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Harajuku Girls - A harajuku fashion guide
by Magda Knight
Our guide to harajuku fashion will show you how to wear harajuku clothing in a way that suits you. Anyone who makes it to Tokyo's Harajuku district is in for a treat because the harajuku fashions are unbelievable. Find out what Harajuku girls are all about, and pick up some tips on how to work harajuku fashion into your own alternative style.
You've probably seen Gwen Stefani's alien Japanese backing dancers, and heard her singing about 'Harajuku girls' all over her album 'Love Music Angel Baby'.
Japan is a place where everyone is individual - but in groups. If you go to the park on a certain hour every Saturday, you'll see hundreds of boys dressed as rock and rollers, dancing to rock and roll music... very seriously.
So it's no surprise that when girls want to display groundbreaking fashions that no-one has ever seen before, they want to do it in the same place, at the same time. And that place is the Harajuku district in Tokyo.
Harajuku fashion's origin
Harajuku fashion gets its name from the Harajuku district of Tokyo. All the switched-on harajuku kids go there to explore the many clothes shops and gather Yoyogi park, the cafes in Omotesando street or on the way to the Meiji shrine to display their latest harajuku creations for tourists as well as for their friends.
Harajuku became famous in the 1980s due to the street performers and wildly-dressed teens who gathered there on Sundays when Omotesando was closed to traffic. Omotesando is a very long street with cafes and upscale fashion boutiques popular with residents and tourists alike. Once it became pedestrianised on sundays it was the perfect place to meet, play music and show off!
Having a regular meeting place for art, conversation and performance gave rise to the vibrant Hokoten band scene. This was stopped at the end of the 1990s and the number of performers, Visual Kei fans, rockabilly dancers and punks has steadily decreased since. Today on Sundays one can see many Gothic Lolita as well as many foreign tourists taking pictures of them on the way to Meiji Shrine. Some tourists are surprised to see such a large exhibition of Japanese youth dressed up in often shocking outfits.
Harajuku fashion is about freedom of expression
Japan is still very good at consuming trends from the West, so if you walk down the boutiques of Takeshita street in Harajuku you'll probably see a lot of teenagers wearing mod clothes. Harajuku is a mecca for artists, independent spirits, and burgeoning fashion trends that provides a space of free expression in what is ordinarily a rather conservative Japanese culture. But Japanese fashion isn't afraid to take it one step further... dressing-up in costume is seen as a major element of fashions, so no-one will bat an eyelid at a pretty girl wearing a plastic fried egg round her neck as a fashion statement.
The nice thing about Japanese - and Harajuku fashion - is that it's not a case of shops and brands (like Gap) dictating what people wear, but teenagers dictating what the shops will start selling.
There are now many clothes and websites that sell harajuku fashion and lolita fashion, but the spirit of this japanese style has arisen from teenagers not being afraid to customise and accessorise their own clothes, and to wear crazy outfits with a sense of humour to retaliate against social expectations of straight clothes, straight jobs, straight attitudes.
How to wear Harajuku Style
Harajuku versus punk
Harajuku fashion is now internationally-known, so anyone wearing harajuki style is photographed as much as the London punks who hang out in Trafalgar Square in tartan trousers and mohicans, waiting for tourists to pay them to pose for photos. And why not? When you're a punk you have fewer job options because of the extremity of your dress code, and need to make money somehow.
If you're into harajuku fashion your dedication to need only be as serious as you want it to be. You may choose not to have a regular job or attend school and be fully into the band scene, but essentially the look of harajuku style is based on clothes and make-up which can be removed as desired, so if you want to be a part-time Harajuku girl, that's perfectly okay. Punks with mohicans and piercings have to be punk (to some degree) all the time, but harajuku girls and boys can wear normal clothes then dress up harajuku-style at the weekend. Pure pop fashion, but so much fun!
Taking Harajuku Fashion further: Lolita Goth
Anyone who makes it to Harajuku is in for a treat because the fashions are unbelievable. Like Camden in London, but a lot more weird. In 2001, believe it or not, harajuku fashion echoed the Amish folk in the Harrison Ford film 'Witness'. In 2002, the most popular harajuku style was grunge for the boys and Lolita Goth (also known as Goth Lolita, GothLoli, Gosurori and Loli-Goth) for the girls.
Lolita fashion is a style of dress that originated in Japan. Lolita is inspired by the clothing of Victorian women and children. It often aims to imitate the look of Victorian porcelain dolls. Other influences include goth style (particularly for Lolita Goth), horror movies, the punk subculture and anime characters.
See more Japanese, Vintage/Burlesque & Gothic DIY Style
Awesome harajuku fashion! Although the boy/girl/thing on the left is more bosozoku street gang style.
These rainbow creatures are heading into the japanese fashion style of visual kei...
God yes. Why not go out dressed as a cute monster? Why not just go ahead and do that? Mookychick dares you.
The foxy japanese girls on the right are more along the lines of victorian lolita goth.
100% pure harajuku style. Harajuku girls - we salute you. We'd quite like to be you.