This Is How Fashion and Style Is Defined Across the World

There’s no denying that style is individual. After all, we’re constantly advocating for women everywhere to embrace their personal style; that’s what makes fashion fun. But though one’s fashion taste and sense of style is personal, it’s not something that just happens. Fashion, like all art, doesn’t exist within a vacuum—and whether it’s conscious or not there are a number of factors at play when it comes to each of our understandings of who we are, and subsequently, how we dress.

One such notable factor is something intrinsically existent in all of us: Our cultural background. We don’t choose our culture, we’re born with it; and whether or not you strongly identify with your heritage, even things as seemingly insignificant as the way you grew up watching your mother interact with her own wardrobe can impact our perceptions of how clothes are meant to represent ourselves as individuals.

Because our own perspectives are so limited to our personal backgrounds and environments, it can be difficult to imagine how someone else's understanding may differ from our own; so we reached out to fashionable girls all over the world to gain some insight. We asked them about the ways in which women from their countries define fashion and style—and (unexpectedly) their responses were varied. However, there was one common theme across the board: Fashion and style are not them same thing, though they may affect one another. To understand how, and to learn about the ways which women from other countries define fashion and style, keep scrolling to read.


Elle Ferguson, Australia

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What does the word “fashion” mean to Australian women?

Fashion is art... it's a form of expression. As an Australian woman, fashion means I can wear whatever I want, however I want, and I hope I inspire others by doing so.

How do Australian women approach style?

Personally, I think Australian women have a more laid-back sense of fashion. We somehow do it without looking like we have tried too hard. I also that love now, through online shopping, we can stay in the game with newness. But honestly, I think we put our own spin on everything.

Do you think that fashion and style go hand-in-hand, or are they two separate things?

I think they are two very separate things: Fashion you can buy, style you're born with.

Anne-Laure Mais, France

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What does the word “fashion” mean to French women?

Something fun and not really serious

How do French women approach style?

It's more a question of attitude.

Do you think that fashion and style go hand-in-hand, or are they two separate things?

Two separate things! You can have an amazing style without following trends. As YSL said, "Les modes passent, le style est éternel" (Fashions fade, style is eternal).

Sylvia Haghjoo, Germany

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What does the word “fashion” mean to German women?

Timeless luxury that is wearable, comfortable and classic, and not particularly seasonal.

How do German women approach style?

I would define German women (especially Hamburg women) as discreet, timeless, and effortless. The German woman wants to feel super comfortable in what she is wearing. She doesn't want to put something on and go out the door and feel insecure.

Also, style is inherent. It is a sum total of experiences, your travels, what you read, and what you listen to. I would describe a German woman confident in pulling together her style in minimalist shapes and neutral colours.

Do you think that fashion and style go hand-in-hand, or are they two separate things?

Two separate things. Fashion is exquisite: A vision by designers and creative directors in the industry that is given to the customer. You bring fashion to life by interacting with it, based on your personal style and aesthetics.

Having style means that you don't rely on trends. It probably means having the confidence to pull off something that could potentially be terrible. Style is more individual, customised and interpret-able, which suits each person's own personality and body.

Korin Avraham, Israel

What does the word “fashion” mean to Israeli women?

I think the association with words in general (and particular, with the word fashion) is something very personal, and that's why I can only tell you how I see it.

For me fashion is both something serious and not. The serious aspect of it means that fashion is art. It's a language, a way to express ideas, culture, and the way you feel about yourself. But on the other hand, I think fashion shouldn't be something too serious, at least when it comes to your own personal style and wardrobe. Basically, I think you should mostly enjoy it and use it as another tool to express yourself.

How do Israeli women approach style?

I think that most Israeli women are looking for comfort and efficiency. They don't like to look like they made a big effort while they dressed and try not to stand out. That's why they love wearing black (the safe colour), oversized cuts, casual outfits, and avoid high heels. Just to make it clear, some people in Israel actually show up to weddings in denim.

Do you think that fashion and style go hand-in-hand, or are they two separate things?

“Fashions fade, style is eternal,” said Yves Saint Laurent, and I couldn't agree more. I think that fashion basically means what's trendy, what the industry offers everyone, at any particular moment in time. It doesn't last for long. While style is about what you are, who you are, when the attention is directed on yourself.

Chloe Hill, New Zealand

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What does the word “fashion” mean to NZ women?

To us, fashion means being creative and individual. It’s not so much about designer labels but rather finding unique pieces to differentiate yourself from everyone around.

How do NZ women approach style?

It’s hard to generalise all NZ women, but for me and my friends, I’d say it's with a sense of practicality and individuality. That’s why Beau Coops’ flat boots and Deadly Ponies’ slouchy bags are such a hit! Walk through any NZ city and you’ll spot both brands.

Do you think that fashion and style go hand-in-hand, or are they two separate things?

Women who have style are definitely a lot harder to come by, it’s so different to just being into fashion and buying into trends. Having your own personal sense of style is special, but I think for some women it comes with growing up, learning to love yourself and being confident in what works for you. So in a way they are very separate, but for certain women they do go hand in hand!

Katy Esquivel, Peru

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What does the word “fashion” mean to Peruvian women?

In Peru, fashion is a way to express yourself and show your personality without losing the comfort.

How do Peruvian women approach style?

Peruvian women are still in their comfort zone. Sometimes, some women take small risks with their looks, but most prefer to approach trends and experiment with new styles in small doses.

Do you think that fashion and style go hand-in-hand, or are they two separate things?

I think they are two separate things. I believe fashion will always follow its cycle. On the other hand, style is your essence. It's what makes you special and different from others, even if you are wearing exactly the same outfit or trend.

Lamic Kirabo, Uganda

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What does the word “fashion” mean to Ugandan women?

Fashion to Ugandan women is very personal. It means looking to colour, fabric, and design as a way to express oneself, culture and tribe. It is also hardly trend-driven, but rather driven by individual style and taste.

How do Ugandan women approach style?

In a very personal way. Growing up, whenever we had to get dressed up, our clothes were handmade. There is a huge connection to how our fashion is made and appreciation of the craft. We would go and first choose fabric and have an array of different choices of textures and colour. Then we would take it to a tailor, choose a design and make the design our own. Style is so personal in Uganda, it's not so much about the cost or the trend, but very much about the expression. 

Do you think that fashion and style go hand-in-hand, or are they two separate things?

I think the two should go hand-in-hand, but style should drive fashion. Fashion for me is the options we have, and we do need a variety of options. Style is being able to choose from fashion what is speaks to you and make it your own.

If you're feeling inspired to travel the world to develop your personal style now, don't forget a stylish suitcase. Shop our favourite chic luggage at Net-a-Porter.

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