The tribal appeal of agricultural fashion

The tribal appeal of agricultural fashion

BOOTS & ALL: Some fashion trends which started in agriculture have extended beyond their practical roots, becoming luxury items worn by many.

BOOTS & ALL: Some fashion trends which started in agriculture have extended beyond their practical roots, becoming luxury items worn by many.


An online video has highlighted some of the fashions in agriculture, prompting the question: does the rural industry care what it wears?


THEY may not be making the catwalks of Australian Fashion Week but the get-ups of farmers and those involved in agriculture are widely recognised and embraced.

Last week, Good Fruit & Vegetables posted a video on its Facebook page highlighting the various fashion styles involved in agriculture.

Entitled "Fashion in Agriculture - in one minute", the video flashed through 30 different outfits commonly seen within agriculture circles.

While made for a bit of fun, the video struck a chord within the rural community, being viewed more than 400,000 times, shared more than 7000 times and reaching some 1.35 million people.

Nearly all comments were positive, with many viewers recognising a trend or outfit of someone they know or possible one they wear themselves.

The video prompted the question: do those in agriculture care what they wear?

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology's School of Fashion and Textiles lecturer Kate Kennedy said while there has been plenty of study done on uniforms, as far as she was aware no one had specifically focussed on clothing trends in agriculture on an academic level.

She said part of the response to the video could be attributed to the fact people like to belong to a tribe, and can express that through their clothing.

Ms Kennedy pointed to iconic Australian brand RM Williams, a brand long associated with the bush, now part-owned by luxury brand, Louis Vuitton.

"It's being marketed as a luxury brand," Ms Kennedy said.  

"There are a lot of things that we take for granted but I think it does come back to this thing that we want authentic experiences."

RM Williams exports to 15 countries, has more than 50 retail stores in Australia, a store in London, and is available at more than 900 stockists around the globe.

RM Williams has launched a new marketing campaign on the theme, A Life's Work, including a video.

RM Williams- A Lifetime's Work

Other brands which originally focussed on workwear such as Driza-Bone, Hard Yakka, KingGee and Blundstone have each made a gradual transition to include more urban fashion lines.

Another brand, Rossi Boots, has just released a range of footwear with leopard-print elastic side footwear.

Ms Kennedy said although there were varying outfits within the agricultural sectors, they were perhaps more entwined within daily Australian life than given credit for.  

"I guess in Australia, is it these trends in what we do in fashion that makes us different, trends that are actually on the street now," she said.

"Because you find a lot of that stuff virtually everywhere. Walk down Brunswick and you'll see a bit of all of that.

"Maybe we are closer to it, possibly than we realise."

Much of what farmers wear appears to be based on practicalities- protection from the sun, manure and chemicals for some; ease of movement and temperature control for others.

The generally pragmatic nature of rural workers means fashions tend not to be "showy", although there are exceptions.

"There's farmer farmer attire, then there's farmer good-wear, like what they wear to the shows," Ms Kennedy said.

"There are probably more things that they wouldn't wear, which makes what they do wear, interesting.

"I definitely think it's based on performance. If it's not going to work, they are going to stop wearing it.

"If it doesn't last, there's a price to pay there- they won't go back to it."

As for what the next ag-inspired fashion trend will be to appear on the runways of fashion houses around the planet?

That's difficult to say but there are plenty of options.

Perhaps the cane farmer's Stubbies will become chic? Or the dairy farmers' bucket hat? Maybe the chest-high waders of the aquaculture producer would make a nice Melbourne Cup outfit one day.


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