When it comes to ethnic fashion, there’s a wide range of definitions. And every fashion bible – read Vogue or Brandfair – has its own take on what this particular niche represents. For starters, this kind of fashion represents a culture or community. For instance a sari or salwar kameez represents a few South Asian countries. Bold printed tops with matching sarong like skirts and headgear could be labeled African ethnic wear. The ways to define what is “ethnic” are many.
Going by the dictionary, the term ethnic is defined as “relating to a population subgroup (within a larger or dominant national or cultural group) with a common national or cultural tradition.” So, while a sari is ethnic Indian wear a “kasavu sari” is specific to Kerala, a “paithani” is specific to Maharashtra, and a “bhagalpuri” is specific to Bengal.
What is important while choosing to wear ethnic clothing is to ensure, that the ethnic handloom and printing are highlighted. It is easy to fall into the trap of buying clothing from couture labels that are “inspired by” certain ethnic crafts, but nothing beats the value of something that is truly artisanal and from the source.
It is very restrictive to say that ethnic fashion is confined to ethnic groups. It is something you can wear irrespective of your race! All that matters is an appreciation for the clothing you wear and for the crafts you represent while stepping out in an ethnic ensemble.
All that being said, you have to be aware of the fact that your look could veer towards “costume-y” if you don’t wear something well. For instance, if you want Indian ethnic, opt for a Salwar Kameez or an elegant sari, a lehenga with all the trimmings would only make you look like you’re headed to the altar!