When it comes to festival fashion, there is no rules as to how much glitter, neon, and excess there should be. Festivalgoers are completely liberated to dress as wildly as they wish and dance the nights away. All around the world, hundreds of thousands of people gather for these events. However, when it comes to certain countries, festival culture is very different. Being from the UK, I have always noticed a stark difference between the festivals I have been to, and the festivals in the US, where influencers and celebrities flock every year, to go above and beyond in the name of fashion.
From an outsider’s perspective, Coachella seems to be more about the fashion than the music. Don’t get me wrong, every year my anticipation for the Coachella outfits goes into overdrive.
The first time Coachella was ever on my radar was in 2016, and Kylie Jenner had recently become the new most talked about Kardashian/Jenner, with the launch of her infamous lip kits. She debuted her new rainbow hair to Instagram, along with an ‘Evil Eye’ design bikini from Discount Universe. I was obsessed. Most of the focus was on Kylie this year, and she did not disappoint, following with a Louis Vuitton bathing suit and bandana, and partying with a whole host of A-list celebrities, including her boyfriend at the time, Tyga.
In my experience, the UK is much different. People still load themselves with sparkly hair, sequins, and a myriad of colours, but there is really no “glamourous” side to Glastonbury, like there is at Coachella. America has the benefit of sunshine, and not being in fields, so they can dance around in sandals and look amazing. While over here in the UK, the only suitable footwear is wellies.
Rain or shine
Maybe it’s the cold, wet weather, maybe it’s the mud? Or maybe it’s the five days of living in a pop-up tent with no showers? Either way, I can’t imagine any of Kardashian/Jenner’s slumming it and queuing for a port-a-potty anytime soon. The UK festivalgoers aren’t there to try and bump into A-listers and dress in fancy clothes, they’re going there to enjoy the atmosphere of the UK crowd (arguably the best) and listen to their favourite artists.
American festivals have really nailed the after-party scene though, from the Neon Carnival to events thrown by brands like Moschino, Revolve, and Boohoo. These events are very extravagant and even more exclusive. The Neon Carnival, which is basically a huge outdoor fair ground and party, hosted at a private airport, is one of the most exclusive. An invite or appearance represents high social status. It’s really no surprise that these celebrities put so much thought and effort into their outfits.
The camping side of UK festivals means that after parties are more like partying with your tent neighbours and until you pass out at 3AM. There is more of a sense of a community for this reason, which could explain why the fashion at UK festivals is less of a focus. Furthermore, drinking culture is much different. Where there are specific drinking zones at Coachella, the whole festival is a drinking zone at Glastonbury. Personally, I wouldn’t want to wear my best outfit if I knew I was probably going to be rolling around drunk in the mud by the end of the day.
Art, absurdity and revelry
You can’t talk about US festival fashion without mentioning Burning Man. The focus of the festival is “art, absurdity and revelry”. People go as far as bringing “mutant cars”, to match the personas they create. The festival is less about music and more about self-expression and the images of the festival are truly out of this world. The crazy outfits, cars, and sets, against the dystopian back drop of the desert makes the festival seem like a fantasy.
One of the big differences between the UK and US festivals is that the US festivals always have somewhat of a theme. In recent years, dressing up as a cowgirl or cowboy has become trendier at US festivals like Coachella. In the UK however, there has never really been a defined theme for the festivals, meaning anyone and everyone is welcome, bringing an array of different style and outfit choices.
After considering what impacts the fashion at these festivals, from celebrity presence to weather, it feels wrong to compare such different places. Going to a festival in the UK, you have completely different expectations than the US. Although the outfits are much more important and extravagant at the US festivals, they simply wouldn’t be as effective in the UK, where the focus in more on the drinking and the music than the fashion.