November 13, 2013  ·  culture  ·  style

Before They Pass Away

Photographer Jimmy Nelson's ambitious Before They Pass Away project took him on journeys across five continents where he observed and documented remote and in many cases disappearing tribes and cultures. Since no endeavour has so much gravitas as to be immune to our brand of trivial appropriation, a few style observations were made with selected tribes offering some interesting sartorial notes:

The Gauchos of Argentina are as rugged and tough a bunch of cowboys as you'll find, and nearly all of them wear some combination of bright colours or showy patterns. That's something that was lost in Western workwear down the line. When did utilitarian and manly come to mean monochromatic?

When most of us think of African textiles we probably think of complex mudcloth patterns, loud colours or both. The beadwork and jewelry of the Ethopian Banna does a lot almost exclusively with stripes, deep red, black and ecru. There's a lesson to be learned in there.

The Rabari of India demonstrate that if you start with white as a base you can add a ton of colour and patterns and still make it work. They also demonstrate that they have access to great fabrics that are still unappreciated in western sartorialism. Most of what these two gents have on would make a great scarf, pocket square, or vest.

Photos: Jimmy Nelson. Buy the book [starting at $150].

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