TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

STYLE WITH SOUL

 

I want to talk about fashion for a minute. Well, style I should say. It’s something that’s been on a mind a bit lately, as I’ve been pulling together pieces for my e-store NINBAZAAR.

The fashion industry isn’t something I’ve had a lot of love for over the past decade or so. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love dressing up and expressing myself visually through fashion. I love clothes and the idea of putting on a costume that shows the world who I am and the way I want to be seen.

But I feel really uncomfortable with the idea that we should be changing our wardrobes each season, just so we can look like everybody else (and that’s quite aside from the fact that my freelance writer salary has made that economically prohibitive anyway.) I respect high-end designers for their craft and their art, but I don’t connect with the idea of fast ‘on trend’ fashion, since I believe it encourages a hideously wasteful consumerist society that I just don’t want to be part of, and I don’t see any real value in it.

This is why, over the years, I developed my passion for garments that have meaning sewn into them. Unique pieces collected from all over the world on my travels, that speak of indigenous cultures and different communities. That have been worn by women before me, and that I’ll wear for the rest of my life because they really have character and a story behind them.

These pieces are history. They’re art. They tell stories about the world and the women who have come before us. Like the hand-knitted, naturally dyed alpaca wool beanies I bought from a small community of weavers near Peru’s Rainbow Mountain. Or the vintage black and pink hill tribe jacket I purchased in the rice fields of rural China a couple of years back (I’m not quite ready to pass that one on yet). Owning and wearing them, then passing them on, is a way of keeping those people and those histories and that artistry alive.

This kind of clothing is clothing with soul. The pieces I’ve collected for NINBAZAAR bring me so much joy because they speak of another time or place. When I wear them, I feel transported and I feel unique. Each piece is a true treasure. I know that when I wear them, I’ll never walk into a room and find someone else wearing the same thing. And when someone asks me where I got the piece from, I’ll have an interesting story to tell them about my travels or my personal history, rather than just saying I got it at Zara last week. Not to mention the quality of these handmade, carefully crafted items is always vastly superior to anything you’d find in a high-street store. They’re made to last, not just to be tossed out once the season is done.

Getting dressed each morning should be an act of self-love. Which is why I believe it’s important to reclaim style from the fast fashion machine. Working with colours and textures and antique jewellery to create something new out of something old, so you can swathe yourself in meaningful pieces that make you feel completely in your power.

It’s not something frivolous, but a form of self-expression and something that makes us uniquely human.