Fashioning Heritage

With the exception of 2010 and 2011, each year from 1993 the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders meet and dress in ‘political fancy dress’. It is often referred to as the ‘silly shirt season’. Rather than a ‘parade of nations’, an outfit is designed by the host nation to be worn by each visiting head of state for a formal photograph.

The official pictorial documents are termed ‘family photos’ in the journalist jargon. The dress is deemed to reflect the heritage of the host nation. The aim of this dress is arguably to give a display of solidarity, obscuring the differences between economies and political divergences of the represented countries and states. It could also be conceived that countries are willing to consider an alternative point of view, like walking in another’s shoes (Roces and Edwards 2010: 1). As well there is a dampening of ‘national differences expressed semiotically through the use of national/ethnic dress.’ (Shimatzu 2016)

This paper describes the politics of dress at APEC meetings and looks briefly at the garment worn for the meeting in Sydney, Australian, and more closely at ‘traditional’ clothing designed for the meeting in Bogor (1994) and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) meeting (2013), Indonesia.

Date & time

Sat 01 Oct 2016, 4–5.30pm


Sir Roland Wilson Theatrette (Building #120) at ANU


Sharon Peoples


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