My travels and Afghan Type – Everlasting Type


In the course of the launch of Robert Spangle’s e book Afghan Type not too long ago 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 usually pretty restricted kinds. 

It introduced again reminiscences of my very own travels in northern Pakistan and western China, each shut neighbours of areas Rob had been. I backpacked quite a bit in my twenties, and one notably 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 reminiscences are of the folks we met, who had been unfailingly pleasant and hospitable, notably in Pakistan. 

Wanting again on it now, they had been additionally effectively dressed – expressively and individually. 

Not like 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 swimsuit to high school. I did not care about garments till fits had been a requirement of working in an workplace. 

So travelling round Asia again then, the garments largely handed me by. We might see Pakistani males all sporting their very own interpretations of the shalwar kameez, in numerous shades, with completely different equipment, with or with out a rolled pakol cap, and it will be no extra fascinating to me than the panorama or structure. 

Wanting again on a few of my pictures although (above and under), I used to be clearly struck at some stage by the colors within the clothes.

Youngsters had been all the time the brightest and most diversified. Households couldn’t afford embroidered or printed materials, however they might 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 had been extra historically and plainly dressed within the north of Pakistan, the place most of those pictures had been taken, than down in Islamabad or Rawalpindi. However I cherished the tonal mixtures – a grimy cream shalwar kameez, a dark-brown woollen waistcoat, an earth-coloured pakol. They had been earthy, sensible and funky. 

That’s one very gentleman under, arguing with my father about one thing or different. I believe these unfastened woollen waistcoats should have stayed in my unconscious someplace, as a result of I instantly considered them once I wrote about a Connolly cardigan right here final 12 months. 

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, notably 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 end result was that you just noticed each shade of purple, purple and pink, usually blended collectively in the identical outfit: purple robes, purple cloak, pink sash. Once more, though garments weren’t the obsession they’re for me now, I appreciated 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 simple to deal with the compact swirl of worldwide style – 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 embrace some good observations, akin to the best way 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 navy jacket, or extra doubtless vest, suggests an involvement with the Taliban and newer conflicts. The adoption of a selected striped chapan exhibits the affect of ex-President Hamid Karzai (eg under). 

I discover this fascinating, and it makes me need to decide 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 under) is a good perception into that, and I’d actually advocate it. 

The images is nice – many leagues, in fact, above my blurry snaps – however the actual fascination for me is the folks Rob picked, why he did so, and occupied with 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 capturing villagers in a distant nook of Afghanistan, he’s all the time considering menswear. 

Afghan Type is obtainable 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 concerning the e book on Agnes Choose right here



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