Even those of us who are alert to the constantly shifting sands of the fashion world tend to cast our stare upon it all with a predominantly Western eye. Whilst at times the alignment between ourselves and our fellow Europeans, or for that matter our cousins across the pond, is not always entirely precise, there is always sufficient overlap to enable us to recognise and acknowledge a common direction of travel. New designs and new concepts travel across the Channel, or indeed the Atlantic, with relative ease, all aided and abetted by our cultural addiction to still photo and video and the virtually instantaneous transmission thereof. From the teddy boys to low-hanging jeans fashion has, for better or for worse, hopped fairly seamlessly from one side of the great wet divide to the other.
But this is less so in some other parts of the world. In the Far East, in Asia, in Africa and in numerous other regions what is current, and relevant, can be entirely lost to us in our own cultural backyards. Nevertheless if it is “in”, and in the present, then it is fashion. Here are just a few developments with which we with our innocent Western bias may not be familiar:
Brazil: the Camo
Camouflage is all the rage in Brazil, apparently, but we are not talking about the army surplus store down the market here. In true Latin style the Brazilians have taken the most functional and potentially unfashionable concept and turned it into designer outfits which are taking the catwalks of Rio by storm. Stunning two-pieces adorning shockingly bronzed models are to be seen everywhere you go – which kind of defeats the object, if you think about it.
South Korea: Oversized Sleeves
We’ve had flared trousers, but flared shirt sleeves? It may seem strange but it’s certainly true, fashionistas south of the 38th Parallel seem to be infatuated right now with wide bell-shaped sleeves which smother the forearms and flap around the hands. Not only shirts but jumpers, coats, blouses and long-sleeved dresses have all succumbed to the craze.
Japan: Major Midi Skirts
Delightful and colourful midi skirts tending towards intelligently subtle blends of patterns and shades, these ornate garments adorn the streets of Tokyo and other major cities throughout the Land of the Rising Sun. Usually they are combined with severe, sharp heels some inches from the pavement for maximum effect. The Japanese are also into berets right now, apparently, although whether they are to be worn with the midi skirts for maximum chic-effect is the subject of some debate.
Colombia: Tassel Earrings
There is something quintessentially Latin American about these ostentatious appendages, which bring out the glamour of the wearer with sometimes stunning effect. They are equally appropriate when worn with an evening dress or casual day clothes, making them truly a fashion item for every occasion. They are all the rage in Colombia, where the range of designs and concepts is more or less limitless.