STYLES OF ASIA: Celebrating Culture Through Fashion Asian American Resource Center

Reccomended Ages: Teens and up

Duration of Activity: 30 minutes

Traditional and modern fashion from Asia and the Pacific Islands is known for its diversity, style, and vibrancy. Tradition abounds, but each generation makes the style their own.

In 2017 and 2018, the AARC hosted several Culture and Fashion Workshops which culminated in the Styles of Asia Fashion Show both years. This presentation is a small peek into these programs, featuring photos taken throughout the workshops, the fashion show, and other AARC events. We hope you enjoy learning about Asian American Culture and Fashion.

We also invite you to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by exploring your culture through fashion and taking a selfie in your heritage dress at home! Share with us via Instagram and Facebook by tagging us @aarcatx and we will share our faves!


Head coverings worn by some Muslim women.

Thank You to Asma Parvez, presenter for "AARC Culture and Fashion workshop 2017 - Hijab"

The word hijab has broader meanings that go beyond the headscarf, which may be worn for a variety of reasons such as religion, identity, empowerment, solidarity, and modesty.

The hijab comes in a wide variety of styles, designs and vibrant colors for every season and occasion. Muslim influencers, entrepreneurs, and designers have contributed to the hijab and modest fashion industry.

World Hijab Day (WHD) is an annual event, every February 1st, which asks global citizens of all faiths to observe Hijab for a day in solidarity with Muslim women worldwide.

Video Source: "3 Simple Hijab Styles for Party Wear | Hijab Tutorial | Saimascorner" uploaded by Saimascorner, January 21, 2017


The traditional Korean dress worn by men and women. Han means ‘’Korea’’ and Bok means ‘’Clothing."

Photo: AARC Styles of Asia Fashion Show 2017

Thank You to Lee Young, presenter for AARC Culture and Fashion workshop 2017 - Hanbok

Hanbok is sewn in a curved fashion with the shape of the body to allow movement, mobility and elegance. Color is very important. Features of a hanbok are:

For Women

  • Jeogori: the upper part of the hanbok, the “jacket”
  • Otgoreum: the two ribbons knotted to close the jeogori
  • Dongjeong: the white collar, aimed to highlight the neck
  • Chima: the skirt

For Men

  • Baji: the large pants
  • Gat: the traditional hat
  • Durumagi: the traditional coat wore for special events
  • Beoseon: the socks worn by men and women

Photo: Lee Young performing at AARC CelebrASIA

Hanbok is also about the hair and accessories. Men and women would wear braids until married, at which time the hair was knotted. A binyeo (hairpin) is worn as a fastener and ornamentation. Wigs were also worn by women of high social backgrounds.

Hanboks are classified according to their purpose and different types of hanboks were worn based on social class.

Photo: Lee Young

Today, hanboks are worn only for special cultural occasions and modern twists on the traditional fashion have emerged.

Video Source: "How to wear s Korean Custume - for Woman" uploaded by 한복진흥센터, January 24, 2017

KEBAYA - the national dress of Indonesia

Thank You to Evie Thompson from Indonesian Diaspora Network Austin, Tami Devries from Rumah Buadaya Indonesia Austin and Agung Phinny from Arts of Bali, presenters AARC Culture and Fashion workshop 2018 - Indonesia

The word Kebaya was likely derived from the Arabic word ”abaya”, which means "clothing."

Kebaya is a type of tailored blouse often made from delicate sheer fabrics. It is worn over kemban or stagen, a female torso wrap covering the chest. Kebaya is usually worn with a sarong, batik kain panjang, or other traditional woven garment such as ikat or songket with a colorful motif.

Javanese, Sudanese, and Balinese people wear the kebaya and the garments have become highly localized expressions of ethnic culture, artistry, and tailoring traditions.

Photo: AARC Styles of Asia Fashion Show 2017

The kebaya has heavily influenced the world of modern fashion. Lace dresses are one of the best examples of the kebaya's influence.

Video Source: "Indonesian Traditional Costume "KEBAYA" " uploaded by Ayu Anggrasini, July 26, 2018

Photo: AARC Culture and Fashion Workshop 2018 - Indonesia


A traditional Japanese garment which is t-shaped, with long and wide sleeves worn so that the hem falls near to the ankle

Thank You to Austin Japanese Minyo Group, presenters for AARC Culture and Fashion workshop 2017 - Kimono

There are different types of kimonos for different occasions, seasons and stages of life often depicted by the designs, patterns and materials. Tomesode, Furisode, Houmongi, and Yukata are just a few of the styles available. Today, they are most commonly worn for special occasions.

