Press release
For Immediate Release
November 9, 2015

Valerie Luu, (408) 204-3389, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(Chinatown Pretty, English)
Roy Chan, (415) 984-1447, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(Shop Chinatown, English, Chinese)

Artists Highlight Chinese Seniors Street Style and Promote Chinatown Fashion Stores

Photographer Andria Lo and Writer Valerie Luu are partnering with Chinatown Community Development Center for CHINATOWN PRETTY, an exhibition capturing the unique street-styles of Chinese seniors living (and grocery shopping) in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and SHOP CHINATOWN, a promotion for fashion stores directly impacted by construction of MTA Central Subway Project.

Produced by Andria Lo and Valerie Luu who run a street-style blog, CHINATOWN PRETTY aims to celebrate the ingenuity, flair, and beauty of Chinatown and its longtime residents. The exhibition features large format photographic portraits and stories of the residents. CHINATOWN PRETTY is accompanied by a street-style blog and Instagram, which continues “Chinatown Sartorialist,” a story they produced for The Bold Italic.

Andria Lo and Valerie Luu spent the last year scouting the hills of Chinatown, stopping and chatting with seniors as they went about their daily routines. “We captured individuals whose outfits brought us joy,” said Lo. “Everyone we spoke to tended to be over the age of 70.”

One such subject included Shi Ping Tay, an 80-year-old resident who donned a silver bob with bangs she cut herself. Her outfit consisted of acid wash jeans and plaid scarf tied over a floral blouse -- “all of which were given to me,” Tay said.

Clothes can tell a story -- and in the case of Chinatown, it’s a story about a generation of men and women who emigrated from China to Chinatown, and their fashion philosophy (staying warm) and economic ideals (making their own clothes or preserving the ones they already have). Short biographies based on interviews, conducted with the help of Cantonese-speaking translators, will be displayed next to the photos.

“Chinatown fashion has touches of ‘Accidental Chinese Hipster’ and ‘Advanced Style’ (a reference to a popular street fashion blogs), Hong Kong chic, and modern-day minimalism,” said Luu. “It’s really interesting how our subjects didn’t view their outfits as anything special, but once you start to notice Chinatown fashion, you’ll see that it’s very intentional and inspiring.”

Many of the looks combined urban utilitarianism with unexpected sartorial choices: customizing pants with interior hand-stitched pockets to hide grocery money or layering eight different shirts and sweaters to stay warm - each layer with its own fabric and color. Floral was also a common motif -- it was found on canes, baseball caps, patterned outdoor pajama sets and embroidered on Mandarin collars.

Another common thread were the subjects’ resourcefulness: many wore gifted clothes or retained pieces that they sewed themselves over thirty years ago.

Lo and Luu came to realize that money might have been a factor as to why many Chinatown seniors dress the way they do, but the outcome is undeniable: their fashion sense is unexpected, economical, functional and not just pretty, but Chinatown Pretty.

The photo exhibit is a part of SHOP CHINATOWN a new website and special promotion focusing on Chinatown’s fashion retail stores. Since the start of construction of Central Subway Station along Stockton Street, small businesses have been struggling from the noise, and loss of visibility from the ongoing construction. It is expected that these stores will continue to experience negative effects from the construction for next four years as the subway station is expected to start revenue service in 2019.

The SHOP CHINATOWN focuses on fashion and the 18 local business that have been most affected by the construction due to their proximity. The website includes a directory of stores and a style guide of featured products. It highlights Chinatown’s unique neighborhood character through photographs and stories.

The SHOP CHINATOWN December Giveaway is a no-fee contest shoppers can enter by simply shopping at the 18 participating businesses. Prize winners will receive gift certificates from participating local stores in $10 denominations for totals including $50, $100 and $500. Customers are encouraged to shop often to receive more raffle tickets and increase their chances to win. Raffle ticket holders deposit their raffle ticket at 41 Ross Alley by 3pm on Sunday December 20, 2015. For more details at

"Fashion stores have always been an integral part of Chinatown's unique cultural economy,” said Roy Chan, community planning manager of Chinatown Community Development Center. “For SHOP CHINATOWN 2015, we wanted a creative way to encourage shopping in these stores. Andria and Valerie’s lively exhibit and website showcases the style and stories of some fashionable local residents. And the prize drawing promotes shopping with the prize money benefiting the stores in the neighborhood. We are using arts and culture to positively assist the neighborhood and highlight its unique character.”

