50 Fashion Trends Around the World

By Madeleine Wilson

It is funny how fashion trends come back around. How many times have I heard my mother say “oooh, I had one just like that”? Designers have a good old rummage through the history books, desperate to see what can be salvaged, reinvented and remarketed as something so desirable, we just don’t know how we have been living without it! The purposes of certain fashion items – born out of a practical need – have long been forgotten while other fads that seem so barbaric by today’s standards, we could happily forget.

Here are 50 fashion trends around the world  for your viewing pleasure…

1. Dishdasha

Middle East
Also known as a thwab, besht, kandura or suriyah, the dishdasha is a long robe traditionally worn around the Arab Gulf. In the west, we tend to shed our layers in summer but the loose-fitting thwab actually helps you keep cool in countries with hot desert territory. Image: We love this illustration by Liz Ramon-Prado featured on bsanctuary.com.

2. Miniskirt

London, UK
Mary Quant is responsible for the risqué raising of hemlines in the late 1950s. Yes, yes short tunics had been around for donkeys among the Romans and under armour in the Middle Ages. But it was Quant who put them on the high street and named the design after her favourite car, the Mini. Image: Thanks to mysixtieslove.blogspot.com.

3. Lotus Shoes

Shapewear gone too far? These barbaric lotus bud-shaped shoes were worn by women in China who bound their feet. Small feet were once considered beautiful and erotic and binding stunted their growth. The practice only died out at the beginning of the 20thcentury but many elderly women today display terrible deformities as a result of this cruel fashion. Image: We found this upsetting photo on shoemethis.com.

4. Dr Martens

Munich, Germany
These renowned icons of rebellion were, like most great inventions, created purely for practical purposes. It was a foot injury on a skiing trip that prompted Munich-based Dr Maertens to develop a comfortable air-cushioned sole. In 1950, UK-based shoemaker Bill Griggs spotted the boots in a magazine and decided to anglicise the name to Dr. Martens and remarket them. Style-conscious punks were more than happy to don footwear that resembled the humble working man and when The Who guitarist Pete Townshend claimed to go to bed on tour with two things: ‘A cognac and a Dr. Martens boot’, a youth subculture was born. Image: Thanks to stylesalvage.blogspot.com.

5. Kimono

Simply meaning ‘the thing worn’, over the years the kimono has come to specifically refer to the traditional straight-cut dress that is tied at the waist with an obi. Colour combinations could communicate political class or a particular Samurai clan as well as the virtues of the wearer (or at least virtues they might aspire to!) Purple indicated undying love and red youthful glamour and passion – incidentally, the beni-red dye is prone to fading therefore also suggests transient love. Fact or fiction? In 1932, several women caught in a fire at Shirokiya’s Nihonbashi store refused to jump in to firemen safety nets for fear of revealing no knickers underneath their kimonos! Image: Thanks to tokyofashion.com.

6. Boubou

West Africa
A billowing wide-sleeved robe most commonly worn in West Africa. The female version is a M’boubou or kaftan (nowadays a favourite beachwear cover-up). Some are beautifully embroidered and passed down through the generations as family heirlooms. Image: Photographer Gavin Sandhu via fuckthemacro.com.

7. Clogs

The Dutch may have cornered the souvenir market, but Swedish Hasbeens are the ones who have dragged clogs in to the 21st century. Unlike the all-wooden Dutch variety, the Swedish style comprises of a leather top with closed as well as peep-toe and heights from low heel soaring to slutty platform. I have never met a man who liked a woman in clogs. Are you for or against? Image: Thanks to the-coveted.com.

8. Pashmina

If you are eyeing-up a pashmina for under £10, it is not a pashmina. The Persian word pashm means “wool” and refers to the fine blend of cashmere from a special breed of goat indigenous to the high altitude climate of the Himalayas in Nepal, Pakistan and northern India. Pashmina shawls have been hand spun, woven and embroidered in Kashmir for thousands of years. Since the pashmina craze in the mid-1990s (they are THE snug accessory of choice for long-haul flights), the goats are now reared in the Gobi Desert. Cheapo pashminas often flogged 3 for £12 – because how’s a girl supposed to decide from so many colours! – are probably of man-made viscose. Image: thesatorialist.com proves our point perfectly.

