Attending a fashion show is an ultimate event for me whether I see clothes or shoes (particular favourite of mine) or accessories – the lot! It’s strange because for many years I only wore traditional Indian clothes except for my school uniform, I did not own the staple jeans or sweatshirts. This was mainly because my very traditional Punjabi Sikh parents held on the view that ‘good girls’ did not wear western clothes, and that somehow by doing so they were preserving an identity. Their traditions and of course their Izaat (family pride). Western clothes equated to boys; boys equated to sex: simple. It was not until my mid-teens, after leaving school and attending college that I had a pair of trousers and a few loose fitting tops, these carried me through to the age of 21 when I had to wear more professional clothes for my PGCE.
So let’s discuss this. Is fashion a true reflection of our cultural identity? The answer is a resounding YES.
For hundreds of years fashion and identity has become inextricably implicated in the construction and reconstruction of personal and cultural identities: our contradictions and self. It is only through style that individuals express who they are but more so who they do not want to be or ultimately become. In terms of cross cultural fashion (individual style) and current trends all attempt to bridge this cross cultural chasm which tends to constantly fluctuate with appearance, age, cultural upbringing and of course our individual identity. Is it not therefore true that although my parent felt vaguely threatened by the ‘British Clothing’ the subtext was an innate desperation to preserve their identity and remain free of guilt? By guilt I’m referring to their responsibility to keep the Indian sub-continent and Punjabi roots alive in a new age.
The truth is who I am now is a marriage of both British and Asian heritage thus both are captured in my style not fashion sense. These are separate. Fashion inadvertently tends to be a ‘look’ thrust upon us by those in ‘know’ aka designers and trend setters. Style is much more individual, independent and innate: it is personal. Moreover style gives us license to combine our heritage and culture: it allows cross cultural identities to be forged in our own way.
What is your Identity through clothes?