Think Japan: Think street style (part 2)

Japanese street style is very dramatic and OTT (over-the-top), similar to haute couture and avant- garde as seen in the European countries. To view the chronicles of japanese street style refer to ‘fruits’ and ‘fresh fruits’, these one of the most famous magazines in japan where one can see innovation at its best. The fashion that we see in these magazines was a movement that grew out of those young people networking with each other, being together and being inspired by each other.  The Japanese offer a truly radical fashion aesthetic, that doesn’t exist in the West.  The Japanese put their money where their mouth is, and are fearless. They aren’t afraid. FUN and FEARLESS fashion is what i would call it..!

Japanese Avant Garde VS Avant Garde in the West

Japanese Avant Garde

Cover of the FRUITS Magazine

Inspiration doesn’t stop at the youth here, designers like yojhi yamamoto, comme de garçons, junya watanabe, iseey miyake have intentionally flawed japanese fashion by incorporating asymmetric drapery and exaggerated proportions with mostly a monochrome palette. Abstract, innovative, modern, architectural, asymmetric, deconstruction are a few keywords that describe the style of the various designers.

Comme De Garçons

Comme De Garçons for H&M

Junya Watanabe

For example,Issey Miyake and his A-Poc creations( it is a long piece of fabric not needing any sewing, but simply cut by the wearer without wasting any fabric and worn.) and also pleases please (polyester garments, cut and sewn then finally pleated).

Another very innovative concept was by a designer Hiroaki Ohya, who created a series 21 ‘books’ that could actually fold into abstract garments.

Yojhi Yamamoto’s development of ‘de-construction’ is the most talked about in the world of fashion. This totally provided a new way of looking at fabric, texture, cut and image. The Japanese designers strive toward theatricality, visual splendor, and organic movement.


This is where the Japanese are distinctive, they get inspired from a trend/era that people all around the world tend to follow and give it a whole new identity by adding a personal touch that makes them stand out. Who could imagine an elegant style like Victorian can be merged with gothic and rococo to achieve trendy styles like ‘gothic lolita’ and ‘sweet lolita’.

‘sweet lolita’ focuses much more on the child like aspects and uses light colours and child like fantasy themes. Alice in Wonderland, fruits, sweets and classic fairytales such as Little Red Riding Hood are a few popular ones.

Sweet Lolita & Gothic Lolita

Both these looks comprise of mini or knee-length frilly dresses with accents of crinoline and lace, corseting details and added ribbon with accessories like tiny top hats worn to one side with a lace ribbon tied under the chin, headbands or bonnets, dolls or teddy bears, parasols, frilly thigh high or knee high socks, opaque or fishnet stockings, white frilled aprons, and chokers with charms such as cameos, spiders, cherries, or skulls.

‘Gothic lolita’ which is dark and gloomy, It is characterized by crosses, spiders, bats, dark colours and gothic icons. One can actually get a taste of this style in ‘gothic and Lolita bible’ (magazine), or simply by shopping at ‘pink house’ (gothic Lolita, fashion label). And if you are in japan you can flock to the Yoyogi park in Harajuku on the weekends to experience this style in person. This style draws inspiration from the Victorian era where girls dress up to look like dolls but all done with a mysterious streak.

Then there’s the requisite punkish reference, most evident in pops of neon — be it on clothes and accessories or even streaked through the hair. Punk reminds me of a sub division of ‘Lolita’ called ‘punk Lolita’ that is inspired from the 70’s punk style in London-Vivienne Westwood, sex pistols are huge inspirations for this style. The style is different as compared to ‘punk’ all around the world; Along with original plaids and tartans, Japanese have amped it up with bright colors and extra decorative garments and accessories that the original punks could probably not have afforded. The rebelliousness is magnified with over-the-top makeup, and piercings. To experience Japanese punk style visit ‘sex pot revenge’ a shop that will provide you with all you need to act a part.

Punk all around the world: Vivienne Westwood & Sex Pistols

Japanese Punk lolita

More Punk lolita's from japan

In japan, fashion is not only a way of dressing rather it gets converted into a lifestyle like the Ganguro fashion that started as a kind of revenge against the traditional norm as to what feminine beauty should be soon became an offbeat fashion statement. Girls started dressing like American stars Naomi Campbell, Janet Jackson etc.- these gang girls wear tan makeup, dyed hair, white lipstick and eye shadow, black ink as eyeliner and false lashes.

They dress in brightly coloured clothes including miniskirts, tie-dyed sarongs, lots or rings, necklaces and bracelets. What started as a rebellion ended as a youth cult. Special magazines like the egg magazine and cawai are covering this group of teenagers and the height of the ganguro craze in japan. Ganguro culture evolved its own style of dances, know as Para Para, they dance to predetermined moves in sync to J-pop music.

Music also prompts me to narrate another popular trend in japan called  ‘Visual Kei’. Visual Kei refers to a movement among Japanese rock musicians and is characterized by the use of elaborate costumes, eccentric looks and hairstyles.

‘visual kei’ also gave way to ‘cosplay’ that started when fans started dressing up like their favorite band members. The ‘cosplay’ style of dressing extended on to anime and manga lovers. These Followers of Japanese comics and animation decided they enjoy dressing up as their favorite characters, and so it became a trend. Just like the rest of the world dresses up on Halloween, japan does it more excitingly at public events, gathering, shows and parties at various cosplay cafes.

The Japanese pop culture street fashion is creating a style that is an inspiration for Designers and celebrities – from Gwen Stefani to Jay-Z and Kanye West.

Gwen Stefani and Harajuku Girls

Kanye West for 'The Bathing Bape' a japanese clothing brand

For example, gwen stafani and her harajuku girls. Her album (harajuku lovers), later her clothing collection and accessories are an inspiration from japan and its fashion sub cultures. Even Americas next top model (cycle3) had a task where the models had to dress up like Japanese harajuku girls, the trick is here is not to try too hard, just observe and try to get the essence.

Gwen Stefani & harajuku girls: 'Harajuku Lovers' perfume

Americas Next Top Model: Cycle 3: Japan Fashion Task

To learn more, just try layering, mix and match, DIY techniques, asymmetry and along with that online shopping offered by various Japanese stores can be a way to experiment with the look. one can easily be accessible to Japanese fashion and by mixing it with your statement pieces, you can give it a whole new look.

Look boards: Inspiration for japanese fashion

Here are a few look boards that you can learn from, Soo keep experimenting and creating something fabulous,

innovative and out-of –the –box.

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