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Fashion and Culture Making Sense of the Evolution Of Eastern And Western Style:

The fashion industry is all about making bold, edgy, and trendy fashion statements. The term fashion includes being different from the crowd or making a statement through clothes and accessories that set you apart. When fashion comes into the picture, culture is an integral part of it. Thus, fashion and culture are inter- related.

Fashion and culture go hand in hand. Our clothes are a way to express our personality, where we come from, who we are, what we do, etc. Culture influences our lifestyle in major ways, especially by way of modernization, art and technological innovation. Eastern and Western cultures and lifestyles originated and developed over thousands of years, as the age-old saying goes – “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” As such, the clothing styles and fashions have been in flux. A major part of both cultures’ self-expression involves fashion, from special occasions to everyday attire.

Let’s take a look at how the different cultures and fashions have evolved eastern and western styles leading to varying sartorial tastes and unique methods of design and creation.

If we talk about the East, we see customary clothes like the Japanese Kimono and the Indian Saree belonging to a specific culture. Men and women have been wearing these traditional pieces for centuries, with minor style variations taking place over time. These outfits are still very appropriate for cultural occasions and festivals, and they continue to signify the acceptance of their fashion and culture. Now we see kimonos being worn by women, and even men from the West; denoting it as comfort wear, they are styled as part of work wear and everyday attire.

Let’s take a look at how the different cultures and fashions have evolved eastern and western styles leading to varying sartorial tastes and unique methods of design and creation.

If we talk about the East, we see customary clothes like the Japanese Kimono and the Indian Saree belonging to a specific culture. Men and women have been wearing these traditional pieces for centuries, with minor style variations taking place over time. These outfits are still very appropriate for cultural occasions and festivals, and they continue to signify the acceptance of their fashion and culture. Now we see kimonos being worn by women, and even men from the West; denoting it as comfort wear, they are styled as part of work wear and everyday attire.

Indian women are also styling the Indian saree with jackets, corsets, etc. marking it as a formal option for their everyday work attire and for various other events. Pre-stitched and pre-draped sarees are all the rage right now, accepted and adored by women all over the world. Kurti’s worn with jeans are all the rage with the younger generation. Kurtis and jeans is a perfect example of how fashion and culture go hand in hand.

The Eastern style has not lost its customary clothing sensibilities, they have just evolved to suit the lifestyles of people in the modern age. We see this with many high-fashion brands and designers that use traditional motifs and silhouettes in new age ensembles. Big brands like Louis Vuitton, Marchesa, and Issey Miyake have celebrated the kimono on the runway, and designers like Sabyasachi and Masaba are adding a touch of modernity to the classical Indian sari and lehenga.

As for Western fashion and style, there have been major changes in their dressing over time. Indeed there was a certain signature touch to it in earlier times but now it’s about comfortable, on-the-go pieces and wearable items. Take corsets, for instance, corsets defined the western era for decades, marking a distinct fashion and culture collaboration. Now corsets and bustiers have largely fallen out of fashion and however, the few that are sold just imitate the style and are modified for wearability. The same goes for three-piece formal clothing, this kind of formal wear option was mostly visible during official events and occasions; today men’s formals have taken over the entire western world in the form of casual wear suits, workwear suits, athleisure suits, evening wear pantsuits and more. Meanwhile, the three-piece have largely fallen out of favor and are reserved for extremely formal occasions. Today, Western clothing displays a casual kind of style mainly because it is a more secular society. The West is the trendsetter of the current fashion world and others adapt the western fashion and culture practices of native land to mould fashion. Their clothing includes denim wear, tees, skirts, pants, shorts and more. Here, religion doesn’t define the dress code. The main definition of western-style would be anything comfortable and trendy, whatever attracts and flatters the body is worn usually. European clothing tends to follow the same trend. This style is heavily influenced by liberal thought, with huge experimental and avant-garde fashions emerging in the area.

We can see it’s an evolution with the iconic wrap dress by DVF, distressed denim and athleisure.

On the other hand, the style in the East changes on a rapid scale, although across the board it portrays tradition and culture. Religious beliefs, cultural obligations, and traditions define the dress code in the East. Customary dressing manners are a method to preserve traditional beliefs and values, which are passed onto future generations.

Although in fashion and culture – the eastern and western styles have now started to adopt a new, much more modernized view of clothing – a blend of all cultures brought together. This has led to an entirely new category of clothing, unique to our times – fusion wear.

However, not all have taken to the introduction of new styles and many have spoken against the increasing intertwining of cultures. Fusion wear and western wear has definitely sparked controversy. In fact, a village in Andhra even banned women from wearing nighties outside their houses between the hours of 6 am to 7 pm, going as far as to impose a fine of INR 2,000 for any violation!

Many other states in India have also attempted to and actually banned women from wearing jeans and t-shirts at colleges. With various similar instances, it is clear that new styles of clothing have been met with mixed responses.

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