“Fashion in Asia is evolving as a result of access to ideas and wealth”

Most people agree that football is a universal language that crosses boundaries and brings the world together. Fashion can also be considered just as influential a force. If football is about unity and uniformity, then fashion is about celebrating diversity whilst mixing geographical and gender influences. This is especially apparent when observing Asian street fashion styles.

There are two main triggers as to why Asian street fashion is evolving as quickly as it is: access to ideas and access to wealth.

Access to ideas through new cultural icons and new forms of expression are closely associated with the Internet. One example of this is the trickle-down effect that affects mainstream culture through the influence of local celebrities. Jay Chou brings in a lot of R&B and hip-hop influences into the sound and fashion shown in his music videos, and this passes on fashion trends from the global hip-hop and skater scene that are external to Asia. Then there is the rise of Asian street fashion photography blogs that provide a sharing experience from one Asian country to another. There is a rapid and explosive morphing of street fashion styles as people learn, unlearn and relearn the countless street style variations as consumed through the Internet.

Access to wealth is also trigger for new subcultures in the region as well. It seems to be that as a country’s economy progresses; the people in the country have an increase in purchase power and can hence look to foreign influences and styles. This has resulted in the blurring of lines as to what was previously accepted as male fashion and female fashion. One example is Commes des Garcons drop-crotch pants that look like a hybrid between a skirt and a pair of trousers. Both male and female trendsetters adopted that article of clothing into their wardrobe when it was first introduced.

Fashion design is in a way an agent of change. Who is East and who is West has always been a case of relativity. As the Superpowers in today’s world shift, fashion is one of the first mediums to mash East and West and we may have to come up with new terms to comprehend the modern visual language. This fusion of fashion components from East and West is very much a trial and error process and it is exciting to be living in times where styles take on new definitions.

By Jacqueline Chang