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The History of Japanese Fashion

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Elsa Woodley

on 18 November 2015

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Transcript of The History of Japanese Fashion

The History of Japanese Fashion
Kimonos in the Heian period
The word "kimono" originally meant "clothes". In modern day, this word refers to traditional japanese attire. The kimono we are most familiar with was established during the Heian period (794-1192). The method developed in this time consisted of cutting straight lines in the fabric and sewing them together, paying no attention to individual silhouette, which saved a lot of time and effort. These Kimonos offered a comfortable fit all year around as they were easily layered for winter, and made of breathable fabric for warmer temperatures.
The fashion of layering kimonos became popular over time. This helped the Japanese to develop a sensitivity to colour as they took notice to how different colours layered with others appeared. This transformed their colour combinations to be based on seasons, or social status and wealth. You would see both men and women draped in bright colours. Japanese warriors would wear colours depending on their leaders.
Warrior Fashion
From 1603-1868, known as the Edo period, a clan called the Tokugawa warriors took over Japan. This caused Japan to be divided into domains ruled by their lords. This lead to battles between the clans. The warriors or "samurais" of each clan were identified by the colours and designs of their uniforms. It consisted of three parts. The kamishimo was a sleeveless garment worn on top of the kimono and a hakama which was like a crossbreed of skirt and trouser. The practice of crafting so many of these warrior outfits helped the crafters of these garments to perfect the art of kimono making. Kimonos began to increase in value, and are handed down as family heirlooms.
When you think of traditional Japanese clothing, Kimono is the most well known in the western world. This sleek one piece garment is seen on geisha's, in cartoons, and other forms of media. Before this time of straight lined kimonos, Japanese citizens would wear mostly two piece garments. This consisted of separate upper pieces and lower pieces. This wasnt until the Heian period wear an easier form of kimono crafting would come into use.
Layer up
Western Influence
The Meji period (1868-1912) created the biggest shift in everyday japanese culture. It was encouraged by the government to adapt western routine in their lives. This involved changes in their wardrobe and technology. During this time, the law to dress in western style apparel started with mens military uniforms. The french and british style military fashion was what most western people wore when arriving to japan . This caused at the beginning of 1870's for all working men to wear western clothing. Making western clothes mandatory for citizens was passed for men in 1872 and women in 1886. Even the emperor and empress set the example by adopting western clothing and hairstyles into their everyday appearance. During the 1850's, when trade agreements from the west were made with japan, this also created an appreciation in western culture for japanese culture. Japans love for western culture continued through the Taisho period (1912-1926) and wearing western style clothing was viewed as modern and sophisticated. As time continued, kimonos were not worn on a daily basis, and western clothing was worn by everyone except elderly figures, waitress' and waiters at japanese establishments and during formal occasions.
Modern Day Japan
Japans popularity is the western world has never been so large. The japanese economy started growing exponentially in the 1980's causing an uproar in consumers, leading them to become very fashion conscious. As Japan does follow the trends of the western world, they have also created a lot of their own trends, and have a different essence. In the world of fashion, it is natural to lust after luxurious brands. Japanese citizens took to wearing western based designers like Christian Dior, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. The passion of fashion in Japans capital Tokyo has put it on the map as one of the worlds fashion capitals.
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