Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



In Approaching Textiles, Varying Viewpoints: Proceedings of the Seventh Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States, 2000.


Copyright © 2000 by the author(s).


This paper examines the development of popular kimono fashion from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. I focus on kimono worn by modem-thinking young women whose wardrobes, by the 1920's, included both new Western and recreated Japanese garments and accessories. The meisen kasuri kimono, the most popular new style of kimono among women living in the growing urban metropolitan centers, is highlighted. It covers an unprecedented historical period of rapid modernization and Westernization of Japan, which brought about societal changes that dramatically--and positively--transformed the lives of Japanese women. I begin with a historical sketch of the industrialization of the silk industry in the Meiji period (1868-1912) and the concurrent marketing of the "fashion" kimono throughout Japan.

By the Taisho period (1912-1926), a new breed of textile designer had emerged-a graduate from one of the new art colleges working in the design section for a large depart-ment store. I show several examples of these new design-made kimono--a hybridized gar-ment with Western design motifs interspersed with new interpretations of traditional Japanese ones. Popular trends in the development of early 20th century kimono fashion are identified and studied throughout these three main phases.