October 1, 2023
Comparing Festival Fashion Trends Between the US and Europe

From a plethora of colors and styles, there are some stark differences in festival fashion trends between the US and European events.

Expressing one’s individuality is a core element of the electronic scene in the US, as well as a method of marketing for brands on social media at events, and festival fashion has exponentially grown and evolved in the US to include a number of different brands that all bring their own styles to the table. There seem to be items on the market for everyone to express their unique selves and a growing number of brands that are bringing more inclusivity for those in the community.

Although individualism remains a core aspect of the European electronic scene, festival fashion across the pond is typically not as diverse. At most European events, you will rarely see a range of harnesses, pasties, bikini styles, or bright colors worn by most attendees who opt for more comfortable, casual clothing instead.

Read on for an in-depth look at the differences in fashion at festivals in Europe and the US, and make sure to check out some small brands to shop at for your latest outfits.

Photo Credit: Bass Events at The Qontinent

In Europe, artists, event merch, and casual clothing are most commonly seen at festivals.

After attending four European festivals this past summer of 2022, including Tomorrowland, and one in 2019. From those experiences, I’ve noticed stark differences in festival fashion or lack thereof. Most attendees can be spotted wearing athletic or casual clothing, artist merchandise, or clothing repping events they had been to. Most notably, at hard dance events, many can be seen sporting gear from other hard dance events, such as items from Defqon.1 Weekend Festival.

At festivals comprising mostly locals, where there are few non-European attendees, casual or athletic wear consists of the bulk of the festival fashion seen. I noticed the more international attendees an event draws, the more diverse the fashion is. For example, at Tomorrowland, I noticed many from North, Latin, and South America showed a bit more skin and had outfits with eye-catching colors.

In general, USA fashion at festivals is a complete 180-degree spin from what is typically worn at European events. Unfortunately, many across the pond are not as open-minded and can be judgmental of others when it comes to revealing more skin and wearing abnormal styles and pieces. Due to this, it is common for unsavory looks and commentary to typically be exchanged in private in condemnation of others wearing atypical outfits.

EDC Orlando attendees
Photo Credit: Tasteful Girl

Both areas of the community do group outfits. However, USA festival attendees go all out with a bang.

From tropical to Disney princesses to spooky Halloween group outfit themes, USA does not back down when color and flamboyance are out to the challenge. Group outfits with common themes are commonly seen at festivals; however, European attendees typically have tone-downed outfits or characters. For example, “Where’s Waldo?” identical outfits are a very common theme in European festivals.

As of recent, many can agree USA events have become quite the fashion show with brand promotions. Although the unique qualities and availability of niche items for any aesthetic are assets to the USA festival fashion market, this can also create unhealthy competition among social media stars in the scene and take away from the core reason music events are hosted: for the love of the music.

There are several pros to European fashion at music festivals that USA festival fashion does not have. Due to a majority wearing casual or athletic items, the burden of financing and curating an outfit barely exists. In addition, this creates minimal focus on the outfits and pictures and more focus on the music of the event. Lastly, investing in artists and event merch directly finances back to the community and event creators making the events possible.

Defqon.1 attendees
Photo Credit: Q-Dance at Defqon.1 Weekend Festival

From every corner of both areas of the community, funny outfits and wacky costumes always put a smile on attendees’ faces.

Wacky inflatable suits or crazy costumes are never a bad idea and a great failsafe when it comes to dressing for a festival. Not only is this internationally known to put a smile on others’ faces, but it’s a great way to make new friends! Both USA and Europe commonly have attendees at events dressed in costumes like those above at Defqon.1.

Defqon.1 has an exclusive day for attendees to dress in their craziest outfits on Sunday Funday annually. Akin to this idea, USA hosts several annual Halloween events for those with a creative side to display their scariest, cutest, or most funny cosplays and costumes.

Both continents generically see festival fashion as an asset to the community, not typically as the center of the scene.

Although a large part of the scene, and with evident differences when compared internationally, the electronic scene as a whole is united through the love of the music. Our togetherness is what makes the community special, and our individuality is an additional aspect of what this scene promotes. Whether it be festival fashion, unique dance moves, or your generosity to camping neighbors that go the extra mile, one’s uniqueness shines through whatever their individual expression is.

Festival clothing and accessories dramatically contrast each other across both continents, and although Europe’s fashion is not as open-minded nor flashy in style or color, they make up for it with their genuineness and intense dedication to the scene and artists. Fashion at festivals in the USA has its perks of unique expression and an open attitude of acceptance, and I’ve grown to love both communities for all of their positive aspects.

Want to share your thoughts about the impact of fashion on the scene? Let us know on Twitter!

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