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Title: Survival or success? : the kimono retail industry in contemporary Japan
Author: Valk, Julie
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 7080
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the ways in which the kimono retail industry in contemporary Japanese society is changing in response to the economic crisis of the 1990s and the declining popularity of the kimono as formal wear, leading to falling demand and sales. A central aim of this thesis is to address the lack of academic literature focused on the kimono, particularly economic aspects of the kimono such as the way it is made, sold and consumed. Based on twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in Aichi prefecture, Kyoto, Tokyo and Yamagata with kimono shop owners, wholesalers, craftspeople, writers, bloggers, designers, government officials and consumers, this thesis explores how a small but influential group that I call the 'kimono fashion network' are aiming to change the industry from within by marketing the kimono as fashion and framing the kimono as a lifestyle choice. Their efforts have led to a monumental shift in manufacturing, marketing and selling strategies that have effectively aligned the kimono with global discourses about fashion. This shift has split the kimono retail industry into two camps: those who sell kimono as ceremonial wear for key ritual occasions such as weddings, funerals, tea ceremonies, coming of age ceremonies, graduation and school entrance ceremonies, and those who sell it for fashion. I begin by examining the socio-economic factors that led to falling demand and therefore falling sales in the industry, before exploring how the industry is structured in terms of production and distribution. Finally, I explore how and why the kimono fashion network have gone about changing the industry from within. Adding a different perspective to prevailing understandings of traditional culture in Japan as a vehicle for cultural nationalism, I argue that the contemporary kimono fashion movement has many similiarities with the global phenomenon of lifestyle consumer culture to be found across industrialised nations.
Supervisor: Daniels, Inge ; Goodman, Roger ; Entwistle, Joanne Sponsor: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology ; Kimono ; Clothing ; Traditional Industries ; Economic Anthropology ; Japan