One of the things that I often hear my parents say when a supposedly new trend makes its round along the boutiques, fast fashion stores, celebrities, influencers and social media is that “We wore that back then.” And they would supply that with their younger pictures and voila, an outfit that we thought was revolutionary was actually worn first by our grandparents and parents.
And we thought we were so original.
But putting that aside, it is always a blissful moment to walk down where everything first started and it how evolved throughout the years. Sure, they did it first but the current generation did some tweaking to make it how it was today. That deserves some credit.
However, this is not the article to talk about 2000s fashion or the current 2020 trends. Let's go back to 40 years ago, back to the 80s, and see what the fashion ruckus in Japan was all about.
1980s Japanese Fashion
It was between the years of 1970-1980 where young people have embraced a unified will to break free from the chains of traditional Japan and by that I mean, the culture of their great-grandparents, grandparents, and even their parents. I guess you can say that it’s a rebellion against society. But, hear this. Not with the rebellion we all know. Instead, their opposition came in the form of fashion and the creation of new styles that are completely different from the then-normal Japanese fashion.
I have always been so amazed by this kind of opposition. I’ve written certain articles and Japanese fashion subcultures that were created to go against the standards of Japan and each time, I’m just so fascinated because it just proves that we can oppose without a tinge of violence, which I think is something we should practice in the coming years.
For Japan though, it started way back in the 1970s.
It was around this time when fashion trends started developing in the cities of Kobe and Yokohama and were commonly referred to as nyutora (new traditional) and hamatora (Yokohama traditional). Because of Western influence, as a result of the war, these fashion styles can be considered as the Japanese version of the American Ivy League fashion.
Magazines such as JJ and POPEYE has helped spread this particular trend by highlighting the lifestyle of American university students, ultimately giving definition to the American lifestyle.
Japanese fashion left the Western influence in the 1970s and embraced a new one as they entered another decade. In the 1980s, another trend has risen and this one completely originated from Japan and is void of any foreign influences. It could even be called the “first of its kind.”
This is called DC burando, meaning designer and character brands. Nowadays, this is popular and pretty much everywhere but back in 1980s Japan, it’s the next big thing. Designer and character brands are described as “brands of clothing with insignia or other design concepts which clearly identified specific fashion designers.”
Along with this and Japan still in its economy bubble or also called the Japanese asset price bubble, in which real estate and stock prices are greatly inflated, everyone has taken it into their own to spend lavishly on brand-name fashion pieces, costing tens of thousands of yen, which at that time is equivalent to hundreds of dollars.
Japanese brands such as COMME des GARÇONS and Y's are also extremely popular with people embracing individualism more and more and preferring avant-garde clothes and all-black outfits.
Mid-1980s, in my opinion, was the gamechanger when bodycon, or body-conscious, outfits went into a frenzy. These outfits are described as sexy, body-hugging, and tight-fitting. Pretty much outfits that are really popular in the nightclub scene in the current year. But 1980s Japan, bodycon outfits were revolutionary. It even came to a point that office ladies would go to work in these kinds of tight and alluring outfits, along with heavy makeup and one-length hairstyles.
As a conservative country, I must say, bodycon outfits were indeed the highlight of the decade.
The late 1980’s served as an entrance to a more eccentric and more revolutionary kind of fashion trend. All eyes and ears are now focused on Harajuku district, where there is a slow rise of a headturning fashion. It started with young people, with their Mohawk hairstyles, bondage trousers and rider’s jacket which led me to believe that this was the starting point of the Harajuku fashion which peaked in the 1990s.
Most Famous Japanese Fashion Designers
Fashion trends didn’t come out of nowhere. Someone has to be the mastermind of all of these. And who does it better than fashion designers. Japan, amongst all things, is also the home to famous Japanese fashion designers, known then and still known now. Let’s get to know them, shall we?
Yohji Yamamoto is a widely-known name and those who are knowledgeable in the fashion field who surely know who and what are the influential pieces of this designer. His main line Y’s was launched back in 1977 and is notoriously famous in his hometown, Tokyo. His very first fashion goal is to design men’s clothes for women. His avante-garde approach to his design was a big hit in the fashion world.
Issey Miyake has a very famous approach to his designs that put his company out there which is a futuristic and technology-inspired design. He started his company, the Miyake Design Studio in 1970. One of the groundbreaking designs that he found through experimenting with fabric is the pleat design which went on to be used by the European ballet troupes in the 1980s. He is also well-known to be the producer of the iconic black turtleneck sweater of the famous Steve Jobs.
Junya Watanabe started off as an apprentice of Rei Kawabuko and her fashion house, Comme des Garçons. After graduating with a fashion-degree, he began his apprenticeship and went on to become a pattern maker before promoted to his well-deserved spot, a designer. Eventually, in 1992, he launched his own line Comme Des Garçons and he went on to partner with big brand names such as Converse and Levi’s.
What do you think about the 1980s Japanese fashion? Let us know!