Japanese water, 1866
The appearance of western clothing and fashion in the Meiji era (1868-1912) represents one of the most remarkable transformations in Japanese history. The 1854 United Kingdom Treaty allowing trade agreed by the Commodore Matthew Perry, the Japanese, with enthusiasm and efficiency, borrowed and adapted practically all styles from Western countries. Until then, Japan has isolated itself economically, politically, and culturally from the West for 200 years. The new Meiji era laid hope for the future, and government officials felt the changes needed for the new system to quickly turn Japan into a modern state. Emperor Meiji established a parliamentary form of government and introduced modern Western educational and technological traditions. After that, the Japanese were widely susceptible to Western influences, and their impact on people's lives was impressive.

Western fashion meets Japanese clothes
This new modern phenomenon encouraged and accelerated the spread of Western clothing among ordinary people, and it became a desirable symbol of modernization. It all began with a male military uniform, namely from the French and British style of the army and navy, since this style was what the Westerners wore when they first arrived in Japan. Similarly, beginning in 1870, civil servants, such as policemen, railway workers, and postal carriers, were supposed to wear Western men's suits. Even in the court of the emperor - the mandate for dressing Western clothes was adopted for men in 1872 and for women in 1886. The emperor and empress, as public role models, took the initiative and also took on Western clothes and hairstyles when visiting official events and Japanese secular people also took part in evening gowns and Western-style tuxedos.

By the 1880s, men and women had more or less accepted western fashion. By 1890, men wore Western costumes, although this was not the norm, and Western-style clothing for women was still limited to high nobility and wives of diplomats. Kimonos continued to dominate the early Meiji period, while men and women combined Japanese kimonos with western accessories. For example, for official occasions, men wore Western-style hats with a haori, a traditional vest, a hakam, and outerwear worn in a kimono that either split like pants between legs like a skirt.

On the contrary, in the West there was also a tendency towards Japanese goods. The opening of the doors of Japan to the West allowed the West to come into contact with Japanese culture for the first time. New trade agreements that began in the 1850s led to an unprecedented flow of travelers and goods between the two cultures. By the end of the nineteenth century, Japan was everywhere, for example, in fashion, interior design and art. Western appreciation of Japanese art and goods quickly increased, and World Fairs played an important role in spreading the taste for Japanese things. In the era of lack of media, such fairs were influential forums for the cultural exchange of ideas: London in 1862, Philadelphia in 1876 and Paris in 1867, 1878 and 1889.

Fashion after the Second World War
During the Taisho period (1912–1926), wearing western clothes continued to remain a symbol of sophistication and expression of modernity. It was during this period that working women, such as bus guides, nurses and typists, began to wear Western clothes in everyday life. By the beginning of the Seva period (1926-1989), men's clothing had become largely western, and by this point the business suit was gradually becoming the standard attire for company employees. It took about a century for Western clothing to fully penetrate Japanese culture and people to accept it, although women were not particularly in a hurry to change.

Japanese woman, 1955Japanese woman, 1955

After the Second World War, strong influence from the United States led to the fact that the Japanese methods of dressing up underwent a serious transition, and people began to more easily follow the trends from the West. Japanese women began to replace unassuming trousers called "monpe", requiring wear for work related to the war, with skirts in Western style. By the early 2000s, kimono had almost disappeared from everyday life in Japan. Kimonos were worn only by some older women, waitresses at some traditional Japanese restaurants, and those who teach traditional Japanese arts, such as Japanese dance, tea ceremony, or flower arrangement. In addition, special events in which women wear kimonos included hatsumode (visiting shrines or temples), ceremonies dedicated to reaching young people of 20 years old, graduation ceremonies, weddings and other important celebrations and official celebrations.

European fashion news, such as New Look Christian Dior, was spread across the United States. New trends and fashion have been created