Japan has always been a fascinating country. From being the home to drastic innovations that shook the world to their rich culture, passed down from one generation to another. Other than being a household name when it comes to technology, Japan is also famous for its film and entertainment industry. They’ve introduced anime to the world, which is one of the biggest factors that drew the people to the country and is part of the rising Asian pop culture with their well-loved JPop idols.
If you are a fashion enthusiast or someone who’s deeply knowledgeable of Japan for a long time, you’d know that within the last decade, Japan is famous for another thing. Their fashion style.
If you haven’t heard of the famous Japanese fashion, you might be wondering. What’s the ruckus? Well, you’ll know in a bit but first, I think it’s only right that we discuss first where it started and later on, how much it has evolved in the present year.
What is J Fashion?
J Fashion is the term that is commonly used to refer to its true meaning which is Japanese Fashion. Now, if you look it up on the Internet, the majority of the pages will lead you to articles and webpages that will talk about the well-known Japanese street fashion called Harajuku fashion. If you are not familiar with the famous Harajuku fashion, head to our blog where we’ve written articles upon articles about the said fashion and its substyles. You’d be amazed about how diverse and eccentric this particular fashion trend is.
But we will get to Harajuku fashion somewhere in this article. First, let’s go back to the very beginning of Japanese fashion.
Japanese Fashion Timeline
Let’s walk down memory lane!
Pre-1600 (L) and Edo Period (R)
The earliest dated Japanese clothing was plain and practical to the bones. It was made so for it was meant to be used by hunters and gatherers. Later on, these activities evolved into farmers and craftsmen. The years of 794 to 1192, also known as the Heian Period, unveiled Japan’s famous kimono, with women of higher social status would wear, fully covering their skin under several layers. The ladies of the Imperial Court would even sometimes wear a more complex kind of kimono known as junihitoe which consists of 12 or more layers and would weigh up to 20 kilograms.
1603-1868 (Edo Period)
The years of 1603 to 1868 was also known as the Edo Period, the period when the Tokugawa Shogunate, a military government, came into power and took over Japan, and eventually putting the country into a 250-year period of stability and peace. With this, Samurais became feudal lords and is required a more presentable and orderly attire. Because of this, there was a great demand for elegant kimonos which then evolved into a form of art and by time, is worn as a show of power, status, and wealth. During this period, there was also a major development in the realm of fashion such as tremendous progress in manufacturing and embroidery such as having the ability to incorporate multiple colors, creating large motifs, and asymmetric design. This fashion development was greatly influenced by theatre costumes and famous artists.
Meiji Period (L) and Taisho Period (R)
1868-1912 (Meiji Period)
This era was called the Meiji Period where the Empire of Japan was restored with the political system consolidated under the emperor. Because of this, the country came out as a powerful nation, both modern and industrialized, and has been significantly influenced by the West.
Government officials and their wives are required to wear Westernized clothes to work and formal events and even the emperor has cut his short and grew his mustache. West-like clothes and their influence passed down through the social classes, however, most women have found them quite impractical for the standard Japanese living. Due to this, for decades to come, it was still common for women to wear kimono but with a touch of modern and West such as pairing them with scarves, gloves, and handbags.
1912-1926 (Taisho Period)
As the empire continued to flourish, so did modern living. Magazines, radios, televisions and cinemas have played a huge part in the changes in fashion and have inspired decorated collars and trendy new patterns in affordable meisen silk kimonos.
Between these years, the East and West have shared the same and similar trends, and by the end of the 1920s, women’s fashion has sported a similar look and style across the globe, such as a fashionable slimline and vertical draping in gowns, robes, and dresses. But despite this, the majority of Japanese women still prefer the traditional dress while also experimenting with modern touches such as in-trend hairstyles. They’ve also begun to dress their children in West-like clothes such as pants, skirts, dresses, and shirts. While men started wearing coats, suits, and caps.
Showa Period (L) and Heisei Period (R)
1926-1929 (Showa Period)
Also known as the Showa period, the reign of Emperor Hirohito was both pre and post-war. The war has imposed a restriction that banished showy outfits but during the 1950s and along with the economic boom, fashion trends began to develop at an excitingly fast rate. At this time, kimonos were kept in the back of the closet and are reserved for special occasions while Western clothing became a fad. The younger generations have learned to embrace popular culture and entertainment and their fashion styles are both a mixture of traditional Japanese with a tinge of American and European influences.
1989-present (Heisei Period)
The emergence of media has influenced and intertwined different industries such as fashion, art, and music. Other than that, there was a continuous rise of teenagers who frowned upon the upbringing and societal standards of traditional Japan. With this “rebellion” and the great influence and impact of the West, a new fashion trend was born right into the streets of Harajuku called the “Harajuku fashion.” It’s an eccentric and never-seen-before fashion style, coming right out of teenagers who are exploring their individualism. Ultimately, this trend has reached international ears and was further spread into different countries and has even influenced fashion across the world.