Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet

Race, Gender, and the Work of Personal Style Blogging

Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet

Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: 38 illustrations Published: November 2015

Author: Minh-Ha T. Pham

Art and Visual Culture > Fashion, Asian American Studies, Media Studies > Digital Media

In the first ever book devoted to a critical investigation of the personal style blogosphere, Minh-Ha T. Pham examines the phenomenal rise of elite Asian bloggers who have made a career of posting photographs of themselves wearing clothes on the Internet. Pham understands their online activities as “taste work” practices that generate myriad forms of capital for superbloggers and the brands they feature. A multifaceted and detailed analysis, Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet addresses questions concerning the status and meaning of “Asian taste” in the early twenty-first century, the kinds of cultural and economic work Asian tastes do, and the fashion public and industry’s appetite for certain kinds of racialized eliteness. Situating blogging within the historical context of gendered and racialized fashion work while being attentive to the broader cultural, technological, and economic shifts in global consumer capitalism, Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet has profound implications for understanding the changing and enduring dynamics of race, gender, and class in shaping some of the most popular work practices and spaces of the digital fashion media economy.


"Street-style photos never cease to be a form of inspiration. Minh-Ha T. Pham takes a look at how exactly style superbloggers came to be, while celebrating Asian fashion and styling at the same time. She also takes a critical look at what mainstream media thinks of as 'Asian style,' making it both a must-read and a beautiful book." — Emily Laurence, Brit + Co

"[A] deeply engaging and sophisticated discussion of the race and gender dynamics that affect Asian fashion labor." — Christine Wu, Japan Times

"Pham’s book is sharp, punchy and eminently readable. It is full of shrewd visual and textual analysis of the content of blogs and puts forward a muchneeded critique of the kinds of critiques that bloggers themselves tend to have launched at them. . . . I thoroughly enjoyed reading Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet, and I would recommend it to any scholar interested in blogging, social media, personal style, creative labour or race and gender politics in fashion today."
  — Brent Luvaas, International Journal of Fashion Studies

"With Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet, Pham makes a significant contribution to scholarship on fashion, race, gender, and online media by eloquently demonstrating the ambivalent outcomes when Asianness becomes productive of economic and cultural value. While Asian superbloggers serve as evidence that the previously marginalized can gain entry into fashion’s highest status venues, Pham deftly shows that behind the veneer of this apparent democratization lies an unpaid or underpaid, racialized labor force." — Ann Marie Leshkowich, Media Industries

"Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet makes an important scholarly contribution not only to the field of media and cultural studies but to ethnic, gender, and queer studies as well. In this sense, it is an excellent example of intersectional, feminist digital culture research that continues to be needed in order to better understand how the visibilities and movement of embodied identities work across digital culture." — Jessalynn Keller, Cinema Journal

"Pham’s is one of the first of its kind in offering a critical investigation of the personal-style blogosphere.... Though the work of creating selfies and writing blog entries about clothing is often considered more within the realm of leisure than labor, Pham convincingly argues that the work of being a superblogger is highly labor intensive." — Anita Mannur, American Quarterly

"Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet is a compelling book to read, deserving critical acclaim for its originality and insightful contribution to digital fashion media studies concerning the dynamic relations of race, gender, class, and labor. It is good for researchers who are interested in, and classes where the focus is on, fashion studies; digital media; and critical cultural analysis of race, gender, and class." — Sara Liao, Journal of Asian Studies

"This is an ambitious project, but Pham is up to the task. Pham’s attention to the blog as both a cultural form and a commercial project is supported with textual and visual evidence garnered from blogs themselves. In doing so, she not only makes her argument, she demonstrates a model of digital analysis that is both traditional and novel at the same time. After reading this book, it will be hard to argue against the merits of 'blog studies.'” — Erin M. Arizzi, Feminist Media Studies

"Pham is most astute in analyzing blog components as conveyed through social media. Ever attentive to gendered and racialized transcripts of display and skill, she offers close readings of texts, images, and code work that underscore how bloggers produce value that repeatability—the sharing of posts or photos over social media—increases." — Eileen Boris, Feminist Studies

“What this book succeeds in doing (and what I appreciate most) is that it guides theorists, historians and professionals in the fashion system into uncharted depths of fashion criticism, with an imperative to reframe and refresh our ways of seeing the 'fashionable' body through the lens of intersectionality amidst today’s globalized economy.” — Kimberly M. Jenkins, QED

"Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet is a fiercely imaginative and inspiring book. Minh-Ha T. Pham's discussion of the garment industry's racialization and the details she provides about bloggers' lives and the conditions of their labor is impressive. She acknowledges and debunks the writing on overly utopian and breathless views of digital media as 'participatory culture' while giving full credit and agency to the bloggers she writes about. Stunning!"  — Lisa Nakamura, author of Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet

"Theorizing an unstudied yet influential cultural archive, Minh-Ha T. Pham offers an engaging and sophisticated analysis of personal style blogs that breaks new ground in our understandings of the intersections of technology, aesthetics, racial formation, and cultures of consumption. An important and timely contribution to Asian American studies, media studies, fashion studies, and critical race studies."  — Denise Cruz, author of Transpacific Femininities: The Making of the Modern Filipina


Availability: In stock
Price: $26.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Minh-Ha T. Pham is Assistant Professor in the Graduate Media Studies Program at the Pratt Institute. Her research has been featured in the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, the San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, NPR, Jezebel, and the Huffington Post.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii

Introduction. Asian Personal Style Superbloggers and the Material Conditions and Contexts of Asian Fashion Work  1

1. The Taste and Aftertaste for Asian Superbloggers  41

2. Style Stories, Written Tastes, and the Work of Self-Composure  81

3. "So Many and All the Same" (but Not Quite): Outfit Photos and the Codes of Asian Eliteness  105

4. The Racial and Gendered Job Performances of Fashion Blogger Poses  129

5. Invisible Labor and Racial Visibilities in Outfit Posts  167

Coda. All in the Eyes  193

Notes  201

Bibliography  219

Index  247
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