2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Western Attire, Japanese Kimono, and Taiwanese Clothes: The
Multicultural Hybridity of Taiwan Clothing in the Japanese Colonial

Chi-hao Wu

Department of History, Tunghai University

There were a variety of different styles and properties of the garments worn in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period. These included Western attire that symbolized modernity, Taiwanese clothes that symbolized locality, and the Japanese kimono and reformed clothes that characterized coloniality. Taiwanese pursued modern Western attire actively, but did not abandon Taiwanese fashion, while relatively speaking they avoided the Japanese kimono and reformed clothes. Although many postcolonial studies show that the control of the Japanese colonial government was quite extensive in Taiwanese society, they tend to fall into two camps—“omnipresent colonial system” or “resistance”— which interpret some phenomena in the colonial period as unique, or assume that many activities that did not correspond to colonial expectation symbolize Taiwanese autonomy in the face of the colonial government. However, an examination of the clothing culture of Taiwan in the colonial period shows that the control of the colonial government was far from total. In fact, Taiwanese simply possessed considerable autonomous space. Clothing culture also illustrates that the autonomy of Taiwanese was not entirely a matter of resistance, but was rather produced at different levels and targets.


Keywords: clothing, fashion, Japanese colonial period, social culture, postcolonial