American culture is intriguing because our nation is made up of so many different subcultures and people groups. Compared to other countries and regions of the world, our history is just a speck on the timeline. Because of our relatively small history and immigrants from all over the world, our culture has become a melting pot of influences. American fashion is a great visual representation of how this comes into play in our everyday lives.
Asian Fashion Influence:
Kimono style tops and cardigans have been a pretty popular fashion item the past few years, yet have you thought about how they compare to a traditional Japanese kimono? The word kimono literally means “a thing to wear,” but refers to a floor length formal robe. These are often ornately patterned with bright colors and made from silk or fine materials. Our version of the kimono retains the bright colors and patterns. Japanese were influenced by Chinese fashion and slowly transformed from a very formal clothing item to more wearable for everyday life. Presently, Kimonos are reserved for special occasions, typically worn by older men and women, or by sumo wrestlers who are required to wear a kimono when making public appearances! Who would think that a garment that sumo wrestlers wear inspired something in your closet?
North America Native American Fashion Inspiration:
Turquoise jewelry is big in the US fashion scene. The southwestern part of our country is one of the top producers for this gemstone. Its popularity can be seen in many bohemian styles. Native American people, who have inspired many trends in the United States, originated this look. Native Americans, specifically the Navajo tribe, believe turquoise to represent health, luck and happiness. The colors of the gem hold reference to the colors of the earth. Navajo people would almost always set turquoise in silver. Today, so much of the turquoise jewelry we see is fashioned in the same way, but adapted to modern trends.
European Fashion Ideas:
When you think of American fashion pieces influenced by European nations, France and Italy may come to mind. However, Russian fashion brought us the leather jacket. An edgy style piece originated from Russian aviators in the early 1900s. They lined the brown bomber jacket with a sheepskin to keep extra warm in the cold weather. Of course, movie stars sporting the jackets is what made the popularity rise in the US. There are many different styles of leather jackets, including different colors of black, red and gray, but we can still see the bomber style and (faux) sheepskin lining today!
South America Fashion Concepts:
In the past few fashion seasons we’ve seen a lot of Latin influence on trends. Bare shoulders, embroidery, lace, fringe and ruffles are all major components in Latin fashion. Latin fashion for women can often be associated with a romantic and feminine feel. The “traje de flamenca” worn by flamenco dancers is the root of this inspiration. This women’s attire has ruffles on their sleeves and hemline. The necklines on many of these costumes have off-the-shoulder sleeves, either short or long. A mantle (shawl-type garment) with fringe off the hemline is worn over the shoulders. If you find any of these trendy looks in your closet, maybe you do have a romantic or feminine style and now you can point to the inspiration behind your look!
African Fashion Influence:
Head wraps, turbans and head ties can be traced back to sub-Saharan Africa. This clothing item has been around for hundreds of years and originated out of function and fashion. In South Africa, head ties are referred to as gele, tukwi and duku. When African-American people were enslaved and brought to the United States, they brought a piece of their heritage with them in the form of a head tie. Women would wear this item to pay tribute to their homeland. Head ties were also a symbol of their true identity as an African woman. Hair wraps and this fashion item of history inspired headbands and head ties of modern times. Many cultures have adopted hair wraps into their fashion. Head wraps are used for a variety of purposes from religious symbols to accessories. Now when you see women and girls at your school wearing a head wrap, you can understand the influence and origin of the look.
Australian Fashion Inspiration:
Aussies no doubt inspired achieving an effortlessly cool and casual look. The people of Australia have adopted their style based on durable and wearable fabrics and looks. Australia’s landscape contains beautiful and amazing natural features. The continent can be simply dived into the beach and the bush land. Australian fashion reflects the beauty and naturalness of the land. A trend that always comes up in US fashion has been an effortless edge to fashion. This is why street wear of models and celebrities is so popular. If you’re the kind on girl who loves to wear a loose-fitting boyfriend jean with a tee and cute sandals, then you have taken note from Aussies.
Looking in your closet, you can see a picture of who you are and your style. However, you can also look closely and see a glimpse of the inspiration of countries around the world. Just like the country you live in, your fashion grows and changes with the inspiration of cultures around you.