A Culture of Fashion
As someone with an obvious obsession for fashion, I’ve always had an interest in what’s happening around the world. Today’s fashion trends have many influences; some economic, some environmental, but nothing has ever really compared to the role culture plays in style.
I reached out to four friends to get their perspective on how culture influences today’s fashion, from their personal style to what’s currently trending, and what we could be seeing next.
Name: Areen Malkawi
Use one word to describe Jordan’s fashion scene: Creative
What makes your culture’s fashion so unique? There are no boundaries. We strive on creating new looks from what we already have. It’s definitely not about name brands, but rather finding affordable items, and making them glamorous. Pairing pieces together to take a look that is very ordinary, and make it fabulous.
Do you think your personal style reflects your culture? How? Definitely. My go-to look is skinny jeans, paired with high heels, a loose top, and a blazer. I pair this with lighter eye makeup and a matte lipstick. In other words, I take items from my closet that can be dressed down, and dress them up by pairing them together and adding a few jewelry items, like a boyfriend watch. The makeup is very light in order to accentuate the outfit, and keeping it office or school appropriate.
In your opinion, do you see fashion trends unique to Jordan that rival popular trends in today’s fashion? I think fashion from where I come from is quite comparable to popular trends in today’s fashion. Fashion is very economically friendly and encourages recreating couture designs from items that are feasible to attain.
Name: Arefin Ahsan
Use one word to describe the fashion scene in Bangladesh: Exotic
What makes your culture’s fashion so unique? Reflecting the long history of the region, Bangladesh has a culture that encompasses elements both old and new, very much similar to that of India. The sari (shari) is by far the most widely worn dress by Bangladeshi women. The salwar kameez is also quite popular, and in urban areas some women wear western attire. Among men, western attire is more widely adopted. Men also wear the kurta-pajama combination, often on special occasions.
Do you think your personal style reflects your culture? How? To some extent it does, like in special festivals when we dress up in traditional kurta pajamas. And I’ve spent most of my adult life living in UK and Canada, so I would say currently my style sense has been more westernized in many different ways.
In your opinion, do you see fashion trends unique to Bangladesh that rival popular trends in today’s fashion? Mostly in urban areas of the country where the western culture is more adopted like I mentioned before. The thriving Bangladeshi modeling industry is now setting up its eye to reach the international platform, to perform shows in India, Dubai, Malaysia, and a few other countries. The time has come when young girls have moved out to step forward to represent our country and contribute to make the country rank up amongst some of the fashion capitals. The mind set has changed since the 80′s and 90′s and they foresee a future as a model. Today, they are doing courses for enhancing their beauty and intelligence to be more professional. They see it as a career to attain more fame and money with a fabulous lifestyle.
Name: Modou Camara
Country: Gambia, Africa
Use one word to describe the fashion scene in Gambia: Vibrant
What makes your culture’s fashion so unique? If anything, our fashion and styles are colourful. Whenever you step out into the streets, outfits are usually an array of different colours, especially women wearing “print” fabric, tie & dye and batik fabrics (traditionally designed materials). In terms of fashion, men don’t have much of an identity in Gambia. It is predominantly women. Men can be seen in the usual shirts and jeans, then there’s the traditional grand mbubah/haftan worn often on special occasions, Fridays, or daily by people of high stature. For women, each different ethnic group has its own unique culture and identity and that influences the accessories they may wear, though the garments are usually similar. From what I have observed growing up and in adolescence, outfits are usually determined by the occasion. On special occasion like weddings, naming ceremonies, and other more cultural and traditional festivities, that is when women would dress up, with the large gold bangles, necklaces, and earrings.
Do you think your personal style reflects your culture? How? My personal style does reflect my culture as much as I can. From the silver bracelet I always wear on my right wrist, to some of the cotton shirts I wear. I try to adopt a style that fits the fashion trend here, but still represents the uniqueness in my background.
In your opinion, do you see fashion trends unique to Gambia that rival popular trends in today’s fashion? Comparable popular trends I have observed are the cotton shirts for men, the “print” shirts, bowties, and neckties. For women, the styles fit most often for the slim figure most Gambian women have, with the hips and butt nicely fitted to perfection (that is, from a guys perspective).
Name: Sangeetha Young
Country: Madurai, India
Use one word to describe the fashion scene in Madurai: Colorful
What makes your culture’s fashion so unique? All the colour, designs, and boldness – talk about standing out! At least in smaller places like PEI, just like any culture, there is certain clothing for everyday wear and more formal.
Do you think your personal style reflects your culture? How? I’ve always been in between, wanting to reach into the roots of my birthplace, but being adopted at the age of three to a Canadian couple kind of wipes away the small part of culture you do have. My entire life wanting/craving to know and have “more culture” is what attracts me so much to the clothing from India. I want it all! I’m in complete awe when I see women dressed in the traditional clothing from any culture, really.Recently having my hair cut is not what you would expect to see for an Indian female, long hair is the more traditional way. The closest I get to “India fashion” at this point in my life is bangles and earrings. When I was younger, I used to wear salwar kameez (pants and shirt) more often but having never travelled back to India since birth, it’s hard to come by. Whenever I get the chance for henna, I’m all over it! If I’m lucky, I’ll find someone selling jewelry from India or get something from a friend, including bangles, anklets, and earrings.
In your opinion, do you see fashion trends unique to India that rival popular trends in today’s fashion? I’ve seen Indian attire making its way slowly in the wedding world in North America. I think everybody could use some colour and India fashion is sure to deliver.
Kimberly Rashed/ Style Becomes Her/ @karashed/PEI’s version of Heidi Klum