Many fashion designers like to look to different cultures and traditions when it comes to designing clothing. This is because they are seen as different and exotic, as most of the things worn in these cultures is based on patterns and images that are not seen in our everyday life. When it comes to ethnic patterns and inspiration there are generally four consistent areas that inspiration has come from. This article looks at some of the areas that have inspired patterns and clothing styles.
The main areas where designers go for inspiration are Asia, Africa, South America and indigenous populations where they will use the imagery in costume, such as Aboriginal dress or Native American culture.
Going back to the 1970s and the hippy movement you will find a lot of ethnic dressing and this is probably when ethnic style became a more mainstream look. The ‘hippies’ of the 1970s used a lot of ethnic clothing in their style, which had influences ranging from indian mirror embroidery, through Afghan coats, sari material skirts and peasant blouses to North American influenced suede waistcoats.
This era definitely had a big influence on fashion and style and many of the styles that are around today have the roots in the 1970s.
From the 1970s onwards there has been a rise in clothes that have been designed with an ethnic influence. India is one of the obvious places to start from. The traditional Indian block printed fabric provides an excellent base from which to create a whole new style from. Many of the block printing techniques are unchanged over centuries but the addition of machinery and modern dyestuffs has allowed many of the fabrics to be mass produced. Often alongside block printing is vat dyeing, particularly using indigo as a base. Indigo can be used for overdyeing in the block printing technique, can be worked with using resist techniques (such as tie-dye or mud resist work) or can be used in simple dip dyeing. Dip dyeing allows deeper shades to be developed on the cloth and can give a garment shape trough this use of building up colour.
Add to the printed or dyed fabric the beautifully elaborate embroidery that is done to highlight the designs on the cloth and you have clothing that although ethnic has designs that are produced to such a high quality it is a pleasure to wear.
India is now home to a big industrial textile industry and can produce copious amounts of cotton and silk cloth at reasonable prices allowing more of us the chance to delight in ethnic clothing.
Ethnic clothing gives you a really individual look which suits a range of ages and is easy to wear.