Japanese Fashion in Singapore

Japanese Fashion in Singapore

Japan is a fashion leader in its own right, setting global standards and trends for centuries. Let’s take a quick tour of Japanese ladies’ outfits over the years, and see how they’ve inspired beautiful designs in Singapore as well!



14,500 B.C. – 1910s

Traditional T-shaped robes, also known as Kimonos (which literally translates to “thing to wear”), were the ethnic garments of Japan. The first Kimonos that appeared had no distinction between the male and female.

The Kimono we are most familiar with was established during the Heian period (794-1192), which were created by cutting straight lines in the fabric and sewing them together, paying no attention to individual silhouette.






UniQlo, a popular Japanese casual wear retailer in Singapore, sells Kimonos. They even created a video to provide step-by-step instructions for wearing them!

1910s – 1970s

Western fashion was properly introduced in Japan after the country opened up to foreign trade during the Meiji Era (1868 – 1912), and Japanese prints began appearing on Western dresses.



While Western-style clothing grew more popular during this time, comfortable silk Kimonos remained the preferred attire for Japanese until the 1930s, especially at traditional events and at home. Western dress was usually reserved for out-of-home use. Kimonos are still worn at special occasions today, such as New Year and graduation ceremonies. 

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, wore a Kimono-style dress with orchid prints at Singapore’s Botanic Gardens.




Avant-garde fashion featuring unstructured designs and asymmetrical silhouettes gained popularity in Japan.

Simple aesthetics and plain colours became established as an evergreen minimalist style found even now in contemporary design.

Muji’s linen collection in Singapore exemplifies Japanese-style clean aesthetics.

1990s – 2000s



Harajuku, the name of a neighbourhood in Tokyo, became synonymous with an outlandish street fashion that swept ‘kawaii’ cuteness across the entire globe.

Styles worn in the Harajuku neighbourhood inspired subcultures such as Lolita, Goth Lolita, Kogal, Decora, Fairy Kei, and more.

The 2017 Harajuku Fashion Walk in Singapore, which follows in the footsteps of the monthly event held in Japan.

2000s – Present

 Japan continues to be a leader in the fashion world today. On the runways, we still see the fusion of traditional Japanese culture with contemporary life; even the Kimono never goes out of style!



Haru House in Singapore provides cosplayers with modern Kimono-inspired costumes.


From premium haute couture brands like Issey Miyake to budget apparel in Don Don Donki’s clothing range, Japanese influences has found their way into many Singaporeans’ attire. Now that you’re more familiar with Japanese clothing styles, see if you can spot tributes to Japanese fashion in our wardrobes!




Sources / Further Reading:

100 Years of Japanese Fashion | Glamour, youtube.com/watch?v=CqQcRmXuG20

Japanese Clothing | Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_clothing

Fashion in Japan | Facts and Details, factsanddetails.com/japan/cat20/sub136/item743.html

Google Arts and Culture, artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/ogKCPmGdPtB7Iw

The Traditional Kimono Never Goes Out Of Style | The Japan Times, japantimes.co.jp/life/2017/10/22/style/traditional-kimono-never-goes-style/#.WphSKOhuaM8

The history of Japanese Fashion, https://prezi.com/mn–vnta6gnx/the-history-of-japanese-fashion/