Photo: AARC Culture and Fashion Workshop 2017 - Kimono

A kimono is made from a single bolt of cloth measuring 38 cm by 12.5 meters. A kimono includes a light underlayer called nagajuban. The kimono and underlayer are held in place with a wide belt called an obi. A kimono should always be folded left over right across the body. Kimonos are only folded right for burials.

Photo: AARC Culture and Fashion Workshop 2017 - Kimono

Video Source: "A Day in JAPAN | Wearing a Kimono | SAKURA Cherry Blossoms | KimDao" uploaded by kimdao, May 21, 2016


Photo: AARC Styles of Asia Fashion Show 2017

Thank You to Kanani Kawaiolamanloa, presenter for AARC Culture and Fashion workshop 2018 - Polynesia & Oceania

Polynesia is a vast string of islands in the Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii, New Zealand, Easter Island, Tonga, and French Polynesia.

Traditionally Polynesians made their clothes and adornments from Native plants, and bird and animal skins. Clothing, adornments and hairstyles showed a lot about a person’s status.

Photo: AARC Culture and Fashion Workshop 2018: Polynesia & Oceania

Cloths made of bark are known as Tapas with terminology, decorations, designs and dyes varying throughout the islands. Tapa primarily comes from the fibrous inner layer of the bark of a mulberry tree. Traditional uses were for clothing, bedding and wall handing and ceremonial and culturally significant occasions.

Photo: provided by the Hula Halau Kae'epa & Keito Academy of Ethno-Cultural Performing Arts

Video Source: "TAPA cloth workshop - Atelier de confection de Tapa" uploaded by ARIOI Tahitian Culture With Hinatea Colombani, May 18, 2017

Photo: AARC Culture and Fashion Workshop 2018: Polynesia & Oceania


The sari, saree, or shari is a female garment from the South Asian subcontinent consisting of a length of fabric elaborately draped around the body.

Thank You to Jaya Shukla, presenter for AARC Culture and Fashion workshop 2017 - Sari

Sari fabric varies from five to nine yards in length and two to four feet in breadth. The sari is usually worn over a petticoat, with a fitted blouse. The sari is widely associated with elegance and a symbol of grace in Indian culture.

There are hundreds of ways to drape a sari, most regionally specific. The most common is the Nivi style which originated in Andhra Pradesh, India. The Nivi drape has an elegant long line of 7 to 9 pleats folded at the front waist. The long pallu (loose decorative end of sari) is draped diagonally over the shoulder and hangs down to waist length.

Photo: SAIVA Seniors at the AARC

Red is the most favored color for wedding saris and are a traditional garment choice for brides in Indian culture. Women traditionally wore various types of regional handloom sarees made of silk, cotton, ikkat, block-print, embroidery and tie-dye textiles. Today, modern fabrics like Chiffon, polyester, georgette and charmeuse are also commonly used.

Video Source: "Different types of sarees in India (Part - 1)" uploaded by Pantologic, October 10, 2017


We hope you have enjoyed this small glimpse into APA heritage clothing! We invite you to share a selfie wearing your heritage dress in honor of APA Heritage Month. Post pics to Instagram and Facebook and tag @aarcatx and we will repost our faves!

Photos: AARC CelebrASIA, AARC Styles of Asia and AARC Culture and Fashion Workshop

We'd love to hear your feedback!


Created with images by Victoria Mvududu - "Fabric " • Muhammad Faiz Zulkeflee - "Young malay girl " • Raamin ka - "Persian Girl" • Hasan Almasi - "Spring Girls" • Johen Redman - "untitled image" • ABBY RAHIM - "For most people the sky is the limit. For flight attendants the sky is home." • P. Lesley - "Kimono women takes picture with Kimono Forest Different kimono fabrics in transparent tubes at Hankyu-Arashiyama Station , a lot of poles decorated with kimono paintings, Arashiyama,KYOTO, JAPAN" • Bruno Aguirre - "untitled image" • Srinivas JD - "Pose for Modeling Photography " • Bella Pon Fruitsia - "untitled image" • AMISH THAKKAR - "indian-wedding-bridal -party"