When we mention ‘fashion’ the words that automatically come out of our mouths would be Paris, Milan, London or even New York. Japan is obviously not the country you would associate to ‘mode’ or worldwide fashion shows. Most of the time Japanese fashion is reduced to kimonos, weird hair styles or even incoherent outfits. Although it is different from what most of us expect, Japan is a country which succeeded in developing it’s own vision of fashion by creating new accessories, new trends and most importantly, an all-new meaning of fashion itself.
Indeed Japan has always been considered as this amazing country with its own identity due to its historical background and it’s particular culture. This is what makes Japan so different and dissociable from Western countries and from other Asian countries.
If you ever visit Japan, you will notice the particularity of the country in terms of the architecture (height of the buildings and the way those buildings are held together), the food, the way people behave, the streets, and most importantly the fashion.
Although it is different from what we are familiar with, Japanese fashion is globally recognized and appreciated for its nerve, originality, cutting-edge look… In Japan, fashion is taken seriously and constitutes, just like architecture and painting, art. It has succeeded in strengthening Japanese identity and contributes to what makes Japan so unique.
As fashion grew up to be such a major element in Japan’s culture, plenty of spots completely dedicated to fashion, especially in Tokyo, have emerged and have become emblematic places to visit. For instance Daikanyama, Nakameguro, Aoyama, Shibuya and Harajuku. Not only are those places a snapshot of how the stylish are driving the Japanese Fashion industry but they are also a place to spot outgoing and new styles.
As a tourist, or a student, if you interested in fashion Harajuku is the place to go. Located in the center of Tokyo, this memorable place is part of the big district of Shibuya and is a spot where Japanese fashion is the most well expressed. It is considered as the cradle of fashion and mode. First of all, it is filled with various boutiques where you can find absolutely all kinds of stuff, but what is more striking and memorable is the people walking down the streets. Indeed, many young people are dressed up in a completely fancy and outrageous way. However what makes Harajuku so unusual and special is its famous bridge where, especially during weekends, people assist to what we call ‘Cosplay’ which I’m going to talk about later.
TOP 3 Japanese street fashion trends
There are many trends, outfits, accessories that make Japanese fashion uncommon and identifiable. The list is long, but I’m only going to mention a few.
Platform shoes: Far from what Louboutin or Steffens produce, Japanese designers have introduced a completely new style of shoes: the platform shoes. They are shoes with a thick sole (obviously). The concept is not only applied on boots but also on baskets, sandals and on any kind of shoes. Certainly more comfortable than regular heels, Japanese girls usually wear those platform shoes with colorful high rising socks. The origin of those platform shoes lies in the typical Japanese footwear called ‘Geta’ which resembles a pair of sandals with an elevated wooden base held onto the foot with a fabric thong to keep the foot above the ground.
Bra over shirt: In the streets, it is common to run by girls wearing bustiers and even bras over their t-shirts. As it may be shocking for us and even inappropriate, this trend has grown to be a success in Japan especially with teenagers. Many people looked for the reason for this trend’s success and found that it was mainly because of the fact that girls in Tokyo began to wear lingerie as outerwear.
Sheer tops, cutout tops, mesh tops, sheer dresses, sheer panel skirts…: This is another tendency that characterizes fashion in Japan. Even though those outfits are kind of international, every shop in Harajuku, Shibuya is stocking something sheer, mesh, or panel, and everyone in the street is wearing it.
The word ‘Cosplay’ comes from the contraction of the words ‘costume’ and ‘play’.
This so-called art form consists of wearing costumes and accessories to represent a specific character that can come from anywhere but mainly from manga’s, famous TV shows, comic books, movies… Since 1990, this tradition has largely emerged in Asia and more specifically in Japan where this has become part of the popular culture and of Japan’s identity. This custom has witnessed such success that it gave birth to worldwide events such as ‘Comiket’ in Japan that is held twice a year. Those conventions gather around thousands of cosplayers, photographs and also many fans. The goal of those conventions also held in the United States under the name of comic-con and Europe (Paris, London…) is to allow cosplayers and fans to meet, parade and also disclose their passion.
The significance of fashion in Japan shows the extent to which Japanese people accord meaning and significance to what they wear, how they wear it and when they wear it. Fashion is a form of art and it is not only about famous designers, famous models or prestigious fashion shows. Even though Tokyo is not internationally known as a fashion capital, Japan has succeeded in asserting its very own fashion sense through numerous aspects, tendencies and events.