Monday, October 12, 2009

Japanese Street Fashion

While considered by many as daring, outlandish and provocative, Japanese fashion has come a long way from being just about kimonos and school uniforms. Their eye-popping and flamboyant outfits have largely been influenced by Japan's huge underground club scene. Tokya and Osaka is where Japanese Street Fashion is at its best. By adopting a mixture of current and traditional trends along with foreign and local labels, Japanese youth have created their own unique blend of fashion.

Japanese street fashion has a variety of trends and styles. Youth were more elaborate in their dressing patterns and make-up. Bright colours, eccentric patterns, hand-made garments, heavy jewellery, mixing and matching jeans and tank tops with traditional wear like kimonos, is their way of making statements about their cultural influences and way of life. Lolita, Kogal, Cosplay, Ganguro are some of the most sought after styles that Japanese youth display on the streets.

Lolita is a style with many subcultures, such as Punk Lolita, where chains, beads, lace and wristbands are popular accessories along with pink and peach colour prints. Gothic Lolita focuses on styles emerging from the Victorian age such as dark colours, black make-up, heavy brooches, and ribbons.

The Ganguro art of dressing is similar to North American youth trying to replicate tanned and blonde celebrities and models. The look consists of light or dark tanned bodies, bleached or dyed hair, summer dresses and platforms. Their exaggerated looks and outfits, is their attempt at westernizing themselves dramatically.

The Kogal style is where young Japanese women display their wealth through various tastes in music and fashion. Wealthy parents often support young girls who are into this style. They keep themselves up-to-date with Japan's ever-growing mobile technology. They adorn themselves with big boots, skirts pinned very high, dramatic make-up and the latest in American fashion brands. Many see the growth of Gothic Lolita to be a reaction to the materialism desire that emerges with the Kogal trend.

Costume Play, shortened to Cosplay is a trend where dressing of characters from manga, anime, fantasy movies and videogames is encouraged. The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Matrix series are some Hollywood films which increased the popularity of Cosplay artists. Japanese youth styled in Cosplay attires are often seen at various public gatherings such as amusement parks, nightclubs dedicated to like-minded dressers and many high profile Cosplay parties.

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Kimono Fashion Evolution

Many Japanese wore Kimonos in Ancient Japan. Kimono styles have changed with the times as with any fashion but the modern Kimono still bears a striking resemblance to those of ancient Japan. The choice of material, cut, colors, and decorative design of a kimono are different depending on many variables.

From the beginning of Japan's recorded history until present day the Kimono has been an integral part of Japanese fashion, adapting to changing lifestyles and trends. Weaving and dyeing skills and the ability of various raw materials have improved over time thus allowing the Kimono to improve in quality and design. Traditional style clothing plays and important role in Japan and even today the Imperial family will wear clothing from as far back as the Nara period during special rituals and ceremonies.

Men of ancient Japan wore kimonos in white, black, brown, blue, and gray color tones which tended to be more conservative in design than those worn by females. Around the waste a narrow sash tied into a knot at the back was worn. This was known as an Obi. In summertime, which is very hot and humid in Japan, a Yukata is worn which closely resembles a kimono except it is made of much lighter material and is usually white or blue. Floral patterns and bright colors are usually popular with women who wear kimonos. In martial arts films you may see Japanese men wearing a Hakama, or pleated pants, over their kimono. A bridegroom might decide to wear a Haori, a type of jacket, with his Hakama and kimono. Braided material tied into a fancy knot keeps the Haori closed.

A young woman not yet married wears a Furisode which is a bright kimono which flows around the ankles. Married women might choose to wear a similar style but with short sleeves. The Obi is often eye-catching and can be as much as 30 centimeters wide and 4 meters long taking up to an whole hour to tie properly. At a wedding a bride will usually wear a white kimono with a red or orange outer-kimono. Brighter patterns and prints have traditionally been worn by children and seldom by adults.

Although kimonos are not as common as they were in ancient Japan they can still often be seen on certain Japanese holidays. A special technique is used to produce these kimonos. The fabric is at least 14 meters long and up to 40 centimeters wide and is cut into eight pieces and then sewn so as to not create any waste. A lot of the material and embroidery methods originated in China.

Japan is no longer the only country enthusiastic about kimonos as the fashion trend spreads around the world. It is easy to adapt wear them with a skirt or even pants. One can purchase Japanese fabrics and have them made into dresses, shirts, and of course kimonos.

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