‘Not So Japan-Easy’: the British reception of Japanese dress in the late nineteenth century

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Abstract

This article examines British responses to changes in Japanese dress during the Victorian period. The disapproval of the Japanese adoption of European clothing is shown to be linked to British anxieties regarding their political relationship and cultural engagement with Japan. The ways in which the kimono served as a touchstone for the British understanding of the country, representing an unchanging and romanticised view of the cultural identity of its Japanese wearer, is also explored. However, the kimono did not only signal ‘Japaneseness’, but was assimilated in British fashion as well. This article further explores how the kimono was related to issues of late nineteenth-century dress reform in Britain as well as to British unease about the cultural changes that they themselves had experienced in the wake of industrialisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-24
JournalTextile History
Volume44
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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