Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Fashioning Japanese Subcultures Review
Fashioning Japanese Subcultures
This title from Yuniya Kawamura isn't a coffee table book of pictures of different fashion trends in Japan. The book is a by the numbers explanation of what the different types of fashion cultures and people are in Japan. It also reminds you that the field of fashion that was once dominated by men is now dominated by women and the people who enjoy it. I mean the fans of fashion in Japan can pull off designs and making their own clothes instead of getting them for extremely high prices.
The book troubles me in one way. Even though it's all about fashion, it's not very fashionable. There's a sub-section of pictures in the middle, which shouldn't have even been bothered with. What's funny is the other recent book I reviewed, Japanese Street Style, lacks the knowledge kept in this book. If the authors could have combined their books or worked together they'd had an overall spectacular book, both informative and nice to look at.
So where Fashioning Japanese falls flat it makes up for by being one of the most informative books on Japanese culture I've read. If your into the culture of a far off island nation and want to understand it on an academic level than this book can help you. From another point it's entertaining to read such a thought out book For example, with a subsection on maid cafes which through you learn women in Japan actually have more female independence. It seems women have gotten so independent in Japan or are perceived that way, that men hunger for not only food, but dependent companionship. Even if it's just for an hour, to be called Master.
Fashion does take the catwalk with sections and sections on the different groups and how they look and why they do it. From the lolita complex to cosplayers and everyone in between. Once again, I'm more than impressed by what's captured on the pages explaining the culture of Japan and how different it really is than the rest of the world. How all of that blends into the fashion that affects youth culture.
I'd have to say the book does have some feminist view, but that's what the author was going for. I don't think Yuniya needed to go in that direction, but it adds a layers for female readers.
The book goes straight up next to the Otaku Encyclopedia, it's going to be one of my go to guides if I need to research something about Japanese culture. The title does take a hard long look at the fashion of Japan, but could really have been an entire series about the different aspects of the entire culture.
The titles perfect for those wanting to learn both the social trands of Japan of just how fashion is created, controlled and rebelled againt in another culture.
Book was provided by publisher for review.