WBEZ | Nike http://www.wbez.org/tags/nike Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Luxury brands court Chinese students http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/luxury-brands-court-chinese-students-111127 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/CHINESE STUDENT1 (lavinia).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On a recent blustery night, stylish Chinese college students lined the aisles of the Bloomingdale&rsquo;s department store in downtown Chicago. They were sipping cucumber cocktails and checking out the latest fashions modeled by and for Chinese students.</p><p>They&rsquo;d been invited by the high-end retailer in an effort to connect with a new generation of U.S. college student from Mainland China.</p><p>&ldquo;The reason they want to reach us is very simple because we are going to buy their product,&rdquo; said party attendee Kim, a marketing major at DePaul University.</p><p>Kim is one of the 274,000 Chinese students attending college in the States. That number has tripled in the last six years, cementing China as the biggest source of international students to the U.S. for several years running.</p><p>But these are not the thrifty Chinese grad students of yesteryear. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chinese students (who are now about half graduate students and half undergrads) spent $8 billion in the U.S. in 2013 alone.</p><p>&ldquo;These are the elites of the Chinese population,&rdquo; said Peggy Blumenthal, a senior counselor at the Institute for International Education. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re mostly from cities and used to spending for big brands and used to having a new car and a new watch.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The spending power of these students hasn&rsquo;t been lost on U.S. government officials.</p><p>Earlier this month, the state department relaxed rules on visas for Chinese students, expanding them to five years. As Secretary of State John Kerry was handing out the first batch, he told one Kansas University grad returning to the states to remember to &ldquo;spend a lot of money.&rdquo;</p><p>Wen Huang is a Chicago based writer and China watcher who came to Springfield Illinois as a Chinese grad student 24 years ago. And as he recalls it, things were very different then.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I came here with $76 in my pocket, which was the case with lots of Chinese students who came in the 1990s and 80s,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We would shop at Venture. That was like a Walmart place. We never had money to buy name brand stuff but we felt that everything that was made in America was name brand. On weekends we&rsquo;d treat ourselves to Old Country Buffet and then go shopping at Venture.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Most students at that time came on scholarships, but the Chinese undergrads flooding American colleges today are supported largely by family money.</p><p>&ldquo;They are the children of either government officials or the children of entrepreneurs who have amassed a huge fortune during China&rsquo;s economic boom over the last 7 or 8 years,&rdquo; Huang said.</p><p>Others come from middle class families who have channeled much of their resources into the future of their single child.</p><p>Chinese-American college student Solomon Wiener is majoring in East Asian Studies at Dennison University. Although he has traveled to China, he is still amazed by the spending power of this new wave of Chinese students.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;I drive a Lexus but my friend from China drives a Ferrari,&rdquo; he noted before hitting the runway in a sleek gray Hugo Boss suit. &ldquo;There is just a lot of cash coming from China and the kids are just able to afford these brands.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s why Chicago-based publisher John Robinson recently launched a new digital magazine Mandarin Campus in addition to his flagship magazine Mandarin Quarterly. He co-sponsored the Bloomingdale&rsquo;s event.</p><p>&ldquo;Mandarin Campus was born out of brands&rsquo; increasing interest in this lucrative demographic that&rsquo;s the Chinese university student,&rdquo; said Robinson who spent several years in China and speaks fluent Mandarin. &ldquo;The editorial focus is a little younger, a little more rock-and-roll than say Mandarin Quarterly, which is targeting sort of early-to-mid-career professionals.&rdquo;</p><p>The stories in these two magazines focus on business and career advice, fashion, and dining and lifestyle issues. Much of the content would be at home in Chicago magazine, if Chicago were written entirely in Chinese. The magazines are aimed at helping readers fashionably navigate mainstream Chicago (and San Francisco and New York where Quarterly is also published). But, they are also about marketing these high-end brands.</p><p>&ldquo;Brands like Omega, Burberry, Cartier, Tiffany, Bloomingdale&rsquo;s and Saks have all reached out to our business and asked for our support in their efforts to effectively engage Chinese,&rdquo; Robinson said.