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Featured Topic: The Tai Tai Wears Prada

Posted April 4th, 2008 by YASPY Chick · 21 Comments

When I came back from a trip to Hong Kong back in high school, a Mean Girl criticized my shopping habits. She thought that I should have shopped at the more expensive boutiques, rather than standard Hong Kong mall stores. Why? Because she’s a Snooty Hong Konger. Snooty Hong Kongers can be found everywhere Hong Kongers go (especially in cities like Toronto, Vancouver and San Francisco). To them, it’s all about Keeping Up With the Wongs, a bragging right.

As soon as they can afford it, asians go out and buy that Bensee (Mercedes-Benz) or Boe-Mah (BMW), that (mini) McMansion, and the latest designer wardrobe (many seem to like Prada and LV). I’m not kidding! Country club membership and a prep school education for the kids are also part of the picture.

While there are men (I saw several guys on the subway with designer man bags”¦ very metro looking. Let’s save Metro Asian Males for later) who do this, the women are worse, especially the middle aged women (i.e. tai tais or Ladies who Lunch). They criticize you from your shopping habits, your car, your favorite restaurants, your job, majors to even your school. You shop at Old Navy or H&M? They’d say ‘HOW CAN YOU SHOP AT OLD NAVY?” To them, even H&M’s one-off designer lines aren’t cool, because they aren’t the ‘real thing.”

Sometimes, it’s like they want to make you cry on purpose. Mean Girls (they certainly are), enjoy dim summing (omg”¦I just turned dim sum into a verb) at nice Chinese restaurants that aren’t in old Chinatown because they prefer those in new predominantly Asian suburbs. If they’re not dim summing, they’re probably golfing at the country club. One that wouldn’t have admitted them just decades earlier based on race. At the golf club, they’ll also criticize technique, your golf clubs and of course, what you’re wearing.

When it comes to clothes and accessories, it must be a brand that people in Hong Kong recognize. This means the big ones like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci. The older the Snooty Hong Konger, the less likely they’re going to accept brands like Nanette Lepore or Tory Burch. Even Lilly Pulitzer, the pride of anything WASPy won’t fall into the ‘acceptable” category, let alone the Lululemon yoga pants that you see many young people wear. For the tai tais, it’s about the logo. For example, the LV monogram must be displayed prominently. They have to show off what they can afford, after all.

Unlike old money WASPs, subtleness does not exist, especially when it comes to accessories. Thinness is also very important. You can never be ‘too rich or too thin” right?

Education? Once again, the brand name is important. Smaller east coast liberal arts colleges, no matter how difficult the admission processes, are not acceptable if people back in Hong Kong haven’t heard of them. In Canada, this means NO to places like Acadia or Mount St. Allison. In the US, Amherst and Middlebury are not as acceptable as Big Ivy League Schools. To a certain extent, high schools are also important.

Many send their kids to private schools that remind them of the colonial British education they had back in the old country. This usually means an old line prep school. Of course, the piano or violin lessons are a must, as is going to see live theater. A Snooty Hong Konger must be well ‘cultured.” In rare cases, slightly tacky singers are, for some reason, also acceptable. I’ve heard of Snooty Hong Kongers talk about their trip to Vegas just to see Celine!

The showiness of many snooty Hong Kong immigrants isn’t that different from other “new money” cultures. They just want to announce to the world that they’re ‘here”. I don’t think it has to do with racism in the western world because you see snooty Hong Kongers do the same thing in Hong Kong too! The girl who criticized my Hong Kong shopping habits wasn’t an immigrant who came to Canada, but a foreign student!

Written by YASPY Chick

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21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Asian-American Guy // Apr 4, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    I have no idea what you are talking about.

  • 2 Golf » Reader"™s Story: The Tai Tai Wears Prada // Apr 4, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    [...] Poemas del alma. versos gitanos que se me escapan – La Coctelera wrote an interesting post today on Readerâ

  • 3 YASPY Chick // Apr 5, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Asian-American Guy: You SERIOUSLY have never met those snotty women from Hong Kong who care about nothing other than brand names?

  • 4 Justin // Apr 5, 2008 at 9:30 am

    I’ve seen them…some are nice some are conceited…but yeah, majority are into brand names.

