Fusion Fashion: What Happens When East Meets West

In fashion, experimentation and trying new trends is fundamental. Fashion has become so deep rooted in cultures around the world that it can reveal many aspects of personal identity and background. Especially in university, there are often fashion influences from both the eastern and western hemispheres, but what happens when they meet and create one ensemble altogether?

Disha Natalia, a 2nd year honours specialization Chemistry student, talks about the experience of fusion fashion: mixing everyday western wear with Indian clothes. She mentions that it can be difficult to combine two cultures because society can be judgmental and not accepting.

They ask questions like, “Why is she wearing that? Does she even belong here?” However, Natalia believes that starting trends and wearing different types of ethnic clothing more often will encourage people to be more accepting of these combinations. 

In the photo, Natalia is wearing ripped jeans and a leather jacket with an Indian lengha (skirt) blouse, bindi, chudi (bangles), and jutti (shoes). 

To Natalia, the lengha blouse, jacket, bindi, jeans, chudi and jutti represent her own personal fusion: Indian roots with a Canadian upbringing. The blouse is patterned with gold sequins and typically worn with a long skirt for Indian weddings. The shoes and bindi also represent her Eastern heritage, while the jeans and jacket were purchased from the iconic Vaughan Mills, a local shopping mall

She says that outfits have the ability to show who someone is. Fusing clothes from different cultures demonstrates a person’s ability to mix and match, which is indicative of how accepting they are of other cultures. 

“I’m proud to be who I am, so I’m more open to exploring other cultures and what makes them proud to be who they are.”

Fashion can connect people and has the potential to start a cultural revolution by bringing various cultures together through educating one another. 

Eustace Imafidon, a 2nd year Engineering student, also explains his experience with fusion fashion: mixing everyday Western wear, ethnic Indian wear, and ethnic Nigerian wear. Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, and attending Western as an international student, Imafidon feels that fashion serves as a reminder that he’s from a place with rich culture. 

In the photo, Imafidon is wearing a kaftan shirt and sandals from Nigeria, black jeans, and a dupatta (Indian scarf).

Often times, he wears a kaftan shirt to university semi-formals and church because wearing different ethnic clothes shows people that there are other cultures out there. Imafidon explains wearing Nigerian clothes in a westernized setting allows him to be stylish, stay connected to home, and share his culture with others. 

People become intrigued because fashion is the quickest way to get to know someone’s culture, Imifadon mentions. Fashion is about seeing things, patterns and colors. People ask questions and want to learn more about a certain piece of clothing or its background because they haven’t seen it before. 

However, Imafidon says that different clothes from different cultures can create a beautiful ensemble, but they can lose their traditional or religious meanings in the process. This mainly occurs when people wear cultural clothes without respecting the history or true meaning just to beautify themselves, which has been frequently highlighted on Halloween.

The more traditional a clothing item is, the more social tension there will be because of how deep rooted its meaning is, Imafidon says.

To combat this and increase acceptance, mixing everyday and common ethnic clothes would represent cultures mixing together in what seems a more appropriate manner to those with more traditional views, explains Imafidon. 

“Trying on clothes from different cultures gives me more insight into other cultures. It’s authentic.”

The bright orange dupatta was not intimidating for Imafidon. In a place with so many cultures, but doesn’t have it’s own, he’s become more open to combining styles because it’s made him want to learn about other cultures and their histories.

Fusion Fashion serves as an outlet for the opposite parts of the world to meet and be one, to understand one another, and above all, appreciate one another.

Originally posted on Volta