Project 3 Reflection
December 18, 2018
Project Link: https://www.instagram.com/bkfashion.gntrifixd/
I was interested in studying how gentrification has affected the culture in the Downtown Brooklyn area, so I chose Williamsburg as a neighborhood to conduct independent research. My immediate idea was to look at how the music of this part of town has evolved over time, but I realized I have a lack of knowledge when it comes to music history. Instead, I decided to portray gentrification in Brooklyn by looking at fashion, which in my opinion is an appropriate cultural component to show the changes in culture and time. I chose Downtown Brooklyn because this is a space in New York City that I grew visiting frequently, and as I become older I noticed that the familiar spaces I once knew are now becoming somewhat unfamiliar. The goal of this project is to show how prices within the clothing industry have skyrocketed and how these prices exclude a big clump of people based on their socioeconomic status. The clothing stores that I visited are all within the expensive range which shows that it only caters to a specific consumer base. I aim to also show that even thrift stores that usually offer clothes at more affordable rates are still considered somewhat expensive to people who may be looking for real bargains.
The tool that I chose to use for my project was Instagram. Originally, I wanted to use Story Maps to document this project, but I realized that my data did not really have a continual story. Instead, the data was just a diverse collection that can stand as individual posts and also can relate together if need be. I personally felt that the posts were strong enough to stand on their own so I chose Instagram. I also chose Instagram because I know it is a place where people post a lot of their fashion blogs, photos, and product to sell in relation to fashion. You can easily find fashion inspiration by searching hashtags. I wanted to maximize the hashtag feature so that digital humanists outside of our class would have access to some of the content that I posted. I also wanted to expose any users on Instagram scrolling aimlessly to the ideas and research that I’ve found. Essentially, Instagram provided a way for me to reach multiple audiences while being creative in my own way.
The first post I will discuss is the post with me wearing the Nanushka red vegan leather jacket. When I was browsing the selection in some stores, my immediate thought process was to recreate previous fashion icons from the Rap culture in the 1990s. The person who I drew a lot of inspiration from is the singer Aaliyah, but I wasn’t successful in finding relevant fashion pieces. The next person who inspired me was Biggie Smalls. There is a famous picture of Biggie posing with a red jacket and a cane, and this picture always stuck in my head. When I saw this red jacket, I immediately knew this was the look I wanted to recreate. I didn’t have to do much research on Biggie Smalls himself because I know some of his music and I know about his life before his death. For this post, I drew on previous knowledge. I expect my reader to be curious to dig deeper into finding out who Biggie Smalls is and maybe giving his music a try. The point of the post was that if you want to recreate urban Brooklyn looks from the 1990s, going shopping Downtown Brooklyn would not be ideal if you are on a budget.
The next post that I had fun with was the post featuring my friend, Monica, standing in front of a newly renovated apartment building in Williamsburg. On the next slide, I am standing in front of a home that hasn’t been renovated. The interesting fact is that these houses are a block apart. Monica is dressed according to the current hipster trends in Brooklyn, standing behind a newly renovated building representing the newer Brooklyn; while I am dressed in casual urban clothes standing behind an older building that represents Brooklyn from the past. I watched videos and read articles about gentrification resulting in high real estate prices, and how these prices are pushing out minorities of their neighborhoods. The point of this post is to show the stark contrast between the changing fashion and new homes that can be found in Brooklyn.
I did not want my Instagram page to only consist of photos. I added in a video clip from a Youtube video with New York City residents being interviewed on how they view gentrification. While there are varying sentiments around gentrification, my clip highlights that New York City residents and visitors realize that hipster culture is taking over Downtown Brooklyn. The viewer gets to see a short overview of what the whole page is about early on before they start looking at my other posts. I put this video as the last post to capture people’s attention when they first visit my page.
This project was enjoyable after I figured out what I wanted to study. It was difficult for me to pinpoint where exactly I wanted to study and research because the options were limitless. I learned that fashion is as much of an art form that can tell a story about history just as much as literature, food, and music. I think more research would have to put into this project. I wasn’t sure if a school like the Fashion Institute of Technology would have more information on urban fashion in Brooklyn before gentrification. It was difficult trying to figure out what shops were there before the newer clothing shops moved in. The last challenge I faced was trying to conceal some of the stores and brands that I visited. I did not want to get into any legal trouble, so I tried to keep the stores where we found the more expensive clothing private. Overall, this project was fun and educational and it allowed me to be more mindful of the history in Williamsburg the next time I go shopping there.
Chou, Thomas. “Explore With Me: Williamsburg Edition.” UWIRE Text, 27 Sept. 2017, p. 1. Infotrac Newsstand, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A524933805/STND?u=cuny_york&sid=STND&xid=da41d590. Accessed 18 Dec. 2018.
Mallonee, Laura.”Phtots of Brooklyn Before and After the Hipsters.”Wired. https://www.wired.com/2015/09/photos-brooklyn-hipsters/. Accessed 16 December 2018
Round Seven. “Hipster, Gentrifier, or a Colonizer? Brooklyn VS The Bronx” Youtube published by Elevation Church. 17 June 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDp4RJ8llUA Accessed 18 December 2018