Reflections: What is Old is New Again -- Asian Fashion Trends

August 16, 2018 Yoko Lewis

Ancient Asian Fashion Trends:
What is Old is New Again

Being some reflections on global fashion's influence from East Asian historical garments...

Ancient Chinese Tunic

Eloquence and Grace:

While the new world of the twenty-first century is full of hustle and bustle, technology and the quest for the "cutting edge", it sometimes lacks the kind of simple elegance, grace, and sophistication that came out of the ancient world. One of the more interesting and succinct fashions of the old world come from East-Asia. Known for flowing, floral patterned fabric, China particularly was responsible for much of the early fashion industry, thanks to their production of silk and other luxurious fabrics.

Some might say that China was the primordial soup for Asian fashions evolution. This was a fertile and wide-stretching civilization that provided enough stability for fashion to make the transition from practical to artisanal.

An Influential List:

Because there have been so many impactful articles of clothing that have influenced Asian fashion and culture over the years, we put together a list of some of the most impactful to be found throughout history:

Kimono - There was a time when the Japanese-made Kimono was worn on an everyday basis by pretty much every citizen of Japan. The clothing is so popular that it is still worn today, though only for much more formal occasions. This soft, velvety robe is built for comfort, but looks very eloquent and sophisticated, especially when colored and decorated. It is no surprise that this comfortable, versatile, and durable clothing piece is still in use today.


Tabi - These are formal socks that have a distinct shape, and are meant to be worn with sandals(zori, geta). The distinctive difference between normal socks and the tabi is a separated space between the big toe and the rest of the toes.

tabi worn with zori

Tunic- This China-made article of clothing comes out of the Xia Dynasty, and were worn in the country much like a robe. These tunics could be worn with, or without a belt, and featured a long, flowing fabric that resembles a modern-day dress, but was appropriate for both men and women to wear. Men typically wore shorter tunics that went to their knees, while women wore longer ones that touched the floor.

antique chinese tunic

Phoenix Crown - This is an adorned hat that has a long history in ancient China. Men wore this lavishly decorated hat as a statement piece meant to symbolize manhood, something that would happen when men reached the age of 20. This piece has been mostly forgotten in culture and history but was an important part of ancient Chinese tradition.


phoenix crown


Modern Influences:

Asian clothing has had an influence on not just Eastern culture, but cultures all over the world. You can look around at the modern world today and still see remnants of ancient Chinese and ancient Japanese fashion. Modern fashion influencers take a lot of inspiration from old world garments.

The whole of the fashion industry has evolved, by continuing to build on a foundation provided by those who came before. It is on the backs of other creative designers that fashion designers of today have made their masterpieces.

Want to see more interesting ancient Asian fashion? Check out a more complete list here (from www.japan-talk.com).


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