Japanese Fashion in Singapore – Men
We previously took a look at how Japanese fashion evolved and influenced the attire of Singapore’s ladies. The men in Singapore were not mere bystanders; read on to see how they also kept up with the fashion trends set by Japan!
Japanese men’s affinity for fashion is well-rooted in history. Aside from favouring high-quality clothing with detailed workmanship, men in Japan have a uniquely liberal perspective for dressing. They are freer to wear what they want, even mixing both men’s and women’s clothes as long as it looks good on them – it is no surprise that their fearless creativity has made waves in fashion history for men all over the world, including Singaporeans!
Before the 1860s
Before the 1860s, Japanese clothing consisted entirely of a great variety of kimonos, a form of dress worn by both men and women alike in Japan. (Read more about the kimono in this article)
Kimonos worn by males were largely plainer versions of their female counterparts, with the hakama (袴 – Traditional pants worn with kimonos) more commonly worn by men than women.
Portraits of families from the early 20th century dressed in Kimonos.
In the Edo period (1615 – 1868), the main consumers of luxury kimonos were the samurai, the ruling military class, and the conduct of samurai served as role model behaviour for the other social classes.
The samurai attitude was to internalise everything, and perhaps because of that, a culture of expression through fashion was created. No wonder Japan has been a hotbed of fashion inspiration for centuries!
1860s – 1970s
Western fashion began spreading into the wardrobes of Japanese men during the Meiji Restoration, a period of imperialist reform beginning in 1863. Western prints like stripes and checkers began appearing on Japanese dress.
As the country opened up to foreign trade, the influx of Western influence and technology made tailoring a cornerstone of Japanese dress.
By the 1930s, most urban Japanese men wore tailor-made suits.
Although conservative by our modern standards, these styles incorporating British, American and European influences were seen then as an exciting and daring way of dressing, and early adopters of Western fashion were termed ‘Miyuki-zoku’ after the street on Ginza where they were most commonly found.
A Japanese family in the 1920s
A group of the Miyuki-zoku, a youth sub-culture movement that emerged in the 1960s
The Japanese begin to establish themselves as world-leaders in fashion with their progressive techniques and adventurous styles.
Fiercely competitive pride in their tailoring expertise and a fanatical eye for detail meant that they grew far beyond techniques learned from Western fashion. Japanese brands like Ring Jacket became globally acclaimed for their flawless tailoring and sophisticated designs.
Ring Jacket President Fukushima-san and Development Manager Sasamoto
At the same time, among the youth, a glam-rock music genre known as Visual Kei emerged and popularised an androgynous dress sense. Male performers often donned gender-bending costumes and hairdos, blurring the lines between male and female raiment.
1990s – Present
Famous Japanese actors and musicians gain international fan followings in the millions, with no lack of fans in Singapore. Their adventurous fashion styles further universalise ambiguous gender garb for young men, and guys in Singaporeans catch on by sporting tight-fitting clothing, colourful prints, accessories, body piercings, and even makeup.
Japanese precision tailoring has a firm foothold on our sunny shores too. Japanese-run and male-focused boutiques such as Colony Clothing keeps men both literally and figuratively cool with top-notch, artisanal outfits specially commissioned (Including boardroom-ready wear from Ring Jacket!) for our tropical weather.
Popular Japanese pop-rock band Flumpool’s lead singer and guitarist Ryuta Yamamura delighted fans in Singapore during the band’s repeated visits
Men in Singapore can head to Colony Clothing for upmarket and natty Japanese-curated fashion suitable for our all-year summer climate
The 21st century has also witnessed something of a kimono renaissance. Classy kimonos in comfortable modern fabrics can be seen increasingly on the streets of Japan. In Singapore, Japanese traditional attire is often re-styled and combined with other items of dress, such as the hakama-inspired ‘ninja pants’.
Japanese apparel company KouKichi launched pants inspired by hakama, to lend you an air of feudal-era stylishness. Get it delivered to your doorstep in Singapore – International shipping is offered for Koukichi’s entire collection
More Japanese labels have been finding a welcoming home on our little red dot than ever before. Singaporeans no longer have to leave the country to find authentic Japanese style; from handmade ‘slow fashion’* garments at 45R; to affordable and trendy new T-shirt collections continually being rolled out at UniQlo; to sumptuous kimonos from Patch Magic; You can now own a piece of Japanese sartorial skill too, right in Singapore!
* ‘Slow Fashion’ is a concept that stems from the Japanese value of respect for old people and things. Inspired by the Japanese culture of passing down items from one’s ancestors to the next generation, such clothing are created using traditional techniques so that they age gracefully with their owner.
Sources / Further Reading:
Brief Overview of Kimono
A History of the Kimono
What Kind of Kimono Did the Samurai Wear