Today we'll talk about the meaning of ethnic wear and what it is. You've probably seen someone wearing a piece of ethnic clothing before, maybe even worn it yourself! First of all, let’s know:

What does ‘Ethnic’ mean in English?

The adjective ethnic comes from the Greek word ethnos, which means "race" or "nation." It is typically used to describe a group of people with a shared language, religion, traditions, and heritage.

Origin of the Ethnic’ adjective-

The adjective ethnic originates from the Greek word ethnos (nation), but was first recorded in English in the mid-19th century. It was originally used to refer to ‘a heathen or pagan’ or ‘a person not of one’s own race’.

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Ethnicity is the term sociologists use to identify and locate groups of people who share a common culture. Ethnicity has to do with cultural characteristics: language, religion, customs, dress, food and other factors that give a group of people their distinct identity.

Ethnicity is a cultural concept: It refers to a shared way of life that binds some people together while setting them apart from others. So the term "ethnic" doesn't refer to biological characteristics, but rather to classifications based on shared cultural experiences.


The concept of ethnicity is complex, and it can be difficult to determine exactly how two groups differ. In general, however, we can say that ethnicity is concerned with smaller groups within a society who are socially distinct from the larger society in which they live.

In order to be considered an ethnic group, members must also be conscious of their distinctive traditions and sense of solidarity with others — they must see themselves as a group and must be seen by others as a group.

Ethnicity need not involve racial differences — in fact, the terms are often used interchangeably in everyday conversation — but the two concepts are distinctly different. Race implies differences in physical appearance (skin color, facial features), whereas ethnicity encompasses shared values, traditions and beliefs.


Ethnic wear refers to clothes of people belonging to a particular ethno racial group or country. Reference to the concept of ethnic wear came about during the Colonial era in various parts of the world.

The colonialists introduced their culture and style to local people and this resulted in formation of their own distinct clothing style which was later followed by locals as well.

meaning of ethnic wear

From middle east countries like Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Asian nations like India and Indonesia use rich ethnic colors to manufacture fabrics and create dresses that are worn during festivals, ceremonies or events. South American civilizations also had their own distinctiveness in terms of attire and certain accessories used during these periods.

Ethnic wear is the type of clothing that defines one's ethnicity. Though the term was initially used to describe "traditional" dress worn by people belonging to a specific ethnic group, similar to folk costume of a particular nation, today it may refer to fashionable contemporary clothing as well.

Ethnic wear is often associated with traditional clothing worn by people of a particular ethnic group. It refers to the dress of a community which may have specific cultural significance.

Ethnic clothing is usually inspired and influenced by the culture, religion and history of people living in a certain region. Moreover, ethnic wear is characteristic for its unique style and distinctiveness factors.

Ethnically-inspired clothing, or ethnic wear is the style of clothing that celebrates a specific culture. Fashion designers are always on the lookout for inspiration for new clothing styles and ethnic wear is very inspirational to them.

An example of this would be the Copenhagen fashion week where designers have presented collections featuring the Danish home fad known as hygge - which involved wooly jumpers, candlelight and plaid.

When we talk about ethnic wear, it is to differentiate Indian clothing from western clothing. Ethnic wear is what you wear when it is compulsory, such as when you have to attend a wedding or an important function. When it comes to Indian clothing, it signifies the origin of the culture widely followed in the country where tradition still holds a deep-rooted connection.

For instance, ethnic wear like dhoti and kurta are worn traditionally by Maharashtrian women. The dhoti is the most predominant dress of Maharashtrian women and it symbolizes purity.

The kurta on the other hand is traditional attire worn by Maratha women and it signifies strength. Moreover, wearing ethnic wear always means dressing up as per your community's norms and traditions.

It might be difficult to justify wearing ethnic wear in some of your daily activities but if you do, it will definitely make you look matured and elite.

Put precisely, ethnic dress is the distinctive attire of an ethnic group or culture. Ethnic dress often reflects geography and climate, as well as cultural tradition, philosophy, and history.

It may also indicate group membership (an identifying characteristic of ethnicity). It is the distinctive dress of people of various ethnicities around the world. Most distinctively, ethnic dress expresses cultural identity through unique style, colorful fabrics, and bold patterns.

