FROM SYRIA TO THE MUSIC SCENE
It’s easy to associate the two words “festival fashion” with a third, derogatory term: “basic.” Past trends have become so ubiquitous that they’ve lost their originality: think flower crowns or fringed vests. To be fair, such is the nature of trends–at first, they’re new and exciting, but soon become “mainstream” and uncommon and thus, uninteresting… until they resurface ten years later like they’re brand new.
To consider an alternate point of view: concerts, music festivals, etc. are sites where art and creativity are meant to flourish. They’re where people from different backgrounds with different experiences can come together, united by the love of a particular genre, artist, or even just the lighthearted feeling of dancing around in an open field with friends, not caring how silly or stupid you look. In these spaces, individuality is accepted and even encouraged.
It’s no wonder, then, that large brands and companies attempt to capitalize on these good feelings and positive associations by mass-marketing the accessories and articles of clothing that symbolize them. While it’s easy–and accurate–to denounce these items as manifestations of conformity and capitalism, at the same time, it’s important to look back to their origins and attempt to unpack the reasons why they became so popular in the first place. Doing so, I believe, both acknowledges their original purposes and associations and underscores the logical connection between the items themselves and the positive feelings associated with festivals.
This brings me to my exploration of the Pashmina scarf.
I personally began noticing the presence of this accessory at festivals this past summer. But, according to my friend Steven, they’ve been around (and popular) in the basshead community since about 2011.
While details of its early history are muddled, fragments of pashmina material have been discovered in archaeological digs of sites in Syria and Egypt, from the 2nd and 6th centuries C.E. (the years 100 to 700) and believed to have originally been woven in Syria or Iran. That makes the scarf somewhere from 1,318 to 1,918 years old. So it’s even more amazing that it’s still around today, albeit in radically different forms.
So why the movement from South Asian society to the world of bass music? Steven says, “[Pashmina scarves] super comfortable and lightweight but keep you warm, so they’re nice for festivals where you’re outside for multiple days in a row. Also they tend to be very colorful and psychedelic-looking which is obviously a huge part of festival fashion. Dancing with one over you is super fun too, especially to weird music like Space Jesus or Bassnectar, or something really off the wall.”
Side note: festival accessories as a whole also serve a purpose in some less-than-legal festival activities, like the use and concealment of certain substances. Pashminas are no exception, but I won’t go into detail and give anyone any ideas!