MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA--From Topshop to Bless to Pamela Love--Native American prints and their similar South American styles have recently flourished in fashion--or rather, the Western fantasy of the tradition.
It seems the trend has gone full circle: During Colombia Moda 2010, it was evident that local fashionistas have re-adopted the style, without, it seems, fully realizing that the look stems from their own history.
For example, I chatted to a Medellin-based fashion student who looked dead hip in a colorful canvas “Inca-style” backback, as she put it, matched with a black and white jacket in traditional Latin American prints. While the former was bought in a village near Bogota, the latter was purchased at…Forever 21. And ironically, she described it as “American style”!
Fashion picks and mixes cultures and isolates them from their roots. When the whole world began wearing Breton stripes à la Coco, the French too picked it up. But, according to my local field research (I live in Paris), the usual reference is not Chanel, but Jean Seberg in Breathless. Similarly, many London bands wear brogues and plaid thinking they look like the Strokes--who themselves mimic British classics.
Globalization is everywhere, from stripes, to plaids to embroided ponchos. As Barbara Kruger once said, “Our culture is saturated with irony whether we know it or not.”