Namiki Dressmaking School, the predecessor of the present Bunka Fashion College, was founded in 1919 as a small dressmaking school for girls. In1923, it became the first authorized vocational college of fashion. It contributed to popularizing western style garments among the Japanese through education and publication of books on dressmaking and fashion. In1936, the school changed its name to Bunka Fashion College and began to publishing So-en, Japan's first fashion magazine.
After the Second World War, Bunka promptly developed into an institution that responded to a rapidly changing society. As Japan's growing ready-to-wear market and industry evolved into a modern apparel industry, the College shifted its focus from tailoring to commercial-oriented fashion professionals. The first international student enrolled in 1955, and in 1957, the College became the first Japanese fashion college to open its doors to male students.
Beginning in the 1960s, many Bunka graduates entered the Paris Collections. Among the first to make their mark internationally were Kenzo Takada and Yohji Yamamoto,now celebrated worldwide for their ground-breaking designs. They paved the way for such promising new talents as Atsuro Tayama and Keita Maruyama.
In 1973, the College celebrated its 50th anniversary and four years later opened the Costume Museum and the Resource Center. In 1976, Bunka Fashion College was classified as a post-secondary polytechnic college, or Senmon-Gakkou,in accordance with Japan's new educational law. The College's new main building opened in1998 and an additional structure was completed in 2003 to coincide with the College's 80th anniversary.
In 2000,the Bunka Body Structure and Function Lab in collaboration with the Digital Human Body Lab, a national institute of advanced industrial science and technology, created a new female body-form that reflects precisely the body shape and proportions of today's Japanese women. The body-form was hailed by fashion industries and schools. The Lab is presently developing a new male body-form. In 2003, Bunka's longstanding plans to establish Japan's first graduate school of fashion business and design was finalized.