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Cultural Influences on Fashion: A Global Perspective


From the catwalks of Paris to the busy streets of Tokyo, fashion in the 21st century has become a global phenomenon and an expression of a culture’s identity. Culture has a huge impact on the styles of clothing that people choose to wear, influencing the ideas of beauty and the trends that become popular around the world. For this reason, it is important to consider the cultural influences on fashion at a global level, as each region has different ways of communicating through apparel. In this article, we will explore how culture shapes fashion on a global scale and the exciting ways that people express themselves through clothing.

As fashion evolves, so do the trends of globetrotting, mixing cultures from around the world. There’s a sense of freedom and openness that comes with being able to choose from a wide range of looks; some from near, some from far! Who doesn’t want to express themselves through colours and symbols, paying homage to the amazing places they have travelled or been inspired by.

From brilliantly coloured, intricate Indian saris to the more classic pieces from Europe, fusing the two together is so much fun. The sari can be layered on top of a wide-brimmed hat for a bohemian look, or it can be combined with a distressed, classic denim jacket for an easier look. One can be adventurous and create something that is a mix of both worlds, adding bright jewellery or an accessory for a more cultural vibe.

So why stay confined when trends move around the world? Have fun and create something special that speaks to you. Here are some other ideas for combining fashion with globetrotting:

  • Layer a Japanese kimono over a pair of jean shorts and complete the look with a classic bandana
  • Combine a traditional Indian skirt with a pink and white top and add a sleek western-style belt
  • Mix both prints and fabrics together to express your vibrant side

You can create amazing looks that not only express your individual fashion sense, but also pay homage to the places and cultures you have travelled. It’s just a matter of keeping your eyes and mind open!

2. Exploring Cultural Identities Through Dress

Today cultural identity is integral to how people see themselves and how others view them. Exploring our cultural identity through the way we dress is one of the best ways to express ourselves.

  • Clothing can reflect the culture we are part of. Our clothing can be very specific and signal certain messages to those around us. For example, traditional clothing worn in certain regions, specific colors, fabrics, cuts, tailoring, and other features can all be used to symbolize different beliefs, values, and customs. In many cultures, certain colors and patterns are associated with certain occasions, events, or holidays, reflecting its cultural significance.
  • Clothing can represent an individual’s unique identity. Each person’s clothing choices communicate their individual styles and interests. Wearing an item of clothing from another culture, for instance, can be a way to show openness to other cultures or signify an individual’s ability to blend in with different social and cultural groups. On the other hand, individuals can also use clothes to stand out from the crowd and set themselves apart from others.
  • Clothing can be used to express political opinions. Throughout history, protest movements have used clothing as a form of visual communication in order to support their causes. This can range from wearing the colors of a certain political party, wearing clothing with slogans or logos, or wearing clothing representative of another culture or political viewpoint. By choosing certain clothes, individuals can represent their values and make a statement without having to say a word.
  • Clothing can serve as a way to remember our roots. People often use clothing as a way to honor and remember the culture and traditions of their ancestors. By wearing traditional clothing or items of clothing associated with their culture, individuals can express their appreciation of their background and cultural heritage.

The importance of dressing in a way that expresses our culture and our individual identity cannot be overstated. Our clothing choices are an integral part of how we choose to present ourselves to the world. The way we dress can not only make a statement about our culture and our identity, but also allow us to express our support for certain social causes, as well as our appreciation for our ancestral roots. Ultimately, the way we dress can help us to express who we are and is a powerful way to reaffirm our cultural identites.

Fashion has transcended cultures and unified people for centuries. Since the inception of style, it has grown to be much more than an expression of individual expression; it has become a social mirror of the shifting times.

Breaking Down Boundaries

At the heart of fashion lies its ability to bring people together in a unique way. From kids on a city street to royalty in a castle, fashion has brought an increased sense of connectivity. With the creation of bespoke items, the development of social media sites, and the evolution of customs, clothing has allowed for a new level of understanding and appreciation for different cultures.

Commonality of Style

No matter which culture one looks at, the common thread of fashion can be found. Whether its East Indian saris, African head wrapping, or Native American beadwork, these articles of clothing offer a tangible representation of their culture’s beliefs. This goes beyond the symbolic however, as fashion can bring attention to social issues, inspire a sense of ownership and agency, and open up potential conversations on identity.

Breaking out of Constraints

Fashion is a tool to break the bonds of societal restrictions on personal expression. With fashion, people are able to be creative and craft their own distinctive sense of style. Clothing can be used to create an image that deviates from cultural norms and to redefine beauty paradigms. It also allows for a more modern look to be created, with items from around the world being melded together into unique combinations.

When it comes to fashion, it’s evident that the connection it brings can not only manipulate and challenge the conventions of cultural garments, but can also open individuals up to new experiences. Igniting a newfound level of curiosity and enriching transformation, fashion now stands proudly as a uniting link between diverse cultures.

4. The Impact of Globalization on Everyday Dress

Globalization has certainly made a mark on everyday dress, from influencing the styles we’re exposed to, to the materials used to make them.

Scrolling through Instagram or flipping through a fashion magazine, one finds a variety of styles from all over the world represented. From Japanese street wear to Aboriginal print, what was once exotic is now everyday. Thanks to globalization, cultures previously inaccessible are now at the tips of our fingers, affecting the way we look at dress and fashion in general.

In terms of the materials used to create clothing, globalization has seen a boom in the production of man-made, chemical-heavy fabrics such as polyester, acrylic and nylon, manufactured to keep up with the ever-changing market. They’re often cheaper to produce and have shorter production times than natural fibers, and the variety and range of these materials make them very attractive to the modern-day clothier.

The sustainability of fashion has also been heavily impacted by globalization. The “fast fashion” phenomenon, where stores often follow their global competitors in producing and citing the same designs within months, has caused prices to stay low, but has taken a toll on both the environment and the fashion-makers. This global consumer culture has resulted in inhumane and unsafe working conditions for many employees in the fashion industry, especially in the developing world.

  • Globalization has opened us up to a world of cultural influences, making foreign styles of dress much more accessible to the modern world.
  • The materials used to create modern fashion have shifted from natural to man-made fibers, making production cheaper and faster for manufacturers.
  • Sustainability has taken a drastic hit, with many fashion workers in developing countries subjected to inhumane conditions.

From its early days on the catwalks of Europe, fashion has evolved to incorporate the traditional and contemporary influences of culture from around the world. With so many perspectives to draw from, fashion no longer belongs to a single place or people. Instead, fashion has the ability to bring us together, crossing borders and boundaries and creating a truly global style.



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