Japan has had centuries of serious fashion scenes…so serious that at one point in its history, fashion became a threat to the social order of its society!
Japan’s fashion world has been so colorful – from their distinctly Japanese form of clothing during ancient times, to the rapidly-evolving fashion industry of the modern times.
Kimono is a traditional Japanese robe worn by every Japanese from the Heian period (794 to 1185) up to the Edo period (1603-1868). The kimono style had interestingly evolved through time. When it was introduced during the Heian period, the focus was more on the cut, fabric and comfort. From the Kamakura Period (1192-1338) to the Edo period (1603-1868), it revealed information about the status of the wearer. There was a distinction of colors and patterns for the samurai of each realm. Each noble clan had a crest and the circular emblems were either on the sleeves or back of their kimonos. The styles also revealed the marital status of the wearer – unmarried women wore long sleeves with bold designs while married women wore shorter sleeves with subdued designs.
As arts and trade continued to thrive during the Edo period, merchants and artisan classes or chōnin came to control much of the country’s wealth. Despite the wealth of these chōnins, they couldn’t elevate their social status so they splurged on clothes and had such a display of opulence. It was an overwhelming display which resulted to unhealthy competition among the rising wealthy populace. The shogun viewed this as a threat to the social order that he imposed a dress code – there were restrictions on the designs and fabrics of kimonos and only nobles and those from the military class could wear the elegant Japanese robes.
Wearing of kimonos gradually declined because of the western influence during the Meiji period (1868-1912). The Meiji government abolished the dress code imposed by the shogun and in 1871, made an impetuous nod to western glamour. The Emperor imposed that government officials should wear western-style clothes at work.
After WWII, the young generation adopted the western-style clothing but kimonos were still used by some of the older generation. During these modern times, kimonos are only being worn during special occasions such as tea rituals, weddings, funerals, and traditional events.
Here in Omotesando-dori, a tree-lined boulevard, you can find chic establishments that carry the hallmark of quality. There is a high degree of opulence in this fashion area with European and Japanese designer brands, antique shops and a four storey Kiddy Land.
Japan boasts of world-famous designers and Rei Kawakubo, the creator of the brand Comme des Garçons, played a major role to the rise of these Japanese designers and labels which started with her controversial collection debut in Paris in 1981. This is the Comme des Garçons’ flagship store is in Aoyama, a broad high-end fashion avenue in Tokyo.
Tsumori Chisato is another famous Japanese designer who started her career with Issey Miyake, Japan’s most famous designer. Tsumori Chisato’s bohemian style gained strong followers in Europe and North America since its launch in 1990.This is her shop in Aoyama, her first boutique store.
Tokyo indulges in the articles of fashion fetish. It revels in the fast-paced trends…and definitely enthralls the world with its unique youth fashion scene. Takeshita-dori is one of the favorites of Tokyo youngsters because of its line of funky boutiques. The great thing I missed was a Sunday afternoon at Harajuku where cosplayers usually gather in this center of teenage culture.
To know more about Japanese fashion, you can visit the following sites: