Japanese Saris: Dress, Globalisation and Multiple Migrants

Barnes, Amy Jane and Kraamer, Malika (2015). Japanese Saris: Dress, Globalisation and Multiple Migrants. Textile History, 46(2) pp. 169–188.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00404969.2015.1121657


In this article, which is based on research in Leicester and Nairobi undertaken for the Cultural Olympiad exhibition Suits and Saris (New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, 2012), we examine the phenomenon of Japanese saris — fashion-forward synthetic saris manufactured in Japan — and Leicester sari shop owners’ role in their design and popularity in the 1970s and early 1980s. We use this previously untold story to explore transnational identities as manifested through cultures of dress. We investigate the transnational space in which these saris were produced and used, and we focus in particular on the multiple migrant experiences of East African Asians, many of whom emigrated to Britain during the late 1960s and 1970s. We argue that the truly global phenomenon of Japanese saris would not have been possible without the transnational and multiple migrant nature of the South Asian diaspora.

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