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Fashion Review: Tribal fashion is on the rise

Sophomore journalism major and fashion enthusiast Alexa Palacios models a Fire Halter maxi dress, vintage necklace, scarf and bangles, and Sam Edelman platform shoes. Her oufit is reminiscent of the increasingly popular tribal fashion trend. / photo By Warren Bessant

Alexa Palacios
Staff Writer

The westernized tribal chic style has swept the runways of some of fashion’s noted designers and become one of the most influential and leading trends this spring.

For this season, I have noticed that designers have taken inspiration from South American and Latin American culture along with African culture and implemented them into their entire spring collections.

They recently displayed these spring collections in their runway shows.

The clothing is not the only aspect of the collections that is being influenced by these cultures.

Designers are adorning their models in full “tribal garb,” emphasizing the bold prints and abstract designs of the cultures that they drew their inspiration from.

“There are always fashion trends and they come from all different parts of the world; it is a pseudo-tribal emphasis more than anything else,” said Felicia Beardsley, associate professor of anthropology.

“It is a combination of Pacific Island, South American and African. It is a Pacific Rim type of influence that is working its way into fashion designs,” she said.

From turbans to elaborate statement jewelry, I feel the tribal trend that is flooding runways and fashion magazines today, as it has in recent years, is a momentary trend like every other.

However, it has opened the gates for many young fashionistas, or fashionistos, to truly embrace who they naturally are as people, despite their race or ethnicity.

Designers like Tory Burch, Proenza Schouler and Louis Vuitton have all incorporated ethnic and tribal influences into their designs.

They combined all new styles with their signature design aesthetics and methods.

Metallics, beading and bold prints are some of the main components that are prevalent in the tribal trend.

I find that designers have created extravagant takes on tribal fashion by incorporating other trends like mixing and matching prints, detailed draping, neon brights and platform shoes.

Burch’s take on the tribal chic trend included an assorted mix of tribal and ethnic prints like ikat, batik and tie-dye fused with her signature elegant and sophisticated designs of her normal designs.

Booth More, fashion critic for the Los Angeles Times, said that Proenza Schouler designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez “took the Western trend to a new frontier.”

More said she felt their inspiration stemmed from Southern and Latin American textile designs.

These mixtures of loud prints, abstract cuts and colors has bred the latest version of the tribal trend called “Techno Tribal.”

On, this season’s “Techno Tribal” trend was described as “digitally engineered prints that riff on classic Native American and African folk art in hyper-bright colors.”

Tribal or ethnic clothing has not always been a fan favorite in the fashion world or in this country, but it is definitely making a splash in the fashion world.

Ethnic identity has not always been celebrated or recognized, so for this trend to be so highly publicized is amazing.

To me, the strong embrace and recognition of the trend is a gesture of acceptance of diversity.

“As for seeing a more natural and ethnic approach in the fashion industry today, I just absolutely love it,” said graduate business student Courtney Williams.

“It sends out a great message: celebrate who you are and where you come from. Knowing that ‘me’ is just as fierce in my living room and on the runways of Paris and Milan says a lot.”

Alexa Palacios can be reached at

Alexa Palacios models a BodyCon one shoulder dress as a top, H&M tribal print harem pants, a vintage necklace, tribal scarf, vintage bangles and Sam Edelman platform shoes. / photo by Warren Bessant

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