Harajuku fashion, Japan’s own rebel culture

Youth-oriented unique street fashion
2022-03-31
/
/ New Delhi
Harajuku fashion, Japan’s own rebel culture

Some believe Harajuku fashion is a rebellion against the strict and societal norms of Japan (Photo: Joshua-Chun/Unsplash)

Renowned for its offbeat trends, Japan is no different when it comes to its fashion sense. The striking Harajuku style, a unique fashion culture in the streets of Harajuku coupled with its colourful theatricality and quirky theme has captured many people’s attention.
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Harajuku is a fascinating subculture movement encompassing a range of different looks, styles and communities, typically found in Harajuku, a fashionable district of Tokyo.

Located between the area of Sendgaya and Jinguemae-machi and situated between the Shinjuku and Shibuya wards in the metropolitan city of Tokyo, Harajuku is famous for its eccentric and extreme street fashion. Hence, the name of the famous category in fashion, Harajuku fashion.

The Harajuku fashion describes the composition of not one but many different styles in one place particularly among teenagers and young people of Japan found in the Harajuku district.

Though the term can be used to refer to any fashion style, the Harajuku fashion styles primarily focuses on two issues, that is community and freedom of expression.

Many of the products in the district are recognised as being part of the subculture communities that allows people to express the things they like and enjoy along with finding other like-minded people.

However, there is some debate about what the style actually representsSome believe it is a rebellion against the strict and societal norms of Japan in which the young people deliberately dress up in outrageous and fun styles before they are forced to fit the norms as adults. Others believe Harajuku is a fashion style that celebrates one’s personal freedom of expression.

The history of Harajuku fashion dates back to when American soldiers and civilians lived in the area during the post war allied occupation of Japan. At the time, curious Japanese youths came to experience a different culture and Western goods in local stores of Harajuku that catered to the Americans. Eventually this influenced fashion designers and their entourages to settle in the area and call themselves the ‘Harajuku tribe’. The movement also got a boost when the 1964 Tokyo Olympics brought in waves of tourists and shops that catered to them.

In 1997, Shoichi Aoki, a photographer founded the magazine Fruits in which he focused on capturing the many looks and styles of the young people in the streets of Harajuku. The magazine would give a brief description of the person’s age, occupation and what their look was inspired by. In 2017, the magazine stopped printing when Aoki felt that the style was dying. Though he dropped the magazine, he continued documenting the wild Japanese fashion and Harajuku styles on social media.

Today, Harajuku is not just the centre for fashion-forward Japanese youth but is also one of the world’s fashion centres. It has become the focal point for gatherings every Sunday by Japanese youth dressed in the many different styles of Harajuku culture. These styles often change as some gets abandoned, others evolve and many get combined. But these are some of the more popular and enduring styles you may see on any given Sunday.

Some common styles of Harajuku

Today, Harajuku is not just the centre for fashion-forward Japanese youth but is also one of the world’s fashion centres

  • Lolita, a style where dresses are very important with large, ornate skirts and a lot of lace. There are three popular Lolita styles: classic, sweet and dark Lolita.
  • Cosplay, a worldwide popular style that involves dressing up as characters from books, films, video games, anime and manga.
  • Decora Style is vibrant and cutesy and often linked with the Japanese ‘Kawaii’(cute) culture. Colourful hair clips, bracelets, necklaces and bags characterise this style.
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