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Fashioning China

Fashioning China

Precarious Creativity and Women Designers in Shanzhai Culture

Sara Liao

Series: Digital Barricades

A study of women creating fake fashion in China - and how it affects the economy, labour, creativity and culture.

'Shanzhai' from Cantonese slang, refers to the production of fake goods in China, which enjoy an anti-authoritarian-like dissemination across the global market. Starting with mobile phones, now fashion brands are subverted in this way, with many women at the helm of design and production. Fashioning China looks at the women designers simultaneously subverting and reinforcing the nationalist-developmentalist, masculinist and technocratic dream of brands that are 'Made in China'.

Broadening the digital labour debate beyond typical masculine and techno-utopic readings, Sara Liao studies the precarious practices of women trying to create sustainable and creative lives, vividly illustrating a fashion culture that exists online as a significant part of the digital economy.

Drawing on material from interviews, participant observation, archives, policy documents, films and advertisements, Liao takes a multi-disciplinary approach to the topic, charting out the politics of intellectual property rights, globalisation, technocracy, patriarchy and nationalism in a non-Western context.

Sara Liao is Assistant Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication in the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She has published in several journals including, Fashion Theory, International Journal of Communication, Communication, Culture, Critique, and Chinese Journal of Communication.

'Sara Liao shows how shanzhai is much more than faking: she rethinks what it means to be creative in today's globalised China. The book presents a sensitive and detailed account of the gendered and precarious aspirations of fashion designers, offering a timely view on a multiplicity of China Dreams' - Jeroen de Kloet, author of 'China with a Cut: Globalisation, Urban Youth and Popular Music'

1. Introduction: Fashion Work, Precarious Labor, and Women
Designers in Shanzhai Culture
2. Shanzhai Fashion and Precarious Creativity in China
3. The Digital Labor and Production Culture of Shanzhai
4. The Shanzhai of Shanzhai: The Politics of Copying and
5. Shanzhai Dreams and the Chinese Dream
6. Shanzhai Culture, National Ideologies, and Transnational
Capitalism: A Double-edged Sword
Published by Pluto Press in Feb 2020
Paperback ISBN: 9780745340708
Hardcover ISBN: 9780745340692
eBook ISBN: 9781786805904

224 pages

135mm x 215mm