• Listen to an interview with Thuy Linh Tu on New Books in Asian American Studies.

  • The Beautiful Generation: Asian Americans and the Cultural Economy of Fashion

    Author(s): Thuy  Linh Nguyen Tu
    Published: 2010
    Pages: 272
    Illustrations: 24 illustrations
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
  • Cloth: $94.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-4890-0
  • Paperback: $25.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-4913-6
  • Quantity
  • Add To Bag
  • Acknowledgments ix

    Introduction: Fashion, Free Trade, and the "Rise of the Asian Designer" 1

    Part I

    1. Crossing the Assembly Line: Skills, Knowledge, and the Borders of Fashion 31

    2. All in the Family? Kin, Gifts, and the Networks of Fashion 63

    Part II

    3. The Cultural Economy of Asian Chic 99

    4. "Material Mao": Fashioning Histories Out of Icons 133

    5. Asia on My Mind: Transnational Intimacies and Cultural Genealogies 169

    Epilogue 203

    Notes 209

    Bibliography 239

    Index 253
  • “[A] book that brilliantly explores the ascent of fashion’s Asian/American young guns and anchors their success in how they’ve made resourceful use of their connections to the bottom of fashion’s pyramid—the cutters and sewers who assemble the clothes imagined in couture’s luxe halls.” — Jeff Yang, Wall Street Journal "Tao Jones" blog

    The Beautiful Generation exemplifies emerging cultural studies scholarship in that it theorizes the complex intersections of race, immigration, globalization, and culture's contributions to our current neoliberal economy. This highly original study demonstrates the author's strength in navigating interdisciplinarity. . . . Offering new ways to think about meanings of family, the production and consumption of Asianness, and the inequalities built in fashion as it relates to manufacturing and globalization, this book is ideal for teaching and serves as a model for future research.” — Nhi Lieu, Journal of Asian American Studies

    The Beautiful Generation, as much a fashion history as a cultural study, gracefully takes us . . . from Gaultier’s introduction of luxe Chinese coats in seventeenth century Paris, to American Vogue’s strategic establishment of ‘fashion designer as cultural anthropologist’ in the mid-‘90s, and finally to the curiously successfully rise of Asian American designers in the present decade. While it’s all a good read, the last is arguably the highlight of the book; Nguyen Tu’s compelling examination of Asian American designers, whose precarious positions in the industry are plainly defined by their historic exclusion from it, is clearly a point of personal connection for her.” — Catherine A. Traywick, Hyphen

    “[An] ambitious exploration of the contemporary contemporary significance of Asian-American designers. . . . Using anecdotes and interviews to support her thesis of intimacy, she details a network of kinship and gifts that create ‘families’ out of ordinarily distant, detached sweatshop stitchers and the hardworking but nevertheless privileged creatives who employ them.” — Kimberly Chun, Bitch

    “It should be said right at the start that this book is unusual among academic products in being very lucidly written, self-critical, and sympathetic to the subjects under survey in a way that doesn’t exclude expressions of doubt about, for example, interviewees’ motives and indeed truthfulness. . . . Above all, the author is writing about her own kind, and as an Asian-American herself she shows great insight into this particular social group, and into this now rather characteristic Asian-American occupation.” — Bradley Winterton, Taipei Times

    “[Tu’s] project provides an alternative framework from which to not only critique the material and symbolic divisions that structure the fashion industry, but also emphasize the ways in which the act of cultural production can attempt to challenge them.” — Hee-Jung Serenity Joo, American Studies

    “With the academic equivalent of military prowess, assistant professor of Asian Pacific Studies at New York University Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu flanks the topic of Asian Americans in fashion...Tu’s work illustrates interdisciplinary academia at its best, not only conquering the topic from all angles but also exploring it through multiple methodologies.”  — E.P. Cutler, Women's Studies Quarterly

    Reviews

  • “[A] book that brilliantly explores the ascent of fashion’s Asian/American young guns and anchors their success in how they’ve made resourceful use of their connections to the bottom of fashion’s pyramid—the cutters and sewers who assemble the clothes imagined in couture’s luxe halls.” — Jeff Yang, Wall Street Journal "Tao Jones" blog

    The Beautiful Generation exemplifies emerging cultural studies scholarship in that it theorizes the complex intersections of race, immigration, globalization, and culture's contributions to our current neoliberal economy. This highly original study demonstrates the author's strength in navigating interdisciplinarity. . . . Offering new ways to think about meanings of family, the production and consumption of Asianness, and the inequalities built in fashion as it relates to manufacturing and globalization, this book is ideal for teaching and serves as a model for future research.” — Nhi Lieu, Journal of Asian American Studies

    The Beautiful Generation, as much a fashion history as a cultural study, gracefully takes us . . . from Gaultier’s introduction of luxe Chinese coats in seventeenth century Paris, to American Vogue’s strategic establishment of ‘fashion designer as cultural anthropologist’ in the mid-‘90s, and finally to the curiously successfully rise of Asian American designers in the present decade. While it’s all a good read, the last is arguably the highlight of the book; Nguyen Tu’s compelling examination of Asian American designers, whose precarious positions in the industry are plainly defined by their historic exclusion from it, is clearly a point of personal connection for her.” — Catherine A. Traywick, Hyphen

    “[An] ambitious exploration of the contemporary contemporary significance of Asian-American designers. . . . Using anecdotes and interviews to support her thesis of intimacy, she details a network of kinship and gifts that create ‘families’ out of ordinarily distant, detached sweatshop stitchers and the hardworking but nevertheless privileged creatives who employ them.” — Kimberly Chun, Bitch

