From bag ladies to bathing apes: Japanese interventions in British sartorial culture | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1757-2681
  • E-ISSN: 1757-269X



Since 1980 Japanese designers have built a solid, if understated, presence in the United Kingdom. This chapter examines the country’s interventions in British sartorial culture in the arenas of designer fashion, high-street apparel and sub-cultural style from three inter-related perspectives. The first considers the curatorial context of exhibitions that featured a cohort of avant-garde designers. The second addresses contrasting commercial strategies adopted by Japanese designers that involved mobilizations of traditional culture as ‘unique selling points’ and infiltration of the domestic market through collaborations with British apparel makers. The third documents visual consumption of creative outputs mediated through the styling regimes of the fashion periodical, and identifies a gendered differentiation in representations of Japanese fashion design. The conclusion suggests that, in an increasingly cosmopolitan creative milieu, interpretations of British sartorial heritage have become the province of ‘outsiders looking in’.


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