Clothing Through the Pages: Fashion in Manga

fashion in manga

Fashion, whether we admit it or not is applied in everything we wear and use. Be it a pair of jeans, the cut, the colour and how high the waist band is. As manga emerged in Great Britain I decided I would look for a monthly magazine which had series of manga, Animerica extra had unfortunately ended so I tried out Smile. This is where I came across a manga now iconic for fashion.

From the first page of artwork I loved Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss. Japanese manga writer/illustrator Yazawa started her career in 1985 resulting in over 10 series published in Ribon to date. While most of her manga still circulates in Japan, this particular manga featured as a serial in the Japanese fashion magazine Zipper from 1999 to 2003. Yazawa’s manga appeals to the female audience as her plots revolve around female angst and responsibility. Her characters are not only beautifully drawn but are very stylish too due to her own interest in fashion as shows even in her male protagonists.

There are a few fashion students in Paradise Kiss who are already comfortable in their own fashion bubble:

  • Arashi dripping in leather and pins covering his bruised heart and hot temper.
  • His girlfriend, a complete polar opposite: cute and petite often dresses as a sweet Lolita, complete with wigs and platforms.
  • George sticks to his tailored suits with kooky accessories such as a flamboyant hat or cravat.
  • Isabella a cross-dresser so dedicated to his art and is seen as the mother figure in his almost Little Britain parody wearing classic Lolita garments complete with parasols and a warm attitude.
  • Yukari is drawn into the group and is quickly re-styled from raw to edgy. It’s amazing how cutting her bangs and shoving her in a dress can make her outlook on life change drastically.

Part of the story is that they are fashion students building their own labels to finance and make themselves own in the fashion world. Happy Berry is Miwako’s older sisters brand which she is building upon, this made up brand has inspired fans to create their own versions to cosplay in.

Gokinjo Monogatari follows its characters Mikako, Tsutomu and their friends attend a high art school in Tokyo and follows their friendship to help them overcome the trials and pressures of achieving their dreams.

Nana, released in 2000 is Yazawa’s biggest manga with 21 volume and background chapters about some characters’ lives. An anime spawned from the success 47 series and 2 successful movies in total. Its heroine, Nana “Hachi” Komatsu, moves to Tokyo to start anew and leave her boyfriend behind whereas Nana Osaki arrivies and plans to become a rock ‘n’ roll star. Despite different backgrounds, with only the name in common, these two lifestyles collide.

You see a lot of reference to Vivienne Westwood and Vivienne Westwood designs are even used on Nana merchandise. In her manga, Yazawa may not have the characters talking but their personality comes out in the detailed illustrations of their clothing, no one else comes close to highlighting their characters’ clothes design.

Another stylised manga is Princess Ai. There is a heavy reference to the metal movement as Jennifer Love Hewitt gave input on the manga, however it revolves more around the music factor. Ai is the daughter of a human father, King Sei, and a Dougen (Angel). Due to her mixed birthright, Ai has wings and has the ability to control people’s emotions with her singing. Her clothes and demeanour make her stick out from the other characters.

However intentional or accidental the clothing designs, people from around the world now cosplay and even follow the style of these characters and now fashion is becoming quite apparent in Manga/anime.

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