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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This is a stunning photograph of a fashion show at Tule Lake Relocation Center in Newell, California in September 1942. It was one of the most popular events held at this camp on Labor Day. The large audience appreciated the dressmaking and tailoring skills involved in these shows.

I’m absolutely floored that there were fashion shows in this internment camp - also known as No No Camp - often considered one of the most controversial of the camps because it was where many Japanese Americans were sent who refused to answer (or answered incorrectly) loyalty questionnaires. The entire premise of the loyalty questionnaire was flawed - most of the Japanese sent to internment camps were U.S. citizens who never lived in Japan - but there were two questions, in particular, that were especially controversial.

  1. "Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered?"
  2. "Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the US from any attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, to any other foreign government, power, or organization?"

Many Japanese Americans felt that these questions were ridiculous. First, having just been stripped of their rights by Executive Order 9066, they didn’t feel like they could defend this government. Second, they didn’t know how to forswear allegiance to the Japanese emperor when they had none in the first place.

Photo by Francis Stewart, from the Calisphere archive.

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    This is a stunning photograph of a fashion show at Tule Lake Relocation Center in Newell, California in September 1942....
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    A photo from the Jack Iwata Collection:
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