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The word “ethnicity” is quite ambiguous. It has often been used while describing certain patterns or behaviors established within a society. At times, ethnicity can also be related to more literal geographic boundary. The definition has changed multiple times over the past few years. Earlier, it emphasized on the cultural aspect of a region whereas now, with the age of modernization, ethnicity usually refers to a social groups following a similar trait such as speaking the same language or having similar religious beliefs etc. Our perspective of ethnicity is with reference to individuality, values and practices of a group who feel connected to their heritage, either through traditional methods or via a hybrid of different cultures, overall making the society distinct enough to stand out from the other ethnic groups. However, ethnicity isn’t always inherited from the older generations. With globalization, ethnicity can be “constructed by external socioeconomic processes and media promotions” too (Nagel, 1994)
There is no fixed definition for ethnic identity. It’s a dynamic fluid term that keeps evolving with the various global conditions of society.
Referring to the statement of this particular assignment, Quentin Crisp quoted,
Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are.
Taking the sentence in a literal sense, it stated that those who are clueless about their ethnic origins would just adopt the fashion sense of their current society in order to derive a feeling of identity. Fashion styles are just one aspect contributing to ethnic identity. But why is ethnic fashion considered as a distinguishing characteristic? After all, fashion evolves at a rapid pace; new trends popping up constantly each year, various styles being adopted from different regions etc.
Ethnic fashion is vital because it has a multitude of identities. It can represent a person’s traditional heritage, or political affiliations, religious associations, or even simply, individuality in terms of personal taste. Just like the term “ethnicity”, ethnic fashion is dynamic, forever evolving and still managing to retain its own unique characteristic that allows it to differentiate itself from other communities.
The best place to study various styles of ethnic fashion is in India. With changes brought forth by globalization, India has been divided into three distinct categories of ethnic individuality, each unique and considering themselves to be the dominant Indian identity.