For most of us, Japanese fashion is strongly associated with kimono. And although we do not intend to dispute the enormous role of this traditional garment, we suggest you delve more deeply into this subject. It may seem surprising, but Japan has been a great fashion influencer for the western world for decades. The Japanese women fashion continues to contribute to global fashion today much more than any other country that may come to your mind.
The second half of the 20th century was marked by the fact that Japan became one of the creative and technological leaders of the world. World War II was over, and the land of the rising sun was ready to rise itself and demonstrate its huge potential. Japan was looking into the future and paying homage to the historical roots and the Wabi-sabi philosophy of beauty at the same time.
Of course, the roots of the Japanese fashion styles come from kimono. Different forms of this traditional dress have appeared in fashion collections around the world since the beginning of the 19th century. Around a hundred years ago, kimonos disappeared from the list of daily Japanese fashion clothing and remained as an outfit for some special occasions such as tea ceremonies or weddings. But in recent years, we can see its revival, as the world-famous and Japanese fashion designers draw inspiration from this elegant and sophisticated garment. We can mention Maison Margiela, John Galliano, Christian Louboutin, Yves Saint-Lauren, Alexander McQueen – and still, it won't be the full list of designers that had been influenced by kimono.
There is a great variety of types of kimonos, ranging from casual to extremely formal. The textiles of kimono determine the purpose of a dress. Cotton and hemp are for everyday wear, while silk is for luxury garments. The most recognizable kimono patterns are prints with butterflies or cherry blossoms, which are usually worn in spring. The popular summer dresses have watery designs. The Japanese maple leaf pattern is common in the fall. The kimonos made for winter have patterns depicting the art motif called "three friends of winter" – pine trees, bamboo, and plum blossoms.
Among the frequently used motifs of kimono, you can find birds, flowers, waves, and dragons. These motifs of traditional Japanese fashion women's clothing eventually played the central role in the expansion of the so-called Japonisme into global fashion.
The western Japanese inspired fashion designers get inspiration from kimono, what's reflected in their numerous new collections. Also, creators of Japanese modern fashion clothing got inspired by the Wabi-sabi aesthetic and turned it into De-Construction Movement. This important fashion movement started in the 1970s and reached its pinnacle in the 1980s. It was headed by a group of designers that wanted to pave the way for new aesthetic by de-constructing the traditional silhouettes. They created beautiful Japanese fashion cloth that was embracing imperfection and embodying the ideas of androgyny. These clothes were erasing borders between female and male, perfect and imperfect; they were designed for the modern women, which value comfort above all.
Another progressive and influential fashion movement in Japan was Zero-Waste. Its leader, Issey Miyake, designed a collection of clothes made out of a single piece of fabric. This approach led to minimizing the waste and helped to avoid the overflowing of landfills.
The unconventional ideas of avant-garde designs from Japan served as an endless source of inspiration for legendary European designers. They were original and innovative in the 1980s, and they remain relevant today.
The huge influence and contribution of the Japanese trends in global fashion cannot be overemphasized. The western fashion world is still thrilled with Kenzo Takada, Hanae Mori, Junko Shimada, Kansai Yamamoto, and other famous designers. But we can see the new names appearing, such as Limi Feu and Tae Ashida, which means that the expansion of Japonisme into global fashion is far from its end.