Japanese Fashion – History, Trends, Innovation And Sustainability


In 2020, Japanese fashion is still very much in fashion. Japanese fashion has made a significant contribution to fashion history in many ways, including the iconic kimono styles that are featured in songs, movies, and museums around the globe.

This article will focus on the uniqueness of Japanese fashion. Its history, influences, trends, present, and future will all be revealed.

Also, I will discuss the most recent Japanese fashion styles and trends. Finally, I will end with the top Japanese fashion designers for 2020. For a cleaner, more sustainable future, I will also touch on the use of sustainable development by Japanese designers.

Here’s everything you need to know about Japanese fashion.

Japanese Fashion History

Japan is known for being one of the most fashionable countries in the world, and this is due to many reasons. Because of its amazing heritage and culture, Japanese fashion has become very popular. Japan’s rich cultural heritage has led to unique fashion interpretations and styles that have been adapted to street fashion.

The West has been looking to Japan for inspiration for centuries. Many artists have traveled to Japan in search of Japanese art and culture.

Fashion is the most obvious, immediate and powerful form of inspiration.

Japan has been the source of inspiration for exotic fashion since the early1850s , when international commerce activities were started. Japan has provided a wide range of styles and materials that have opened up new possibilities.

The world of exquisite prints and paintings and the luxurious textiles that make them so desirable. As time went by, Japanese fashion began to be influenced by other cultures.

Japanese fashion influenced by Western culture

Japanese fashion has been influenced and influenced for centuries. Traditional Japanese clothing entered a period cultural absorption at the end of the isolation period (sakoku), 1868-1912. Japan became more interested in Western culture, and it began to show its influence.

Particularly, the United States has had a significant influence on Japanese fashion. Japanese buyers were initially influenced by the constant media exposure to American fashion designers. However, seeing demand shifting, local designers started

To follow their lead and infuse their creations, with the latest western trends. The Showa period (1926-1989) saw men’s fashion style largely ‘westernized’.

The influence of Western fashion has also begun to affect women’s fashion choices. As you would expect, Japanese culture has been influenced greatly by Western culture. At first, only people wore Western fashions to work. Soon after, people began to wear Western fashion styles at their homes.

Modernity and tradition

Japan started to pave its own path towards its ‘Renaissance after World War II. This movement encompassed art, architecture, fashion and technology. It aimed to preserve and nurture Japan’s historical roots and adapt to modern trends.

This philosophy is what allowed Japan to become a modern creative powerhouse. This movement was so successful, Japanese fashion designers started a systematic “take-over” of the fashion world.

From Japanese fashion to ‘Japonism,’

Japan’s uniqueness is a major influencer in French culture. French artists invented a term to describe Japan’s influence: “Japonism”. “Japonism” refers to a broad range of Japanese aesthetics, innovative themes, techniques, and motifs that are used today by western designers.

As we move into the future, we can see how influential Japan was in fashion’s grand scheme. The way we view fashion and dress has been changed by Japanese fashion. With their vision, craft and creativity, Japanese fashion designers have influenced Western fashion since the 50s. Rei Kawakubo (founder of Comme des Garons) revolutionized women’s fashion in the 1960s with her avant-garde masculine approach.

Japan’s contributions to fashion are becoming more evident as we move into modern times. Tadashi Shoji, a celebrity-designer, and his’red-carpet’ crepe gowns are part of a new era.

Issey Myake is another modern contributor to Japan’s position as a global fashion leader. Miyake, a well-known Japanese fashion designer, is known for his captivating pleats. Last but not least Yohji Yamamoto is a master tailor, well-known for his avant-garde tailoring, and partnership with Adidas.

Iconic Japanese Fashion Trends

It is vital to know what inspires these Japanese fashion designers. Most designers mentioned the following when asked about iconic couture and how it influences their fashion styles and perceptions of fashion:

* The Kimono

* Wabi sabi

* Japanese Street Fashion

Kimono (kimono/Zhao Wu )

The kimono is the most famous, worldwide-recognised, traditional piece of clothing coming from Japan. The term kimono can roughly be translated as “an object that’s worn.” However, it also describes the essential functions of every piece of clothing. The concept of garment simplicity is also incorporated into the kimono.

