Cultures being used as Fashion Statements
So earlier today, my friend decided to ask me about a fashion brand called ‘shop inu inu’. As someone who is half Japanese half Chinese, I thought it strange at first that their brand meant ‘shop dog dog’ in Japanese. So I visited their page and this was what I got.
I looked at their clothes and
This shirt as I assumed was supposed to say 他媽的累 which literally translates to ‘fuck tired’. So yeah, cool, they were probably trying to say ‘fucking tired’ and it was a bit off. But then I scrolled further down and
‘水加したまま’ which 水加 in Chinese would’ve meant ‘water added’ but then again it would be grammatically incorrect because it should be 加水 so the other way around, but even then, they mixed chinese with Japanese. Oh so what they mixed Japanese with chinese so double the Asian languages, cool right? No, it really really isn’t. It doesn’t make sense.したまま means ‘only did’ so what are they trying to say, ‘only did water addition’? Even in Japanese, there is no such word as 水加. We borrow Chinese characters in our writing, but even then the meanings are slightly altered between Japanese and Chinese cultures.
Those Japanese and Chinese characters on the shirt? ‘ぼエカ姐’ which my friend told me about, when she saw the last character which meant ‘sister’ in Chinese. She started suspecting it really didn’t mean ‘fuck off’ in Japanese. ぼエカ literally has no meaning, a mix of random hiragana and katakana. So technically people who wear this are just wearing gibberish.
‘ラメン’ which should be ラーメン, and 引きこもり which means ‘recluse’.
‘がんばって！’ which means ‘good luck!’ on the milk shirt, and みるく which is ‘milk’ on the pocky box shirt.
ご飯の団 meaning ‘group of rice’, 飯 which is written incorrectly as on the shirt, the character is printed in a simplified form of Chinese. Only in Chinese are there different forms of the characters: they are either in simplified or traditional form. So they basically blended chinese with Japanese, which, once again, is just throwing around meaningless, senseless alphabets/characters. いたずら which means ‘prank’
最小限の自然 ‘minimum nature’
So I think the examples are enough. So I thought: to non-Japanese/Chinese readers who support this brand, these designs probably look cool to them, but when you translate them to English, they wouldn’t make sense, would they? It’s quite obvious that from the way the brand 1) pairs up these Japanese+Chinese words with images that have nothing whatsoever to do with them, and 2) carelessly print out the phrases and characters with no correct grammar at all, that they’re just treating our languages as an accessory.
In my opinion, if anyone’s going to make any reference to our culture, I really want people to understand that our cultures are not here just to be other cultures’ or anyones’ fashion statement. We sometimes see non-Japanese people wearing Kimonos, or non-Chinese people wearing Cheongsams (cantonese pronunciation for the term 長衫) and honestly, it’s okay for people to wear these to show that they’re interested in our culture, that they respect and want to be a part of celebrating it. But we really need them to understand that if they want to pay tribute to our culture this way, throwing it around and meshing it with other languages/cultures is incorrect, not okay, and racist. By meshing Japanese and Chinese together and being careless enough to not double check, they are basically saying ‘Japanese and Chinese are really similar, oh what’s the difference? They’re both Asian, they’re the same’ which is stating that we have no cultural diversity of our own, and that they have no awareness or respect for our individuality. I personally feel offended by looking at this fashion brand, and commenting really doesn’t do me any good because there are butthurt supporters that help them hide behind the ‘it’s not their first language leave them alone’ or the ‘at least they tried!’ card.