Fashion has always been a vital part of everyone’s daily life, especially in Japan, where it is described as one of the biggest fashion centers of the world, where many styles are born, both high-class and street-style. So do you wonder how Japan can be so diverse, and yet have the perfect sense of fashion and a combination between Asian and Western trends? Also, how do Japanese women perceive fashion trends?
Here’s a throwback to the time when Japan had its own clothing concept away from the western clothing concept. Original Japanese clothing was based on the concept of a flat piece of fabric, where the form of the costume depends on the material and decoration and the pattern of the fabric itself. If you take a look at the kimono, you’ll see it’s formed from a piece of fabric, is made to adapt to the body, enhance the individuality of clothing form, which means it makes the clothing fit to the wearer. Unlike the western concept, clothing wears the wearer, because western-style clothing tends to enhance and reveal the body shape, where it can turn the female body into a desirable body with the clothes on, therefore the wearer has to adapt the body to suit the clothing.
Since the Meiji era (1868-1912), the first appearance of western clothing represents one of the most remarkable transformations in Japanese history. From the United States’ 1854 treaty allowing commerce, the Japanese have borrowed and adapted styles from western countries. During the years 1912 to 1926, Japanese see western clothing as an expression of sophistication and a desirable symbol of modernization. It was in this period that working women such as nurses, and typists started wearing western-style dresses in everyday life, also from the 1920s onwards it became fashionable for Japanese high society women to look up to the west for their looks, although beautiful silk kimonos haven’t been abandoned. By the beginning of the Showa period (1926-1989), the business suit gradually became standard apparel for the white-collar class. It took about a century for Japanese women to approach and adopt western clothing from kimono to a teal coloured dress!
After World War II, strong influence from the United States caused more Japanese follow the trends from the west. Japanese women started to replace the trousers called monpe with western-style skirts. Until the 50s, the designers made an overlap between east and west fashion. Some Japanese designers such as Yohji Yamamoto, Kenzo, etc. really rocked Japanese features in western designs, they began to address the western view of the body in the late 80s and 90s, created deliberately distorted clothes. Japanese socialites were also participating in lavish balls in western-style evening gowns and tuxedos. In turn, western designers made a return by doing the same with the Japanese influence.
By the early 2000s, the kimono had virtually disappeared from Japan’s daily lives. Kimonos were worn only by some elderly women, waitresses in certain traditional Japanese restaurants, and those who teach traditional Japanese arts, such as tea ceremony, traditional flower arrangement (ikebana), or traditional dances, as well as at special events such as seijinshiki (a ceremony celebrating young people reaching the age of twenty), university ceremonies, weddings, and other formal parties. Instead, the new trends and fashion were generated primarily from American and European movies shown to the Japanese public. Western style pundits have recently become fascinated by the fierce and whimsical street style of Japanese teens who hang out in the Harajuku district of Tokyo.
Although, the Japanese adopt the trends, however, at the same time they create their own looks by featuring Japanese virtual images such as Hello Kitty, or Japanese traditional cultures such as traditional foods, sushi, sashimi into their clothing pattern, creating Harajuku or other street-style outfits.
Nowadays, some women’s perspective on fashion is to break the common rules, stay passionate and attention to detail when it comes to styling. Also, they know how to balance, as well as mix and match colours and patterns to create bold but creative looks.