Cultural Coexistence of Japanese Fashion – Part 2 of 3

Japan Fashion kimono (Image credit: Hitesh Choudhary from Pixabay)

As highlighted in part one of the series “Cultural Coexistence of Dress and Fashion,” fashion is a topic that differs and appeals to different cultural locations in many ways. Japan and the United States are two cultures that share stylistic fashion choices as well as differ in cultural designs and influences. With these similarities and differences come multicultural, stylistic choices and influences, especially in Japanese fashion.

Image by Victoria_Borodinova from Pixabay 

Contemporary ideals of beauty

In Japanese culture, the standards of beauty and what is considered beautiful comes through strict ideals. Light, flawless skin for everyone. Furthermore, a petite, slim figure, and a quiet, submissive personality for women.

With these beauty standards, there comes an aspect of influence from westernization, as well as Japanese cultures. For instance, the appeal of a fairer complexion stems from both Eurocentric beauty standards. In addition, it channels back to cultural influences such as the Geisha who would have her face painted with white makeup.

Japanese streetwear is an aspect that coincides with that of the United States. Both cultures take on the style of athletic ready-to-wear and influences from cultural decades such as the 70’s and the 90’s. Inclusion of textiles and patterns is what makes Japan’s modern style and streetwear unique and inventive. While there may be influences, they are far from traditional, making the aesthetic of the look and pieces more dynamic and culturally updated.

Image by Isokazu Oyama from Pixabay 

Examples of popular Japanese style trends involve layering and flowing clothing. There are also different fashion subcultures that are added to the aesthetic of the outfit for each individual wearer. The layers and flowy textiles are representative of kimonos and light fabrics used within the culture. There is a style of taking culturally derived influences and making a contemporary result from the pieces. Colorful fashion, prints, graphics, and accessories are significant, as well. There is a contrast between traditional Japanese fashion, loud and bold looks, and muted but modern aesthetics in Japanese fashion. Furthermore, high fashion and designer fashion are significant to Japanese fashion culture and those who participate in the Japanese streetwear subculture.

Japanese fashion subcultures

  • Harajuku- youth fashion
  • Cosplay- dressing up as different characters and creatures
  • Different kinds of “lolitas”- ranging from punk, fairy, traditional Japanese.
  • Streetwear

Modesty in Japanese fashion

Historically, there is much respect for modesty in Japanese culture. Especially when it involves important or professional occasions. Conversely, there is acceptance for less modesty and conservatism within Japanese modern fashion. It is preferred to be modest, although it is not guaranteed that everyone will follow the modest approach. Especially in this generation and style trends.

Contemporary dress practices for special events

The kimono and yukata are two pieces that are significant for special occasions because of its cultural significance. The kimono is worn by all classes. Being such a powerful symbol within Japanese culture, there is a reason why it is worshipped and valued for formal occasions. Kimonos can be flowy and colorful, or more stiff and in muted colors, whereas yukatas are worn during festivals and lighter celebrations. Conservatism and muted colors are deemed most acceptable in professional and special occasions.

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay 

Comparison of Two Cultures

Japan and the United States each have influences and style subcultures. Those subcultures are an aspect that seems to be the most varied between the two. In Japanese culture, there is more rich culture in fashion and ways of dress. In the United States, there is less expressionism and variety in style. Japan has many differing influences that have manifested through fashion to represent that country’s culture.


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