Bodacious garments modified to distorted rags.

Good morning guys, hope you are well. Today I decided to do an article on how western fashion has changed over the years. Put on your reading glasses and enjoy the article.

How western fashion is influenced by Japanese designers.

Western fashion has always been used to mask the imperfections of the body by creating clothes that creates the illusion of a perfect skin in the form of drapes (Fukai, 2005:22). The Japanese aesthetics goes against the ideals of clothes being beautiful, fitted and accentuating the curves. Yamamoto, Miyake and Kawakubo ignored the beauty that Western fashion followed (Fukai,2005:20), and these Japanese designers imitated the Japanese aesthetics to intentionally make holes in the garments which supports their viewpoint that very poor people are the result of people spending carelessly money. These designers changed the manner in which the western society views fashion because today the pauper look is known as hobo-chic that has elements of layering, rips and rags. By the end of the 19th century the Japanese designers had a profound influence on western fashion (Fukai, 2005:19) with the use of their twisted, torn and ripped clothing items which were not used to show off the body. Yamamoto, Miyake and Kawakubo used clothing to break away from the rules and conventional fashion which is seen in the 70’s punk fashion and 80’s grunge fashion where clothes rejected the western concept of beauty (Fukai, 2005:23; Stecker, 1996:20). The torn jeans, studs, holes and pins challenged the norms of ideal beauty in the eyes of western fashion. The rejection of the western concept which Yamamoto, Miyake and Kawakubo encouraged was considered to be “a direct attack on western ideas of the body shape” (Loscailpo, 2009:6).

Yamamoto uses Japanese aesthetics to design clothes opposite to the western fashion. Yamamoto is one of the Japanese designers who is the best understood in the western society since he does not move too far from the contexts of western culture, such as the tailored designs and couture techniques (Fukai,2005:22). Even though he does not move too far from the western design there are still Japanese elements seen in his designs, such as the colour black, the asymmetrical cut and the approach to minimalism (Fukai, 2005:22). Yamamoto discards colour in favour of black which is influenced by Japanese culture known as wabi sabi (Fukai, 2005:19). Wabi Sabi is symbolised by minimalism, asymmetrical cuts and monochromatic colours (Fukai,2005:24 The Japanese culture influenced the Japanese designers to have shapeless garments which breaks down the barriers of gender, age and body shapes (Fukai,2005:21).


Figure 1.Yohji Yamamoto. Autumn/Winter 2017, Ready to wear collection, Paris, 2017

Miyake created an anti-structural and organic garment which suggests a natural freedom that is conveyed through the simplicity of the cut (English, 2005:33). The notion of Miyake’s design is based on the technique of using one piece of material and wrapping the body with it. Miyake uses the element of space between the garment and body which contradicts the sexuality of fitted western clothes and sheds light on the possibility of layered clothing that becomes a form on its own (English, 2005:32). The garments that Miyake create is genderless and can be worn by males and females.



Figure 2. Issey Miyake. Autumn/Winter 2017, Ready to wear collection, Hotel de Ville, Paris, 2017

In the Comme Des Garcons Autumn/Winter 2017 ready to wear collection Kawakubo challenges the established notions of sexuality in contemporary fashion (English, 2005:29). Kawakubo ignored the beauty that western clothing followed (Fukai, 2005:20), which is to use the natural shape of the human body as a reference (Fukai, 2005:21) and to use a structured and tailored fit (English, 2005:29). Western dress making uses the fabric to create an illusion that the garment is a three dimensional shape, while the Japanese designers acknowledges the two dimensional nature of the fabric which result in an excess of fabric

Kawakubo states that she designs clothes for strong, independent woman who can attract men with their brains and not their bodies (English, 2005:33).


Figure 3. Rei Kawakubo. Comme Des Garcons Autumn/Winter 2017, Ready to wear collection, Paris, 2017.

Yamamoto, Miyake and Kawakubo used their collections to challenge the western norms and ideals and as a result changed the way how the western society views fashion today. These Japanese designers brought a new and unique look to the westernised fashion world which was not present before by “rejecting every notion of what glamour should be, or the fashionable silhouette should look like” (Loscallpo, 2009:4).



For more reading:

English, B. 2005. Postmodern Japanese Fashion. In: Mitchell, L. ed. The cutting edge: Fashion from Japan. Sydney: Powerhouse, 29-41.

Evans, C. 2003. Fashion at the edge. New Haven & London. Yale University Press, 3-14.

Fukai, A. 2005. A new design aesthetic. In: Mitchell, L. ed. The cutting edge: Fashion from Japan. Sydney: Powerhouse, 19-27.

Loscailpo, F. 2009. Fashion and philosophical deconstruction. [O]. Available:…/RTS_Loscialpo_CEPHAD2010_DKDS.pdf [14/08/2013].

Mower, S. 2017. Comme des Garcons – Autumn Winter 2017 ready to wear. [O. ]Available at: http: [Accessed 20 March 2017].

Stecker, P. 1996. The fashion Design Manual. Australia. Macmillan education Australia Pty Ltd, 16-20.

Vogue. 2017. Model in black asymmetrical garment with black Nike shoes. [Online image] Available at: [Accessed 20 March 2017].

Vogue. 2017. Model in foil-inspired recycling garment. [Online image] Available at: http: [Accessed 20 March 2017].

Vogue. 2017. Model wearing green inspired kimono dress with black pants. [Online image] Available at: [Accessed 20 March 2017].








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