Resort 20 Trend Flash – Cultural Influences: Celebration Or Appropriation

The latest trend has got everyone talking

As next summer's resort collections are slowly wrapping up, there is one trend that has been a hot topic amongst fashion lovers and critics. 'Cultural Influences'

Designers this year more then ever, have been looking to different cultures for inspiration, and using their traditional techniques.

Designers have taken their craftsmanship to a new level, by using actual artists and dress makers from the countries and cultures where their clothes are influenced from.

This has become more important then ever, as cultural appropriation which has always made the headlines in the fashion world, is being deemed ‘disrespectful’ and ‘inappropriate’. But others argue, its a celebration of different cultures coming together.


Spring Summer Resort 2020 - Cultural Influences

But what is cultural appropriation within the fashion industry? I hear you ask…

Cultural appropriation is the unacknowledged or inappropriate use of a tradition or something that is unique to a culture, to people or a society. Especially if the people using the tradition are more dominant or using it for personal gain. 

Basically if a high end designer, for example, uses a traditional African pattern without asking or giving acknowledgement to the cultural heritage. And then using it for a one off collection for personal gain and publicity.

Pre Summer Resort 2020


Ulla Johnson

High end designers in the past...

have used inspiration from different cultures and have not acknowledged the tradition behind the native origin. Glamourising it and not respecting where it's come from. 

And then mass produced prints are coming out of China and flooding the market. Lowering the price point and not respecting the hard craftsmanship and history behind the countries indigenous people.

Fashion these days is so fast and disposable, so to the natives, it feels throw away and a quick win, without careful consideration and respect.

Others then argue, and especially designers showing their latest collections...

that it's purely a celebration of different cultures. They want to show the world these beautiful, 100's of year old techniques, that make these different cultures so unique and fascinating.


Dior's Spectacular Setting In Marrakesh


resort 2020 runway show

Christian Dior’s show kicked of the pre summer collections, and has been one of the most talked about shows this season. First of all each detail is so beautiful, the setting in Morocco, the prints and the traditional African techniques, all of which were designed by African designers.

Dior was influenced by African traditional patterns made from wax. A technique we call batik, originated in Indonesia but came to Africa in 1890 and has been their traditional method they have used ever since. 

What is African Wax Printing?

The designs are printed onto cotton using wax, before dye is applied to add 2 or 3 colours. The crackling effect you often see in the background is caused by the wax being washed off. Giving the design it’s unique imperfections and traditional look.

Dior wanted to not only have a collection inspired by Africa but use African artisans and designers to created their resort collection. For their prints, they worked with studio and atelier named Uniwax. Uniwax makes authentic African wax prints on cotton. This was very important to Dior to use tradition techniques by the real artists.

Maria Grazia Chiuri who is the creative director at Dior, chose Morocco to show Dior’s resort collection. Because ‘Morocco is at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Europe and Africa.’ And Maria wanted to show a collection of bringing cultures together.


A Few Beautiful Prints From Dior's Collection

Ulla Johnson 

Ulla Johnson's resort collection was full of vibrant designs, print and hand crafted techniques. She had that global traveller trend down to a T.

Ulla was influenced and inspired by Panama’s Mola textiles. Showing their beautiful traditional style prints and embroideries in sun bleached colours.

Carolina Herera 

Carolina Herera’s resort collection was inspired by the traditional techniques from Latin America. The native colours, patterns and embroideries are shown to take on the playful and colourful mood of a latin holiday.

They did however get into a bit of trouble with the Mexican government. Who pointed out that some patterns and designs are specific to certain regions of Mexico and the indigenous people that live there. And questioned, what, if any, benefits would the communities receive from the use of their traditional designs.


And it's not just on the runway, this brand below shows how to do this trend right...


How to do affordable 'cultural influences' right

Osei-Duro produce their designs and textiles in Ghana, India and Peru, applying traditional techniques to simple contemporary designs. They use traditional techniques such as batik, block printing, hand painting, to name a few.

They are firm believers in fashion transparency and sustainability, and have each garment developed and sewn in Ghana. This is all documented on their website, you really feel like you know how your clothes are being made and sourced.


Two Traditional Techniques Shown On Osei-Duro's Website

To Summarise…

1. Cultural Influences within designs, especially in print, is one of the key trends to come out of the resort collections.

2. If your buying a cultural influenced print, try and buy from hand crafted designers or brands. Look to see if they celebrate the history and culture.

3. Know where that design or inspiration has come from. Ask who made my clothes?

4. Fast fashion retailers need to slowly change the quick fix design process, just to be on trend. Why not try and celebrate the history and culture on your/their website or social media.

5. Try and celebrate the cultural traditions, and educate your buyers to understand the history. Dior did this really well. Their design process was heavily documented in short videos. Which you can binge watch on YouTube.

6. If your asked to design an African wax print digitally, look at the heritage for inspiration yes, but don’t try and force that unique effect. It will look cheap and unconsidered, go for modern versions.

7. Get back to hand printing: Batik, woodblock and natural dying. The effects you achieve will be unique and create those perfect imperfections. Get creative, and more positively,  it will be better for the planet.

And thats a wrap...

I hope you've enjoyed reading, Ill be posting more trend flashes so keep your eyes peeled.

Please like, share, post...Thank you!

L x