The Fashion School hosts lecture on fashion, style, popular Japanese culture

Students, staff and faculty gathered in the Kent State University Museum auditorium to listen to Associate Professor of Media Studies Jin Nakamura from Atomi University, Japan. Nakamura spoke to the audience about how Japanese fashion is influenced by pop culture and media. 

With help from his interpreter, Hiroko Baker, Nakamura discussed how fashion from Japanese culture can influence Japanese music and Japanese graphic novels called manga.

Nakamura described the three topics as a triangle that all have affect one another. 

“There’s definitely no question that there’s a link between them,” said fashion merchandising major Rachel Caton. “They’re like all kind of interconnected in a way. I know the basis of how fashion starts is usually from an outside source and not necessarily from anime.” 

She echoed Nakamura on the topic of Lolita fashion. Lolita fashion is a gothic style of fashion inspired by the Rocco Victorian era and is now depicted in anime. 

The event was organized by the Japanese language program and the consulate general of Japan in Detroit, Mayuko Chashiro. 

“They support our Japanese language program, but she said, ‘what other things are Kent State students interested in?’ and we said we have a famous fashion school,” said professor of Japanese translation, Judy Wakabayashi. 

It was Chashiro’s idea to bring Nakamura to Kent State and give a lecture.

“We contacted the Fashion School and the director here of the museum at the Fashion School,” Wakabayashi said. “We got together and sponsored it all together.”

As the lecture progressed, Nakamura talked about how young people in Japanese culture are exposed to fashion trends through manga. 

In the lecture, he talked about the manga ‘NANA’ by Ai Yazawa. The graphic novels are about a rock band and two girls with the same name who room together in Tokyo, Japan. 

Nakamura said Vivienne Westwood, whose designs are frequently seen in the ‘NANA’ comics, have become very popular among the youth in Japan, but they are too expensive for the youth to afford. 

“Situation occurs the young people, the design was very expensive, decided to save money and trying to buy designer clothes,” Nakamura said. 

At the end of the lecture, the floor was opened to questions. Fashion graduate program coordinator Jihyun Kim said she’s found within her research that the way people act in Japan has a near direct translation to the Japanese creative industry.

“How they particularly behave in Japan and how it’s translating into the creative industry was dead-on,” Kim said. “That talk was very relevant to consumer behavior.”

Contact Gershon Harrell at [email protected].