Fashioning China: Precarious Creativity of Women Designers in Shanzhai Culture

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This study examines a copycat culture called Shanzhai, particularly looking into fashion imitations made and circulated by a group of women designers through digital media. It investigates the cultural transformation of labor taking place in China through the critical lens of precarious creativity. Women designers perform digital labor to de-fetishize the labor process of global fashion brands, which mythicizes class and commodity. These women's fashion work lacks official recognition as meaningful labor, while their ability to make a case for the legitimacy of their work is further diminished when the state co-opts Shanzhai for its nation-building narratives. These women's experiences of precarity and their very act of copying reveal the simultaneous possibility and impossibility of the Chinese Dream.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-440
Number of pages19
JournalCommunication, Culture and Critique
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications


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