What comes to your mind when you think of Japanese subculture fashions? The kimono, yukata, and the samurai costume right? There’s more to it than just these. For many people around the world, Japanese subcultures and are less known but are slowly gaining widespread recognition.
Most of these subcultures emerged in 20th century Japan and were extremely popular with teenagers who were viewed as creative and influential while also being looked on by others with amusement and confusion.
It was all about fusing ideas to make your own unique outfit, where they would customise their clothing by juxtaposing a mixture of current and traditional trends generally made at home with the use of store-bought items. Although the styles have changed over the years, street fashion is still prominent in Japan today.
Let us look at some of the most unusual subculture fashions in Japan:
To the outside world, one of the more famous subcultures in Japan is the ‘Harajuku Girl’. Its fame was largely thanks to a group of four Japanese dancers called the ‘Harajuku Girls’ who were featured in stage shows and music videos for Gwen Stefani during her solo career in 2004.
However, their name isn’t representative of the fashion that is seen in the Harajuku district of Tokyo, as there is no definitive subculture as the ‘Harajuku Girl’. Instead, the area of Harajuku sees a variety of unique and distinctive fashion styles, created by fashion-forward Japanese youth who are trying to express their own style. The fashion of the ‘Harajuku Girls’ is based on the ‘Punk’ and ‘Lolita’ subculture in Japan. In fact, it was said that the style that inspired the dance troupe was already disappearing from the streets of Tokyo by the time the group rose to fame.
One of the most popular new Japanese subcultures is the ‘Lolita’. Based on Victorian-era clothing, this fashion style has expanded greatly beyond Japan. It became popular in the late 90s. Sweet Lolita, also known as ‘ama-loli’ in Japanese, is heavily influenced by Victorian clothing with lighter colours and childlike motifs. Most of their make-up is pink, peach or pearl paired with pink and red shades of lipstick. Their outfits consist of pastels, fruit themes, flowers, lace, bows, and desserts themes to enhance the cuteness of their design. The popularity of this subculture has also formed other kinds of Lolita subgenre, which includes the ‘gothic Lolita’, ‘punk Lolita’, and ‘classic Lolita’.
Cosplay, short for ‘costume play’, is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Some of the famous cosplay sources are manga and anime, comic books, and cartoon films. Their costumes vary from simple themed clothing to highly detailed costumes and are known to adopt the mannerisms, and body language of the characters they portray.
Gyaru is Japanese name for the term “gal” and is a large influence in Japan’s fashion economy with their brands. It was inspired by a brand of jeans in the 70’s. They have dark tanned skin and a surf girl hairstyle which is a constant feature in them. It is said that they are mostly found in large numbers in Shibuya, Tokyo. ‘Gyaruo’ is the male equivalent of ‘gyaru’.
Similar to the ‘sweet lolita’ subculture, with a hint of 80’s use bright pastel colours like lavender, baby blue, light pink, etc and has elements obsessed with cute stuff like My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, and Care Bears. Wigs are often used and decorated with large bows and star clips. ‘Fairy kei’ originated from Sauri Tabuchi, the renowned Tokyo fashion figures store Spank.
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