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Traces: Fashion and Migration

By Andrew Lovett-Barron
Published in Reading
July 04, 2021
1 min read

Traces was a book that I purchased on a whim while travelling. Poking around the Rizzoli bookstore in Manhattan, this bilingual German and English fashion book had a compelling goal — exploring the stories and roles around human migration and its impact on fashion and stylistic trends. As someone with more than a passing interest in security studies (masters degree) and fashion (hobby and software making), it was a lucky find.

The book itself is wonderful. A collection of photos and written essays, it explores issues of gaze and identity (especially gender and nationality) through the words, designs, and photographs of those who have engaged in some form of migration in their life. I left my home city in Toronto in my mid 20s and have moved from city-to-city now for almost a decade, so the topic of home comes up pretty frequently. For me too, migration is deeply tied to the urban — I’ve always thought of moving to cities instead of moving to countries, and the federal immigration context then becomes just another hurdle to experience the city.

Reading through Traces, there’s a similar feeling throughout the book, whereby migration is framed in the country context (say, Germany), but the locus of migration in invariably the city (Berlin). A good example is Lala Berlin, a fashion label founded by an immigrant from Iran who fled the Iranian revolution and then created something distinctly “of Berlin.” Iranian and German — her story is one distinct to the Berlin that is a crucible of creativity and newness, and one that in turn has global purchase.

Anyway. I could go on about this, but I highly recommend picking the book up. It’s a fascinating and lovely read, and one that I was incredibly grateful to stumble across.


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Andrew Lovett-Barron

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