy Linh N. Tu’s words, China is now poised to be the world’s mall. While China remains a poor country with an average annual per capita consumption of $2,500 (in contrast, the U.S.
Urban Outfitters' formerly "Navajo" hipster panty. AP Photo/Matt York
Urban Outfitters, the retail mecca for once and future hipsters, recently scrubbed its website of all references to “Navajo.” What was once the “Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask” is now the “Printed Fabric Wrapped Flask”; the “Navajo Hipster Panty” is now the “Printed Hipster Panty”; and so on. The items are still available for purchase, but they’ve all been renamed.