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Friday, May 11, 2018

Fashion, After A Fashion

“What’s fabulous, what’s unfashionable and what’s cool change every year. It’s wrong that kimono don’t change even if everything else is changing,” said a Kyoto-based designer, whose work has been worn by American singer Lady Gaga. “Kimono are not something old. Wearing a kimono is the coolest and the most fun thing.”

I'm sure it is. 

But... and here's the rub, the kimono might be cool and fun, but it's not a practical fashion choice for today's Japanese woman who has a 9-5 job... or in Japan 9AM-1AM job.

As such, traditional Japanese kimono are be shunted to the back of the closet by women looking for more, dare I say it?, more westernized clothing that looks great but is clearly easier to put on and, for me once upon a time, easier to take off.

I never had to do it, but if I was dating a woman wearing a kimono, I might lose interest (among other things) by the time I unwound all of the fabric around her that a traditional kimono encompasses.

I believe tradition has its place but sometimes in a more modern and busy world, that tradition is being swept aside in favor of convenience.

I'll discuss more on what I would like to see Japanese fashion designers try and create later, below.

And then there’s this: Utah teenager Keziah Daum, 18, who wore a traditional Chinese dress to her prom was shamed on social media (Twitter) a week or so ago, as many people called her a “racist” and culturally insensitive for her choice of attire.

Holy effing crap.

Keziah Daum (right) look absolutely stunning in her dress. Her date? What date? Look at that dress!
If you are wearing clothing as a joke, then it’s culturally insensitive... though there are other ways to wear clothing that is culturally insensitive... (later).

If you are wearing clothing because you think it is beautiful, then what the fug is wrong with that?

Culturally intensive? Racist?

The racist people are the ones calling her racist. It’s just a dress. A used dress found for sale in a store in Utah.

If you don’t want people wearing traditional clothing then create rules/laws within YOUR country and enforce them.

Good luck with that, mein herr.

Culture has no borders. Despite the closed-minded thinking of some individuals. 

Oh… and make sure you don’t put them up for sale in thrift shops in places like Utah or Toronto or New York, where people who like the clothing can get their hands on it.

People… get a grip on frickin’ reality. It was/is just a dress. A pretty one, too, I might add.

As for the kimono… it is indeed a dying artform… even in Japan.

If Japan is hard-fought to continue to create kimono in the same basic styles as have appeared for hundreds of years - good luck. It will find its diminishing market diminish even farther until someone creates a Japanese Renaissance Fair and deems it perfectly acceptable to weare ye olde fashions(e).

Kimono, while extremely attractive to look at for the casual gaijin (outsider/foreigner) who does not get to experience such sights on a regular basis, are a real bugger to put on, and I’m sure (despite the lack of complaint), are restrictive in movement for the wearer.

And when do you wear it?

To be perfectly honest - you can wear it whenever you bloody well want.

I would recommend wearing it at festivals, but there’s nothing to stop one from wearing it every single day of the year… all there is are the stares of others - and fug them.

Of course… what if you are a gaijin wearing a kimono? Sure there’s stares, and even more chatter should you decide to wear it/or another every day… because others will see you as trying to become one of them (Japanese).

Nothing wrong with you wanting that, by the way. It all depends on how strong your ego is.

We are after all just talking about clothing.

Not religious clothing. Not dressing up like a policeman (that’s a big no-no, by the way). We’re just talking about clothing.

Clothing from another country. So what? There’s no laws saying ANYONE can’t wear any clothing.I think.

Yes… there’s common sense and respect for an institution…. so you don’t wear a baseball uniform to church, or a bikini to the office.

Maybe you shouldn’t wear a Native American chief’s headdress either if you aren’t a band leader, or even a feather… as the garb in these instances aren’t just traditional, they have spiritual meaning.

Just like you aren’t dressing up as a nun or a priest to go out shopping for potato chips.

Women can wear men’s suits, and men can wear a dress... it’s just clothing. It’s just people being people.

There’s no racial finger-pointing intended. There’s no cultural appropriation intended.

It’s just clothing.

I would, however suggest that Japanese kimono makers try and reinvent the wheel a little bit.

I say JAPANESE kimono makers... as I think there are already quite a few non-Japanese fashion designers who have taken up the challenge.

I’m sure there are modern versions of kimono… but mayhap someone needs to make them affordable.

Rather than long trailing kimono… maybe something cut from the knees, trailing down to something below the ankle… and then maybe some new style geta (wooden shoes) that look traditional but feel comfortable.

Tradition shouldn’t have to mean you are rigid.

What’s wrong with honoring the past but in a modern way? It’s not like people aren’t using smart phones rather than writing scrolls and having messengers run and deliver them.

Keep the traditional kimono… it’s a beautiful outfit… long may it continue to be worn... but let’s see something modern… risque… instead of traditional seasonal patterns, what about modern ones?

How awesome is this look?
What about using traditional design elements such as maple leafs, and cherry blossoms, but stitch the graphic in a new, funky art style.

How about creating one in black and white, or red and white - the hell with the same colors and graphic elements stitched in the same style for hundreds of years…

There’s a few ways to do this:
  1. A new modern cut with new modern design elements;
  2. A new modern cut with traditional design elements;
  3. Traditional cut with new modern elements.
I think the kimono could do without the kanji writing, but the floral elements, the belt that is easy to tie, and the fact that you can actually dress yourself are reasons why this outfit is a winner. I said no kanji... what does it say or mean anyway?
Just look at swim suits from 120 years ago, and compare them with what passes for one today. The modern ones don’t necessarily look like you can swim in them, but swim suits they still are.

Create a traditional line for “Coming Of Age Day”, Weddings and Funerals… but also create a line that is easy for a single person to dress themselves (that’s a huge reason for the disinterest in kimono… you need help in dressing in them… and who has that time or person available???)… and make the line of clothing something that a modern woman (Japanese or other) would find comfortable to wear anywhere.

Perhaps creating kimono from less traditional fabric? More breathable…

What a great and stylish look... a little black dress with highlights of a traditional Japanese kimono imagery on the fringe area makes this outfit standout.
I’m not a fashion designer, but I do have an opinion on fashion, even if I don’t have the financial wherewithal to dress in a style I prefer… though to be honest, I’m too old (IE a parent) to care much anymore, other than it should look neat and make me feel comfortable in it.

Rather than keep kimono only as a traditional fashion wear, let’s turn it into a dressy-casual wear where it takes just the wearer to put on… something that can be worn easily at a place of business (office job that doesn’t require a uniform - like a Japanese bank)…

And… for Buddha’s sake, ensure that anyone who wants to wear it can wear it. It’s not cultural insensitivity. At least not for those who think it’s awesome.

It’s cultural admiration.

By the way... obviously there are designers out there creating modern kimono-style outfits. I am still calling for designers to create a modern kimono outfit with style... something the modern woman can put on and wear without having a retainer dress them, and something that should be able to be taken off with less effort than a pair of Jordache jeans.

It is quite possible that this model had to be cut out of her Jordache jeans... which might be fun, but expensive. The jeans were so tight back in the 1970s and early 1980s that women would often have to lie down on a bed and use pliers to try and pull the zipper up.
Andrew Joseph
PS: Oh... and should YOU still feel that someone wearing a dress from YOUR culture who is NOT from your culture is appropriating YOUR culture, rather than be a complete and utter a-hole, how about explaining to them in calm and rational words just why they have offended you. Calling someone a racist because it's a handy word is ignorance. Try educating others as to why you feel wronged. Honey vs vinegar. 

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