9. Espadrilles

This unisex shoe makes me dream of sun, sea and sand. In other words, holidays! During the most recent revival, travellers rejoiced at the flatpack and space-saving shoe and indulged in an assortment of colours. Prior to this they were popularised by Lauren Bacall in the 1948 movie Key Largo and in the 1980s by Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice. Image: This guy pictured on theurbangent.com just can’t get out of holiday mode it seems.

10. Kilt

A flash of tartan, the strangled cat bagpipes and Mel Gibson’s bottom; it must be bonnie Scotland. Kilts were, for 35 years, banned as part of the “Dress Act” in 1746 which outlawed items of Highland dress. But as a result, many began to romanticise the skirt. While the Gauls, Scandinavians, Irish, Welsh and Cornish all have a history of wearing kilts, Billy Connolly and Donald Trump have a history of mooning in them. Expect to pay about £300 for the real thing. Image: Thanks to fashionafrican.com and P Diddy of course.

11. Pollution Mask

On the one hand we have Beijingers on bicycles and tai-chi in the parks but for all their efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle, a recent World Bank research report revealed that China claims 16 of the world’s most polluted cities. Pollution levels vary according to weather conditions, but residents in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou frequently don protective masks. Similar masks fitted with carbon filters are starting to appear in other cities around the world, particularly among cyclists. Image: But hey, any excuse to add to the accessory collection eh?! Check out more designs at shanghainovoice.com.

12. Dirndl

Yodel-ay-ee-oooo indeed! The bodice, blouse, skirt and apron are also worn in Lichtenstein and Bavaria and you’ll see plenty of buxom maidens in this uniform at Oktoberfest in Munich. Not ideal for pancake chests I’m afraid. Ladies, if you are looking to pull, tie your bow to the left side to indicate that you are a single ladyyyy! Image: Thanks to blog.shoemanic.com.

13. Mokot

Traditionally worn by Khmer dancers or the royal family, don’t you think the shape of these crowns is reminiscent of Cambodia’s famous landmark, Angor Wat? Image: Photographer Frederic Poletti via thetravelword.com.

14. Amish Hat

Pennsylvania, USA
Funny how in an attempt to wear simple and wonderfully unspectacular clothes, the Amish lot became trendsetters. You can spot them a mile off! John Lennon wore an Amish-style and Dior Homme dabbled with the look for its A/W 2011 show too. We likey. Image: Thanks to thephilosophyoffashion.blogspot.com.

15. Mankini

Ok, ok so the shores of the Caspian Sea aren’t exactly teeming with Kazakhstanis in mankinis. It’s that naughty Borat, aka, Sacha Baron Cohen up to his old mischief again – taking cultural identity liberties! Image: We actually have a mankini that gets passed from pocket to desk draw around the HostelBookers office. Our Director of E-Commerce kindly models it just for you.

16. Babouches

Top tip for visiting Morocco: Leave lots of room in your suitcase for slipper purchases! The souks have rainbow displays of cute and colourful varieties of the locally-known babouches. Pompoms, sequins, pointy toes…whatever tickles your fancy. Image: Many thanks to theparisreview.org for spotting this fab pair.

17. Uggs

Byron Bay, Australia
Those tough-looking Aussie surfers are all teddy bears at heart! In between riding the waves, surfers fashioned a sheepskin boot to keep their twinkle toes warm and dry. It was only when Brian Smith lugged a small load of the boots to California in 1978 that they really started to take off. They might feel snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug, but Chinese counterfeiting and twinning with jogging bottoms has done the brand no favours. Image: Visit theclotheswhisperer.co.uk and see what she turns her dog Butters in to at the London flagship store.

18. Panama Hat

Got you there didn’t I! These brimmed hats made of plaited leaves from the toquilla straw plant are woven in fact from Ecuador. They were first shipped to the Isthmus of Panama and many products have been named after their point of international sale as opposed to their place of domestic origin. Image: Thanks to snippetandink.com.

19. Amauti

Arctic Region
Now he looks snug! The Inuit’s parka jacket hood is adapted to carry a child and protect it from the harsh Arctic climate. It also means that Mum and Dad’s hands are free and they can go about their day with baby on board. The bottom was traditionally lined with moss – in case of a nappy emergency! Image: From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs, Photograph by Lomen Bros., 1906

20. Denim

Nimes, France
It was the French town of Nimes (get it, de Nîmes) that began producing the fabric. But Levi Strauss sold the hard-wearing jeans to mining communities in California in the 1850s who, along with Jacob Davis, patented the use of copper rivets to reinforce pocket openings. A more recent trend that gives the fabric a worn effect is created by sandblasting. More than 5,000 workers in the textile industry in Turkey have caught silicosis and 46 have died as a result of the sandblasting technique. Image: Thanks to denimology.com.

21. Lederhosen

Lederhosen are usually only seen in Bavaria, especially during Oktoberfest. These “leather pants” (grrr), have acquired a somewhat camp connotation in recent years – Sacha Baron Cohen’s Brüno has a lot to answer for. But the work-a-day shorts are nonetheless a durable item of leisurewear. Image: Thanks to pimpumpam.blogspot.com.

22. Cowboy Boots

Yee-haw! These boots – which were in fact not made for walking – are no longer just for cattle ranchers, gun-hoe slingers and toe-tapping line dance groups. Cowboy boots are now worn across the globe. The Spanish brought a version over to the Americas and they evolved in to a type of Wellington boot before decorative stitching appeared in a number of fashion magazines in the 1850s. Image: Photographer Christophe Kutner via noirfacade.livejournal.com.

23. Chamanto (Poncho)


Widely used across South America the chamanto is the name given to the poncho in Chile. Why is it better than a poncho? It’s reversible girlies – so that makes it two-for-the-price-of-one in my eyes. A great accessory if you can’t be arsed to shake hands with lots of people at cocktail parties too (Frasier). Image: Thanks to worldsatire.blogspot.com.

24. Beardcap

Based on a traditional lambshed-hood that was worn by Icelandic farmers. If you’ve seen the blustering snowstorms they have to experience then you will understand why everything but a small opening for the face features in the knitting pattern! Those clever clogs over at the Vík Prjónsdóttir design studio came up with these quirky versions back in 2005. They are available in either the Gentleman or Farmer style. Image: Thanks to photographer Gulli Mar via vikprjonsdottir.com.

25. Aloha Shirt

It was Chinese-born Ellery Chun who, in his Waikiki store, began sewing together leftover pieces of kimono for tourists in the 1930s. Servicemen returning from Asia and the Pacific Islands after World War II were wearing the bright patterned shirts and tourism to Hawaii soared in the 1950s. Locals prefer muted colours and the pattern is traditionally printed on the interior which gives the impression the shirt is being worn inside out. So no, they didn’t get out of bed on the wrong side that morning! Image: We spotted this one in the honoluluweekly.com

26. Fair Isle

Shetland Islands
In 1921, the Prince of Wales was captured sporting a Fair Isle knitted tank top. Who knew that he would be responsible for some horrendous knitting pattern covers. Did you spot the “Adi” Dassler (Adidas) logo on the tracksuit bottoms? Old school. Image: Check out more fab vintage skiing photos at theinvisibleagent.wordpress.com.

27. Wellington Boots

A relative of the Hessian boot, the first Duke of Wellington instructed his shoemaker in London to modify the boot and make it sturdy for battle but comfortable for eveningwear. Wellington is one of two British Prime Ministers to name an item of clothing after themselves. The other is Anthony Eden and his Homburg hat. It was only in 1852 that the boots were manufactured in rubber. Given that 95% of the population worked in fields, a water-proof welly was an immediate hit! 1,185,036 pairs were made by the North British Rubber company (now Hunter Boot Ltd) to meet the British Army’s demands in World War I. Today they are a music festival staple! Image: Thanks again to theclotheswhisperer.com.

28. Beret

Listen very carefully, I shall say zis only once…a popularised image of beret-wearers was in the television series ‘Allo ‘Allo by characters of the French Resistance. Along with stripey tops and onions draped around the neck, berets are a stereotype that the French just can’t seem to shake off. Berets can be traced throughout Europe as far back as the Bronze Age but they were mass produced in France and Spain in the 19th century. Image: Thanks to lilycharleston.blogpost.com.