Kimono design is based on the idea of creating a simple, functional piece of couture from a single piece of fabric. The chosen material will determine the final form. The garment is then embellished with decorative patterns.

Kimono’s simple, but sophisticated form has made it one the most popular pieces of fashion. The kimono is an iconic piece that showcases the beauty and depth of Japanese culture. Because of its media exposure, kimono patterns have begun to make an appearance in western designers’ collections, beginning with the 1980s.

Famous fashion designers like Armani, Eileen Fisher and Zuhair Murad were influenced by the classic Japanese kimono.

Wabi sabi (Cha Ji )

Wabi sabi refers to an aesthetic principle that is based on the notion of imperfection and transience as essential components of beauty. Some of the most well-known Japanese fashion designers have adopted the concept and the resulting design techniques. Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo are some of the most well-known examples of Wabi sabi.

Their Wabi sabi-inspired creations and styles were a big hit in Paris, New York, London and New York fashion scenes of late 1970s.

These avant-garde fashion designers were able to make Japanese fashion more popular and internationally successful by creating androgynous, non-binary and uneven designs.

Japanese Street Fashion

Third, the Japanese street fashion culture is a significant source of inspiration to Japanese creators.

Although there are still many subcultures of Japanese fashion that are alive and well, Tokyo’s streets are filled with more mainstream fashion trends. Shoichi Aoki, street-fashion enthusiast and photographer, documented most of these trends in FRUiTS. He explained that Tokyo’s fashion scene has a unique energy flow, and Harajuku is the source.

Harajaku will be covered later. For now, it’s important to understand that even major fashion retailers are affected by Japanese street fashion trends.

Contrary to Western fashion trends that are created by celebrities and Instaparasited daily by fashion giants, Japan’s retailers heavily rely on street culture.

“Here in Japan, the most fashionable fashion models are not just ordinary shoppers. Kozo Makiyama, president of Parco, said that they are ordinary people who wear their unique style on the streets in Tokyo. Parco was one of the first Japanese department stores to recognize the power of streetwear fashion.

Parco’s influence is so strong that it used a very pertinent slogan to open its Shibuya store: “The people you pass are all so beautiful.” This means that the streets of Japan are the real runways and the people are the fashion models.

The Rise and Fall Of Harajuku Style

Harajuku is the district of Tokyo that has the most influence on Japanese street fashion. Harajuku’s narrow streets have been walked by many generations of youths. It is home to thousands of original streetwear styles. Harajuku is known as the epicenter of ‘kawaii culture’ and the place that inspired many Japanese designers. It is now popular in Japan as well.

The golden age of Harajuku street fashion and cosplay culture was the 90s. These were the days of Japanese street couture, with its uncontrolled creativity and extravagant accessories. They became well-known all over the world.

The Harajuku fashion scene has suffered from increased pressure from fast-fashion companies over the past five years. Imagine streetwear creativity flowing freely as a tinny river. Shoichi Aoki (Japon photographer, creator of Street magazine) explains that large buildings and factories have been built on its banks.

Post-Harajuku Japanese Fashion

The district of Harajuku, however, has left something wonderful behind. Post-Harajuku Japanese fashion is filled with streetwear mixed with well-tailored designer pieces. You will find unusual and surprising combinations of Western fashion everywhere, from Japan’s runway to Tokyo’s fashionable streets.

Streetwear is full of exotic glamour. The modern Japanese fashions are characterized by bold patterns and unapologetic prints. Japanese fashion offers a new world of oversized, asymmetrical shapes to Westerners. It’s a beautiful world full of bold accessories, layered Kimonos, pleated clothes, and genderless ensembles.

Japanese fashion was and is a place where bold designers are able to immaculately deconstruct fashion and reconstruct it. It is still the home of innovative styles and exquisite oriental hairstyles.

