Buddhism’s Contribution To Fashion Has Been Tastefully Minimal


Borrowing elements and weaving a new-found tale from various cultural tapestries is fashion’s favourite pastime. Buddhism, Catholicism, Hinduism, you name it, this upsurge in connecting to one’s history or simply honouring a foreign culture finds rooters in Sarah Burton, Guo Pei, Gaultier and the likes. But treading down this path is a lot like walking on thin ice.

There’s a fine line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, and it entails meticulous research, ample reverence for the culture in question and a seasoned fashion eye to navigate the workings of this space. A precipitous homage in the name of joining this ‘culturally woke’ league is nothing but disrespectful and amateurish.


Various design stalwarts have touched upon the realm of Buddhism, adored vastly for its simplistic and humble commandments. Or ‘zen’ fashion, as masses would like to call it. Limiting it to just robes seen on monks would be a fallacy of the highest decree, their repertoire houses so many fabrics and weaves unheard of.

Source: Wikipedia

Take their Thangka, for example. Took me straight to the Chitara family carrying forward the legacy of Mata Ni Pachedi. Both are essentially paintings on a fabric, usually depicting a deity, scene, or mandala from Buddhism and Hinduism (mother goddess, to be specific) respectively.

In Mainstream Fashion


Guo Pei is a Chinese designer, whose ‘Samsara’ collection put symbols like the lotus to use, a key marker of Buddhism. This gorgeous gown pictured above, embodies the concept of Samsara (a framework of life cycles in certain Asian faiths) and is composed of long, narrow panels intricately embroidered with lotus and flower scroll designs.

For Guo Pei, this gown was a personal achievement too, as it took 50,000 worker-hours to produce and represented her commitment to making the most exquisite outfit possible, for sheer passion sans the commerciality.

Vivienne Tam’s Buddhism-inspired collection from the spring of 1997, was a subdued but powerful showcase, interpreting religious imagery in a completely new way. The runway was backed with digital artwork that drew inspiration from Chinese temples and Buddha himself.

For SS ’23, Asian-American fashion designer Chet Lo also unveiled his Baai-San line at London Fashion Week. Buddhism was an integral part of his childhood, he recalls going to temples and researching his history, thus, heightening his interest. The collection was a rather contemporary take on the religion’s pillars of peace and minimalism, as denoted by the clean lines. Subtlety is a virtue only some process, you see.

Also Read: Here’s Why Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Is The Undisputed Fashion MVP At The Cannes Film Festival

- Digital Fashion Writer


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