29. Mocassins

A personal favourite, moccasins were traditionally made from a single piece of deerskin or soft leather and stitched at the top. The word moccasin is one of just over 500 words recorded from the extinct Powhatan language. The leaf-covered forest territory occupied by Indians in the east meant they wore soft-soled moccasins while Plain Indians walking on rock and cacti wore hard soles. Image: Thanks to trendland.net.

30. Sombrero Vueltiao

Easily distinguishable from the standard sombrero with a stripey pattern of white and black or beige and black. Some of the finest products, which can take up to one month to make, can be folded up and put in your pocket without damaging the overall shape. The Sombrero Vueltiado is the national symbol of Colombia. Image: We spotted this photo, one of Colombia’s costumes for the Miss Universe contest, on missosology.info.

31. Eyeliner

This type of make-up has been used as early as 10,000 BC. Its power to protect a person from the evil eye and also from the scorching desert sun reveals a practical as well as cosmetic purpose. Eyeliner’s current popularity is owed to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the 1920s which lead to the rise of the almighty panda eye. Other heavy users include designers from the 1960s such as Mary Quant, punks, goths and emos with guyliner on the up too. Image: Thanks to beautylish.com.

32. Dredlocks

Now, I’m pretty sure that before combs and hairbrushes, severe matting was a global problem. But you have to hand it to the Rastafari movement for pulling the look off. The first record in Jamaica was in the 1950s when the earliest Rasta movement lived in fear and “dread” of God. Asha Madela holds the first and only record for the longest dreadlocks in the Guinness Book of Records measuring 8 feet and 9 inches. Apparently a single hairwashing-sesh requires a full bottle of shampoo and conditioner! Image: Thanks to sheknows.com.

33. Gele

Perhaps the largest and most elaborate of head ties in African countries is Nigeria’s gele, although it has a number of names. The most eye-catching creations are saved for weddings. They are created from stiff but flexible fabrics and the general consensus is the bigger the better! Image: fashionjunkii.com ogles Alex Wek’s styling and Andrew Yea’s photography.

34. Jandals

New Zealand
A lot of controversy surrounds this most basic item of footwear – I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes. Evolving from the Japanese sandal, the first plastic jandals appeared in New Zealand but this is disputed by the children of an English-raised businessman who owned a plastics manufacturing company in Hong Kong. Other names include thongs, chappal and flip flops. In Texas they are referred to as clam diggers – the way they flick sand on the beach. Image: We spotted these on design-milk.com. Apparently they were first made by Krispy Kreme and then KUSA made them available to the public. Perfect for New Zealanders who, in an ideal world, would probably go around barefoot!

35. Ushanka Hat

These Russian fur hats are quite dead I assure you. Fur hats of similar design are worn around the world. When US President Gerald Ford wore one during a 1974 visit to the Soviet Union, it was considered a sign a Détente. Ushanka hats are so snuggly, they are standard winter issue for many police and military including Canada, the US, Germany and Finland. Image: OTT version from bryanboy.com.

36. Keffiyeh

Pesky sand can get in to every nook and cranny! This headdress, commonly worn by Arab men, helps protect the eyes and mouth. It became a symbol of the Palestine resistance movement back in the 1960s and was picked up as a fashion trend back in 2000. When China began producing the scarves for as little as €3, Hirbawi Textiles became the last Palestinian factory to produce the traditional keffiyeh scarf. A successful media campaign has, so far, saved the business. Image: Thanks tasmim.org!

37. Chullo

A father will usually make his son’s first chullo. Distinguishing features are the bright colours and the earflaps. Roll on hat hair. Image: Thanks to fashionablygeek.com.

38. Chaquetilla

Worn by Spanish bullfighters, this short and spangly jacket is usually adorned in gold and allows for plenty of movement – essential for dodging charging bulls! They are part of a toreros’ traje de luces, or, suit of lights. Moschino has designed some fabulous matador-style jackets. Image: I came across this image series on couleurblind.com but does anyone know the photographer? He/she deserves a credit!

39. Conical Hat

South East Asia
A neat trick with these babies is that some of them are made out of straw or matting. A quick dunk in the water and you will have an evaporative-cooling device to work (or sunbathe!) under. Image: Bernard Gagnon via traveldudes.org.