"The Office of Economic and Workforce Development is excited to support the collaboration between Chinatown merchants, local senior residents, Chinatown Community Development Center, and the producers of a street-style blog on the Chinatown Pretty exhibition,” said Director Todd Rufo. “The project celebrates Chinatown fashion and culture, promotes shopping local to Chinatown small businesses, and provides technical assistance and marketing strategies for the businesses during the upcoming holidays. In order to continue to build and maintain a strong economic foundation, we must ensure our City's rising prosperity benefits every single San Franciscan including our small business community. Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, they add character to our city and enliven our neighborhoods while employing approximately 326,000 residents."

Shop Chinatown is supported by the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority (MTA). For OEWD information visit: and for MTA information visit:

EXHIBITION DATES: Friday, December 4th, 2015 - Sunday, February 28th, 2016.
Gallery hours: Thursday - Sunday, 11am - 4pm.

Friday, December 4th
41 Ross Art Gallery
41 Ross Alley, San Francisco CA 94108
A1 Fashion
910-11 Stockton
Women’s Clothing & Accessories

Fashion House
910-5 Stockton
Women’s & Children’s Clothing

Fashion Taste
910-10 Stockton
Women’s Clothing

Henry's Jade Crafts
910-3 Stockton
Women’s Accessories

Hong Kong Fashion
1032 Stockton
Men’s and Women’s Clothing

H&M Fashion
910-7 Stockton
Women’s Clothing & Accessories

K&A Boutique / AA Boutique
802 Stockton
Women’s Clothing

Mei Tai Jewelry
910-1 Stockton
Women’s Jewelry

Mi Lan Shop
910-4 Stockton
Children’s Clothing

Mi Ze Lan Fashion
777 Jackson
Women’s and Children’s Clothing

Michelle Fashion
910-6 Stockton
Women’s Clothing

Mix Fashion Boutique
801 Stockton St
Women’s Clothing

Nancy’s Fashion
1012 Stockton
Women’s Clothing

Pink World
910-8 Stockton
Women’s Clothing

U Style
910-17 Stockton
Women’s Clothing

Wah Lai Fashion
910-2 Stockton
Women’s Clothing

Andria Lo is a freelance documentary and editorial photographer whose work can be found in Lucky Peach, KoreAm, Diablo and San Francisco Magazine. She is the former photo director of Hyphen Magazine, the Asian American arts and culture publication. She recently received a public art grant to feature her collaboration with the San Francisco Botanical Garden on Muni buses. Find her online at

Valerie Luu writes about San Francisco. Past projects includes Sublet SF, where she subleted in eight neighborhoods in two years (including a six-month stint in Chinatown). She’s currently working #100drinksdivis, a series of Instagram portraits where she has a drink with 100 different neighbors around Divisadero. She is also 1/2 of Rice Paper Scissors, a Vietnamese pop-up restaurant.

Situated in historic Ross Alley in San Francisco Chinatown, 41 Ross is a collaboration between the Chinatown Community Development Center and the Chinese Culture Foundation. 41 Ross is an active community space that brings together the general public including local residents, neighbors, and visitors to engage in art/culture making activities. More than an art gallery, 41 Ross is a community resource space and interactive studio that promotes dialogue, appreciation, and creative engagement around the local culture practiced by everyday people in Chinatown. Its cultural programming serves to activate Ross Alley and other public spaces in Chinatown. For more information visit:

Founded in 1977, Chinatown Community Development Center (Chinatown CDC or CCDC) goal is to build affordable housing, develop grassroots leadership, and empower low-income residents and youth for civic engagement in San Francisco. Chinatown CDC owns and/or manages 25 properties in San Francisco totaling 2,500 units of affordable housing for nearly 3,000 low-income seniors, formerly homeless adults, and families. Chinatown CDC residents are diverse and speak 14 languages including English, Chinese, Tagalog, Spanish, Russian, and Vietnamese. For more information visit:


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