Harajuku Fashion History – A Case Study

Harajuku Fashion History – A Case Study

There have been different styles of alternative fashion in Japan, and the Harajuku style is one of them. Harajuku style has existed since the early 1980s and became known in the west during the 2000s. The style is named after a station in Tokyo and is popular amongst the youngster. It was common to see them wearing colorful and unique outfits on the street. It started with a mix of traditional Japanese attire with western clothing. However, the main goal of the Harajuku kids was to send a message that they didn’t care about fashion trends and would be dressing as they wished. To give you a better view of this fashion trend, we’ll explore Harajuku fashion history in this article.

The Harajuku fashion trend is a movement against strict societal rules; it also fights back against the pressure to fit the norm. One thing that fashion, crepes, and Purikura have in common is Harajuku. Apart from this fashion trend, some of Harajuku’s most iconic street styles came. Although there have been different Harajuku styles over the years, Harajuku fashion history shows that the international influence on Harajuku paved the way for the fashion we’ve come to love today. Keep scrolling to learn more about this fashion trend and its history in the fashion world. 

Harajuku Fashion History – The Origin

Harajuku fashion got its name from a Tokyo district with the same name. All the switched-up kids would explore the Harajuku district to search for many clothes shops or gather in the cafes on Omotesando street. Additionally, many people visited the Meiji shrine to display their latest creations for their friends and tourists. Harajuku became quite famous in the 1980s because of wildly dressed teenagers and street performers. These teens would gather in the district on Sundays to play music and show off. Although it seemed like a regular meeting place for art, the conversation and performance led to the development of the Hokoten brand. 

For quite a long time, Tokyo was known for its expressive styles, and the Harajuku district was the meeting spot for the most vivid and eclectic youths. It was a cradle of sartorial eccentricity and always filled with inventive teen subgroups. The meeting boomed in the 1990s but ended slowly in the same decade. Nevertheless, you can still find an exhibition of Japanese youth in shocking outfits when you walk through Omotesando street. 

Harajuku Fashion History – Breaking the Norm

Although there was no specific trend in Harajuku fashion history, its popularity didn’t wane. This culture was a mix of Japanese subcultures and made street fashion even more diverse and the best spot for creation. As a result, you can usually find an eclectic style of fashion like the Lolita fashion, Gyaru fashion, and a mix of both most times. One thing everybody agrees on is that the Harajuku fashion style involves bold colors and symbols through different styles; they could be foreign or domestic. Additionally, while men dominate most fashion styles, the Japanese style is dominated by females.

This type of fashion trend is nothing similar to mainstream fashion. Harajuku was more of a street fashion that identified wearers n the mainstream. There are no guidelines to follow because the idea behind Harajuku is complete freedom. Your choice of outfit and how you choose to wear it is self-expression. No one judges your appearance in Harajuku because everyone looks normal or weird. 

The Harajuku fashion trend exists to break the norm where shops and brands decide what people wear and what they buy. The teenagers who adopted Harajuku fashion are now deciding what shops and brands should sell to them. Street fashion also successfully shifted the focus from professionally designed styles and moved the focus to the general public. This was a welcome upgrade as most people cannot afford the luxury brands. However, when you break the norm and choose the elements you prefer, you’ve become a part of Harajuku fashion.

Iconic Harajuku Fashion Styles

Throughout Harajuku fashion history, the only guidelines most Harajuku teens had to follow were choosing their fashion elements. There were no specific guidelines as Harajuku was a mixed showground for many subcultures. Every group had its dress code and ritual. However, we found some common subculture elements that seem to reoccur in most Harajuku fashion trends. 

Lolita Fashion 

This fashion trend looked like the 18th and 19th-century wedding styles. However, the Lolita fashion originated in Fashion. The main inspiration for this Harajuku fashion is Victoria’s clothing and styles from the Rococo period. Note that the name ‘Lolita’ note isn’t related to any movie or book. Lolita fashions started in the 1960s but grew more popular in the 70s and 80s, giving rise to new clothing brands. By the 1990s, it was already a top streetwear subculture with ample followers all over Japan and internationally. The popular cuteness culture in Japan is an excellent influence on Lolita fashion. 

The wearers of Lolita want to dress like living dolls. Therefore, you can easily spot them in the street due to their colorful outfit. They would wear wigs and other headwear like bonnets or bows while wearing the cloth. This is a common style in Harajuku fashion history. 

