Backgrounder: Cambodian youth fashion

By Kema Hodge

A fashion gap exists between young and old Cambodians. The older generation appears to prefer the traditional Cambodian attire. The younger generation seems willing to try styles from all over the world, including America.

  • Traditional attire includes a cotton sarong (generally tied at the waist) and a krama (multipurpose checkered scarf), with the exception of the wealthy and royal who wear silk.
  • This traditional attire was established in the late 13th century when the prince declared that only he was allowed to wear fabrics with floral patterns, and the lower class needed to wear cloth tied around the waist while slaves had to weave their own fabrics, which were thick and contained old-fashioned patterns.
  • It wasn’t until the French colonization in 1863 that Cambodians were forced to adopt shirts.
  • Following a long period of civil unrest, political corruption, and colonization uncertainty, Cambodia finally achieved civil liberty in 1995, and with it, a desire by the young to modernize and remove themselves from their tumultuous past. Some of these events include: Khmer rouge and World War II.
  • In the last decade or so, a lot of knock-off brands and second-hand or discarded designs seemed to have found their way into the markets in Cambodia, many of which are affordable enough for members of the lower class.
  • Among these are American brands and clothing with American style writing.

Sources: http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/articles/category/Cambodia/27/, Artisans D’Angkor Silk Factory, khmerfashion.blogspot.com,  Andra Ross – Director of Journey’s Within Bed & Breakfast

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