The nomad thing.

"Urban Nomad," Flare Magazine, Fall 2008

"Urban Nomad," Flare Magazine, Fall 2008

These “modern nomad” or “urban nomad” styles appeared in Canadian fashion magazine Flare this fall, and Vogue and and others published similar photographs. Since fashion and other areas of design tend to be strangely prescient about historical circumstances – for example, American Depression-era styles were on the runway for nearly a year and a half before the recent stock market crash – does this interest in nomadism mean anything? Not that nomad styles haven’t always been celebrated for their marriage of utility and romance:

Nomadic herder in mongolia by A Yin for National Geographic

Mongolian nomad with motorbike

But why right now? Australian designer Kirrily Johnston refers to the global economy as “the new capitalism” in which for westerners it’s often “too hard to buy a house, to settle in one city, to commit to one lifestyle—so we all move around and live in multiple cities and our home is our suitcase. We carry our technology with us. Wherever we go, we plug into our lives. We need clothes that travel well, that layer, that can adapt to multi-climates and different economies. Be rich but look poor, be poor but look rich, which is which? We are the modern nomads.” You wonder, though if it doesn’t also have to do with a vague awareness that the true, traditional nomadic way of life is increasingly disappearing around the world, and also that homelessness, a different kind of forced nomadism, is on the rise everywhere. On the positive side, in the west many are trying to simplify their lives and achieve the kind of low-impact sensual comfort that characterizes nomadic dwellings (see Mongolian ger with solar power). Just thinking aloud here. The nomad style is beautiful, but its edge does seem to come from social flux and the loss of old economies and ways of life.

Sources: Photo of nomadic herder by Mongolian photographer A. Yin for National Geographic; “modern nomad” in Mongolia, from Flickr.

For more “urban nomad” styles from the last few years of fashion, click below.

From a 2005 Vogue Magazine shoot in Bhutan by Steven Meisel, with phrases like “In nomad’s land” and “packing for paradise”:

Vogue spread, Bhutan, in 2005 by Steven Meisel

Vogue spread, Bhutan, in 2005 by Steven Meisel

Vogue spread, Bhutan, in 2005 by Steven Meisel

Vogue spread, Bhutan, in 2005 by Steven Meisel

And from a Vogue shoot in 2006:

Vogue spread, "Village", in 2006

Vogue spread, "Village", in 2006

Vogue spread, "Village", in 2006

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3 Responses to “The nomad thing.”

  1. Russian folk princess meets… 1968 | Ouno Design Says:

    […] LIke nomad fashion, Russian styles keep recirculating in fashion. Maybe it’s because the wild, layered-against-the-elements clothes are always compelling in strange and uncertain times. These styles are beautiful in their own right, but maybe they also satisfy romantic fantasies. Though of course most fashion does that. This photo shoot is from the December issue of Canadian magazine Fashion. It seems to be an amalgam of Russian country princess and the sixties among other things.  […]

  2. Casey McKinnon Says:

    I just did a Google search for Mongolian nomad fashion and found this post! IT’S AWESOME!!!! I love every image, thanks for posting them! 🙂

  3. LB Says:

    You’re welcome! Mongolian/Russian Steppes/nomad fashion is quite hard to improve on.

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