Student Work

  • Fashion Studies (MA)

    Emilia Jane Boulton

    Material Translations: Re-Designing British Workwear in Japan

    There is a new trend in the Japanese fashion industry of re-designing industrial workwear from Great Yarmouth, UK. Rather than setting up a new label and selling clothes based on the workwear aesthetic, people are obtaining licenses from the UK-based factory and having clothes with the “Yarmo” label made exclusively for Japan.

    The fashion industry encompasses many complex systems, conveying certain societal traits that may not be obvious at first glance but are nonetheless crucial to understanding a given culture. This paper considers how and why workwear originally supplied to the British “blue-collar” market have been “re-fashioned” as something to be desired within the Japanese market.

    I posit that these Japanese fashion professionals “translate” a non-Japanese aesthetic for their own market, creating a transnational design practice. Through interviews with Japanese fashion professionals and material culture analysis, this paper questions and contests the dichotomizing discourse of “West versus the Rest,” challenging cultural binaries and emphasizing the notion of hybridity between different cultures.