Category: Fashion Created on Saturday, 14 May 2011 11:38
What is Fashion?
A complex question I know, with endless perspectives and interpretations but there are a few things that remain constant and that is:
- fashion is a means of self-expression
- an attitude
- art meeting creativity meeting style
- creating a reaction
- social and cultural manifestation
- it depends on the country/island you live in
As I considered the above, one group of people came to mind - the Rastafarian Tribes of the Caribbean. For decades they have provoked, challenged and questioned the fashion status quo. At their heart, they are radical and thought-provoking in their style. With arguably one of the strongest aesthetics in our region, their style is both innovative and individual. The Rastas have established many trends along the way such as:
- Rasta Tams/Beenies: the crocheted or leather hats worn by Rastas
- Wooden accessories: beads, necklaces, bracelets, carved out walking canes
- Wooven Hats: made from the leaves of the coconut or bamboo trees
- Turbans: they wear these turbans in various creative wrap styles
- Tri-band stripes: As seen on Louis Vitton & Puma
And the list goes on…
Having recently watched countless videos of Bob Marley & The Wailors in celebration of the 30th year of The Legend's passing (11th May 1981) one thing that hits me repeatedly is 'WOW,THESE MEN HAD REAL STYLE!' It wasn't just about the clothes they wore, but 'how' they wore it. It was in the way they moved. The things they said & how they said them. Their attitude! Today I guess this is what we call, 'Swagger' and the Rastas have it in abundance, not because they are trying to be fashionable but because it is who they are.
Another man who provides a wonderful example here is Peter Tosh in his early days. He had a real ability to put together those things that most wouldn't think of and make them look cool. His look is timeless. It may not be to everyone's taste but we can still look at it and think, this man is totally at ease with himself. This self-expression, individuality, creating a reaction, is what fashion is.
I consider daring to be different in our region highly commendable. But I think we all know this usually comes with a high level of criticism. Although, this is not specific to the Caribbean. I live in the UK and in any small village town, the same would be the case, although people may not be as directly vocal about it.
In the Caribbean no one will compliment you for your fashion experiment. Instead one would most likely be subject to a barrage of criticism. "I EOOOO!!!!, ah wha she gat on?" "You look like Anty Man!" "She ah dress like she crazy" Try wearing a high waisted style and be greeted by, "Ah wha mek u look seize up so"? I'm sure you've all heard it before.
Attitudes like this do not nurture creative-expression or confidence in our youth. We shouldn't knock others down for there willingness to try something different or stand out from the crowd. It is exactly this fear of difference that will threaten the future of fashion in our region.
The Rastafarians understand this. In their community people are supportive, no one bats an eyelash at what new head gear or necklace the next one might be wearing. In fact one would be congratulated for the ingenious shirt you made out of croucous material, or the fish tooth in your necklace. They embrace and support their own. They experiment, they favour the ethical and they promote the sustainable - whether they realise it or not.
Sustainability - the Future Face of Fashion
Today, it is the sustainable future of fashion that is currently paramount on the industry's mind. The 'new' fabrics that are now being talked about are organic cottons, bamboo, hemp even recycled plastics! I think this new era in the fashion industry plays right into our hands and we should run with it.
So, take inspiration from the Rastaman and woman, and harness your natural materials/resources. Let's be truly creative, and explore those other natural options, experiment with them and produce something special and authentically Caribbean. Do not forget your cultural Roots. I think there is a plethora of inspiration to be gained in our rich cultural heritage.
As Bob Marley might've said if he was still here, emancipate yourself from mental slavery and support innovative approaches to fashion!
Photo Credit to The Age
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