</p><p>Lavina, a Chinese marketing major at Loyola, served as one of the evening&rsquo;s models, sporting fashions from Theory and Burberry. Like a lot of the students at the party, she lives downtown and shops along the Magnificent Mile.&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of clothes I like to wear and the place I like to go shopping is at Bloomingdale&rsquo;s,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a very loyal customer because I live three blocks away, so it&rsquo;s very near and convenient.&rdquo;</p><p>The shifting financial dynamics of China have allowed the surge in enrollment at U.S. universities.&nbsp; But what&rsquo;s behind the new openness to parties and fashion that were never a part of student life for someone like Wen Huang?<br />&ldquo;The current education system is different in mainland China,&rdquo; said DePaul marketing major Caroline. &ldquo;We are more open to the foreign cultures like American and European cultures.&nbsp; We get more and more information about them and so when we came here we learned there are parties and different things we have to attend. We are starting to get used to that environment, and it is making us change.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the continued double-digit growth in Chinese enrollment last year, Huang predicted it will start tapering off soon.</p><p>He cited the slowing Chinese economy and the recent anti-corruption campaign under Chinese president Xi Jinping that has put the country&rsquo;s rich and powerful under a microscope.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now they are under close scrutiny,&rdquo; Huang said. &ldquo;And sending your children abroad is becoming an easy target for investigation.&rdquo;</p><p>So does that mean Coach, Tiffany, Bloomingdale&rsquo;s and Burberry are wasting their time courting the young Chinese consumer? Huang said no<ldquo;i a="" as="" because="" buy="" buying="" cheaper="" china="" designer="" have="" he="" higher="" in="" lot="" much="" of="" only="" p="" pay="" s="" said.="" see="" still="" students="" t="" than="" the="" they="" thing="" think="" to="" will="" you=""></ldquo;i></p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 18:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/luxury-brands-court-chinese-students-111127 Contemporary artist Bunky Echo-Hawk blends pop culture and Native American imagery http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/contemporary-artist-bunky-echo-hawk-blends-pop-culture-and-native-american-imagery <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/bunky.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Science-fiction icon Yoda wears a feathered headdress, and a traditionally-dressed Native American rides a horse-sized iPhone.</p><p>Contemporary artist Bunky Echo-Hawk combines such pop culture references with Native American imagery to challenge stereotypes and highlight social issues in his community. He is a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and the Yakama Nation of Washington.</p><p>The painter, photographer and writer helped curate a new exhibit at The Field Museum that runs through September 2014.</p><p>&ldquo;Bunky Echo-Hawk: Modern Warrior&rdquo; displays his work alongside several Pawnee artifacts that he helped to pick out of the Field&rsquo;s collection. He selected both decorative items and everyday objects to show how they can inspire people 100 years later. These items include a &ldquo;Ghost Dance&rdquo; dress, a deer-skin drum and a pair of the sneakers he designed for Nike.</p><blockquote><strong>Do you value learning more about Chicago cultural events like this? </strong></blockquote><blockquote><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/donate" target="_blank">Help support WBEZ by making a donation today.</a></strong></blockquote><p>Alaka Wali, the Field Museum&rsquo;s curator of North American Anthropology, co-curated the exhibition with Echo-Hawk.</p><p>&ldquo;Despite (the Native American peoples&rsquo;) severe displacement and the very traumatic experiences that they&rsquo;ve had with Europeans since 1492, why have they been able or how have they been able to be resilient?&rdquo; Dr. Wali asked.&nbsp; &ldquo;To come back and maintain cultural identity despite very severe odds?&rdquo;</p><p>One of the ways Echo-Hawk seeks to keep his culture alive is through live painting, creating a work in front of an audience. He said it&rsquo;s a modern adaptation of a traditional Native American winter pastime, in which an artist recreates an event by drawing on animal hide, and talks with the people gathered around to get enough information to make an &ldquo;honest&rdquo; portrayal.</p><p>Echo-Hawk continued that tradition this past Saturday with a few tweaks:&nbsp; Instead of recreating a &ldquo;buffalo hunt&rdquo; or a &ldquo;great battle,&rdquo; audience members suggested he illustrate a racial stereotype or a historical or current event on canvas.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s an opportunity to kind of bridge the gap between then and now,&rdquo; Bunky Echo-Hawk said. &ldquo;It shows how we once lived and shows how we kind of live now, the things that were changed, the things that were gained and the things that were lost.