Global Fashion

Every season, it seems, there’s a new twist on fashion–whether it’s tribal, mad-for-plaid, “ethnic,” or something else. That got me thinking about the clothes I wear and their origins.

Ballet flats, for example, are a 17th Century French invention and jumped from the stage to the streets more recently.

Tartan, or plaid, has its origins in Scotland, but there’s evidence of tartans used all the way east as far as China.tartan tights

a Scottish Kilt

The wide-sleeves of a kimono are unique and distinct and are sometimes seen in modern apparel.

kimono sleeves

Asian-influenced wide sleeves

Fine silk with delicate patterns are at home on a sari, but sari fabric is sometimes repurposed into other items too–and the Indian influence remains.

recycled sari skirt

We often show national pride by donning flags–our own or another nation’s.

union jack

Global items aren’t without controversy. Recently, a retailer I won’t mention got in trouble for naming American Indian-inspired patterns as Navajo–without the tribe’s permission. Are tribal patterns, styles, and materials an homage or do they belittle? Is it insensitive and ignorant or a celebration of global style?

What global trends to you like or wear?


Filed under Ethical, Fashion

4 responses to “Global Fashion

  1. Wow! This one is a thinker. I knew a bit of the history on the pieces you mentioned, but now I want to go thru my closet and really think about their origins. Don’t you love fashion? It’s not just about today, but also about how history effects my closet on a daily basis! Thanks, Jean!!! ~Sarah

  2. carmen

    Great article, very interesting!!

    I didn’t know that ballet flats date back to the 17th century – I guess that means they’re dated, huh? Audrey Hepburn loved them – in a time when elegant stilettos were so popular, she was wearing comfortable ballet flats in the 50s and 60s and they are still in style!

    I have worn a sari before (loaned to me), don’t have one of my own, but I have a skirt made of silk sari fabric from India. I think wearing (and naming) clothes from nationalities or inspired by other cultures are a form of flattery. After all, there is an old adage, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.”

    Truth is, we are influential beings: We all influence and are influenced by others. Be it fashion, ideas, customs, music, art etc. In this international village, it’s inevitable that we are bound to copy things we like. Too bad some people don’t realize that.

    • I forgot about Audry Hepburn. She rocked ballet flats. I thought about how they came into fashion more recently.

      I agree that imitation is the highest form of flattery. I like taking ideas from all places and blending them to make up our own personal styes.

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