Categories of Lolita Fashion

There are several subgroups under Lolita fashion, and they’re classical, sweet, and gothic Lolita. The sweet Lolita fashion category usually wears pastel colors like yellow, pink, and blue. The pattern on most dresses worn by people who love sweet Lolita features cute baby animals, flowers, and fruits. There are always a lot of bows and laces on a Sweet Lolita outfit. 

On the other hand, gothic Lolita influences the eastern and Victorian goth styles. The gothic Lolita usually wears deep, dark, and sultry colors. Bats, crosses, spiders, vampires, and common patterns you would find on their clothes. The Victorian architectural designs and iron gates are famous for their ghoulish and spiritual clothing. 

Finally, we have the classical Lolita that’s suitable for wear in real life. This style is much closer to 19th-century daily clothing because there are little to no patterns and heavy decorations on the dress. In addition, the colors are muted, unlike the gothic and sweet Lolita wearers. 

Since the goal is not to make themselves look like living dolls like the other two Lolita fashion categories, the overall look of the classical Lolita is mature and grownup. The colors aren’t too sweet, but they’re not on the dark side either. However, this doesn’t matter in Harajuku fashion, as the goal of this fashion trend is creativity. 

Gyaru Fashion

Another iconic Harajuku fashion style is the Gyaru fashion style. It is very different from Lolita fashion in many ways, and the word originated from the English’ girl’ to mean beautiful girls. The Gyaru fashion style started to cater to men’s tastes and is heavily influenced by western culture. 

Gyaru fashion wearers love to make their hair a lighter color and tan their skin. This is a far cry from Lolita fashion because the goal of Gyaru is to appear more sexy and feminine. The clothes are more mature because that’s what Japanese girls want: exotic blonde and sexy ladies.

However, it didn’t take long for Gyaru fashion to start its revolution. Girls chose to make their skin darker and added more curls to their hair. This fashion style now included white-colored makeup and exaggerated fake lashes. The women now wore shorter and shorter skirts while decorating their nails. The fashion changed to exaggerate the elements men thought women should have, which became a significant trend in Harajuku fashion. 

However, things began to change when Gyaru fashion became associated with many inappropriate this. The idea of a rebellious and independent Gyaru became a cuter and more acceptable style. There are many subgroups under Gyaru fashion like the Kogyaru, Shiro, Onee Gyaru, and many more. It has everything catering to men’s taste, but they’re all exaggerated extensively. 

Visual Kei

Many Japanese bands were forming between the 1990s and early 2000s. Most of them adopted visual kei as their fashion style. The literal meaning of this is that they’re all about their looks. Although their music might be good, their appearance is much more impressive. They feature a high level of makeup, elaborate hairstyles, and even flashy costume. Most of these bands looked like Western glam rock and made their fashion style. Some top visual kei bands are X Japan, the Gazette, and Versaille. Their music style was always heavy metals or punk rock. 

The Fashion Industry Explained: Onl...
The Fashion Industry Explained: Online Course

Visual Kei started in the 1980s, and the term visual originated from X Japan’s album. It experienced a big bang during the 1990s but soon died after four years of significant popularity. In 2000, they gained some public attention, but that didn’t last. One distinct feature of this Harajuku fashion style is that although Gyaru and Lolita fashion styles are for Japanese girls, the Visual Kei band is for the girls. 

Kimono Style

This is still quite popular and is one of the Harajuku fashion styles. It is a transition from the traditional kimono style; this new upgrade comes with many patterns and colors that are alien to the vintage kimonos. Men and women alike wear this Harajuku fashion style. Many shops are selling these kimonos to the younger generations online, and they usually feature the eye-catching Oni pattern, a folklore monster in Japan. Although changing your traditional clothing is already a rebel label, the kimono style is gentler in breaking the norm than the other three fashion styles mentioned above. 

Final Thoughts

Harajuku fashion is a fashionable commercial success today. Over the years, it underwent many developments and changes. There has also been an international influence on Harajuku fashion history, and this worked to lay the foundation for creative Japanese youths to explore fashion in different ways. With many fast fashion names entering the market, Harajuku fashion has not always been positive. However, it is a fashion style that will continually change, with each generation being more creative than the last. With Harajuku fashion history in mind, we can’t wait to see the next chapter of this fashion style. 

Was This Article Helpful?

Harajuku Fashion History – A Case Study If you’ve ever been to the Tokyo Harajuku district, you’re in for a treat. Learn all about Harajuku fashion history in this article.
5 1 5 1

You're Never to Cool To Learn New Things

Please note: 440 Industries is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

#explore

#podcast

#learn

MORE ARTICLES FROM OUR BLOG