chapter  2
It’s hip to be Asian
The local and global networks of Asian fashion entrepreneurs in London
ByParminder Bhachu
Pages 20

This chapter explores diasporic cultural production in global markets through the consumer cultural products of British Asian women and the diasporean aesthetics that govern their fashion styles.1 I examine an aspect of their consumer material culture to read their cultural maps and the diasporic materialities they stitch in global markets. I explore an economy of clothes, the designs negotiated within it, and commerce around it, to point to the new rhythms involved in the commoditization of salwaar-kameezes, also referred to as Punjabi suits (and henceforth as suits).2 These suits constitute a large domain of the gift exchanges within the wedding economy. In these cultural processes, I emphasize the agency of Asian women in transnational settings in their dialectic and dynamic suturing of global cultural landscapes through their commercial and cultural agency within this highly charged consumer material culture of what were previously considered to be ‘straightforward ethnic’ clothes. This chapter focuses, in particular, on the commoditization processes involved in the production of the salwaar-kameez suits which are very semiotically charged and powerfully coded attire and a significant domain of the wedding economy (Bhachu 1994, 1996, 1997, 2004). They have become high-fashion garments globally and reflect the whole taxonomy of styles and fashion geographies – both those local to the Indian scene and those generated through the multiple diasporic consciousnesses that define and determine the styles of Asian women in the diaspora.