Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Design


Alison Cliffe

Research Interests

The Kimono: A Challenge to the binary of fashion and tradition.

The purpose of the thesis is to challenge the hegemonic theory that
fashion is a product of Western European society. Contemporary fashion
theory continues to make such claims, without examining the reasons
why this should be so. It also continues to use ‘the East’, as a
nebulous and unchanging foil, against which to measure the progress of
the West. In order to examine the truth or otherwise of this binary,
it was deemed that a detailed examination of a clothing system,
indigenous to an Eastern nation, was necessary.
This thesis provides a detailed analysis of the kimono, both
historically and in contemporary society, examining it through a multi-
facetted, cross-disciplinary approach. By examining the kimono in
history, as a consumer product, as a worn garment, and as a social
group making phenomenon, the kimono is revealed in both its concrete
and its symbolic aspects, and in both a global context and for
personal wear.
The thesis demonstrates many ways in which the kimono is similar to
Western fashion, and fulfils the requirements of many contemporary
fashion definitions. It is thus an important piece of evidence that
could lead to the deconstruction of this simplistic binary. It also
provides a model through which other clothing systems outside the
Western one could be examined to provide to determine whether the
kimono is an exceptional case, or whether the clothing systems of
other nations also have their own, indigenous fashion systems.

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Prof Tseelon

PhD Thesis

The Kimono: A Challenge to the binary of fashion and tradition.

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