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Monday, May 12, 2014

Trendspotting: Asian Grandparents

chinatown hipsters
grandmother style

Who are the biggest trendsetters this season? Chinese grandparents as influencers may sound surprising, but the popularity of several style blogs has confirmed this trend beyond a doubt.

Mixed prints and geek chic?  Yep, grandparents in Chinatown have been doing this for almost a century. They weren't trying to be street style stars. As my own Mom explained, my Grandmother's love of color and pattern came from wearing cheerful clothes as a way to reflect the emotions you aspired to. Her wardrobe was ahead-of-her-time.

For an East Coast perspective, check out the blog Accidental Chinese Hipster For West Coast style-makers, you will find a great collection of photos at Chinatown Sartorialist. The men and women of this generation were all about practicality. Mom explained a clothing print that incorporates 10 different colors will pretty much coordinate with whatever else you own. If you read comments from the subjects of Chinatown Sartorialist, some of the fashionistas wore the outfit they did because it was a gift or happened to be the most comfortable.
Grandma, baby sis and me in the 1980s

On the hair front, there are two blogs celebrating the most embarrassing of Asian coiffure. Behold F**k Yeah, Asians with Perms and Asians with Bowl Cuts. Old yearbook photos you would hide from the public are the predecessor to the salon styling of modern hipsters now.

Sun protected, alabaster skin? Asian elders have been militant about sun protection for centuries before SPF BB creams were the industry standard.  ll hail the visor as the fashion accessory of choice.

Every child of immigrant parents or grandparents has had that moment in grade school where you were mortified by what they wore. This came from the insecurity of your efforts to fit in when they didn't dress by the narrow rules of the "cool" kids.  In reality, they were inspiring the runways of today's best designers all along.

Street photos by Andria Lo of Chinatown Sartorialist, 
Runway Photos by Mariana Leung and David Leung

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