Contemporary Japanese Fashion

Vogue Japan selected Kendall Jenner to cover its July issue as a reminder of how Japanese culture influences Japanese fashion. This is yet another example of how East and West blend, with an American model sporting Japanese summer trends.

The magazine’s central theme is “Positive Energies”, and it focuses on beauty tips and healthy living. The editorial features a minimalist and monochromatic selections of photos and styles… mixing vintage-looking stripes with stylish, functional outfits that are suitable for summer activities. The waistline, inspired by samurai style, is a highlight.

The editorial ends with Japanese styles below crop tops and belted high waisted jeans, jumpsuits and skirts made from rescued materials, deadstock and eco-friendly fabrics.

Sustainable Japanese Fashion

This brings us to sustainability in Japanese fashion. Fashion employs 60 million people and is worth 2.4 trillion dollars. Fashion is a huge industry, producing mountains of waste. It also contributes up to 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. Each year, more than 21 billion tonnes of textile waste are disposed in landfills.

20 percent of the world’s water goes to making apparel. These numbers motivate Japan, a nation to seek better alternatives, particularly now that the industry is at crossroads.

Emerging Japanese designers are taking center stage with next-generation handcrafted couture made from recycled apparel and textiles.

SHOHEI is a remarkable brand offering high-end sustainable fashion.

Shohei’s distinctive ethos reflects Japan’s core values of simplicity, freedom, and creativity.

The Future Of Japanese Fashion

Tokyo, a large and densely populated capital city is an ideal place to discover ‘all the new things’. Japan is a leader in technological innovation. Japanese startups are creating unique technologies and rethinking business models to find eco-friendly alternatives at each step of the process, from design, production, delivery and reuse.

Synflux is a pioneer in 3D printing and Artificial Intelligence. Synflux is one of many startups incorporating technology into Japanese culture. They are trying to reinvent fashion.

ecosystem. A new way of consuming is emerging. It’s all about customization, on-demand, and sustainability,” Kye Shimizu, one co-founder of the brand, said.

Using AI To Reinvent Japanese Couture

The team’s 2018 first project was a Spandex dress with raw edges. It was a simple zero-waste, rectangular and trapezoidal design. The team fused a 3D-printed Skeleton onto the stretchy fabric to create figure-hugging pleats, from the collar to the cuffs.

The kimono is a symbol of cultural identity and history, and was created to fit all types of bodies. This is why our generation has great responsibilities. Shimizu advises, “For once, to keep our culture and traditions in mind, and then to update and renew it.”

The team used bio-engineered leather that was laser-cut by AI in the follow-up creation. To determine the best pattern for the body, the company’s proprietary algorithm had to be 3D-scanned. The fabric panels were made up of only rectangles and triangles. They were then cut to fit together. The creators of the AI cutting system link it back to Tetris. Shimizu explains, “It’s the merging of designer and machine via software.”

These explorations are called Algorithmic Couture by the team. The H&M Foundation awarded them the prestigious Global Change Award for their creations. The “Making Fashion Sense”, exhibit at Basel’s House of Electronic Arts in Switzerland, currently features Synflux’s garments. They are paired with unique pieces by renowned fashion tech talent like Hussein Chalayan and Iris van Herpen.

Sustainability Through Innovation

The Japanese are a nation of trailblazers and innovators. They know that innovation is the key to sustainable development.

McKinsey’s 2019 study found that 57% of Gen Z and millennial consumers would be willing to pay more for products that have minimal environmental impact.

Japanese designers are focusing on sustainability and customisation, which is why they are a hot trend.

Two key elements are being considered by these emerging Japanese designers: Customized couture to reduce return costs and textile waste from standard-sized samples. Sustainable materials are innovative, sustainable, and cruelty-free. They protect and nurture the environment. Japan’s technology and design experts have proven their superiority by blending beauty and culture with utility and innovation.

The future of Japanese fashion lies in your hands!

