Tokyo street fashion is a world renowned social phenomenon which is constantly evolving and has been recorded and studied extensively. On the one hand, it houses some of the most outrageous subcultures in the world, which are most prominent in the neighbourhood of Harajuku. On the other hand, a stroll down Shibuya will reveal a refined sense of minimalism and elegance, unique to the streets of the Japanese capital.
What is Tokyo wearing today?
With today’s ultra-busy lifestyle, the citizens of the capital city have opted for casual yet trendy looks which allows them to squeeze into jam packed trains and work exhausting shifts while still looking fashionable. Loose fits are in. This means a whole array of pantsuits, culottes and trench coats in muted or earthy colours. Footwear is an important part of style and commodity especially when most people get around by foot. Platform shoes are all the rage, combining the convenience of sneakers with the added height. Sports shoes, ankle boots and loafers are also common. Creepers are the way to go for an added edge. Garments these days tend to come in black and white and outfits lean towards the monochromatic. Plain fabrics or simple patterns are preferred although tartans are also in style.
In terms of accessories, chokers, simple necklaces, watches and plain handbags are worn to match the colour scheme of the outfit but again minimalism is a recurring theme. When it comes to haircuts, bobs and shoulder lengths are most common. The hair is often lightened or dyed muted colours to avoid the more traditional look of black hair. When it comes to makeup, a natural fresh look is key, this means a nude palette for the eyes and gradient lips which are darker in the centre and lighter towards the edges. However, igari makeup, which intends to mimic the look of a hangover by applying blush below the eyes, is also popular.
In terms of subculture fashion, Decora（デコラ）is currently one of the most popular and outrageous styles in the alternative hub of Harajuku. Decora’s defining traits are bright neon and pastel colours as well as over the top use of accessories. Fringes covered in hair clips, facial stickers especially band aids on the nose, colourful contact lenses, wigs and necklaces are just some of many accessories key for achieving this kawaii (cute) look. When it comes to Decora, the more the better. These types of alternative fashions like Decora, Gal or Lolita are often made popular by small celebrities who gain fame by pioneering certain looks within the trendiest wharfs of Tokyo. There are even many specialized magazines dedicated to capturing the latest trends in Harajuku fashion which are published within the neighbourhood itself. Nowadays this dynamic has changed with the overpowering influence of social media but these magazines remain central to determining what is “in” and what is not.
Punk / Visual Kei (ヴィジュアル系)
Visual Kei (Kei meaning style) is the latest Japanese iteration of punk fashion. The name comes from a popular band known for their elaborate and extreme look consisting of spiked coloured hair, harsh makeup, contact lenses, leather jackets, boots and generally dark clothing. Overall, anime aesthetics that are out of this world. However, on the streets, we find a large variety of looks within V-Kei that range from the softer and simpler end of the spectrum to the most outlandish looks. At the end of the day it is all about being unique and innovative. Being able to put together a successful look that will catch the attention of the masses is a rare skill that requires time and dedication.