The growing tourist industry in Japan has brought up people's attention to the country's traditional culture. Kimono, the national costume of Japan, is one of the most attractive cultural symbols. As more foreigners get interested in trying on kimonos, there are questions about cultural appropriation--a term that should be understood within context but not negative stereotypes. In Japan, cultural appropriation of traditional cultures is a way of saving them in the current commercial era.
My thesis focuses on the traditional Japanese kimono and the influences of this clothing form on Japanese society and fashion, and Western fashion. I address the following questions: How has the kimono affected Japanese society, both in terms of form and meaning? How have kimono design and aesthetics influenced contemporary haute couture designers in Japan? How have these contemporary Japanese designers changed perspectives on Western fashion perspectives? And finally, how has the evolution of the kimono contributed to consumer culture and social capital in Japan today?