My travels and Afghan Type – Everlasting Type

Through the launch of Robert Spangle’s e book Afghan Type lately in London, I had an opportunity to meet up with Rob about what he discovered so inspirational about costume in Afghanistan. 

He talked about the silhouettes, the feel of various native supplies and color variation – how expressive every appeared, inside typically pretty restricted kinds. 

It introduced again recollections of my very own travels in northern Pakistan and western China, each shut neighbours of areas Rob had been. I backpacked so much in my twenties, and one significantly memorable journey took me from Beijing to Islamabad, travelling by land throughout the north of China by way of Urumqi, then down into Pakistan over the Karakoram. 

I travelled with my father, and bear in mind it fondly. It is simply the longest time the 2 of us have spent collectively on our personal. However my strongest recollections are of the individuals we met, who have been unfailingly pleasant and hospitable, significantly in Pakistan. 

Trying again on it now, they have been additionally properly dressed – expressively and individually. 

In contrast to many individuals working in menswear, I’ve no good ‘origin story’. It’s a disappointment to each interviewer. 

I wasn’t impressed by a father or grandfather. I did not insist on sporting a three-piece go well with to highschool. I did not care about garments till fits have been a requirement of working in an workplace. 

So travelling round Asia again then, the garments largely handed me by. We’d see Pakistani males all sporting their very own interpretations of the shalwad kameez, in numerous shades, with completely different equipment, with or and not using a rolled pakol cap, and it might be no extra fascinating to me than the panorama or structure. 

Trying again on a few of my photographs although (above and beneath), I used to be clearly struck at some degree by the colors within the clothes.

Kids have been all the time the brightest and most diversified. Households couldn’t afford embroidered or printed materials, however they may dye them daring colors – reds, yellows and greens. 

Among the many stone homes and dun-coloured hills, these blocks of color stood out like gems. 

Males have been extra historically and plainly dressed within the north of Pakistan, the place most of those photographs have been taken, than down in Islamabad or Rawalpindi. However I beloved the tonal mixtures – a unclean cream shalwar kameez, a dark-brown woollen waistcoat, an earth-coloured pakol. They have been earthy, sensible and funky. 

That’s one very gentleman beneath, arguing with my father about one thing or different. I believe these unfastened woollen waistcoats will need to have stayed in my unconscious someplace, as a result of I instantly considered them after I wrote about a Connolly cardigan right here final yr. 

I don’t suppose it’s an excessive amount of of a stretch to see inspiration from these sorts of clothes in manufacturers we all know and love, significantly given how influenced I do know Agyesh at Stoffa is by India, and Adam at Adret is also by his travels. 

The opposite color that comes again to me strongly is that worn by the monks at Labrang in China. 

Though theoretically wearing a uniform of maroon with occasional punch of a yellow hat, in apply the robes diversified between people, maybe attributable to completely different dyes and ages of the clothes. 

The outcome was that you simply noticed each shade of pink, purple and pink, typically combined collectively in the identical outfit: pink robes, purple cloak, pink sash. Once more, though garments weren’t the obsession they’re for me now, I favored these colors sufficient to purchase my very own uneven jacket in a tough native wool. 

The purpose I might take from this (and one of many many I take from Rob’s e book) is that it’s straightforward to concentrate on the compact swirl of worldwide vogue – packaged for us by the echo chamber of social media – on the expense of wealthy native traditions. 

I all the time need extra writing in books like Afghan Type. I’m simply fairly a literary, word-driven individual. However Rob does embody some good observations, equivalent to the way in which trendy additions to conventional clothes in Afghanistan point out an individual’s age or allegiances. 

A tailor-made jacket dates a person to the Russian occupation, when such western clothes was first launched. A army jacket, or extra probably vest, suggests an involvement with the Taliban and more moderen conflicts. The adoption of a specific striped chapan reveals the affect of ex-President Hamid Karzai (eg beneath). 

I discover this fascinating, and it makes me wish to choose up related regional nuances – maybe evaluating older males in numerous European cities, or recognizing the appearances of conventional clothes in Japan, the place I’ll be travelling quickly.

Afghan Type (photographs above and beneath) is a superb perception into that, and I’d definitely advocate it. 

The images is nice – many leagues, in fact, above my blurry snaps – however the actual fascination for me is the individuals Rob picked, why he did so, and fascinated about that by both analysing the picture or studying the captions. 

I like, too, the truth that Rob divides the e book up into sections entitled texture, silhouette and color – even when he’s taking pictures villagers in a distant nook of Afghanistan, he’s all the time considering menswear. 

Afghan Type is offered on-line from for the US/worldwide, and within the EU

Additionally it is out there within the following shops:

  • Trunk (UK)
  • Picto La Comete
  • Actes Sud (Arles)
  • La Nouvelle Chambre Claire (Paris)
  • Filigranes (Paris)
  • 7l Settelile (Paris)
  • La Pharmacie des Ames (Paris)
  • Mendo (Amsterdam)

There is a good interview with Rob in regards to the e book on Agnes Choose right here


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