News & Events

I'm the Only One of My Elitist Friends That Doesn't Hate Bele Chere

Bele Chere Setup to Music of Paper Tiger*

As a new resident of Asheville, I have to admit I was expecting utter redneck chaos in downtown Asheville during Bele Chere based on what a number of my counter cultural friends who moved here in the last 20 or so years told me about it.  Given that crowds and alcohol lead to poor behavior, it didn't surprise me that people had issues with a huge street festival in a downtown area that is generally pretty well-behaved.

But I walked through yesterday and today around 5 or 6 and chaos had yet to erupt.  I imagine things are starting to get sketchy as the evening unfolds given that it's a free event and there's lots of alcohol at hand.  But I have to wonder if part of the issue is that Bele Chere is one of those times that the normal critical mass of counter cultural types in downtown Asheville is reduced to service workers for the masses.

In any case, it's tough to hold a large event that involves alcohol and not have problems.

I'm more disappointed by two things:

A) My sudden fear of the Asheville police, which had not been a concern for me until the recent assault on Juan Holladay by out of control assholes in the police department and the mishandling of the homophobic attack on Luke Hankins due to the incompetent actions of a police officer for yet unknown reasons.  Violent assholes with guns really bother me and my initially more positive impression of Asheville cops has definitely shifted to considering them a threat to me and my friends.

B) I know Buncombe County is 84.4% self-identified as white (non-Latino) but I was still surprised at the very low number of black people I saw and the total absence of people I could identify as likely to be Latino.  With 6.4% of the county's population self-identified as black and 6% as Latino, one might expect a larger percentage of people who are other colors than shades of white, especially given that Asheville's demographics in 2000 included fewer Latinos but over 17% black or African-American.

Tim Smith recently did a nice job of discussing the absence of acts that might draw more black people from the perspective of a black man who served on the music selection committee but he did not address the fact that the Latino population, which is probably growing, is clearly being ignored.

More could be said on that topic but the weird thing about Bele Chere is that the criticisms could be said to be that it's too multicultural, i.e. including folks that don't fit the preferred consciousness of Asheville's elite, and not multicultural enough, i.e. being a white thing.

I may take a walk downtown to see what I imagine is going to be the worst hours of the Bele Chere phenomenon.  But, even if I don't, I'm not going to be hating on Bele Chere though I will be looking for opportunities to support reining in violent and/or incompetent cops and to encourage more diversity in Asheville public events.

*Note: I'm definitely feeling Paper Tiger.  Heard the name but not the music.  Glad to have found them!

Boycott Urban Outfitters for Ripping Off Indie Designers

I heart New York

I heart New York by Stevie K

The latest account of Urban Outfitters' ripoff of indie artists alerted me to the fact that there's a long history of such ripoffs by Urban Outfitters. It's really sad when what appears to be a relatively innovative chain does it off the backs of independents.

Amber Karnes shares her role in the social media exposure of Urban Outfitters blatant ripoff of Chicago indie jewelry designer Stevie K of Truche - Handmade Accessories & Creations. The above I heart New York piece, one of a series of such works, was blatantly ripped off and displayed on Urban Outfitters' website as Stevie K revealed on her Tumblr blog.

Web response was powerful and the piece was removed relatively quickly from Urban Outfitters' site but it's simply another chapter in an ongoing series of ripoffs:

Urban Outfitters Rip-Off Artists

Urban Outfitters’ rip-off goonies strike again

Urban Outfitters Steals Johnny Cupcake Concept

For Urban Outfitters, it’s bling there, done that

Are Brooklyn Fashion Designers Being Ripped Off by Urban Outfitters?

Urban Outfitters doesn't deserve the support of Asheville shoppers and as one of the few chain stores in downtown Asheville should be the subject of boycott at the very least.

Proenza Schouler's Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez on the Power of Fashion Bloggers

Proenza Schouler Talk To Fashion Bloggers at Evolving Influence

Although I'm not going to be doing much about fashion outside of Asheville, I thought this video of Proenza Schouler designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough speaking at the NYFW Evolving Influence blogger conference would be useful for folks who are still wrapping their heads around the value of being in a fashion blog, especially folks with an interest or involvement in luxury markets. I'm not saying I'm going to make anybody famous but they talk about their cluelessness four years ago, similar to someone I recently encountered, and how they and the industry have taken a while to figure out what's up with bloggers but are now embracing them.

For example, one of the guys discusses their first contact with a Midwestern fashion blogger, "this crazy girl in the middle of America!" (2:05), and how they just couldn't get it at the time. It reminds me a lot of people in the music industry 5 or 6 years ago who did not see the power of blogging even though some of us knew what we were and what we were in the process of accomplishing!

Honestly, once you've watched a new artist blow past the industry censors and get a deal because they're already famous due to bloggers or, in my case, once you've embarassed NY hip hop industry power figures in front of their peers from a laptop in NC, you know what's up! Especially when you get tipsters working in their offices giving you direct quotes...The industry did not see us coming and now all my old blogging buddies are the first to get leaks and hot tips. They're running circles around the magazine people who are watching their industry die!

But that was back in the day and this isn't about me, it's about folks coming from out of nowhere and changing the game.  It's about not being shortsighted and not turning your nose up at things you don't understand.  It's about thriving in the 21st Century.

Jack and Lazaro know what's up. Do you?

Video via The Business of Fashion.

Related Asheville Fashions Coverage:
"I Don't Think I Want to Be In a Blog"

Note: I just started a YouTube channel for Asheville Fashions where I'll be listing videos I post here as well as other videos of interest.