Traditional Fashion is New Again


Batik dying
Johanan Ottensooser, via Flickr

Ryan Geertsma and Liz Waid look at new fashion designs based on traditional clothes. These new designs are bringing attention and life to cultural traditions.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

It is Uganda International Fashion Week. Here, designers will show the clothes they have made. Many important people will be there. These people will decide what clothing will be popular in the next year. At the fashion show, tall, beautiful African models walk up and down. They wear brightly coloured clothes. Many of these clothes are made of traditional African fabric.

Voice 2 

Fashion in clothing is always changing. There is a large international fashion industry. It is made up of people who design, model and sell clothing. This industry is often based in large cities in developed countries. But clothing and fashion are a part of every culture around the world. Today’s Spotlight is on cultural tradition in the fashion industry.

Voice 1 

Most fashion concentrates on being new and modern. But some designers have gone back to using old fashion. They use traditional styles but make them into something new. This is not a new way to use fashion. For example, Slava Zaitsev is a famous Russian designer. He uses traditional Russian folk costumes in his modern clothing designs. Zaitsev has been doing this since the 1970s. And more and more fashion designers are making clothes with local cultural materials and traditional styles.

Voice 2 

Uganda International Fashion Week is organized by fashion designer Santo Anzo. Like many countries in East Africa, Uganda has many different ethnic groups. Each of these groups has their own culture and traditional clothing. Anzo uses the traditional materials and styles of different ethnic groups in Uganda. But her designs are new. And her clothing is modern and fashionable. Anzo told the Global Press Journal:

Voice 3 

“Local material and design is very important. It carries symbols important to Ugandans. Now we have African material mainly from West Africa – from Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. These are popular and can be worn across the world, not just locally.”

Voice 1 

There are many good effects of using traditional materials in modern fashion. It increases a positive feeling about culture. Traditional clothing can be part of a modern life. It can make people proud of their traditions and country. Santo Anzo told the newspaper the Independent:

Voice 3 

“We are showing a positive image of Uganda by showing the beauty in it. We are proud to dress Ugandan. It is good to see ourselves in international media for the right things instead of negative things.”

Voice 2 

Using traditional clothing in modern design also helps traditional art forms continue. For example, some cloth is made in traditional ways. But few young people want to learn the art of making the cloth. When fashion designers use traditionally made cloth, young people become interested again in their artistic traditions. Darshi Keerthisena is a fashion designer in Sri Lanka. She has created new interest an ancient cloth art called batik.

Voice 1 

Batik is a method of colouring cloth. First, the artist draws a design on cloth. She then puts soft, oily wax on parts of the cloth, following her design. The wax becomes hard. Then, the artist soaks the cloth in a colourful liquid dye. The wax protects parts of the cloth. No dye can colour the cloth where the wax covers the material. Later, the artist washes the cloth and removes the wax. The cloth then has a beautiful design on it. If the batik maker wants to add more colours, she starts again with a different wax design. It takes a long time to make one piece of batik cloth. But the result looks different than any other cloth in the world.

Voice 2 

Batik is very important in many Asian countries. In Sri Lanka, a lot of traditional clothing is made from this kind of cloth. However, young people did not like to wear batik. Even Keerthisena says that at first she thought it was not interesting. But after going to fashion school, Keerthisena decided to use this traditional cloth. She told reporter Kumala Wijeratne:

Voice 4 

“I needed to give newness to batik and continue this age-old tradition. I wanted to protect an artistic sense. I used softer colours and natural colour dyes such as tea and the yellow spice turmeric. And batik became a cool new fashion.”

Voice 1 

Keerthisena used different kinds of material. She made unexpected kinds of clothing from batik. She made clothes for swimming, shoes and even wedding dresses. The result was that people in Sri Lanka became interested in wearing batik clothing. Batik is no longer just an old fashioned tradition. It is a part of modern fashion. This increased people’s respect of tradition. But it also has a good economic result. Preparing, designing and making clothes gives local people jobs.

Voice 2 

Darshi Keerthisena employs many people in her factory. She says this provides important work - particularly for women. Keerthisena also manages a project with the poor women in her community. She gives them her extra material. The women then make these small pieces of batik into small objects. They sell the objects to visiting tourists to make money for their families.

Voice 1 

Providing jobs, continuing traditional art and building pride in community: these are all good results from a local fashion industry. Of course, most people do not have enough money to buy clothing made directly by a designer. Many people do not have time or money to worry about fashion! But local designers believe they can have a positive influence in their communities. In Uganda, Santo Anzo says she still has bigger dreams for the future:

Voice 3 

“I would love to see the fashion industry become more vibrant. I would love industries to start making local fabric again.”

Voice 2 

Designer Darshi Keerthisena in Sri Lanka has similar hopes. She wants to continue the good effects of using local cloth in fashion:

Voice 4 

“In the future, we hope to set up another batik factory. This will help women to feel powerful in their own communities. They will be trained in a skill while supporting the family, which is a social need for a healthy society.”

Voice 1 

Do you wear traditional clothing? Do you think the fashion industry has a place in your community? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Traditional Fashion is New Again’.

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you ever wear the traditional clothes of your culture?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
georgino
said on November 10, 2014

Batik interesting this material for the fashion .Each country has folk costumes and make different kind of clothes .
It is important to know the chance for the women in the industry and the society
The fashion is expensive when the designers mixes the fabrics and materials to make beauty clothes.

Good topic
Blessings

Avatar Spotlight
tukiet
said on November 10, 2014

Silk is traditional clothes of many Asian countries. Vietnam is also one of them. Using silk in morden designs is very common.

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Mss Flamboyant
said on November 29, 2014

I love fashion and personally it will be more and more vibrant in the future.

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thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on February 25, 2015

In my country (Vietnam), AO DAI has been famous traditional fashion in the old days until now.It hasn’t never been obsoleted.Nowaday,many famous Vietnamese fashion designers always design different many kinds of style which is suitable modern life with combining many materials.It help to respect Vietnam women ‘s beauty and country cultural value.Vietnam Women can wear AO DAI in wedding,traditional holiday…I really like AO DAI!

Avatar Spotlight
nguyenthuy
said on October 28, 2015

I come from Vietnam and here are many kinds of traditional clothing. The most considerable costume in my country is Áo dài which represents for many spirits and Vietnam’s soul. Most of student in high school are wearing this costume and in my case, I looked forward to wearing it once I started to transfer from primary school to high school. Whenever, I worn it, I felt so proud as if I am a part of Vietnam’s woman. However, recently many people do not like to wear this dress. They thought that it is kind of inconvenient when they want to do some certain activities. I just hope that we can preserve the whole beauty of Ao dai.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on August 16, 2016

Actually I wore the traditional clothes of my country (Yemen) - which is a similar from traditional clothes of east Arabic countries - when I was young and youth but I stopped in wear it because I became don’t like it maybe after my mind and my thinking and my faith were changed that I became a global man LOL.
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on September 06, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Tuesday 06, September 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Rena Dam, Ryan Geertsma, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!
Yes, I do. The Jeans trousers is kind of traditional clothes of our culture to go to anywhere in which you want to go to.
So, I have my jeans trousers, jeans shirt, and jeans jacket to go to anywhere in which I want to go. They are fashion cothes and comfortable to wear.

Yours regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil