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Gothic/Punk Duo Hangry & Angry (Singers Hitomi Yoshizawa & Rika Ishikawa)

Dear Pennies,

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Japan Fashion Now Symposium at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology a.k.a. FIT. The two day symposium featured various authors, curators, scholars, and designers who all specialize in a different aspect of Japanese Fashion. The symposium was presented by the Museum at FIT. The Museum at FIT holds a special place in my heart because it is dedicated to what I love the most – Fashion. Currently, the museum is hosting two exhibitions: Eco- Fashion: Going Green and Japan Fashion Now.

The Japan Fashion Now Symposium was held in conjunction with the Japanese fashion exhibition and it featured Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at FIT, Dr. Brian McVeigh, author & anthropologist, Dr. Sharon Kinsella, author & lecturer, Dr. Yuniya Kawamura, professor at FIT, Dr. Laura Miller, author, Hiroshi Narumi, associate professor Kyoto University of Art & Design, and Masafumi Monden, author & scholar.

I learned so much at this symposium. It was a really great experience and I’m glad I went. The week before the symposium, I was doing research on Japanese Fashion, but, I was simply googling the generic term “Japanese Fashion”. As you can imagine, I wasn’t finding much info. At the symposium, I learned the specific regions of where various types of Japanese fashion originates from and the names of each fashion trend or style of dress. This symposium helped me to view fashion in a more academic way which is not the way that most fashion media (especially fashion bloggers) view fashion.

Even though this symposium wasn’t the most entertaining or exciting fashion event, I’ve been to, it was definitely the most thoughtful. I left the event analyzing fashion not only in the artistic sense but in the cultural sense. In the West, we view fashion very conservatively and tend to see anything that’s “different” as bad. We also harshly judge things that we don’t understand. After seeing Japanese Fashion in the exhibit and at the symposium, I believe that contemporary Japanese Fashion is probably one of the most interesting fashion movements to ever occur.

From the futuristic, deconstructed clothing of Comme des Garcons to the Gothic, Punk, and Lolita styles of today, Japanese Fashion is very complex. It encompasses Victorian culture, the ideas of “cuteness” and “uniformity”, street style, and dark glamour. All these aspects don’t make up one type of Japanese Fashion so there is no one definition for Japanese Fashion. The types of clothing worn depend on one’s age, income level, where they live, and their personality. If you think about it, that’s no different than American Fashion. Not every American wears Ralph Lauren even though that brand has been defined as America’s brand; not everyone can afford it nor do they even want to wear it.

Comme des Garcons

Gothic and Sweet Lolita Fashion (Japan Fashion Now at FIT)

Japan Fashion Now Symposium (Cuteness & Uniformity)

Overall, my take away from this event is that I want to learn as much as I can about Japanese Fashion. I’m going to begin covering more Japanese designers and brands on this blog. Additionally, I’ll be attending more events like this symposium because fashion isn’t all about the “fun”, “glamorous” fashion shows and parties. Sometimes fashion is about the history and how it affects us culturally as I learned at the Japanese Fashion Symposium, and other times it’s about the business which I learned at the BRAG (Black Retail Action Group) event.

And there it is. The Fashion and Style of the Pen.

For More Information on the Museum at FIT Check Out Their Website (P.S. The Japan Fashion Exhibit doesn’t end till April 2, 2011 and entry is free):