Australia's Influence on Bohemian Clothing
Posted on 30 January 2017
In honor of Australia Day having just passed, we’ve highlighted some of the lesser known, major contributions the Land Down Under has made to bohemian clothing.
Australia Day (the official National Day of Australia celebrated every January 26th) marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip. In present-day Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society of the nation, and are marked by community and family celebrations, reflections on Australian history, presenting national awards, and citizenship ceremonies welcoming the newest members of the country.
Australia has a unique bohemian fashion style that is able to be clearly distinguished from European bohemian style clothing. For example, whereas European bohemian dresses are more tailored, Australian fashions have a more casual approach. Australian bohemian style dresses are based on function as opposed to just fashion. Fashion can be defined by color, cut, cloth, garment type and style. It is very rare that fashion and function ever intersect, however that is the case with Australian garments dating back almost a century ago.
In the 1920’s and 30’s Australian designers began adapting Chinese embroidered shawls and Japanese silk kimonos. Originally brought to Australia by Asian immigrants in the late 1800s, these garments were perfect for women who wanted to be both fashionable and comfortable in Australia’s demanding climate. They began producing silk and embroidered evening coats, overblouses and kimonos made of chiffon, georgette and velvet. These loose fitting, lightweight garments were the perfect balance of both fashion and function.
By the 1960’s, young Australian designers recognized that women no longer wished to dress like their mothers. They created boho clothing garments that were inexpensive, uncomplicated and chic. The new look was a fusion of image and attitude created through fashion, make-up, jewelry and accessories.
All of these influences are still heavily seen today in the bohemian chic clothing worn in the trendy artisanal neighborhoods of Melbourne, Australia’s fashion capital. Neighborhoods like Fitzoy and St. Kilda are full of shabby chic bohemian clothing stores, restaurants, cafes, late-night bookshops, art galleries, and pubs full of artists and students. The history of Australia, is also the history of fashionable and functional boho clothing.