Black cat Never underestimate an old woman with cats and sewing skills poster, canvas
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Unexpected clashes of plaids, paisleys and polka dots. Layers of colourful jackets and vests for a day out, topped with a visor or beanie. Lanyards with keys and bus passes. Trolleys and luggage bags in tow.
It’s the eye-catching fashion of Chinatown seniors.
The style caught the eye of Andria Lo and Valerie Luu six years ago, and the duo began documenting the styles and stories of seniors who reminded them of their grandparents.
Their blog project, Chinatown Pretty, took them to the streets of San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Manhattan and Vancouver, and their images have now been compiled into a book.
It’s an intimate portrait of a demographic that sought new life in North America and is now in its twilight years.
The immigrants and refugees interviewed are from places like China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Indonesia. They raised children and grandchildren while doing everything from running a business to working at the local Tootsie Roll plant.
Some left academic life behind. Others left home in the wake of 20th-century upheavals. Many didn’t know English and had to pick it up after emigrating to the other side of the Pacific.
Now retired, these seniors have settled in various Chinatowns to live out the rest of their years.