40. Cork Hat

A simple and effective fly swatter for the Australian outback. But no. It’s not cool. Image: This is 91-year-old Rhondda modelling for us over at chook-mindersquill.blogspot.com. Say ‘hi’ to Rhondda everyone.

41. Tweed

It should be twill but a London merchant misread the handwriting – assuming it was associated with the river Tweed that flows through the Scottish border – and it was advertised as tweed. The upper classes thought it smashing for their hunting attire. Check out Tweed Run for a spot of tally-hoing on your bike! Images: Thanks to blog.stylesight.com.

42. Aviator Sunglasses

Designed specifically for pilots by Ray-Ban in 1936, the sunglasses were made available to the public within a year. Michael Jackson, Paul MacCartney and Ringo Star have all sported a pair. But Tom Cruise was the real deal clincher when sales of the brand rose by 40% within just seven months of the film Top Gun being released. Such a dreamboat! Image: Thanks sassyuptownchic.blogspot.com.

43. The Bikini

Paris, France
A famous mosaic of “bikini girls” exercising was discovered in Sicily and is believed to date back to the 4 AD. But it was in Paris in 1946 that cheeky Monsieur Louis Réard engineered – he was after all, an engineer – the bikini as we know it today. The two-piece bathing suit was so explosive, Réard named it after the Pacific island of Bikini Atoll; a site used for nuclear weapons testing that same year. Image: Photographer Bunny Yeager worked with the fabulous Bettie Page pin-up girl on a number of occasions. This photo was posted on theselvedgedyard.wordpress.com.

44. Duffel Coat

Duffel is a town in Antwerp where the coarse duffle wool originates from. The British Navy issued a camel-coloured version and it became known as a Monty after the famous Field Marshal Montgomery. The English Gloverall company introduced the buffalo horn toggles and leather fastenings which were much easier to undo in the cold if the wearer had thick gloves on. Image: Everyone’s favourite duffle-donning Paddington Bear featured on weebirdy.com.

45. Leather Jacket

Where to begin, oh where to begin? Well, the Russian Bolsheviks were wearing these tanned hides in the early 1900s. Brown bomber jackets were favoured by aviators, especially when lined with sheepskin for added warmth in the cold high altitude climates. But it was Hollywood stars and heartthrobs Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando and Harrison Ford who really set hearts racing in them! Image: Thanks culturepop.com.

46. Jockstrap

Chicago, USA
What has also evolved in to the thong, the jockstrap is a far less sensual piece of unmentionables. It was intended for cyclists suffering from the cobblestone Boston streets. C.F. Bennett of a Chicago sporting goods company fashioned the first Bike Jockey Strap in 1874. It is now used by athletes worldwide to protect their manliness. In the early 1900s, a low-volt electric powered jockstrap claimed to cure insomnia and erectile disfunction. Image: Thanks famewatcher.com.

47. Boat Shoes

Connecticut, USA
These babies do exactly what they say on the tin. In 1935, Paul Sperry admired the way his dog could run over ice with ease. He began cutting a siping pattern in to the soles of his shoes and soon the Sperry Top-Siders were born. Nautical but nice. Image: Photographer Brent Eysler via trashness.com.

48. Sari

Also worn in and around Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, the earliest known depiction of the ‘strip of cloth’ being worn in this way is the statue of an Indus Valle priest. The midriff is sometimes bare in a sari/saree since the navel is considered the source of life. Other cultures deemed this a taboo. Image: We love this ‘how-to’ guide from theunrealbride.wordpress.com.

49. LBD

Did someone die? It was indecent to wear black under any other circumstances. In fact, in Victorian times a widow was expected to wear mourning dress for two years! But in 1926 American Vogue published one of Chanel’s modest but elegant black dresses. The LBT to Chanel, was described by Vogue as what the Model T was to Ford. And I couldn’t agree more. Image: Thanks collegefashion.net.

50. Sombrero

Sombra means shade. And that’s exactly what this wide-brimmed hat offered to cowboys labouring away under a hot sun – the brims can reach two feet wide! The sombrero pictured is a sombrero charro (Mexico) but the Spanish developed the flat-topped sombrero. Image: Thanks to huskerlocker.com

Tell us your favourite fashion trends from around the world!

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