Of Another Fashion

An alternative archive of the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of U.S. women of color

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Korean American University of Southern California student, Mary Shon, is so fashion-forward! The saddle shoes she’s wearing (in 1940) would later come to define the 1950s youth culture.

Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

This is Mary Shon (right) and her friend outside Yim’s Ice Cream Parlor in Los Angeles, California in 1938.

Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

These are my maternal grandparents, Teddy and Olive Dimayuga. The photo was taken on a family vacation in Baguio, Philippines between 1972-73. At the time my grandparents had recently moved back to the Philippines from England, where my grandfather had been temporarily assigned for his job. It was in England that my grandpa grew the ‘stache and got really into wearing tweed, so I guess Baguio’s cool climate provided a good excuse for him to get it back out of his closet. When I asked my grandmother where she got her clothes, she waved off the question. ‘Oh, somewhere. It’s just a t-shirt and bell bottoms.’ Simple, but fly is fly. My grandparents immigrated to the United States in 1998 or ‘99, and shipped over many of their possessions from the house in Paranaque, Manila where they’d lived for decades. A few years ago, they moved in with my parents, so I’ve been able to find some lovely photos and have slowly started archiving them.

Submitted by Yael Villafranca (San Francisco, CA)

Not all women in the 1920s were flappers. This California-based Chicana gunslinger in pants, button down shirt, and tie is Maria Alatorre (ca. 1925). I love photos like this because they’re visual evidence of the wide range of femininities that have always existed.

Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

Pictured here is Helen Soto on a motorcycle in Los Angeles, California (ca. 1952). It’s unclear whether or not the bike is hers.

Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

This is a picture of my mother Edith Cole Robinson (far left) and her girlfriends hosting a fund-raising event probably somewhere in Westchester County, New York (ca. 1951).

Submitted by Peter J. Robinson, Jr. (New York, NY)

This is my paternal grandmother, at right, with her sister - both are wearing tweed coats. The photo (ca. 1945) was likely taken in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Submitted by Lisa Y. Henderson (Atlanta, GA).

Another one for Flapper Friday: Mexican American flappers Eloise Arciniega and Hortensia Arciniega (wearing the cloche hat) pose with an unidentified man in Long Beach, California, 1928.

Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

I’m bringing back Flapper Friday! Here’s Helen Hong (Korean American flapper wearing the amazing cloche) hanging out at Echo Park in California with friends, 1928.

Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

When I showed my grandmother Alice Ishizaki this photo (ca. 1918), she started laughing really hard because of the giant bow on her head. She’s about 5 years old in this photo. “That is so awful. That’s the worst hair style I ever had. Look at that bow. Horrible!” She’s posing with her parents, my great grandparents. My grandmother, Uno Ishizaki, mostly made her own clothes and likely made the outfit she’s wearing. The photo was taken in Oakland, California.

Submitted by Cheryl Motoyama (Santa Ana, California).

This is my mom, Wei-Kuo Liang, at the Tokyo World’s Fair (1970). Her coat is from Woolworth’s and she’s wearing a floral shift dress underneath. 

Submitted by Gracie O (Phoenix, Arizona).

This is my mother, Ogretta Greene Robinson (right) and her cousin, Denise Hodges. The photo was taken in the mid-1950s in Muskegon, Michigan. I believe they were about 20 years old at the time. Denise actually went on to try her hand at modeling in Chicago, and my mother married one of the area’s first black doctors, Dr. Henry Phillip Greene. They both loved high fashion and were great fashion influences on all their daughters.

Submitted by Victoria Greene (Riverside, CA).

This is a found photograph, purchased online as part of a lot. The donor estimates the photo was taken in the 1950s.

Submitted by Jude Bond (Burlington, VT).

This is Julia Allen Maclin (1904-1999) and her sister Edith Allen Anderson (1907-1976). The photo was taken alongside their parents’ house in Newport News, Virginia on a Palm Sunday in the late 1940s. They were my great-aunts, and my parents were married in that side yard in 1961.

Submitted by Lisa Y. Henderson (Atlanta, GA).

This photograph came to me by way of another Twitter lead. This amazing woman (check out her almost equally amazing topper!) is Virginia–born activist Ella Baker (1903–1986) who served as an NAACP field representative and founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference before cofounding the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. In 1964, the SNCC helped create Freedom Summer, an effort to focus national attention on Mississippi’s racism and to register black voters.

Credit: Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library.