  • 5 Asian-American Guy // Apr 5, 2008 at 10:47 am

    [YASPY Chick // Apr 5, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Asian-American Guy: You SERIOUSLY have never met those snotty women from Hong Kong who care about nothing other than brand names?]

    No, I haven’t. I guess I should feel fortunate. My folks are working-class Asians.

  • 6 MsDaisy // Apr 6, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    OMG! I thought I was the only one who’s met a Tai Tai dimsumming (yes, I used the verb!) and dissing with her Guccis. Thanks YASPY chick for writing the article.

  • 7 Mochi // Apr 12, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    LOVE it!!!!!!

  • 8 Mochi // Apr 12, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    I lived in HK for 9 years (home is NYC) and this is soooo true!

  • 9 helrokitty // Apr 20, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Im white BTW but anyway, My mother has a Hermes bag (it was given to her from her extremely rich mother as a present) they usually sell for 5k and up, when my mother went to the country club she encountered a gaggle of middle aged asian women, who had bags by LV, gucci and the like. When they asked her about it (i guess they asked her in a condisending way becuase they didnt know about hermes) she told them about hermes and the company and how exclusive they are. I guess within a couple months, the asian women all had one (its a very snooty country club in beverly hills) and they then criticized the women who carried chanel and gucci and prada. And the suprising part is how blunt they are, its like they dont even care about hurting peoples feelings. Lmao although it is quite funny. AND THEY DID IT TO MY MOTHERS NEW HOUSE! omg now i remember, one asian friend was critizing my mothers new house that had acreage, with white carpet, and within 5 years i went to a party at her new house, and it was on acreage with white carpet!! it was completely revealing!!!!!! lmao

  • 10 wakawaka // Apr 25, 2008 at 8:34 am

    word. damn snooty hong kongers.

  • 11 Arian // Apr 27, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Wow. What a waste of my time. There are people who exist as shallow materialists? No! Thats absolutely incredible; I would have never thought. The irony, by the way, is that by writing an article criticizing the condescending nature of these “Hong Kongers”, you have imitated exactly what you criticize as being folly. Great Job!

  • 12 YASPY Chick // May 2, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Helro Kitty,

    I’m surprised the HK ladies at your mom’s club have never heard of Hermes! If they’re snooty like that, they would!

    Now Tory Burch, that’s a different story.

  • 13 Loweeel // May 24, 2008 at 9:17 am

    AmHerst and Middletierbury, sure — they’re not as good. But unlike Williams, they’re not #1. And Williams isn’t just #1 — Williams produced Lee Hom Wang!

  • 14 misscute // Jul 3, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    ROFL, this is hilarious and spot on. I’ve lived in an area of SoCal that I’ve seen change overnight and tons of TaiTais here! Being asian myself and seeing the area gentrify is both a good and bad thing…
    I always wonder why the taitais are ao badly dressed at times though. Heavy powder and makeup eek

  • 15 Anonymous // Jul 31, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    The school is called Mount Allison, or perhaps you are looking for Mount Saint Vincent.

  • 16 jillian // Dec 4, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    my own relatives do this – constantly.
    makes me want to throw my bio textbook at them.

    seriously, i don’t give a fuck that your handbag costs more than my car. is there nothing besides money and brands you’re interested in?

    funny thing is, as “high class” as they think they are, they have the IQs of lemmings and know absolutely nothing.

  • 17 Gillian // Feb 25, 2009 at 5:11 am

    I am not sure what is being criticized here. What’s wrong with conspicuous consumption? What’s wrong with being wealthy and flaunting it if you want to? Why be apologetic for the wealth you have been blessed with? I agree Hong Kongers should not criticize or interfere what other people wear or buy, but they should also not be criticized for flaunting their wealth. I always detect a tint of jelousy when rich people are criticized. Let people live their lifes, bless the ones who have and you shall have too.

  • 18 The spread of tai-tai-ism « Where The Hell Am I? // Sep 6, 2009 at 2:15 am

    [...] website Stuff Asian People Like simply defines them as ‘Ladies who Lunch’ and enjoy buying expensive brand names, such [...]

  • 19 Hair Straighteners // Sep 5, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    I love your website!

  • 20 Frankie // Dec 13, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    @Gillian, Can I just say that I love you for that comment?

  • 21 juicy couture // Jan 16, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    @Asian-American Guy,
    I like it a lot. This was a useful post

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