History of Harajuku Fashion

History of Harajuku Fashion

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.

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

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 fashion, so no-one will bat an eyelid at a 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 normative clothes, jobs and attitudes.

Key elements of Harajuku Style

  • Harajuku fashion is creative…
  • And theatrical.
  • Mix and match – harajuku style is about visually and mentally refreshing contrasts
  • Look cute
  • Never forget – harajuku fashion has a sense of humour!
  • Be confident wearing clothes that mix genres and influences
  • Be confident wearing clothes that have weird shapes and geometric structures
  • If you go for bright colours, make sure you have unusual, fun contrasts
  • If you wear make-up, wear it black
  • Be confident in your chosen look – end of.
  • Above all, be stylish – but you get to define what ‘style’ means!

Harajuku fashion is now internationally-known, so anyone wearing harajuki style is photographed as much as the London punks who used to 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.

Taking Harajuku Fashion further: Lolita Goth

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.