Japanese Designers to Watch in 2021

Modern Japanese fashion designers are responsible for the global “out of the box” style movement. These innovative minds are changing fashion rules and inviting us to discover the next level in fashion and style.

These are the top 10 Japanese designers you should be following in 2020.

1. Chisato Tsumori

The world has been amazed by the amazing prints of this Japanese designer. Chisato, a lover French culture and fashion, opened her first Paris-based shop in 1999

Christian Biecher designed the boutique, which is located in Marais’ rue Barbette. Through various collaborations with photographers and visual artists, the flagship boutique demonstrates Chisato’s love of the arts.

Chisato’s handpainted creations are influenced by manga and Japanese culture. The artist also covers contemporary art, felines and other Japanese-specific motifs.

2. Sk8thing

Sk8thing, originally from Tokyo, Japan is the designer behind streetwear brand A Bathing Ape. The designer has also created streetwear for Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club, Ice Cream and other brands.

He also designed for Neighborhood and W-Taps. Cav Empt (C.E.). He was also a founder. Sk8thing, together with Toby Feltwell in 2011, remains a mysterious but popular public figure.

To promote Japanese street culture, he uses the mystery surrounding him to create exclusive streetwear couture.

3. Nicola Formichetti

Nicola was the daughter of an Italian father and a Japanese mother. Nicola Formichetti, despite being only 18 years old, is now in his 40s. The fashion mogul, who was born in Japan and went to school in Rome as a teenager, is fluent in Japanese and Italian. Formichetti, a former student in architecture who dropped out of college during the 1990s, is now a fashion designer.

Formichetti was a designer who worked in clothing shops and clubbing every night. These influences are evident in his upbeat and high-profile collections. Formichetti was Formichetti’s creative director.

He has been involved in many global projects, including collaborations with magazines and pop-up shops. Stars and consecrated brands like Uniqlo and Mugler, Brooke Candy and Brooke Candy love him.

Since 2011 Nicola has overseen NICOPANDA, his own ‘kooky-yet-accessible’ fashion and lifestyle label.

4. Shinsuke Takizawa

Shinsuke Takizawa, a Japanese designer, is the founder of the streetwear brand Neighbourhood. Takizawa was born in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture. He showed an early interest in fashion.

Takizawa’s designs are influenced by the punk rock subculture, which is quite interesting. The designer claims that he developed this taste while studying abroad in London in the 1980s. Takizawa, who studied in London, returned to Tokyo to pursue his dreams of becoming a stylist and DJ. Hiroshi Fujiwara introduced Takizawa to him through his friends. Takizawa then joined his Major Force hip hop record label. Eight years later, he would be the studio’s director. Takizawa, a streetwear designer and entrepreneur, resigned in 1994 from Major Force to start Neighbourhood.

Soon after, Tetsu Nishiyama, a WTAPS designer, joined the brand as creative director. Takizawa, a pioneer in the Japanese Ura Hara streetwear aesthetic is considered one the most influential figures of contemporary streetwear.

5. Hiroko Takahashi

Hiroko Takahashi, a Japanese textile designer, is known for her modern interpretation of the traditional kimono. Hiroko is located in Sumida (Tokyo), where she works as a designer for the Ryogoku Kokugikan, which is the National Sumo Stadium. She also manages sumo-beya, which are the stables where sumo wrestling champions train and live. The prestigious Kokonoe -beya has asked Hiroko to design the yukata (informal, summer kimono) worn daily by sumo wrestlers.

Hiroko’s patterns are characterized by simple, but important graphic elements. These lines and circles are, according to Hiroko, the foundation of the universe.

“The ‘circle” is a design motif that can be used across time and across cultures. “The potential of the circle is unimaginable.” Hiroko’s kimono was featured in “Kimono: Kyoto To Catwalk” at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This exhibition, Europe’s first to focus on kimonos, took place early this year.

