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Japanese Fashion Rises from the Ashes

Long seen as the most diverse fashion culture on the pacific rim and the trailblazers of cool throughout Asia, the Japanese fashion industry was left in ruins earlier this year after a massive 9.0 earthquake struck off the northeastern coast of the island nation unleashing tsunamis that wiped away whole towns and took thousands of lives. The scope of the tragedy and the huge amount of resources required for the subsequent relief effort left nearly every industry in Japan badly damaged and fashion was no exception. The Japanese fashion industry’s supply networks and production facilities were almost completely obliterated and much of the top modeling talent left the country shortly after the quake.

Which is why what the fashion world saw this past Saturday on the runway at Berlin’s Spring/Summer 2012 Fashion Week was so remarkable. Seven designers from Japan showcased their collections during two shows as part of the Tokyo Goes Berlin project, an initiative started by Japan’s fashion industry after the cancellation of their own Tokyo fashion week which had been slated to go on in April. As is to be expected the collections shown had been heavily influenced by the disaster that consumed Japan. For example a white button down designed by Ryujiro Tamaki for his label Public Image featured yellow, red and magenta squares scattered across the front; the seemingly random pattern was in fact a radiation topography map of the area surrounding the Fukushima reactor which was catastrophically damaged during the disaster.

All the collections presented were heavy with comfortable earthen toned fabrics and featured loose layered looks that were often designed for both sexes, signaling that like the rest of the nation, Japan’s fashion industry is searching for a sense of familiarity and comfort in the wake of tragedy. While the collections may have been limited their appeal was not, and much of the fashion world is eager for the next offering from Japan’s resurrected fashion industry which has proven that while styles may come and go, courage will always be in vogue.

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