Harajuku is a unique and interesting fashion movement that started in Japan. This alternative fashion style arose from the Harajuku district in Tokyo and encompasses a diverse range of looks and outfits focusing mainly on creativity and freedom of expression.
What Is Harajuku Style?
In literal terms, the Harajuku style is based in the Harajuku district in Tokyo. This is an urban fashion-savvy neighborhood that is now widely known as a fashion haven in Japan.
To be exact, the Harajuku area is located between Sendagaya and Jingumae-machi in Tokyo. The community is known for its colorful, rebellious, and fascinating street fashion culture which gave birth to the term ‘Harajuku fashion’.
Harajuku style is especially popular among youth and teenagers looking for a way to express their sense of self without any barriers or societal norms.
It usually consists of outrageous and unique attires that ignore traditional, mainstream fashion. So, Harajuku fashion doesn’t really describe a particular way of dressing up, rather it’s a medley of different crazy and fun styles. Plus, there are no limits on what you can or cannot wear.
However, one common element of all Harajuku fashion is that it considers both community and freedom of expression as its main focus.
History of Harajuku Style
Harajuku style is not exactly a new phenomenon, In fact, it has been around since the early 1980s and boomed by the early 2000s. Soon, the wave spread all the way to the West.
When the craze first began, the local youth started blending Japanese attire with western fashion.
On Sundays, teens would gather in Harajuku, adorning their colorful and eccentric clothes and accessories. They were giving out a clear message that what they wear is entirely up to them.
Tokyo has always been known for its fashionable, expressive, and inventive youth. The concept of Harajuku fashion was a huge hit by the 1990s. And it has been booming ever since. A famous magazine called FRUiTS was one of the first to capture many of the edgy looks and styles in Harajuku.
To date, the Harajuku style remains a symbol of freedom and flamboyant fashion that doesn’t go out of style, regardless of the changing trends.
The instantly recognizable, fun looks still garner public attention and are constantly documented by the media.
What does the Harajuku Style Represent?
The Harajuku style is a representation of a number of things and there is some debate on it. According to some people, this fashion movement is a form of liberation against the strict rules and norms of Japan.
Young people are making an important statement by dressing up in crazy and non-conforming ways. Essentially, it is a celebration of personal identity and self-expression before these teens have to grow up and fit into Japan’s traditional norms.
For some people, it is simply a fashion statement and doesn’t have to convey a much deeper meaning. In Japan, Harajuku style is now a staple, and most teens and youth are a part of this fun community.
Where can you find Harajuku Style in Tokyo
If you’re visiting Tokyo, you should definitely head over to Harajuku to spot the eye-catching fashion trends. The best place to fully experience Harajuku street fashion is the famous Takeshita street which is situated at the east of the JR Harajuku station.
You can get off the JR Harajuku station of the Yamanote Line and go to the Takeshita Exit to directly access Takeshita street.
Takeshita street is full of life, with an array of fashion boutiques, outlets, restaurants, and thrift shops to enjoy. This bright, bustling place is home to all things trendy, fashionable, and quirky. Plus, it is very convenient for tourists as the street is made for pedestrians only.
Not only can you witness the true essence of Harajuku fashion here but you can also purchase fashionable clothing items, makeup, skincare, and accessories.
Whether it’s skirts, tops, jackets, dresses, trousers, accessories, shoes, or even funky socks– you can find it all here. Plus, you will come across many variations of Harajuku fashion including cyber-punk, sweet lolita, goth-loli, decora, hipster, and more.
You can end the day by relaxing at the cafes and restaurants and enjoying delicious Japanese crepes and desserts. Takeshita-Dori is truly a must-visit for anyone visiting Japan.
Another place you can visit is the posh neighborhood of Omotesando in the Harajuku district. You will find more expensive, high fashion outlets here which makes it a great spot for all fashion enthusiasts.
Who can wear Harajuku Style?
Harajuku fashion has no boundaries and there is no specific audience for this style. But of course, it is not conservative or conventional in any way.
Anyone who wants to dress up in a fun way, experiment with their style, or try something out of the box would love to wear it.
In simple words, Harajuku style is all about embracing your inner self and enjoying dress-up, and going crazy.
What Are The Different Harajuku Fashion Styles?
It’s not possible for Harajuku fashion to fall under one category because there are so many different styles and looks. So, let’s take a glimpse at the most popular subgroups of this fascinating fashion.
Sweet Lolita styles are super popular and well-adorned among Harajuku looks. Consisting of large skirts, ruffled dresses, laces, bows, and headbands, this style has its own personality.
Pastel colors, pinks, and purples are most often used in this classic look but there are subgroups in this category too. For instance, goth Lolita is a popular style for those who love dark fashion.
- Kogal / ko-gyaru (high school)
Kogal or ko-gyaru fashion is another trend in Japan where girls usually wear school uniforms out of high school and see it as a fashion statement. Older girls who aren’t in school anymore enjoy it too.
The Kogal look usually consists of very short skirts, leg warmers, and ties.
Many of the girls like to bleach their hair and tan their skin for a California Valley girl look. These girls also refer to themselves as ‘gyaru’ meaning ‘girl or gal’.
Cosplay is super popular because of its interesting concept. In Japan, it is not only limited to parties or conventions.
Dressing up in costumes and mentally and physically taking on the role of characters from manga, anime, movies, and books makes fashion even more exciting and fun.
This is a Japanese subculture that is associated with all things cute and bright. Associated with Japan’s kawaii aesthetic, Decora is all about child-like, cute accessories like hair clips, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.
It is often paired with vibrant clothing and face stickers. The famous Hello Kitty character is also popularly used in Decora fashion.
Goth fashion is famous all over the world and is well-loved in Harajuku fashion too. It is characterized by dark, mysterious, and black outfits with dark makeup and chokers or hats. It often overlaps with other Harajuku styles like Lolita.
- Kodona or boy-style
Kodona refers to Victorian-era-inspired fashion for men. This style is increasingly popular in Japan, consisting of cropped pants, lace cuffs, and ruffled shirts. It emulates the way princes used to dress up.
Ouji fashion is considered the masculine counterpart of the Lolita style. This boy version of Lolita is also referred to as Brolita. There can be a range of looks including boyish, mature, colorful, gothic, gentlemanly, feminine, monochrome, or colorful.
How to make a fashion tour in Tokyo?
Without a doubt, fashion is extremely exciting and fascinating in Japan. If you’re visiting Japan, you can also opt for a complete experience of Japanese fashion as a culture. The best way to do this is by joining a private tour or hiring a private guide who’s an expert in the area.
Your guide will take you to all the important places that are relevant to Japanese fashion and will give you a deeper understanding of the subject and its origins. So, you can get a more enriching and informational experience in this way.
You can browse the web to find different guides to hire but research will be required to find someone authentic and trustworthy.
One great option is the Tokyo, Omotesando, and Miyuki Street Walking Tour. This in-depth tour takes you through a historical and cultural experience with lots of interesting information about Japanese fashion as well.