To the rest of the world, Asia has always been linked with myth and the clandestine. For a long time, the world has lived to unravel its mysteries and adopt its mesmerising culture.
In the fashion industry, in particular, leading names were intrigued and inspired by the bits and bobs coming from the continent.
Today, we are looking back at how it all started. We’re describing the path Asia walked before getting to the pinnacle of the 21st-century fashion.
The Silk Road to the Future of Fashion
The process of intercultural fashion exchange between the Roman Empire and China began in the 2nd century Before Common Era. It seems that European peoples admired the unique, tactile materials coming from the far-away lands.
Southern Europe has since been linked with East Asia and Persia via the Silk Road. Europeans used the network to transfer material goods such as jade and lucrative silk. It is then that Europe recognised the enormous potential Asia had in terms of fashion.
Other valuable commodities like hempen cloth and dragon robe also came from China. Not only did Romans import materials, but they also took in costumes like the famous Mao suit.
This particular piece of clothing remained in peak popularity until the present date.
The Mao suit was worn by the Red Guards in 1960s communist China but later became a fashion statement. In the 21st century, we see James Bond villains boast similar garments.
In 2015, the Metropolitan Museum held an exhibition inspired by the gorgeous Chinese dress. Visitors of the display called “China: Through the Looking Glass” could observe how the Far East had fuelled western fashion industries.
Over 130 pieces of haute couture were featured in the exhibition, alongside paintings, costumes and more. Brands like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Roberto Cavalli showed off their contribution to the theme.
The expo served to, for the first time, officially and publicly acknowledge the importance of Asia in today’s fashion.
Professionals from various fields started to adopt Asian influence. For instance, Gucci is one of the biggest names on the market that celebrate elements of Asian cultures. These include dragons, tigers and koi fish, to mention a few.
The trend became so popular that numerous celebrities now sport jackets, T-shirts and trainers with a roaring tiger plastered over them.
Another example is online gaming. Asian variants of classic casino games come in different shapes and forms, including the live casino.
It has turned out that gamblers in various parts of Asia enjoy popular casino games for Asian players. To accommodate them, dealers dress up in traditional clothes inspired by Asian history.
Kimonos were brought to Europe from Japan. However, the full-on costume did not work for European women at the time. Instead, designers focused on certain segments of the clothing. For example, they would use kimono materials to create a different piece. Or, they invented the kimono sleeve as a component of otherwise modern clothes. So now we have urban blouses with chunky, broad kimono sleeves worn with camouflage trousers.
Here to Stay
Furthermore, with the birth of K-pop in the early 2010s, Korean fashion came into play. The so-called idols from famous K-pop boy bands and girls groups became the epitomes of mainstream fashion.
Teenagers and other music lovers went head over heels over this movement. K-pop represented a fusion of sounds and styles in both music and fashion. We could argue that it was with them that the whole concept of influencers commenced.
Speaking of celebrities, will we ever forget the kimono overrun in the early 2000s? Kimonos have not and will never go out of fashion, that’s for sure. But a vast number of celebs seemed to have discovered the costume just then.
Even in 2020, superstars continue to spread the influence. The Red Carpet has hosted the likes of Heidi Klum, Lady Gaga and Rihanna wearing stunning silk kimonos.
Dominant figure among the 21st-century fashion designers Yohji Yamamoto continues to keep a tight grip on his origins while creating contemporary pieces. Yamamoto is one of the most provocative, iconic fashion artists of our age. His unique approach to black and the asymmetrical combined with a unisex vibe to his designs appealed to modern audiences. Even Adidas collaborated with the Tokyo-born legend on their Y-3 SS20 footwear.
So, form what we have seen, Asia keeps rising towards its well-deserved throne in European and American beauty industry. The fact is that the Far East is one of the most influential and powerful cultures in the world. We are happy and proud to see it establish its title as a global fashion leader.