The Director and Chief Curator of the Kyoto Costume Institute speaks out about the culture of Japanese fashion
Akiko Fukai, the Director and Chief Curator of the Kyoto Costume Institute and one of Japan’s most respected fashion historians led a talk and conversation with Alison Moloney, Fashion Advisor to the British Council (as organised by the Japan Foundation in London) about the power of Japanese fashion and its context within a global scale last month. Acting as lead curator for the recent exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, entitled '30 Years of Japanese Fashion', Fukai explored Japanese culture in terms of its sources and aesthetics for the foundations of their fashion history. We speak to Fukai about what fashion talks achieve and the turning points in Japanese fashion.
Dazed Digital: How do you think these talks benefit the audience, and even yourself?
Akiko Fukai: It makes me think sincerely, once again about fashion, or the power of fashion, refering to Japanese fashion as an example. Moreover, I speak about the background of modern Japanese fashion, 1980s to 'Kawaii' generation, on which the international attention focuses. I believe it might bring the deeper understanding of Japanese fashion and culture. For myself, this opportunity gives me to reconsider more carefully the direction to where fashion is going ahead from now on. In addition, this is a very good opportunity to understand fashion in the UK...
DD: What have been your favourite or personally important moments in Japanese Fashion as of late?
Akiko Fukai: Personally, it was mid-80s when I had felt as a contemporary, the drastic change addressed to Japanese designers. Personally, I wore French and Italian clothes in visiting Paris or London. After that moment, I converted to wear Japanese designers’ clothes and had been asked many times “Your outfit is wonderful. Which designers do you wear?” The scandal by Galliano tells us the end of a system in fashion. Today, fashion is in a big transitional stage. It is impossible to state our opinion on the future of Japanese fashion without study of future of the world fashion.
In the 1980s: It was down to the personal ability of designers. 1990s: Marketing ability of luxury fashion companies (Research, manufacturing system, PR and sales network.) Galliano/Dior is a good example of this decade. 2000s: Fast fashion. Ironically, fast fashion which used a current system the maximum and effectively expanded their business. However, fast fashion has to take nourishment (new trend or creation) from someone to survive. Paris collection has played the role, but today, their nourishment is coming to a decrease. The resources have been exhausted.
DD: What do you think is the future of Japanese fashion?
Akiko Fukai: Basic clothing at reasonable prices. In this meaning, Japanese fashion steps into the right direction. Japanese fashion manufacture can make high-quality and unique clothing through collaboration with Japanese designers. Japanese fashion manufacture has built an idea of a global system, and put their ideas into action. +J (Uniqlo + Jil Sander) is a good example.