There is a huge gap between the manual and creative side of the fashion industry. It’s difficult to go from talking about poverty and exploitation in factories, to famous fashion designers who earn thousands of dollars on designing one dress. Asian factory workers can only dream of such success. But, however difficult it may be, it is also extremely important to highlight how this huge gap exists, and how Alexander Wang was even accused of using sweatshop factory workers to produce his clothing. The controversy around these accusations were made aware to the public through the media, which once again highlights its importance and influence over the public.
Here are two famous Asian American fashion designers, Alexander Wang and Vera Wang. Listed below the pictures are a few brief facts about the designers. Both are of Asian descent; Alexander is a Taiwanese American and Vera is a Chinese American.
- Famous Asian American fashion designer
- Born in San Francisco, California to Taiwanese parents
- Moved to New York City to pursue and study fashion
- Known for his dark and edgy women’s fashion designs
- Asian American Fashion designer
- Born and raised in New York City
- Parents were born in Shangai, China and came to the United States in the mid-1940’s
- Former senior editor for Vogue
- Famous for her wedding gown designs
I chose these two Asian American fashion designers to discuss because their names are widely recognized by the public. Vera Wang is known for designing wedding gowns for tons of A-List celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, as well as well-known political figures like Chelsea Clinton. Vera Wang’s fame started at Vogue, which is the perfect place to start discussing her fashion influence on the public. She developed the current fashion styles through magazine publication. Ultimately, she uses the media to release pertinent information about fashion, which shapes and develops trendy fashion styles. Although Vera was born and raised in the United States, her influence can still spread to Asian countries like China, making her a transnational Asian figure.
Alexander Wang is known for his dark and edgy style, but despite his fame, allegations have been made against the fashion designer about overworking and underpaying his employees. Two women claimed they were forced to work in sweatshop conditions in a factory in Chinatown. These conditions included sixteen hour shifts, windowless rooms, no bathroom breaks, and no overtime. Immediately, Wang denied the charges, but the case did not go any further in court. This case is important because since the dispute was settled outside of the court, was justice served? The information about the two women or the money that was paid to settle the dispute was not made known to the public. In a case like this everyone must wonder, who is lying? Although Wang denies the charges, it is difficult to place the blame upon him, but it is absolutely possible that he is exploiting women to produce his clothing. However, his clothing is not affordable for middle class citizens in the United States. His clothing is relatively expensive and wearing his clothing implies upper class standing. For example, as shown above, one of his dresses cost more than six hundred dollars (compare that to a twenty dollar dress at Forever 21). Ultimately, the allegations against Wang are even more disputable given these facts. Regardless, the media sends cases and information like this to the public to once again, create awareness.
In addition to his infamy, Wang has also become transnationally famous after opening up his second flagship store in Beijing, China. Today, he has over 15 stores worldwide, making his clothing accessible to people all around the world. Not only can his fame virtually transcend across borders, but his clothing can physically transcend across borders as well, which makes Wang into a transnational Asian figure.
By briefly naming these two transnational figure, it shows how influential and significant Asian Americans are in the fashion industry. Despite the controversy surrounding Alexander Wang, he has still designed and produced clothing that women have come to love. Vera Wang has become the go to woman for expensive wedding gowns. These two stars are breaking the barriers of the fashion industry. However, this huge gap shines light on these two figures, and shadows people like Jasmin. Numerous gaps exists between each side of fashion and they range from poor factory workers to rich fashion designers. Regardless, these gaps are able to exist because of the media. The media creates awareness for issues like these and ultimately, serves as a medium to expand the fashion industry.