Throughout the launch of Robert Spangle’s guide Afghan Fashion lately in London, I had an opportunity to meet up with Rob about what he discovered so inspirational about costume in Afghanistan.
He talked about the silhouettes, the feel of various native supplies and color variation – how expressive every appeared, inside usually pretty restricted types.
It introduced again recollections of my very own travels in northern Pakistan and western China, each shut neighbours of areas Rob had been. I backpacked loads in my twenties, and one notably memorable journey took me from Beijing to Islamabad, travelling by land throughout the north of China through Urumqi, then down into Pakistan over the Karakoram.
I travelled with my father, and keep in mind it fondly. It is simply the longest time the 2 of us have spent collectively on our personal. However my strongest recollections are of the folks we met, who have been unfailingly pleasant and hospitable, notably in Pakistan.
Wanting again on it now, they have been additionally properly dressed – expressively and individually.
Not like many individuals working in menswear, I’ve no good ‘origin story’. It’s a disappointment to each interviewer.
I wasn’t impressed by a father or grandfather. I did not insist on carrying a three-piece go well with to highschool. I did not care about garments till fits have been a requirement of working in an workplace.
So travelling round Asia again then, the garments largely handed me by. We’d see Pakistani males all carrying their very own interpretations of the shalwar kameez, in several shades, with completely different equipment, with or with out a rolled pakol cap, and it might be no extra attention-grabbing to me than the panorama or structure.
Wanting again on a few of my photographs although (above and beneath), I used to be clearly struck at some stage by the colors within the clothes.
Youngsters have been at all times the brightest and most diverse. Households couldn’t afford embroidered or printed materials, however they may dye them daring colors – reds, yellows and greens.
Among the many stone homes and dun-coloured hills, these blocks of color stood out like gems.
Males have been extra historically and plainly dressed within the north of Pakistan, the place most of those photographs have been taken, than down in Islamabad or Rawalpindi. However I cherished the tonal mixtures – a grimy cream shalwar kameez, a dark-brown woollen waistcoat, an earth-coloured pakol. They have been earthy, sensible and funky.
That’s one very gentleman beneath, arguing with my father about one thing or different. I feel these unfastened woollen waistcoats should have stayed in my unconscious someplace, as a result of I instantly considered them once I wrote about a Connolly cardigan right here final 12 months.
I don’t assume it’s an excessive amount of of a stretch to see inspiration from these sorts of clothes in manufacturers we all know and love, notably given how influenced I do know Agyesh at Stoffa is by India, and Adam at Adret is also by his travels.
The opposite color that comes again to me strongly is that worn by the monks at Labrang in China.
Though theoretically wearing a uniform of maroon with occasional punch of a yellow hat, in apply the robes diverse between people, maybe on account of completely different dyes and ages of the clothes.
The end result was that you simply noticed each shade of crimson, purple and pink, usually blended collectively in the identical outfit: crimson robes, purple cloak, pink sash. Once more, though garments weren’t the obsession they’re for me now, I appreciated these colors sufficient to purchase my very own uneven jacket in a tough native wool.
The purpose I’d take from this (and one of many many I take from Rob’s guide) is that it’s simple to give attention to the compact swirl of worldwide trend – packaged for us by the echo chamber of social media – on the expense of wealthy native traditions.
I at all times need extra writing in books like Afghan Fashion. I’m simply fairly a literary, word-driven particular person. However Rob does embody some good observations, resembling the way in which fashionable additions to conventional clothes in Afghanistan point out an individual’s age or allegiances.
A tailor-made jacket dates a person to the Russian occupation, when such western clothes was first launched. A navy jacket, or extra possible vest, suggests an involvement with the Taliban and newer conflicts. The adoption of a specific striped chapan reveals the affect of ex-President Hamid Karzai (eg beneath).
I discover this fascinating, and it makes me wish to choose up comparable regional nuances – maybe evaluating older males in several European cities, or recognizing the appearances of conventional clothes in Japan, the place I’ll be travelling quickly.
Afghan Fashion (photographs above and beneath) is a superb perception into that, and I’d definitely advocate it.
The images is nice – many leagues, after all, above my blurry snaps – however the true fascination for me is the folks Rob picked, why he did so, and interested by that by both analysing the picture or studying the captions.
I like, too, the truth that Rob divides the guide up into sections entitled texture, silhouette and color – even when he’s taking pictures villagers in a distant nook of Afghanistan, he’s at all times pondering menswear.
Afghan Fashion is accessible on-line from www.ObserverCollection.com for the US/worldwide, and www.editionsodyssee.com within the EU
It is usually accessible within the following shops:
- Trunk (UK)
- Picto La Comete
- Actes Sud (Arles)
- La Nouvelle Chambre Claire (Paris)
- Filigranes (Paris)
- 7l Settelile (Paris)
- La Pharmacie des Ames (Paris)
- Mendo (Amsterdam)
There is a good interview with Rob concerning the guide on Agnes Choose right here