Why are Umbrellas the Next Up-and-Coming Fashion Accessory?
At Cheeky Umbrella, we believe the rain umbrella has been viewed as a simple practicality for too long, and now is the time for the modern day fashion umbrella to flourish! Shoes and purses have long been considered fashion accessories, but why not the umbrella?!
Why do we believe fashion umbrellas are an up-and-coming accessory? It’s simple: visibility. Shoes, purses, jackets and hats are all popular fashion accessories because they are visible on your person, and as a result people pay attention to how they look. Socks and underwear, on the other hand, are usually hidden from view and therefore are considered more of a necessity than a fashion accessory.
The fashion umbrella has had its place as a fashion accessory throughout history. Although no one is positive who invented the first umbrella, (there are debates whether it was the Chinese or the Egyptians), what is for sure is that the fashion umbrella was used first by only the wealthiest individuals, and they were not used to block rain, but to block intense sunlight. Slaves held the fashion umbrella over the head of a king, and the larger the umbrella, the greater the wealth of its owner. The Ancient Egyptians valued their umbrellas so much they were even included in their paintings and sculptures.
In Ancient Greece and Rome, fashion umbrellas were considered a status symbol, often carried by royalty and aristocrats. Allusions to the umbrella are frequent in the poetry of the time, and from such mentions, the umbrella does not appear to have been used as a defence from rain, rather an item of decoration or fashion.
The ornamental use of umbrellas in history is also apparent in the materials and colours used. The Aztecs are said to have constructed fashion umbrellas out of feathers and gold. In Ancient Egypt there are depictions of fashion umbrellas made out of a fan of palm-leaves or coloured feathers fixed on a long handle.
In China, the first sun umbrellas or parasols were made out of brightly coloured papers and painted artwork. In 16th century England, Mary Queen of Scots reportedly owned a parasol of crimson satin trimmed with gold tassels. And over the years, umbrella handles have been made with many different luxury materials also - gold plating, sterling silver, leather, ivory and precious woods, to name a few. Towards the end of the 19th century, covers of chiffon and fancy silk on very long sticks became the fashion. It wasn’t until the 1900’s that the umbrella began to lose its status as a fashion accessory.
The proliferation of automobiles reduced the need for umbrellas as weather protection. Smaller collapsible umbrellas became more popular than the stylish, higher quality long umbrellas. And imports of inexpensive, lower quality umbrellas from the Far East began, damaging the umbrella’s image as a status symbol. This resulted in today’s perception of the umbrella as practical and disposable rather than a fashionable accessory to be kept for many years. That being said, trends are always cyclical, and we have great faith that fashion umbrellas will make a comeback in North America.
In countries such as Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, fashion umbrellas have already become popular items over the past 20 years. And in recent years, high profile designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Gucci, Gianfranco Ferre, have all created their own fashion umbrella designs.
And finally, umbrella companies like us, Cheeky Umbrella, strive to make the fashion umbrella popular once again by creating unique, stylish and quality crafted umbrellas.