Chinatown Pretty captures the unique street style of older Chinese adults living (and shopping) in San Francisco's Chinatown. The self-titled show is produced by photographer Andria Lo and writer Valerie Luu, managers of a street-style blog aiming to celebrate the ingenuity, flair and beauty of Chinatown and its longtime residents.
Clothes can tell a story – and in the case of Chinatown, it’s a story about a generation of men and women who immigrated from China to Chinatown, their fashion philosophy (staying warm) and economic ideals (making their own clothes or preserving the ones they have).
Since 2014, Lo and Luu have been scouting the hills of Chinatown, stopping and chatting with older adults as they go about their daily routines. Interviews, conducted with the help of Cantonese-speaking translators, are displayed next to the portraits.
Many of the looks combine urban utilitarianism with unexpected sartorial choices: floral prints paired with plaids, a red suit with a Mardi Gras bead bolo tie and a two-piece pantsuit worn with socks that read "My Favorite Salad is Wine." Another common thread is the subjects' resourcefulness: many wear gifted clothes or retain pieces that they sewed themselves over thirty years ago.
Whether they're dressing for warmth, fashion or thriftiness, the outcome is worth celebrating. This exhibit is a love letter to the style that is unique and not just pretty, but Chinatown Pretty.