Cultural diffusion is the spread of cultural beliefs and activities from one culture to another. This idea includes fashion, which is how so many of your favorite styles seem to come from all over the world and any point in time. From spikes and studs to big bling and fur, different groups of people come up with different styles and accessories. These styles are often absorbed into mainstream fashion, and sometimes blended together to make new and unique garments. Let’s take a look at the common cultures diffusing through fashion.
Americana tends to be described as a nostalgia for the days of simple life on the American Prairie. Imagine running through fields of wheat in Saloni’s folksy gown, the sun streaming through the clouds, no telephone wires to mar the view. Yeezy’s denim outfit is perfect for corralling cattle, ushering them into a paddock, rushing home to fresh milk and cheese. Sea and Jonathan Simkhai go for a more casual look, something you’d wear heading into town on horseback, while Coach 1941 is an excellent example of chilly mornings on expansive fields, herding sheep and building barns.
Feel free with these fabrics:
Hip Hop began in the 1970’s, created by inner-city African Americans. This genre of music mutated into a culture, including its own sense of style. Rihanna shows off her hip hop roots with a baggy jumpsuit in Fenty x Puma’s line, while Valentino goes for a more fitted track suit, both reminiscent of the early days of hip hop. Gold chains and gaudy jackets are perfect for strutting your stuff through the streets of New York, similar to Marc Jacobs’ fur coat and gold necklaces and Nicholas K’s lamé coat and matching skirt. Vetements’ layered, baggy outerwear is perfect for listening to Gucci Mane’s “East Atlanta Santa” while enjoy a winter wonderland.
Feeling hip? Get with it with these fabrics:
Korean fashion is simple, and yet it has diffused into so many Western fashion lines and styles. From long shirts and layered dresses, to androgyny and gender bending, Korean fashion has subtly overtaken American style. Minju Kim’s quilted pinafore dress is perfect for casual and formal gatherings, from meeting an old flame at a tea house to a fancy night out on the town, while Fleamadonna’s dress layered over sweatpants takes athleisure to new heights. Forget about gender norms in Blindness’ funky, quilted tracksuit type style, or stay neutral with The-sirius’ khaki coat and pop of blue. Moohong reminds us how perfect a slogan tee can be, perfect for any event where you couldn’t care less.
Check out these fabrics:
Punk isn’t just a music genre, it’s a way of life. Although rooted in the punk music that began in the 1960’s, punk has evolved into a subculture that reached new heights in the 80’s, and is still quite popular today. Punks are often treated as outliers in society, but fashion has a way of taking from the outliers and making it mainstream. This is clear in Chanel’s take on the punk style, with big hair and metallic green leather. Studs and spikes take center stage in Rodarte’s and Vetements’ ensembles, while Gucci relies on the denim fad paired with a grungy t-shirt and choker. Junya Watanabe takes the punk lifestyle head on with a mix of blood-red plaid and loud cheetah print. These styles are perfect for checking out your local garage band, or hanging out at the local dive bar and discussing the Sex Pistols.
Partial to punk? Pick out some of these fabrics:
Europe enjoyed a period of artistic, scientific, and literary advancement and discovery from the 14th century to the 17th. This is what unites the middle ages with the modern era, and it now unites old fashion with modern style. Casely-Hayford and Aganovich use renaissance style paintings of landscapes to create coveted coats, while Alice+Olivia uses a similar style to make the perfect dress for baroque brunches and museum galas. Alberta Ferretti and Louis Vuitton both use a sheer chiffon with images reminiscent of the renaissance, great for formal wedding receptions and having a portrait made of yourself.
Feeling awakened? Put your closet through a renaissance period with these fabrics:
What culture influences you? Let me know in the comments!