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Japanese street fashion: Wikis


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Japan began to emulate Western fashion during the middle of the 19th century. By the beginning of the 21st century it had altered into what is known today as 'street fashion'. The term 'street fashion' is used to describe fashion where the wearer customizes outfits by adopting a mixture of current and traditional trends. Such clothes are generally home-made with the use of material purchased at stores.

At present there are many styles of dress in Japan, created from a mix of both local and foreign labels. Some of these styles are extreme and avant-garde, similar to the haute couture seen on European catwalks. The rise and fall of many of these trends has been chronicled by Shoichi Aoki since 1997 in the fashion magazine FRUiTS, which is a notable magazine for the promotion of street fashion in Japan.

More recently, Japanese hip-hop, which has long been present among underground Tokyo's club scene, has influenced the mainstream fashion industry[1]. The popularity of the music is so influential that Tokyo's youth are imitating their favorite hip hop stars from the way they dress with over-sized clothes to darkening their skin with ultraviolet rays, usually done by tanning. Many Japanese youth believe that tanning or being darker is a freedom of expression they are unable to experience in their circumscribed social role as 'Japanese'. The idea of darkening one's skin to more closely resemble an American hip-hop star or ethnic group may seem like a fad, but this subculture, the black facers, do not particularly set themselves apart from many other sub cultures that have emerged as a result of hip hop[2].


Modern Japanese street fashion

Though the styles have changed over the years, street fashion is still prominent in Japan today. Young adults can often be found wearing subculture attire in large urban fashion districts such as Harajuku, Ginza, Odaiba, Shinjuku and Shibuya.



Gothic Lolita

Containing many different styles and themes within its boundaries, Lolita has become one of the larger, more recognizable styles in Japanese street fashion. Now gaining interest worldwide, Lolita is seen as one of the many different styles that brings the "cute" in Japan. The more well-known styles within Lolita fashion are as follows:

  • Gothic Lolita - is Lolita with a heavy influence from the Eastern and Victorian Goth style. Often characterized by dark colors, crosses, bats and spiders, as well as other popular gothic 'icons'. Victorian iron gates and architectural designs are also often seen in dress prints. Skirts are usually worn knee length with petticoats beneath for volume. Blouses or shirts are lace-trimmed or ruffled in the Victorian style. Knee length socks with boots, bonnets, brooches, and a parasol finish out this style of Lolita.
  • Sweet Lolita - is the most childlike style, mostly characterized by baby animals, fairy tale themes and innocent, childlike attire. It is inspired by baby dolls and Hello Kitty, and is popular among the SweetLolis. Pastel colors are used, as well as other muted colors like black and dark reds and blues. Large headbows, cute purses, elegant parasols and stuffed animals are popular accessories for Sweet Lolita.
  • Punk Lolita - An experimental style, mixing the influences of Punk with Lolita. It can sometimes look deconstructed or crazy, while keeping most of the 'Lolita silhouette'.
  • Classic Lolita is very traditional. It is very mature, and business-like and focuses on light colors such as, blue, green, and red.


The Ganguro street fashion became popular among Japanese girls in the early 2000s. A typical look for a "Ganguro Gal" is to wear brightly colored outfits, mini-skirts, and tie-dyed sarongs. The Ganguro style consists of bleached hair, a dark tan, fake eyelashes, black and white eyeliner, bracelets, earrings, rings, necklaces and platform shoes.


The kogal (kogyaru) look is based on a high school uniform, but with a shorter skirt, loose socks and often other modifications as well. The girls call themselves gyaru (gals). This style was prominent in the 1990s, but has since declined.


While bōsōzoku fashion has not been popular since the 1990s, the stereotypical bōsōzoku look is often portrayed, and even caricatured, in many forms of Japanese media such as anime, manga and films. The typical bōsōzoku member is often depicted in a uniform consisting of a jumpsuit like those worn by manual laborers or a tokko-fuku (特攻服), a type of military issued over-coat with kanji slogans. These are usually worn open, with no shirt underneath, showing off bandaged torsos and matching baggy pants tucked inside tall boots.

Visual Kei

The style of Visual Kei consists of striking makeup, unusual hair styles and flamboyant costuming. Androgyny is a popular aspect of the style visually, especially within the entertainment field. Some of the more well-known and influential artist groups include X Japan, Malice Mizer and Dir en grey.


Cosplay, short for "costume roleplay", is a type of performance art whose participants outfit themselves with often elaborate costumes and accessories as a specific character or idea. Often, the fashionistas of this street fashion will dress up as characters from manga, anime, tokusatsu, and video games. Less commonly, they will dress up as characters from live action television shows, fantasy movies, and Japanese pop music bands.

The fashion industry and popular brands

Although Japanese street fashion is known for its mix-match of different styles and genres, and there is no single sought-after brand that can consistently appeal to all fashion groups, the huge demand created by the fashion-conscious population is fed and supported by Japan’s vibrant fashion industry. Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Rei Kawakubo of the Comme des Garçons are often said to be the three cornerstone brands of Japanese fashion. Together they were particularly recognized as a Japanese fashion force in the early 80s for their intensive use of monochrome color and cutting-edge design.

As early as the 50s, there were a few brands specially catered to street fashion, like Onitsuka Tiger (now known as the ASICS), but arguably it was until the early 90s that the industry saw a blooming emergence of street fashion brands. The most popular ones include: A Bathing Ape, Comme des Garçons, Evisu, Head Porter, OriginalFake, Uniqlo, Visvim, W)TAPs, and XLarge. Street Fashion brands frequently feature collaborations with popular artists and designers and use limited edition as a selling strategy. There are also brands that target specific fashion groups. For example, Angelic Pretty is for Lolita style and Sex Pot Revenge for Punk style.

Japan is also known for its significant consumption of foreign luxury brands. According to a data of 2006, Japan consumed 41 percent of the entire world’s luxury goods.[3] Many global fashion houses run focus lines that are exclusively available in Japan. The blue line of Burberry is among the most successful in this arena.

Recently, Abercrombie & Fitch has become popular among aspiring American-preppy Japanese teens. There is a demand for the A&F brand in the Japan, and the company has opened of its first Asian location in upscale Ginza.

International influence

The immediate influence of Japanese street fashion is said to be China, Korea and Taiwan. Geographical and cultural affinities are said to be among the most important factors. The similar body shape and figure also made Japanese style an easier sought-after than that of European or American. However, the influence is not direct emulation. China and Korea are said only to take elements out of the Japanese style and to assimilate them with local understanding.[citation needed]

Japanese Street fashion is also said to have a particular influence on the West Coast of the United States because of its link to hip-hop culture. and the large Asian descendents population. Japanese hip-hop outfit is often distinct with its playful use of festive bright color and cartoonish pattern atop a clean white background.[citation needed]

The high-end fashion brands like Comme des Garçons on the other hand has continually to play a big role in the global industry since the 80s, especially through frequent cross-over guest design with other brands. Rei Kawakubo two recent guest designs with Louis Vuitton and H&M have both proved to be commercial successes.[citation needed]

Social motives

The motives driving the pursuit of fashion in Japan are complex. Among its social motive, the large disposable income available to youth is significant. Many argue it was made possible through the youth living at home with their parents, reducing living expense.[4]

See also



External links


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