Fashion Goes Cross-Cultural

Traditional Emirati Jalabya

Traditional Emirati Jalabya (Photo by Maitha Khalid)

By Maitha Khalid

Dubai – The cross-cultural communication that occurs between societies, especially through social media, does indeed influence many aspects of the society including the women’s fashion aspect.  Before the facilitation of easy intercultural communication, we find every culture in the Arab Gulf very attached to the dress code that was based by the former society within the culture.  However, social media interfaces as well as the foreigners were able to influence fashion in Arab Gulf countries countries to a high extent.

One of the most powerful intercultural communication facilitator that allowed the Arab Gulf countries to be influenced in the fashion aspect is the social media interfaces. Ranging from Snapchat to Instagram to Facebook, are all interfaces that allow internet surfers to know what’s the new fashion trend in the exact opposite end of the world.  In addition, the numerous expats living in Arab Gulf countries, especially in the UAE have its influence on fashion.

Since the very beginning of social media’s emergence in the globe, and in the Arab Gulf countries in precise, individuals started blogging pictures of what they are wearing and tagging the brands just for the sake of sharing their style and sense of fashion with the public. By time, the views of those blogs went higher and higher and the bloggers started blogging from different social media interfaces. First through blogposts, then Instagram, then god knows what. As the followers of fashion bloggers increased, the influence on fashion throughout the Arab Gulf countries increased.  Fifteen years ago, we would rarely see a colorful Abaya with. Yet, nowadays the Abayas are bright and have beautiful pieces of accessories on them as well.

Young women also got influenced by fashion bloggers.  When young women look up to a blogger that shoots video of herself wearing jeans and a hoodie at home, they will involuntarily feel the urge to wear a hoodie instead of the casual Jalabya or dress at home. Talking about Jalabyas, even the style of Jalabyas are changing due to the intercultural influence by social media. Also, the social media did allow the Arab Gulf countries societies to be more open minded in what to dress. For instance, in the past a mother would dress her daughters according to the customs and traditions, while in the meantime women and men are dressing according to fashion trends that are reached by social media.

Fashion in Arab Gulf countries was also influenced by the intercultural exchange by the foreigners that came into the Arab Gulf countries to work or live.  As we can see, Arab Gulf countries embrace a variety of ethnic groups that practice the norms of their culture, like wearing a special dress code. For instance, Indian women wear influenced the Fashion in Arab Gulf countries in many ways mainly in the UAE.  One way is that in latest years, we hear various brides planning an Indian henna night wearing Indian sari instead of a classic Arabic henna night. We can also see the opposite influence as we can see some Indian women wearing Abayas that are influenced by the Arab dress code.

It is apparent that intercultural influence from expatriates as well as the social media emergence affected the fashion in Arab Gulf countries. Information about fashion is rapidly spreading with the use of powerful social media interfaces which allows the fashion in a certain place or country evolve so quickly that a huge change in fashion can be spotted in a year or so.

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