Japan’s Influence on Fashion

If you think about Japanese fashion, do you think straight away of the kimono? Well, Japanese fashion and its influence on the global world of fashion have come a very long way since its traditional past. In fact, Japan is one of the world’s creative powerhouses, with Japanese style reaching far into the rest of the world.

Anime, for example, has had a huge influence on film, art, and fashion, but that’s just one of Japan’s artistic influences. So, what are some other ways in which Japan has influenced fashion? Read on for a few…

The role of tradition

The kimono, the traditional clothing of Japan, has been enormously influential in world fashion. Hundreds of designers have included the classic kimono and obi sash silhouette in their collections, and the trend shows no sign of abating. Historically, the word “kimono” means something worn on the shoulders.

Nowadays, it refers to a T-shaped garment that wraps around the body and constructed in a particular way. Of course, fashion designers have borrowed the basic look of a kimono and adapted it to create a kimono-style garment of some kind, such as a dress or top.

Modern Japanese designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, and Rei Kawakubo have taken an avant-garde approach to the kimono in their collections.

Influencing the West

Kimonos first rose to popularity in the West in the 1920s due to designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who introduced the kimono’s basic lines and cut into her collections. She, herself, was famous for wearing kimonos herself.

Since then, many other designers have drawn on Japanese aesthetics, culture, and designs. Prada, Louis Vuitton, Armani, Marni and Zuhair Murad are just some of the fashion houses that have included designs clearly influenced by Japanese shapes, fabrics, and styles.

The De-Construction Movement that began in the 1970s and exploded onto the fashion scene in the 1980s, continues today. Traditional feminine silhouettes were deconstructed, ending up with garments that appear unfinished, and a work in progress.

Street style

Japanese street style has become popular in the West. In 1985, Japanese photographer Soichi Aoki published “Street,” a magazine that featured London’s youth street styles. He then published “FRUiTS” in 1997, this time focusing on the avant-garde fashion being worn by Tokyo youth, and on the Harajuku district of Tokyo.

Aoki is responsible for starting a worldwide trend of Western youth influenced by Japanese street style. For great street fashion, Tokyo is one of the best cities to visit in Japan.

Deconstruction fashion

Some top Japanese designers led by Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, and Issey Miyake began experimenting with the idea of androgyny, while remaining true to the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi.

This refers to the Japanese tradition of embracing imperfection and unevenness, even in the creation of beautiful things. Deconstruction fashion is essentially “anti-fashion” in that it poses a challenge to traditional perceptions of beauty, gender, and other markers.

It aims to destabilize the traditional, while still creating garments that are flawlessly finished. Non-functional garments that might be coming apart or recycled or perhaps transparent are the stuff of deconstruction fashion.

The influence of cosplay

The term cosplay, a mixture of the words “costume” and “play,” was devised by Tokyo-born artist and film producer, Nobuyuki Takahashi in 1984. It involves dressing up in character or themed costumes such as those found in anime and manga, both Japanese creations.

These days, cosplay has spread beyond Japanese-related phenomena, no doubt due to events such as ComicCon and FanimeCon, with American pop culture and Hollywood movie themes.

The influence of Japan on fashion, and indeed on international culture, looks like a continuing trend.