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Historically, luxury has been associated with foreign origins. It is therefore impossible to date the starting point of ethnic style in Western consumption modes; in ancient times, novel and sumptuous goods arrived through trade routes from Persia, Egypt, and Central Asia, and later from India, China, Japan, Colombia, Mexico, and elsewhere. Designs and production methods of these imports were imitated, and whole industries-such as Italian and French silk production-were founded to cater for what had initially been a demand for exoticism. The taste for the foreign was also evident in the initial popularity of the cashmere shawl as a fashion item among European and American women from 1800 to 1870. Materials such as silk and cashmere are now fully naturalized in Western fashion, but from time to time their foreign origins are rearticulated in the context of ethnic fashion, for example in the recent trend for luxe povera.
Ethnic Style in Fashion By Lise Skov