Anime, Fashion & Cosplay: The Reason behind the Collabs

We couldn’t have foreshadowed the two extremely different worlds (both in distance and genre-wise) to create such an impact on the fashion scene.

Kruti Kanaskar
6 min readJul 18, 2021

There is no denying that anime, manga and literally any other form of print and on-screen adaptations of Japanese origins have taken over the world. Appealing to every age group living on the earth, it creates an opportunity for the fans to experiment with various sub-interest of these groups.

The thought for this analysis clicked my mind while reading a specific part of Jujutsu Kaisen (no spoilers but its a spin-off, so definitely go ahead, read each page from Right to Left):

Kugisaki mentioning Marimekko in the middle of a heavy fight sequence does provide a bit of relief, and considering the character is to be shown as a fashion-forward, city-loving confident individual, it was expected.

As my personal two-cents, fashion is supposed to be exactly that: an escape route for the excruciatingly mundane life we all endure. The often colorful palettes and bold (i.e. what might look weird in real life) silhouettes the characters wear in anime provide fashion the spark to try something refreshing.

It is safe to say that both anime and fashion influence each other with the hold they have on its vast audiences. For the sake of making this article ‘skimmable’, its best to see the dynamics of both with comparable standpoints.

Clothes seen in Anime

Stereotypes and Community identification

Any fictional take on human lives often deals with categorizing people into different stereotypes, which helps with the plot to build up, and for the viewer to choose their sides.

Depending on the genre, the characters are either dressed in western ideals of clothing, or in the traditional, Japanese attire. In most anime, we see both in play.

Some speculation also leads to dark humor. Also, love the Yu Yu Hakusho meme. Source: 1, 2

Now this may be an individual occurrence, but since I am not well-versed with the history of Japan, I may eliminate all anime that are set in that era. In other words, the choice of attire decided for the characters influences the pool of viewers it’ll get.

Color Psychology

Anime is colorful, and is made that way as an escape route into imaginary world’s we wish we could be a part of, except Shingeki no Kyojin of course.

Jokes apart, Color puts an enormous significance into a character, often determining the relationship of the protagonist and their rivals.

For example, Naruto wouldn’t have been the optimistic orange without the red of her mother Kushina and the Yellow Flash dad. We as viewers would not have been able to identify Sasuke as his counterpart rival if he weren’t shown in shades of blue and purple.

Source: Pinterest (1,2)

Color psychology also makes its mark in collections and Hollywood movies, with the recent Valentino Haute Couture and Balenciaga’s FW21 being absolute stunners in terms of bright palettes. Heather’s (1988) is also a great vintage example which uses colors to determine the power of an individual in the politics of high school.

Source: The Airship

Then what about Manga?

Although the front covers and inside colored pages leave quite a small room for showing more of the characters in color, it often gets the short end of the stick. I do not have a preference between the two, but we all love a good visual differentiation with hues, right?

Clothes seen in Real Life

If we compare the clothes seen on an anime character on the daily, we can only imagine us wearing that for a photoshoot or a Tik Tok shenanigan. I’ve had my moments of trying to ‘casual cosplay’ L from Death Note (and his uniform looks like the easiest thing to assemble) but hey, we all know nobody can pull off that laid back vibe better than him.

Props to the cosplayers who win over the Devil in the details with their costumes. Source: 1, 2

To say it out loud, we can’t copy anime styles completely on the daily, we can, though, cosplay our hearts out around the ones who appreciate the art.

Reel Life & Cosplay

A research by the Journal of Cult Media gives a great parameter to judge and reason cosplays: cosplay can extend to clothing design, fabrication, make-up, prop making, and other skills involved in creating costumes.

No wonder it is a full-fledged profession, at least in the developed nations. The mere art of creating costumes instead of buying one makes it connected to fashion in an emotional strata. The survey states that:

‘People active in the genre often cosplay three or more times per year and spend an average of 40 hours preparing each costume’.

Why would people cosplay in the first place? Out of sheer ‘fun’ was the most voted reason, but that came to me as a vague meter. The second reason was the ‘Identification of the cosplayer with some aspect of the character: its psychological characteristics, some aspect of the character’s history, or the character’s physical appearance.’

Yet again, I can’t be the one to agree with physical appearance, considering all the white-washing which happens, be it international or not.

Collaborations and Consensus

It is a no-brainer that anime has its fandoms, leading to potential for merchandise. The collaborations of luxury labels with anime shows has seemed to combine the two groups together.

Merchandise also brings in the idea that if we can cosplay all our love for anime for a few days in a year, we surely can bring that joy into our daily lives with a Hello Kitty X Balenciaga purse.

It is similar to the joy of realizing that Sailor Moon sported the Dior Dress which became hot news two years ago.

Left: One of the first collaborations to gain the hype was of Akira X Supreme back in 2017. Right: Hello Kitty X Balenciaga Bag. Source: 1, 2

If you ask me, these collaborations create a win-win scenario. With the trickle-across factor at play, anime fans are led to fashion and vice-versa, bringing recognition and consumers from a worldwide scale.

In the fashion scene, Japanese designers have also brought their share of stark creativity with their collections. Obvious motifs have a childlike appeal to it, which can be paralleled with anime as a first impression. The Murakami flower and CDG Heart have made an imprint in our minds when we think of streetwear.

It is impossible for you to miss on these iconic symbols even if you’re interested in fashion on a miniscule level. Left: Takashi Murakami with his creation, The Murakami Flower. Right: Comme Des Garcon PLAY Heart. Source: 1, 2

Anime and fashion combined have given us many things to spend our ka-ching on for many years now, and as long as great anime keeps launching, we are sure to see great collections having the sharp eyes and spiky hair graphics on our pieces for time to come, giving us many personalities to choose from each day when we wake up in the morning.

Let me know your thoughts with Anime and Fashion. Feel free to take any information for your own use on credit.

Is there anything you want me to cover? Let’s connect through Instagram or LinkedIn. You can also support my work by giving me a tip on Ko-fi!



Kruti Kanaskar

Aspiring Journalist | Runways, movies and style reviews with occasional opinions |