How Japanese Fashion Influences Western Culture
Until recently, the word ‘Kawaii’ may have remained obscure to all but the closest follower of Japanese fashion and culture – but not any more. The Japanese craze for kawaii, roughly translated into English as ‘cute’, ‘adorable’, or ‘loveable’, with undertones of a young innocence, has since infiltrated Western culture, spreading its influence over the fashion and music scenes. The craze for kawaii doesn’t just stop at the catwalk. With singers such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj self-professed fans of the style, we’ll all be wearing it before long if we aren’t already.
HYPER JAPAN, the UK’s biggest celebration of Japanese culture, is taking place on 14th-16th November at Earls Court One, and this year it is set to feature an extensive HYPER KAWAii!! zone with stalls, areas and shows dedicated to one of Japan’s most exciting exports; fun, inspiring and colourful street fashion. HYPER JAPAN’s resident kawaii expert Sarah Young, shares her thoughts on how kawaii has influenced the catwalk and how our summer wardrobes may be unknowingly embracing the style.
Of all the kawaii genres, the ‘Sweet Lolita’ style is the most evident on the SS14 catwalk. It is a fusion of Victorian fashion and the Rococo period, mixed with more gothic elements to achieve the look of a porcelain-doll. Clothing features ribbons, bows, and lace, fabricated out of pastels and other light colours. The pastel lace of Burberry’s SS14 demonstrates Sweet Lolita influences perfectly.
Lolita style was equally evident in the collections of Peter Pilotto. The femininity of the intricate lace layering in pastel colours featuring floral patterns encapsulated the spirit of kawaii.
Less subtle than the Burberry and Peter Pilotto collections was Ryan Lo’s vision for summer, described by Dazed & Confused as “candy shop kitsch and kawaii cuteness”. The candyfloss-pink fluffy skirts, strawberry embroidery and, above all, the animal ear accessories were all a clear gesture to kawaii’s increasing influence on Western fashion.”
Vivienne Westwood’s Gold Label SS14 collection shows how her designs have been influenced by kawaii fashion, with puffy designs and pastels.
However, not only is Vivienne Westwood influenced by Japanese fashion, she is also a major influence on it. One of her most iconic designs, the Rocking Horse Shoe, has now become a staple piece in Lolita fashion, and is a must-have for anyone who wants to capture the “old-school” Lolita look. In fact, the Rocking Horse Shoes are not the only creations by Vivienne Westwood that you will find incorporated into Japanese styles. The individuality and creativity of some of her other shoes makes them the perfect compliment to any of the kawaii fashion.
About Sarah Young
Sarah Young lives in London and frequently dresses in the Sweet Lolita style.
The 19-year-old will be studying Japanese at university next year before going on to study fashion. She dreams of creating her own Lolita brand in the future.
Alongside this she trains as a figure skater at her local rink and has a part-time job as a swimming teacher.