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/jclee89" target="_blank">@jclee89</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 13:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/contemporary-artist-bunky-echo-hawk-blends-pop-culture-and-native-american-imagery What the Vuvuzela is up with the Jabulani? http://www.wbez.org/ARehab/2010/06/what-the-vuvuzela-is-up-with-the-jabulani/26247 <p>Now that we have all had an opportunity to savor the celebratory mood that beckons in our planet's biggest party, it's time to whine about what's wrong with this World Cup. Hey, someone has to do it. Let's start with the Vuvuzela. <a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//ap-worldcup.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-26446" title="ap-worldcup" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//ap-worldcup.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="300" /></a> <!--break--> I love saying Vuvuzela a lot more than I like hearing it. It's a pretty word but it makes one hell of an annoying constant bee-buzzing sound that seems to be the soundtrack of every World Cup match, and not just during goal celebrations but throughout the entire 90 minutes. It's monotonous, it drowns out the chants that some countries are famous for, it makes it difficult for players to hear the whistle or their team mates, and it makes it hard for audiences at home to hear the commentary on TV. The debate on the Vuvuzela began before the World Cup. FIFA's president Sepp Blatter managed to kill dissent early on, only for the controversy to resurface after Argentina's Lionel Messi, Robin Van Persie and other players complained in their opening games. FIFA again considered banning the trumpet-like instrument for a moment, then decided against it. Supporters of the Vuvuzela argue that it is a South African cultural trademark (a bit if a stretch considering it was only introduced in the 90's) and that banning it is intolerant and offensive. But there‚ <em>is</em> a compromise: why not permit Vuvuzelas for South Africa's games, but ban them from other games? Allow each country's fans to celebrate in their‚ <em>own</em> cultural trademark; some like to chant, sing, dance to samba beats or a mariachi, or just cheer the old fashioned ways with "ooh's" and "aah's." Instead of all that, we are stuck with a one-note zombie hum that saps the living daylights of the emotion of the World Cup. And then there's the‚ <em>Jabulani</em>. Players have complained that the new-technology ball, courtesy of Adidas, is not very accurate. This may or may not be an excuse for poor individual performance, but one thing is clear: very few free kicks have been on target, and more than one goalie has failed to handle easy balls. It does seem that the ball accelerates and bounces faster than normal. Here's a question: why meddle with ball technology in the first place? Did players complain that the run-of-the-mill Adidas ball was getting too boring? How come technologists don't meddle with the crossbar, or the pitch size, or the goal lines, or the net? This is about selling a new product, isn't it? Well, I am all for marketing campaigns, but could it not come at the expense of my World Cup viewing experience? In truth, the‚ <em>Jabulani</em> was introduced during the Confederations Cup last year, not the World Cup, but player feedback was not entirely positive then either. Of course, Adidas will be happy to argue that this tournament is simply tainted by poor goalies and overzealous free-kickers. They quickly point to US goalie's Tim Howard's stellar performance (I say they owe him a sponsorship). As for the free kicks, the word is still out; we will need Beckham - or Zidane or Mihajlovic or Roberto Carlos to come out of retirement - for a field test to settle this one. Then there's the empty seats. In‚ <em>any</em> World Cup,‚ <em>any</em> stadium that is‚ <em>anything</em> less than full to the brim is a bit sacrilegious to viewers like me who would give a pinkie to be there. Here's betting that if there were to be a Tuvalu vs. Djibouti match-up in Brazil 2014, you won't find an empty seat. I understand that South Africa is not as soccer-crazed as Brazil, and that its non-black population puts rugby and cricket ahead of soccer; but how about the South African organizers make up for that by offering free tickets to poor school children or any of the street fans whom I am sure would be more than willing to act as seat warmers. Then there's the disappointment of the big guns: Messi, Ronaldo, Drogba, Kaka, and Ribery. None of the hyped players - who are admittedly very talented - delivered on the hype in their much anticipated South Africa debut. In fact, Ronaldo's best moment in Portugal's opening match against the Ivory Coast came in a half-time commercial for Nike. Lastly, apart from Germany and arguably the Netherlands and Brazil, so far it seems that most of the matches have been low-scoring and low energy. Here's hoping that the competition picks up and the Vuvuzela tones down. </div></p> Wed, 16 Jun 2010 11:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/ARehab/2010/06/what-the-vuvuzela-is-up-with-the-jabulani/26247