Transboundary fashion – a 3 year research project

cropped-logo-original3I’m proud to announce that the research project headed by Professor Dr. Yoko Takagi, director of the Global Fashion Concentration, is off to a great start! Please see the official “Transboundary Fashion” site here.

Seminar 1.2, an International Joint seminar – Bridging Britain and the Far East, was held on the 13th and 14th of February, 2015 at Bunka Gakuen University, Tokyo and welcomed guests from Japan, Britain, China and Korea.

This joint seminar was held in association with: “Fashion and Translation: Britain, Japan, China and Korea” (Workshop 3), funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and was made possible by the tremendous efforts of principal investigator: Dr. Sarah Cheang (Royal College of Art) and co-Investigator: Dr. Elizabeth Kramer (Northumbria University). Over the course of two days we were treated to numerous lectures from professors, curators and professionals. In addition to this we enjoyed a tour of The Bunka Museum of Costume’s kimono collection, visits to some of Tokyo’s fashion districts (Koenji and Nakano), as well as a traditional indigo workshop and Bunka’s textile research center.

kimono  koenji2

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A brief introduction to the Fashion and Translation research project:

Our network was formed to examine the role of clothing fashions as a powerful and pervasive cultural intermediary between Britain, Japan, China and Korea. Fashion crosses and confounds geographical boundaries in a myriad of ways, and yet notions of national identity remain central to the dynamics of fashionable dress as cultural expression. Fashion design often uses the ‘exotic’ as a reliable source of novelty and luxury, but an item of fashionable clothing can be designed in one hemisphere, manufactured in another, and retailed globally while maintaining a brand identity attached to nation. British high-street chain Marks and Spencer and the Japanese label Uniqlo have multiple stores in China. Both of these brands have also recently been joined on London’s Oxford Street by Chinese store Bosideng, providing the first tangible presence of Chinese high street fashion in Britain. In China, the influence of Korean fashion is also increasing and threatens to displace the position of Japan as a style leader in some fashion sectors. Internet shopping and fashion blogging further calls into question the significance of national borders, while promoting highly distinct European and East Asian identities.

The last decade has also seen a sea change in fashion studies. Western forms of fashion within non-western contexts are being reconsidered to produce new readings of fashion as a far less geographically contingent vehicle for individuality, cosmopolitanism, ethnicity, and global networks of money, goods and ideas. East Asian fashion is recognized as ‘speaking’ to British consumers as European fashion has ‘spoken’ to East Asia. Our network draws on UK and internationally based academics, artists, museum curators, fashion industry professionals and students, working together to produce a new understanding of transnational fashion exchange as an agent of cultural translation.

Please click here for extended bios of all participants in this joint seminar and here for synopses of the following presentations.

Session I: Fashion and Material Nationalities

** Sarah Cheang: Dragon Robes and British Fashions: Agency, Empire and Material Translation

** Helen Persson: Made in China? The challenges of assigning provenance in a global fashion world

** Akiko Savas Yamada: Japan-Britain Relations in Fashion – Kimonos for the British Market at the Beginning of the 20th Century

** Hyewon Lee and Alice Kim: Cultural Politics of School Uniform in Colonial Korea

Session II: Representing Japan and Korea

** Yunah Lee: Craft, Tradition and Identity in Contemporary Korean Fashion

** Sheila Cliffe: The Role of ‘Jouhou Tonya’ (Middleman for Diffusion of Kimono Information)

** Samuel Thomas: A Warped Lens – Negotiating Cool Japan on the Global Stage

Session III: Concepts of Fashion In (and Out) of East Asia

** Christine Tsui: Concept of ‘Fashion’ and ‘Design’ in the Chinese Discourse

** Anna Jackson: Kimono as fashion/fashioning a kimono exhibition

** Toby Slade: Recent Mistranslations: The Gap in Meaning in Contemporary Japanese Fashion