6. Junko Shimada

Junko, who studied at the Sugino Gekuen Dressmaker Institute in Tokyo, decided to take a three-month trip down to Paris to explore the fashion capital. Junko was inspired by the Parisian women that she hoped to dress one day and settled down in 1968.

She said that as a teenager, the city represented the aesthetics and freedom from traditional Japanese’shackles.’ Junko was soon “The most Parisian among all Japanese designers” thanks to her style of’shaking up Japanese minimalism. Junko’s collections show Junko as a bolder persona. Junko mixes prints, dots and panthers in harmony.

Her collections are loved by celebrities around the world, such as Lady Gaga, who fell in love with her ballet shoes on high plexiglass heels (Junko SS2009). Fashion is passion to me. It is a matter of passion. The designer explains that fashion is created only through passion and heart.

7. Tadashi Shoji

American-based Japanese fashion designer Tadashi Shoji is well-known for his evening wear collections and bridal designs. Shoji was born in Sendai in Japan. He began to take an interest in drawing and painting at a young age. Tadashi was the apprentice to Jiro Takamatsu after he moved to Tokyo for fine arts studies.

Takamatsu, a Japanese contemporary artist who makes art in Japan, was very popular in the 60s and 70s. In 1982, Tadashi founded his own evening wear brand. Tadashi uses traditional dressmaking techniques for creating elegant, wearable silhouettes from stretched fabrics.

Tadashi is known for his signature pieces, which include draped jersey dresses, pleated chiffon dresses, and shutter pleated cocktail gowns. These unique creations are red carpet staples that celebrities and socialites from all walks of the globe love. The Tadashi Shoji brand can be found in more than 700 specialty and department stores around the world.

8. Yoshio Kubo

Yoshio Kubo, a Japanese designer, is a graduate of Philadelphia University School of Textile & Science. Yoshio was an assistant to Robert Danes, a New York Haute Couture Designer.

Yoshio Kubo, an American designer, returned to Japan in April 2004 to launch Yoshio Kubo. Yoshio says, “There are so many clothes in the world.” It’s an overwhelming amount that paralyzes people. People don’t think about what they wear or how they dress. They just buy more. My designs encourage people to think about what symbols, lines and cuts mean in the clothes they are wearing.

Yoshio Kubo’s collections are steadfast in the face global turmoil. His collections are distinctive and feature many exclusive codes. There’s also a sense that he cares about his customers.

Yoshio’s optimism drives his output. His latest creations offer a stark contrast to society’s tendency towards doom-mongering.

9. Satoshi Kondo

Born in Kyoto, Japan in 1984, Satoshi Kondo is both the artistic director of Issey Myake and the head designer. Satoshi’s mother, a seamstress, was his mother. His house was filled with patterns and fashion designs. He received his Master’s degree from Ueda College of Fashion in Fashion Industry Creator.

Issey, the new head designer of Issey Miyake, says that “the joy that can be found within the ritual of getting dressed (or finding outfits that make you happy for the entire day) this is what inspires us.” Kondo’s clothes were designed to be danceable and happy.

Dancers who presented choreography by Daniel Ezralow supported the Miyake latest collection. The runway was truly spectacular under the Centquatre glass ceiling, a cultural space located in Paris’ 19th district.

Each section was composed of several mini-scenes that each focused on a different type of clothing. The show was truly captivating, with dancers and acrobats enhancing the experience.

10. Junya Watanabe

Junya Watanabe, a Japanese fashion designer, is also a protegee of Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garcons’ designer. Watanabe was born in Fukushima in Japan in 1961. She graduated from Bunka Fashion College Tokyo in 1984.

Watanabe, like his mentor Rei Kawabubo is well-known for creating unique and innovative clothing. His spring/summer 2001 collection features synthetic and technologically-advanced fabric. Watanabe has been described as a “techno couture designer” because of his uniquely constructed garments made from modern, technical fabrics.


The modern fashion world has been influenced by the Japanese culture without a doubt.

We can also see that emerging Japanese designers are addressing sustainability in fashion. This is only the beginning of Japan’s influence on global fashion.


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