Harajuku, Tokyo is known worldwide for its welcoming atmosphere and Takeshita Street in particular, which is filled with colorful shops, cosplay stores and trendy places. It’s also here where one can grab bubble tea, sweets and other classic Japanese bites.
Although Harajuku announces itself with a huge arc, a large part of the buzz around one of Tokyo’s most famous districts takes place within just a few streets. Takeshita Street (Takeshita Dori 竹下 勇) and the streets around it have become iconic in the fashion world, showcasing teenage fashion and designer brands all within a few miles.
Although Harajuku started in Japan, it is a massive global trend. There are countless more styles, with many drawing on current street trends, including: oversized shirts and pants, thrifting and vintage looks that have been repurposed to fit the so-called Harajuku styles. The main purpose is for you to wear what makes you feel like yourself and to dress for yourself. Despite its freedom, Harajuku fashion unfortunately, is becoming less common. There’s been a decline of Japanese youth experimenting in the same way they did during the 80s and 90s. Nowadays, it’s more ordinary that people confine Harajuku fashion to specific events where everyone will be dressed up as well. Despite the devolution, there’s still hope for Harajuku fashion to re-emerge as strong as it was a few decades ago and many are hoping that it will flood the streets of Tokyo once again.
Lolita is one of the most globally well-known types of Harajuku fashion. Drawing inspiration from British Victorian influences and Rococo, Lolita fashion typically consists of puffed out skirts, frilly embroidery and extravagant accessories. A common misconception of Lolita is that it must contain pastel colors and exude femininity. Yet, Lolita comes in many different forms, including: gothic Lolita, sweet Lolita, pop Lolita, guro Lolita, classic Lolita, and the list goes on. Any type of style can fit into Lolita, but normally the silhouette is incredibly dramatic with incorporations of petticoats and corsets.
Yami Kawaii, otherwise known as dark kawaii, is a rising fashion style in Japan. Yami means sick in Japanese while kawaii signifies cute, the combination of the two presents a stark difference to the “kawaii style” that has been popular for much longer. Yami Kawaii typically includes a wide variety of colors and pieces but focuses on merging cutesy looks with syringes, gas masks, sickly looking makeup, and slogans like: “I Want To Die.” This new trend comes at a time where mental health stigma is at the forefront of Japanese social issues since mental health problems plague many in the country. Most Yami Kawaii fans feel that this style allows them to express themselves and present their mental illness while dressing up. At the same time, Yami Kawaii fashion has created a makeshift-community where publicly declaring sadness should be accepted without shame. Others who are merely interested in this aesthetic have also contributed to its popularity and transformation.
Decora fashion is incredibly popular all over the world and is the type of style that many associate with Harajuku. Decora incorporates loud accessories, fun hair colors and a childlike vibe all in one outfit. Decora wearers can usually be seen with bandaids or stickers on their faces, boasting rainbow colors and multiple patterns while holding candy as accessories. This style is heavily inspired by 80s aesthetic and television shows. It’s common to see characters from Hello Kitty, Pokemon and Strawberry Shortcake make an appearance on Decora clothing since it’s about embracing your inner child and expressing it to the world.
Cosplayers dress up as characters from their favorite mangas, anime, video games, television shows…etc. It’s typical to see Cosplayers at conventions but much less common to witness them outside. Since cosplay can apply to any media, there isn’t a specific style, color palette or silhouette that encompasses it all – just the more accurate, the better!
Fairy Kei is a fantasy style and includes pastel colors. Think: light, pink, baby blue, soft yellows and white. There isn’t simply one silhouette, but Fairy Kei usually involves loose fitting skirts, stockings or long socks.