Let me start by introducing myself; my name is Kara and I am currently a Junior Apparel Studies major at the University of Arkansas. I love fashion and find it interesting how much it varies from culture to culture. Considering fashion trends are so fluid, never taking a break from evolving into "the next big thing," I want to look at pieces from various cultures that somehow became iconic.
That being said, let's take a look at Japan. The first thought when mentioning iconic Japanese clothing is the Kimono. First seen in the Heian period (794-1192), the long straight-cut robes were worn by men, women, and children. They were usually made of bright, colorful fabrics like linen and silk.
The decorations on Kimonos were used as a way of distinguishing status and class. Warriors even sported the colors of their leaders to display their loyalties on the battlefield. Up until around 1870, Kimonos were worn on a daily basis. This changed when Japan became more heavily influenced by western culture. As Japanese styles changed, the Kimono became more and more formal. Traditional Kimonos are still worn today in Japan, but they are usually only seen on special occasions.
If you look around you at the fashion coming off the runways today, you can see traces of Japanese influence. The Kimono sleeve has been extremely popular in fashions through the decades, as well as Mandarin collars and silk prints. This can be seen in Marchesa's Spring 2010 collection, especially in this piece.