Fashion is a form of expression especially important in the Japanese society. In a society where everybody else would prefer to stick to the status quo’s way of life - which includes the way people dress where they prefer, choosing your fashion style will be considered an eccentric way of living by many. This is why a lot of the youth these days prefer to stray away and deviate from the norms of the old society that are still brought in and practiced by the majority of the population. While there’s nothing wrong with going with the norms when it comes to fashion, the youth are just instinctively curious and they want to learn more things regarding the world that surrounds them, including the expression that is in the form of clothes. And of course, these young people have their own preferences when it comes to their chosen form of expression, whether they want something that is colorful, or dark, or a combination of both, Japan’s fashion subcultures always have something to offer.
Ever wondered what are the famous fashion styles that they use in their everyday lives? Imagine the streets of Tokyo with this list of the top six most popular Japanese fashion styles.
Everybody is aware of what streetwear fashion is and almost everybody uses this fashion style as their go-to everyday style. Well, this is simply because it is what is accessible to people and it is also easy to style. With people having different interests in fashion as well, the streetwear is the most comfortable wear to wear, especially when there is a great amount of freedom for the wearer of the outfit.
Japanese streetwear is very dynamic and there are a lot of ways you can wear fashionable street wear depending on your tastes. Unlike its American counterpart, the streetwear trends in Japan do not conform into a single trend, instead each individual is able to express their fashion taste flexibly regardless of the existing trends that streetwear has. Well in fact, streetwear in Japan rarely even has a specific trend going on them since each individual has their own definition of streetwear and their own perspective on how they should wear streetwear. But while it is true that streetwear in Japan basically originated its influences from America, the Japanese didn’t fail to express their own ideas into making streetwear their own.
And the Japanese streetwear does not come loose when it comes to their shoe fashion. And they don’t only use casual shoes to fit their styles, they make it so that even dress shoes (like the oxfords and the monks) and boots (talking about the brogues here, too) can fit the getup that they are going for, and this goes the same for both men and women alike.
Mori Kei - in English, forest style - is a vintage Japanese fashion style that centers around the appearance of forest-dwellers. The overall concept of this style is very fitting for its name, it is to represent individuals who look like they are living in the forest. The goal of this trend is natural and earthy, which is mostly achievable by layering two or three items to get that soft silhouette effect. An individual who dresses in mori kei is described as a free-spirited person with an aura of peace around them.
Main pieces of clothing are dresses and skirts of varying lengths, but blouses and sweaters are also commonly seen. Usually, these pieces are incorporated with textures such as laces, knits, and cotton. Another point for this look is layering. Wearing over sized sweaters under long dresses or warming up with scarves and shawls underneath a layer of sweaters and skirts.
Another thing to note about this particular style is that Mori Girls are not body-conscious girls. This means all of their clothing pieces are at least a size or two larger than their frame and they would not be seen with anything body-hugging. Layering also helps build that natural volume that will hide the natural figure.
A type of gyaru style that focuses on the wearing of high school girl uniforms. The kogal is known for their lavish way of styling up their clothing, and by clothing, I precisely mean their school uniforms. Going against the usual standards of how one should be wearing their school uniforms, it is already a known fact that the kogyarus are school uniform rule-breakers due to the way they keep on altering their uniforms. On how they do this, rumors are they go to school in different attire and then wear the uniforms that they have brought which isn't mostly different from the rest of the majority.
Other ways that kogals express their identity as kogals in their clothing is by altering other aspects of their uniforms (aside from their skirts) such as the ribbons that are part of their uniform. I mean, there are even times when their school uniforms do not have ribbons but the kogals still manage to put up their ribbons on. On regular days, they wear their ribbons loosely around their collars.
You can also see a couple of people sporting the Decora Fashion style. On what Decora is, it is simply a clothing style that is all about layering and many, many colors combined. From the way they dress to the way they accessorize themselves, and also how they style their hair, everything is really excessive. The pieces they usually put together are shirts (long or short sleeved) printed with kawaii cartoon characters, jacket or cardigan, scarves, skirts, leggings, leg warmers, mismatched colored shoes, etc., everything that they can throw together to produce a super cute, human rainbow. It's better for each piece to be really colorful and that's what makes them really stand out on the streets. Even in gloomy weather and when everything else is dull, you can easily spot someone donning this trend, even when they're far away from you.
Members of this subculture are really the most diverse bunch, not only because of how they are cutely decorated from head to foot, but also for the striking colors of their hair (though casual decora usually have their natural hair color, but more of that later). Hair accessories are very important and should never be left out. Colorful hair clips and pins of all kinds (as long as they're kawaii) are placed strategically all over their hair and bangs, sometimes too many that you barely see their fringe. Other stuff like headbands, bows are also used, just very hair accessories you can think of.
Mostly found in Harajuku, you never fail to see Lolita enthusiasts wearing the same fashion style. By having cute dresses that puff on knee-length and a handy parasol over their heads, the aesthetic is heavily influenced by Victorian era's way of dressing, it is distinguished with voluminous skirts or dresses with petticoats underneath, blouses that are ruffled or with lace and head dresses like bows or ribbons of different sizes. Socks or stockings are also a must for this look, where ankle or knee length socks are usually adorned with ribbons or lace, while the stockings are either plain or with an elegant pattern. Footwear is all about Mary Jane shoes or boots.
There are a lot of substyles under Lolita, and those are, but not limited to:
The closest one to Victorian era clothing, this look is an epitome of elegance, maturity and grace, and it makes you think about tea parties and reading books. The tones of this substyle is usually very muted, like dusted red, greys, navy blue and anything along those lines, giving it a more mature appeal. To know more details about Classic Lolita, you can check it out here.
Same silhouette but with a different color palette, mostly around pastels and bright colors. The overall look is rather child-like and cute in appearance. Prints and patterns of the dresses are more into fruits, berries, cute animals and hearts or stars. Makeup is also kept simple to emphasize child-like aesthetics. To learn everything you need to know about this substyle, you can click here.
This one evolves on the darker side. The colors are mostly black, dark red or dark blue. Motifs are also included such as skulls, cobwebs, cross and the like. Makeup is also dark and gothic, can be quite heavy around the eyes.
Fairy kei is everything kawaii (Japanese word that means cute). The style revolves around cute colors like different pastel shades (pink, mint green, sky blue, pastel purple, pale yellow, etc.). Aside from that, the overall look is child-like with cute motifs such as characters (Hello Kitty, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Barbie, Sailor Moon), fruits, cute animals and the like. Hair is usually on the wig side if the wearer doesn't want to dye their hair, but yes, it's very common to be in the pastel shade (though some retain their natural hair color) as well and is decorated with cute bows and other headdresses and pins.
The style is based around muted pastels and 80s revivalist cartoons and motifs such as My Little Pony, Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, vintage 80s Barbie, etc. The look is very much a ‘fantasy style’, emulating the worlds of 80s girls’ cartoons and early shoujo manga. It began with Tabuchi, founder of the vintage and repurposed vintage boutique SPANK!, as her personal style, and then the look took off from there.
Fabric is usually lightweight for dresses and skirts, such as the loose A-line dresses and the fluttery colored petticoats. Thick, fluffy sweaters, oversized 80s sweatshirts; this is also the land from whence comes the mokomoko accessories craze, and stuffed animals are sewn onto sweaters and scarves, or as the usual purse. Dress length can be ankle length, knee-length or mini-skirt length; anything fluttery and flowy works.