Editor’s Note: From the Fall/Winter 2013 lookbook pages of Retrofit Republic “Immigrant Dreams.” Now this is how fashion should be presented. With powerful visual and poignant storytelling that touches the soul and reveals the heart of our human conditions through art and community. As I looked through the pages of Immigrant Dreams, I called my dad up and asked him again about my family’s journey to American soil from the Philippines. I thought of… my mother and father. My father who says he was lucky to have been able to join the U.S. Navy in the late 1950s, to serve a country that was not his own and come to America with my mother. I thought of… my ninang (aunt/godmother) and ninong (uncle/godfather), the first of our family to come to America. My ninong’s first job in America was that of a produce picker and in later years he served as a merchant marine. I thought of…my lola (grandmother) and lolo (grandfather). It was my ninang who petitioned my grandparents to come here. It was my lola who immigrated to San Francisco with $2,000 saved, took on odd jobs– sales clerk, nurse’s aid, seller at farmer’s market– until finally she had enough money to buy a laundry mat, invest in property, and own her own small coffee shop on Eddy street.I must not forget that their immigrant stories, dreams and struggles paved the way for mine. – CJF
By Jenny Ton and Julia Rhee, Retrofit Republic, Founders
How many among us remember, with vivid detail, what it was like to be in that boat? Or what it meant to leave the only family and country we’ve ever known for an unsure future in a foreign land? How many of us know what real risk taking looks like?
The journey to America is a take often wrought with themes of separation, loss, and sacrifice.
It’s an unforgettable experience and for some, it was a choice. It presented a lifeline and path out of the slums and countryside. But for others, the choice was made for them, either by repressive regimes or by forced labor, violating our most basic human rights.
But whether your family arrived five generations ago or within the past five months, the impact of immigration can still be found in the most intimate areas of our lived experiences. They contextualize who we are as Americans and bridge us to a Motherland we may not know.
These compelling stories are foundational to understanding the ever important questions of why and how so many are compelled to take such risks in a new land.
As the children of immigrants, we know that the immigration reform debate is not just an issue of political will and legality. It’s about families. It’s about love. It’s about opportunity. It’s about us.
This lookbook is dedicated to the generation of fearless mothers and fathers who took a chance in this vast place called America.
May we live with the courage and strength they showed us when coming to America.
May we live out the dreams they carried with them.
See the complete Immigrant Dreams, Fall/Winter 2013 Lookbook by visiting Retrofit Republic.
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