Tag Archives: fashion

Yo yo yo!

5 Jan

I complain a lot about not feeling comfortable wearing my UCSB hoodie around the streets of Bologna. The dress code here is posh (fur coats, fur hats (though no boots with the fur, surprisingly)) or street (slick track suits worn by teenage boys, mostly). It’s not so much a continuum as it is two separate worlds, so there’s really no place for my casual, comfortable hoodie.

I got a little insight into this the other day when I was sitting with Ludo. She’s really too young to judge my fashion sense, so I allow myself the comfort of my hooded sweatshirt in her presence. Then one day, she’s dressed in this adorable fuzzy lime green hoodie (different fashion rules apply to babies), and I pull her hood up because they keep the house too cold. She smiles up at me with her four teeth and leaves it because now we’re matching, and I think she digs that.

Her dad comes home a few hours later and laughs when he sees her. “Oh look, she’s a rapper! Yo yo yo!” Maybe the fashion rules aren’t so different for babies…

Fickle skies

5 Oct

The weather has been a little difficult to predict here in Bologna the last couple weeks. I was battling the heat and revealing myself as an American by wearing shorts when we arrived, and it stayed pleasantly warm until maybe two weeks ago. There was a bit of rain, then very sudden bitter cold. “Mom, please, send my coats! All I have are my hoodies!”

While waiting for my box of fall outwear to arrive, I shivered and revealed myself as an American by wearing my sweatshirts. (Corduroy genie pants are fine, but zip-up hoodies are a problem?)

Finally my peacoat and an extra scarf* make it to Bologna last night, and it’s warm again—tropical, almost, with how humid it is. And today it was supposed to downpour heavily, and the sun was bright and shining and it was too hot to even kick around a soccer ball. What the hell?

Please excuse me while I return to knitting another scarf. I’m expecting snow any day.

*I’ve had a beautiful green scarf that was actually a gift from Italy that I’ve been wearing… a lot. Colin has a sharp-looking green button-down that he wears on nice occasions. On a cool evening that we both had to look nice (i.e. no hoodies allowed), we were both in green. “Did you guys coordinate?” We had to stand on opposite sides of the room to make it less awkward.

Italy and immigrants

13 Sep

The number-one story on the New York Times web site this morning was an interesting feature discussing Chinese immigrants in Italy, and the tensions that are arising from the situation. The article focuses on the town of Prato, world-renowned for its high-quality textile industry. In the last twenty years, Chinese have been immigrating to Prato, legally and illegally, by the tens of thousands and setting up workshops of their own. The Prato chamber of commerce reports that Chinese-owned textile businesses now outnumber those owned by Italians.

The situation in Prato is breeding resentment on both sides. Prato’s first conservative mayor since WWII accused the Chinese of bringing “noise, bad habits, prostitution,” and won his seat partly by feeding fears about a “Chinese invasion.” The immigrants accuse the authorities of racism and unfairly cracking down on their businesses while turning a blind eye to the Italian-run businesses that are also not following the lax laws of the land. The Chinese defended their work, saying they had moved into a stagnant economy and created jobs by shaking things up in Prato with the innovation of pronto modo, fast fashion.

Growing up in a San Diego suburb, I’m not unfamiliar with the tensions that can arise from immigration issues.

Bologna isn’t really facing this problem: almost 90 percent of the residents of Bologna are Italian. The largest group of immigrants mostly comes from Eastern Europe; every day you can see Roma women with their babies asking for change on the streets radiating out from the central piazza.

People from Bangladesh make up less than 1.5 percent of Bologna’s population, but they have a corner on the kebab and alimentari markets. Their snack shops and tiny markets stay open all day, every day, so if you have the munchies on the way home from Piazza Verdi or need a can of tomatoes to make dinner on Sunday, they make it possible. Convenient for me, but I’ve heard the Italians find it rather annoying. And on the street of produce stands, the fruit at the Bangladeshi stalls is $0.50/kg cheaper than that at the Italian stalls; Colin says the Italian stands can afford to do that because there are enough people who are more racist than they are budget-conscious.

Colin wanted to do a research project on the watering-down of cultures as English moves into small communities and replaces the indigenous languages, and I think that same idea applies with this. The Italians (and the French and the Germans) are very opposed to the watering-down of their culture. It’s illegal in Italy to label cheese Parmigiano unless it was made in Parma. The founder of Florence allegedly ordered the murder of a man who had gotten a hold of some of the city’s silk-making secrets.

This fast fashion coming out of Prato is Chinese-made with Chinese materials, but still labeled “Made in Italy.” Knowing the level of quality of the clothes I bought in Taiwan, I don’t blame the Italians for being concerned with what this is doing to their brand.

But I think the burden falls on Italy to tighten up its laws if people want things to change. And apply those laws to everyone, not just the immigrant communities. The governments are meeting next month, and this issue will undoubtedly be on the agenda.