Fashion is a huge part of many people’s lives, what we wear defines who we are. Fashion and culture go hand in hand, and therefore what is in style changes from country to country and even from religion to religion.
Each country has its own distinct style, even looking at a certain style or fabric will bring a certain country to mind. From stereotypes of Irish in Aran sweaters, to the French wearing striped shirts and berets, to the streets of London where there is a mix of cultural and fashion divides, we see how fashion is intertwined with our heritage and culture.
When you think of Japan, you probably think of sushi and kimonos, highlighting how entwined culture and fashion truly is. Whilst, kimonos had a moment in the spotlight in western pop culture and fashion, they are still of course a traditional Japanese garment. There are several different type of kimonos for men and women in Japanese culture, which are extremely different from what you could pick up on the high street.
Although trends from western culture tend to take the forefront in the media, other cultures have their own unique take on fashion that may be jarring to some western countries. Take for example the burkini debate last year that plagued the French sea sides. Should these women be allowed to wear these bathing suits? It was a strange argument for many people, it’s just fashion – if they like it, let them wear it. These women prefer to wear burkinis rather than two piece bikinis or bathing suits. Taking a look back in the western history you can see that women wore bathing suits that covered their entire bodies, much like the divisive burkinis.
Nike has become one of the first western brands to actually incorporate the hijab into its sportswear. Although other Muslim-owned companies have been making sportswear for Muslim athletes, the news that Nike is launching their own line is huge. This global brand is cutting through cultural divides to make fashion accessible to more people.
As more and more cultures begin to spread around the world, we are now seeing a mix of cultural fashion and beauty trends coming into the forefront. We can see this in Henna as it becomes more popular in western culture. The art of Henna began in Asia and Africa and was used to dye hair, skin and even finger nails. It is traditionally used in weddings in certain countries, but has become more commercialised as it has moved into the western market.
In black culture we see hairstyles that are different from any other race on the planet. From dreadlocks, cornrows and afros these hairstyles are all associated with their culture. Whilst these hairstyles mix into other cultures and become easier to create for all types of hair, we see boxer braids and fades becoming more popular in a mix of cultures.
The world is only getting smaller as more people emmigrate to other countries and bring their cultures with them. We should be proud to show off our own culture, and welcome to experience new cultures. From Uggs to Kilts, we associate these pieces of clothes with a certain country or culture, like Australia and Celtic culture. It’s certainly interesting to name an article of clothing and begin to think of its heritage. Behind each item of clothing, each hairstyle and each beauty product there is a vast culture behind it. Fashion and culture will always run parallel to one another, which makes the future so much more exciting as each culture evolves, grows and merges with other cultures.
By Bronwyn O’Neill