And now, Part 2, contemporary fashion!
What if your comic is set in the present day? They aren’t going to wear corsetry and spats. It’s all too easy to retreat to t-shirts and jeans, and the oft-seen “manga sundress.”
It’s okay. We’ve all drawn it. But it doesn’t really let us know anything about the character.
The awesome thing about contemporary fashion is that it is literally limitless! While I adore historical fashion, the truth is, it can be limiting since it has already happened. Contemporary fashion has no bounds!
However, when some artists think of “fashion”, they might think of this…
But that’s not true at all! And as Tumblrites, I’m sure you know that fashion can be fun and awesome to play with! You probably already have sources for where you might snag fashion inspiration for your characters.
Now! As manga folks, I’d like to say we’re fairly well-versed on street fashion.
Here’s just a handful of examples.
Awesome, yeah? I threw Lolita, fairy key and several things in there. Is it awesome? Yeah. But if ALL of your characters wear it, it starts to overshadow what’s really important: Your characters! Instead of seeing “Susan,” “Sarah,” and “Samantha” (IDEK on those names), you see “A Lolita,” “A goth”, and “a morigirl”. I know for a fact I’ve been supremely guilty of this myself. Having a character in a fashion subculture can be great!
Consider the cast of Paradise Kiss:
As a fashion-related series, each character has a very unique sense of fashion. BUT, there’s also characters with more mainstreamed fashion, which allows the unusual fashions to stick out!
So, where do you get normal fashions, then? Observe all sorts of sources! Watch people, check out catalogs. For me, I always snatch free catalogs at shops in the mall. This will fill your world with contemporary fashion! But… That’s kind of boring.
So, now what? Welcome, friends, TO COUTURE AND READY TO WEAR.
Couture by John Galliano for Dior. (
Damnit, Uncle John, please just keep your mouth shut and design gorgeous clothes forever.)
Here’s usually how fashion filters.
Couture > RTW > Boutique > High Street
Couture is to fashion as concept cars are to road cars. Would anyone wear these walking down the street
other than Lady Gaga? Probably not. But someone will be inspired by whole or part of a couture garment, and pluck a bit to use in their ready to wear collection, which would then be produced for a boutique, which would then end up walking down the high street. Neat, huh? Sometimes, it’s happened in reverse, too. A couture artist might see a street fashion kid, and incorporate it into couture, and the whole thing cycles all over! It’s really fun to play spot-the-trend.
Couture is a great source of inspiration for fantasy garments, as they push the envelope for what can be achieved with fabric in the real world.
This is Anna Sui, one of the many RTW Designers. While it’s a bit outlandish, the right character could carry this right off. No matter your genre, something on the runway is bound to make you squeal like a bird with a french fry.
Pic very related.
So, what does this mean for your character? These are pretty and all, but so what? Well! Consider your character as having a giant closet, filled with all the clothes in the world. This can only expand their world!
As always, keep silhouettes in mind, and how they would function for your characters. Fashion should be a fun way to outfit your character, not their entire personality!
So where to find these awesome things?
There are dozens of incredible tumblrs that detail this exactly! A great way to keep up with runway shows as they happen is Style.com, under fashion shows.
HAVE FUN, FASHION IS YOUR FRIEND!