    “It should be said right at the start that this book is unusual among academic products in being very lucidly written, self-critical, and sympathetic to the subjects under survey in a way that doesn’t exclude expressions of doubt about, for example, interviewees’ motives and indeed truthfulness. . . . Above all, the author is writing about her own kind, and as an Asian-American herself she shows great insight into this particular social group, and into this now rather characteristic Asian-American occupation.” — Bradley Winterton, Taipei Times

    “[Tu’s] project provides an alternative framework from which to not only critique the material and symbolic divisions that structure the fashion industry, but also emphasize the ways in which the act of cultural production can attempt to challenge them.” — Hee-Jung Serenity Joo, American Studies

    “With the academic equivalent of military prowess, assistant professor of Asian Pacific Studies at New York University Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu flanks the topic of Asian Americans in fashion...Tu’s work illustrates interdisciplinary academia at its best, not only conquering the topic from all angles but also exploring it through multiple methodologies.”  — E.P. Cutler, Women's Studies Quarterly

  • The Beautiful Generation is a pleasure to read and a model of how cultural studies ought to be done. Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu’s elegant, well-crafted account of the fashion industry demonstrates the impossibility of separating the aesthetic from the material, or the cultural from the economic. It shows how the changing roles of culture in the global economy can be luminously traced through a focused, interdisciplinary methodology.” — Kandice Chuh, author of, Imagine Otherwise: On Asian Americanist Critique

    “Exciting and original, The Beautiful Generation exemplifies the best work in the field of cultural studies. Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu reveals the material and ideological struggles behind the constructions of Asianness incorporated into the design, production, and marketing of fashion. She describes how the U.S. fashion industry has been built around racialized, gendered, and sexualized streams of migrants, as well as the complex transnational flows of capital, and she brilliantly argues that it is the ‘architecture and aesthetics of intimacy,’ the fictive and biological kin relations between designers and garment workers, that fuels Asian American fashion design.” — Martin F. Manalansan IV, author of, Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora

  • Permission to Photocopy (coursepacks)

    If you are requesting permission to photocopy material for classroom use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center at copyright.com;

    If the Copyright Clearance Center cannot grant permission, you may request permission from our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Permission to Reprint

    If you are requesting permission to reprint DUP material (journal or book selection) in another book or in any other format, contact our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Images/Art

    Many images/art used in material copyrighted by Duke University Press are controlled, not by the Press, but by the owner of the image. Please check the credit line adjacent to the illustration, as well as the front and back matter of the book for a list of credits. You must obtain permission directly from the owner of the image. Occasionally, Duke University Press controls the rights to maps or other drawings. Please direct permission requests for these images to permissions@dukeupress.edu.
    For book covers to accompany reviews, please contact the publicity department.

    Subsidiary Rights/Foreign Translations

    If you're interested in a Duke University Press book for subsidiary rights/translations, please contact permissions@dukeupress.edu. Include the book title/author, rights sought, and estimated print run.

    Disability Requests

    Instructions for requesting an electronic text on behalf of a student with disabilities are available here.

    Rights & Permissions Contact Information

    Email: permissions@dukeupress.edu
    Email contact for coursepacks: asstpermissions@dukeupress.edu
    Fax: 919-688-4574
    Mail:
    Duke University Press
    Rights and Permissions
    905 W. Main Street
    Suite 18B
    Durham, NC 27701

    For all requests please include:
    1. Author's name. If book has an editor that is different from the article author, include editor's name also.
    2. Title of the journal article or book chapter and title of journal or title of book
    3. Page numbers (if excerpting, provide specifics)
    For coursepacks, please also note: The number of copies requested, the school and professor requesting
    For reprints and subsidiary rights, please also note: Your volume title, publication date, publisher, print run, page count, rights sought
  • Description

    Since the 1990s, young Asian Americans including Doo-Ri Chung, Derek Lam, Thakoon Panichgul, Alexander Wang, and Jason Wu have emerged as leading fashion designers. They have won prestigious awards, been chosen to head major clothing labels, and had their designs featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other fashion magazines. At the same time that these designers were rising to prominence, the fashion world was embracing Asian chic. During the 1990s, “Asian” shapes, fabrics, iconography, and colors filled couture runways and mass-market clothing racks. In The Beautiful Generation, Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu explores the role of Asian American designers in New York’s fashion industry, paying particular attention to how they relate to the garment workers who produce their goods and to Asianness as a fashionable commodity. She draws on conversations with design students, fashion curators, and fashion publicists; interviews with nearly thirty Asian American designers who have their own labels; and time spent with those designers in their shops and studios, on their factory visits, and at their fashion shows. The Beautiful Generation links the rise of Asian American designers to historical patterns of immigration, racial formation, and globalized labor, and to familial and family-like connections between designers and garment workers.

    About The Author(s)

    Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu is Assistant Professor of Asian Pacific American Studies at New York University. She is a co-editor of Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America, also published by Duke University Press, and TechniColor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life.

Explore More
Share

Create a reading list or add to an existing list. Sign-in or register now to continue.


Contact Us

  • Duke University Press
  • 905 W. Main St. Ste 18-B
  • Durham, NC 27701
  • U.S. phone (toll-free): 888-651-0122
  • International: 1-919-688-5134
  • orders@dukeupress.edu