I’ve heard people say “ethnic wear” when referring to what to wear. But one thing’s for sure: We’re going to have fun learning about the different styles of clothes! Today we’re going to talk about the different types of clothing that are considered ethnic wear. Let’s get started.


The term ethnic wear is often used to describe Indian clothing. The first time the term was used for Indian clothing was in the middle of the 19th century, when East India Company officials started referring to Indian clothes as such.

Over time, the term has evolved to include a diverse range of clothing that came from India.

While there are some common threads among all ethnic wear, each of these unique styles and fashions have their own cultural roots, which in turn inspire their own distinctive features. Because of this, one can easily identify an ethnic wear item just by looking at it without having to understand the origin of it.

However, even though there are many types of ethnic wear items that celebrate the culture of India, there is a common factor that they all share in common — they are all uniquely designed, and also come at a relatively cheap price tag.

This makes them very popular amongst Indians who love fashion and want something that's both beautiful and affordable. 


Ethnic wear is a very broad term which refers to the Indian ethnic attire. This term is used for various reasons and includes the traditional Indian clothes, formal wear and other contemporary Indian clothing.

The Indian ethnic wear has evolved over the years due to various factors such as cotton availability, foreign influence, economic development, etc.

The main factors which have impacted Indian ethnic wear are: 

1) Cotton availability: In earlier times, cotton was not available in sufficient quantities to meet the demand of cloth. It took time for the industry to grow, so textile production was limited. 

2) Foreign Influence: The textile industry expanded with the influx of foreign craftsmen as well as their technical know-how after 1885. 

3) Economic Development: In later years, with industrialization and expansion of economy, a huge demand for cloth emerged. Thus new markets were opened up. 

4) National Development: Since India achieved independence in 1947, a separate identity was asserted by all people belonging to different communities through clothing styles.

When you look at a traditional Indian outfit, you can see the influence of several cultures. The latest fad in Indian fashion has been the "ethnic wear" trend. That trend has become very popular with many women who love to blend Western and Indian styles. These days, there are a lot of clothes that have come up in this category.

There is a lot of confusion about ethnic wear and its origins. Some people believe that it is merely a repackaging of traditional Indian clothing for western markets. This misconception is very common among foreign tourists and people who are not exposed to Indian culture in their daily lives.

Ethnic clothing varies from one country to another:
  1. Indian ethnic wear includes sarees, salwar kameez and lehengas
  2. Chinese ethnic wear includes qipao and changshan
  3. African ethnic wear includes dashiki and kaftan
  4. Japanese ethnic wear includes kimono and yukata

The fact is that ethnic wear is the result of borrowing from other cultures and then adapting them to suit the Indian needs. A typical outfit may include an ethnic scarf or other accessory which is reminiscent of another culture, a kurta-pajama or ethnic top which was adopted from another culture, and dhoti pants/dress (an adapted version of the traditional sari) which was borrowed from India itself.

The Western influence on Indian fashion has been evident since the early 19th century when Englishmen started living in India. The British took their tastes for fashion from the metropolis they had left behind in England.


In the present times, when we find ourselves shying away from our ethnic wear and finding ourselves more comfortable in the western clothes, it is necessary to revive our rich heritage and culture through these elegant ethnic wear.


There are a variety of ways you can style your kurta-churidar combo and look like a complete stunner.

ethnic wear for men

We have listed below some of the best options that you can try out on different occasions and events:

  1. Kurta with Churidar: A classic combination, you can choose to wear this to more formal occasions like a wedding or a puja ceremony. The key is to keep the kurta simple; preferably in solid colors with no prints or embroidery work. Pair it up with a churidar in a similar shade as the kurta and accessorize with a brooch or pocket square. You could also opt for a contrasting color for your churidar, which will give the outfit an edgier look. Complete the look by pairing it with mojaris or jutis for footwear.
  1. Kurta with Printed Jacket: Definitely one of the most interesting ways to don your ethnic wear, this combo is an absolute showstopper! Choose your favorite kurta – whether printed or solid colored and pair it up with a contrasting printed Nehru jacket in silk fabric that has detailed print work all over it. Wear it on top of your kurta


The most common type of Kurta Salwar for men has been found to be made of cotton and one can see many men wearing these Kurtas for daily wear. As there are so many types of Kurtas available today to choose from online, you can easily make your choice in accordance with your personal preference and style.

mens ethnic wear

There are even plain kurtas that can be worn with denim jeans in order to give you an Indo-Western look. You could also pair up these kurtas with jackets or Nehru coats in order to make it look formal enough for any event.

Salwar being more of a loose fit style wear, provides greater comfort in comparison to churidars and also looks no less appealing and stylish.

They fall loosely on the waist and reach just below the knees. However, these days there are variations in the length, with designers offering short salwars for men as well. The fitted salwars are called churidar pajamas. The care for these is simple – wash with cold water and mild detergent. Apart from washing, they can be dry-cleaned too.

If you are looking for a more western look, opt for a kurta with jeans instead of a salwar or pajama!


You know what they say, ‘Sherwani is to men, what sarees are to women’.

ethnic wear for men

Sherwanis, originated as the northern Indian dress for the Mughal royalty, have evolved to wedding wear for men in the modern day. More so often, they come accompanied with a safa, churidar/dhoti pant style bottoms as well as a dupatta.

Sherwanis are usually the first choice of grooms during the wedding season. A Sherwani is a long coat-like garment worn across South Asia by men to traditionally symbolize their regal charm.

The style and cut of this ethnic wear is inspired by Central Asian trends and hence is also known as “Kurta-coat”.

Designers have created a range of contemporary designs using eclectic patterns and brocade work on an assortment of fabrics such as silk, velvet and cotton blends. They have given it a modern twist with embellishments like Swarovski crystals, intricate thread work or even a vintage flair with subtle handworks.

  1. Sherwani is the most popular attire among grooms to be. No matter what you wear on your D-day; you cannot go wrong with sherwani!
  1. When you're looking for designs which are trending these days and simultaneously want to keep it traditional; then sherwanis are the best bet.
  1. These days’ grooms have been quite experimental with their looks on their big day by wearing ethnic outfits like bandhgala jackets or indo western attires. However; if you want something more subtle yet classy then opt for sherwanis!
  1. The best part about it is that it can be worn over a kurta, so you could take it off easily and feel a little more comfortable whenever you need.

Achkan Sherwani

The Achkan Sherwani is more flared from the waist till the bottom. It also has more trimming than the normal Sherwani. The part of the coat that starts from your waist line and goes on till your knees are called Ghagra.

mens ethnic wear

This is not an ethnic wear but an ethnic version of sherwani where you can easily style it according to your taste with different colors and fabrics, because the fabric itself has lots of variations like velvet, satin, cotton etc.

This type of coat can be worn at any occasion be it corporate functions, weddings or even casual parties like birthday parties or other family functions. You can wear this coat with formal as well as semi-formal attire but mostly you prefer to wear it with khakis, jeans or dark blue jeans for a casual look.

TIP: If you feel like trying something other than the classic sherwani on your D-day owing to your short height, then Achkan-Sherwani is the perfect option for you.

Bandhgala or Jodhpuri Suit

If you are looking for a traditional outfit in the ethnic wear category for men, then a Jodhpuri or bandhgala suit is your best bet. Often referred to as the prince coat, a bandhgala has now become a must-have in every man’s wardrobe. It will lend you a sophisticated yet masculine look, be it for a wedding or a celebration dinner with family.

ethnic wear for men

The bandhgala is a coat that is typically worn in the Indian subcontinent, especially by men. It is made from thick material, richly decorated with embroidery. The collar and front of the garment are often ornamented.

The bandhgala originated in India, where it is traditionally worn with a Jodhpuri suit (or jodhpuris), which includes tight-fitting breeches called churidars. Bandhgalas are also worn with the dhoti and pajamas. They can be worn with many different variations.

Pathani Suit

Pathani suits have an origin in Afghanistan and the neighboring northern areas of India. Pathani suits are mostly worn during casual occasions, formal gatherings, weddings and other celebrations.

The Pathani suit is a beautiful traditional outfit which can be worn in both formal and informal occasions. The Pathani suits are available for men, women and children in different sizes and styles. You can choose from the best designs and brands to get the best look for your attire.

ethnic wear for men

The Pathani suit consists of a kurta, salwar and dupatta just like any other traditional Indian outfit but it differs in its design and pattern which makes it unique and distinctive from all others.

The pathani kurtas are kept simple without any embroidery or embellishments but they are given special effects with vibrant hues, different collar styles, cuts and patterns.

The best thing about Pathani Suit is that it can be worn by men of any age group. It can look equally good on men who are young, middle-aged or old. It is an ideal wear for all occasions as it looks regal, authoritative and manly.

Although, it has always been a favourite of men belonging to the Muslim community but its increasing popularity has made it loved by every Indian man irrespective of his religious belief or caste.

Pathani suits are the traditional dress of the Pathans. It is a loose shirt falling either just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer. The trousers are usually narrow at the ankles. They can also be worn by non-Pathans, including Hindus and Sikhs as well.

The Pathani suit was popularized in India by the Indian film industry, especially Bollywood. Pathani suits have been sported by many Bollywood actors in movies such as Sholay, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and more recently Munna Bhai MBBS and 3 Idiots among others.


Indo western clothing refers to the fusion style created when designs from the Indian ethnic attires are blended with western styling. They are a craze among young men as they offer a way to look both traditional and modern at once. 

ethnic wear for men

With the global fashion trends being seamlessly amalgamated with the Indian aesthetics, this has given birth to an entirely new category of ethnic wear for men, which is popularly known as Indo Western outfits.

These attires feature a distinctive blend of Indian traditional and western contemporary styles. They are equally popular among men who like to wear something unique and experimental while attending weddings, parties or other social events.

The Most Popular Indo Western Styles:

Asymmetric Hemline Kurta Pajama

Asymmetrical hemlines have been in vogue recently and this design element has been incorporated into the kurta pajama designs to give them a modern spin. The usual straight cut or side slits have been replaced with asymmetrically cut hemlines which are longer on one side and shorter on the other.

Brocade Indo Western Sherwani

The brocade fabric is extremely popular for giving a rich and regal look to any attire. A brocade Indo Western sherwani can be an excellent choice for the groom at a wedding ceremony. Brocade has always been associated with royalty, hence it is widely used in crafting Indo Western sherwanis for grooms.

Sleeveless/Nehru Jackets

Nehru jackets are a modern twist to ethnic wear. They are stylish, classy and give out a chic vibe when donned with the perfect ensemble.

ethnic wear for men

Nehru Jackets got its name from India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It was hugely popularized in India during the 1960s. The Nehru Jackets are also known as Modi Jackets, after Narendra Modi's signature look.

From then on, these jackets were worn by politicians, business tycoons and other influential people, especially in South Asia and India.

Nehru jackets are available in various styles like single buttoned, double buttoned, short length, long length and many more. You can also find them in various colors like black, gray, white, blue and more according to your preference.

Nehru jackets for men have been a part of ethnic wear since its inception. However, the popularity of these jackets has reached new heights after being spotted on various Bollywood celebrities and other men from the fashion world. The jackets have made quite a comeback and are now becoming the new way to express your style.

You can style it with a formal dress or even go for an Indo-western look by pairing it with shorts or jeans. If you are not comfortable with wearing pants then you can opt for churidars or dhoti pants instead. You can even experiment with different accessories like bow ties and stoles to add that extra edge to your outfits.

Nehru jackets are available in different fabrics and patterns, thus making it easier for you to choose the right one.

Dhoti Pants

Dhoti pants are the new sartorial rage in ethnic wear for men, and are an emerging Indian fashion trend. Dhoti pants in India are not a new thing; it's just that they seem to have resurfaced with a bang.

ethnic wear for men

The dhoti pants are a fusion of the dhoti and pants, with the flare of a dhoti. It has a waistband which fastens like pants, but the fabric falls in a flowy manner like a dhoti. The fabric is pleated into the waistband, which makes it look like a dhoti when worn.

Thus, dhoti pants are a Westerner's take on the traditional Indian dhoti. They are essentially the same thing, except that dhoti pants are fitted and worn like trousers. Also known as churidar pajamas, they have a tight fit around the waist and bottoms of the legs. The rest of the legs flare out but not to the point where they are baggy.

The unique design of dhoti pants makes them an ideal choice for Indian men who want to wear something traditional without sacrificing comfort or style.

Also, dhoti pants are usually suited to an Indo-Western appearance. Hence, they are generally worn by young men, who like to experiment with their style and clothing. They can be worn in weddings, parties or even as casual wear. Dhoti pants are extremely comfortable to wear and also look stylish at the same time.

Dhoti pants are light-weight and flexible clothing which is perfect for summers as well as winters. Gone are the days when these were only worn by athletes in sports events such as marathons and football matches. These fabulous pairs of pants can be worn on casual occasions and even at formal events without any hesitation. They have been seen on celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh and Imran Khan flaunting them at various events effortlessly. 

Tip: You can even get custom made dhoti pants if you do not like the ones available in the market or if you cannot find anything that suits your taste or budget.

Kerala Dhoti or Mundu

The traditional Kerala Dhoti, is a 2-piece unstitched cloth. It is a piece of unstitched cloth, which is wrapped around the waist and then draped between the legs. The mundu looks like a long skirt when worn. Another similar garment called Neriyathu is preferred by women. It also resembles a long skirt and is draped in a similar style.

ethnic wear for men

Neriyathu or Mundu shares many similarities with the Indian outfit known as Sari, which is worn by women in other parts of India.

Kerala dhoti, also known as mundu, is an ethnic wear for men in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It comes in various fabrics of cotton, silk, khadi, etc. They are available in shades of ivory, creme, off-white and white with borders in silver, gold and other shades. We have a wide range of Kerala mundus/dhotis online for you to choose from.

In most Hindu homes in Kerala, the men wear mundus on special occasions and when they go to temples. However, in some regions like Kottayam, men wear mundus as daily wear too.

In the past, mundu was made of hand-woven silk or cotton fabric, which was exclusively available in Kerala. However, at present, it is available in a range of fabrics.


Ethnic wear is always preferred when it comes to traditional functions or festivals. But on the other hand, western clothing has its own charm. The choice of clothing depends on an individual’s preference and comfort level while wearing those clothes.

Some women feel comfortable in western clothes and some don't feel like leaving their traditional clothes. It all depends on your background, culture and traditions. While some women prefer ethnic wear as they find them appropriate for any occasion, there are some who love wearing western clothes because they are comfortable in them.

Learn about Ethnic Wear vs Western Wear in detail.


Bollywood stars love to wear ethnic clothes, which is why they are called ethnic wear. According to the popular saying, "It's Bollywood, the land of ethnic wear." The fact that Bollywood stars are often seen wearing ethnic clothes on the red carpet makes them one of the most-watched celebrities in India.

ethnic wear for men

The use of ethnic clothing in Bollywood films and other cinema productions has become more and more common over the last few years. In 2007, Indian filmgoers wore ethnic clothes as a part of their costumes when watching movies on screen.

The year 2009 saw many movie lovers donning ethnic attire to watch movies in theaters. In 2010, fashion designers came up with a trend of mixing western styles with ethnic dresses and jewelry.

Almost all Bollywood stars love to wear ethnic dresses on the red carpet and prove that they are star-studded by wearing a variety of beautiful dresses from various designers from all over the world. However, it is not just the actors who look forward to wearing ethnicities but also their fans who adore them for their style statement.


I hope today's post will help you to define ethnic wear and understand the meaning of each piece. Understanding cultural and ethnic expressions of fashion can be insightful and interesting. Putting yourself into someone else's shoes (literally) is a helpful way to gain a new perspective on the world around you!

Let us know in the comments section what you learn from this informative blog.

1 comment

Thanks for posting this! I really admire the way you’ve written this blog—it’s informative, well-structured, and provides practical takeaways.

Ashley July 08, 2023

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