Luxury Consumption and Western Colonialism

ph: The Mainichi, 2017

For Louis Vuitton founder’s 200th anniversary, let me share my (nerdy) favourite trivia fact.

The first known Japanese customer of Louis Vuitton is Itagaki Taisuke, one of the founding fathers of the Japanese Modern Government in the mid-19th century. Leader of the Jiyu Minken Undo (Freedom and People’s Right Movement), Itagaki fought to ensure the implementation of liberal measures, such as the establishment of the national assembly. Things would eventually take a different direction.

This picture brings me back to the topic I have explored in my first book ( the numerous travels Japanese politicians made throughout the 19th century to capture the secrets of the Western civilisation and the role of Western fashion in the process of crafting Japanese modern identity.

The purchase of Western luxury items was a way to acquire that understanding, but also to question and fight Western colonialism. Still fascinating!