One of the best things about travelling is embracing a new culture. It's always exciting when you are in a new country to eat the traditional food, go to the galleries, learn the history, attempt to speak the language, and if you're a fashion lover, you probably won't have savoured the full experience of a place until you have explored it's sense of style...
Unfortunately this may not be as easy as it sounds. As fast fashion sweeps the globe, you can now be on a different continent and still be seduced by the same shops you would find at home. For some, this is a welcome comfort, but as a fashion student with an intense hunger to see everything and anything new-visiting a H&M abroad will never cut it. As a result I've picked up some tricks to get the most authentic fashion experience wherever you are:
1. Conquer the Contemporary
Go Google and discover the emerging fashion designers of the city you are visiting. This is one of the simplest ways to understand their contemporary fashion and to visually comprehend the current trends. It is also important to have knowledge of the country's 'claim to fame' in the fashion industry. Some countries may be recognised for a certain fibre, like silk in China, others for a certain technique, like embroidery in India. Once you are aware, you can appreciate how this is represented and adapted into their fashion culture.
2. Find the Flagships
Along with the emerging designers, it is also worth knowing the luxury brands that originate in the country you are visiting. The grandest flagship store of a luxury brand is often found in its home country. As you could imagine luxury is sprinkled across these stores-think vivacious visual displays, sumptuous stock and superb service. One of my favourite flagships will always be the Regent Street Burberry in London.
3. Have a Drink
Every city or town has its 'hipster suburb.' Find it and become a part of it. Visit a few different places and observe away! Go to a bar, a café with a book and take notes/sketches of the street style. One of the places that has surprised me and my observings most has been Warsaw. We went to a recommended bar and were blown away by everyone's sense of style. Yes the Polish are fantastically fashionable!
4. Be a Fashion Student
If you were studying or designing in this country, how would you bring your garments to life? Find out where the fabric stores are, ask about suppliers and where things are manufactured, if possible even visit some factories. I was lucky enough to experience all of this in Marrakech. It gave me such an in depth idea of the countries textile and fashion industry.
5. Past to Present
Most museums will have exhibitions on traditional dress and textile skills that can further educate you on the country's history in fashion. Another odd tip is to look at what the elderly are wearing. In countries that have a long past of traditional dress many of the elderly will still be wearing garments from a previous era. Both museums and the older generations can influence how you interpret and understand the styles of the youth.
So if you are travelling and don't seem to be getting your fashion fix, perhaps give some of these tiny tricks a try. Because holding a beautiful genuine Italian made leather boot can be just as satisfying as consuming that big bowl of ravioli-make sure you find time for both!
Photography: Alana Flood