Step into the psychedelic world of Tokyo's street fashion.
If there was a catchy slogan for 'Harajuku fashion', it would probably be this - "Wearing your imagination while it's on the rampage". And that's exactly why this formerly niche genre has invaded the fashion industry globally. The little street at the heart of Tokyo has since inspired major designers from the likes of Gwen Stefani ('Harajuku Lovers') to High fashion labels like Dior and Comme des Garons and has become a mecca for cosplayers all over the world.
The Harajuku Neighborhood
The Harajuku neighborhood is a fashion hot-bed which births not only homegrown indie designers but also various fashion scenes. Take a stroll around the Harajuku district on a Sunday afternoon and you'll see youths adorning elaborate 'costume-like' apparels hanging out at cafes and shopping as usual.
Be sure to drop by the Jingu Bridge - a social hangout for cosplay cliques and a tourist hot spot for fashion-watching. Tourists will get a chance to snap shots of the zaniest cosplayers as they parade along the bridge, but be respectful and ask for permission before taking anyone's picture. Most cosplayers don't take kindly to being treated like zoo animals!
Cosplayers are usually a friendly bunch and will oblige to pose for photos when asked.
- Visual Kei -
A tribute to J-ROCK
If you have music from bands like 'L'Arc-en-Ciel', 'The Gazette' or 'Malice Mizer' in your ipod, you'd probably be well-acquainted with the Visual Kei scene. The movement is inspired by Japanese Rock musicians whose music ranges from Heavy Metal, 80s Goth Rock and Hardcore Punk.
Clearly 'tame' isn't a word in a Visual Kei rebel's dictionary - From their heavy kohl-ed eyes, butterfly tattoos, shaven eyebrows to sky-high hair, VK cosplayers usually dress loudly and proudly to show their love for their J-rock idols. A side note to all aspiring J-rock cosplayers, androgyny is key, so whip out your eye-liners and stage make-up and go eccentric!
Go deep into the VK realm with An Cafe - VK band An Cafe shows us a sneak peak of the Visual Kei culture
- Gyaru -
Passion for Fashion
Gyarus are the personification of Materialism - it's all about the glitz and glamour in a Gyaru's world. Derived from the direct Japanese translation of the English word "Gal", Gyaru embraces every girl's dream of pampering themselves with bags and shoes. Always ahead of the trend, these label-chasers take pride in dressing like daring divas or elite socialites and favour a more westernized lifestyle making them 'rebels' of the traditional Japanese society.
A full-fledged gyaru will never leave her house without her basic fashion weapons - false lashes, perfectly embellished nails, coloured lens, bleached hair extensions and not forgetting...her fur and bling.
EGG, Gyaru's #1 magazine.
Naturally these fashionistas have a huge influence in Japan's Fashion and Beauty industry. Shopping districts like Shibuya and Ikebukuro have dedicated an array of shops catering to their gyaru customers.
Hime (Princess) Gyaru style
Oh yes, this fashion scene isn't just for the ladies. Gyaruo is the guy version of Gyaru, more commonly known as a metrosexual.
Want to achieve the Gyaru look?
A quick and easy eye make-up tutorial for aspiring Gyarus.
- Ganguro -
Rebelling against Japan's traditional depiction of beauty, Ganguros and Gonguros (guy version) tan their naturally fair skin to a dark chocolate colour to make their fashion statement. They do a 'reverse-contrast' effect by having dark skin and making it distinct with platinum blonde hair and eye make-up.
Ganguros - the sub-culture of Gyarus.
Ganguro Kigurumi style
They further enhance their bizarre appearance by pasting stickers and facial gems on their face and by sporting bright neon colours and baggy clothes. Some say that Ganguros are a spin-off from African American girls due to their dredlocks, woven extensions and chunky tribal beads; while others argue that they aimed to recreate their own version of the Californian beach babe. Either way, the Ganguro trend is a unique genre of its own and is still much alive and kicking.
Male Ganguros aka Center Guys
From the streets : Ganguro
Japanese game show host checks out a usual day in the shoes of a Ganguro
Yamanba takes the Ganguro look up a notch. Roughly translated as "Mountain Hag", the picture says it all.
Chic or Freak
Girls and guys that dare to defy the mainstream's ideal perception of beauty and in doing so, create a new species of humans -- Ganguros, the anti-beauties!
What do you think about the eccentric Ganguro make-up?
- Decora -
The more the merrier
Have you ever tried drowning yourself with accessories? Decoras are probably working their way towards that. By squeezing as many clips, strings and ribbons on their hair and hands, they create a crazily cluttered outfit that would make you go dizzy with just one look. A branch-out of the Kawaii (Cute) look, the Decora scene loves anything Kawaii and decoras will hide themselves under several layers of 'cuteness'.
Like a magnet to cute keychains and toys.
Keeping it eccentric, Decoras
Never too old to be Kawaii?
Teens and young adult decoras dress almost like preschoolers. What do you think about that?
- Lolita -
The Living Dolls
With Manga and Anime firmly rooted in Japan's culture, there's no surprise about the never-ending fascination with the kimono-hybrid get-up, sailor uniforms and Victorian frocks, which are amongst the endless elements that 'Lolita' entails.
Gothic Lolita on a casual day
Although the Lolita community is made up of various sub-cultures, they have one thing in common - the obsession with the Victorian Era. With manga fuelling its popularity, the Lolita culture continues to thrive amongst the youth in Japan. One of the more prominent crowds would be the Gothic Lolitas. These dark mistresses of gloom are usually seen adorning elegant gowns while strolling down the town with matching parasols. They make gentle and soft movements in order to achieve the look of a living porcelain doll.
A page out of 'Gothic Lolita Bible' Magazine
Dolfies are usually found cradled in a Lolita's arms or sitting on her shoulders, completing the creepy look.
Lolita garments never shy on lace and frills, if anything, most gowns resemble a deliciously decorated wedding cake. Speaking of cakes, Sweet Lolitas look so sugary-sweet they could give you a toothache! Be it puppies, strawberries, cherries or bunnies, you'll find these icons of sweetness printed all over their dresses and bags.
Take the front row at Japan's coolest Lolita fashion runway!
Baby, The Stars Shine Bright Runway show
Classic Lolita or EGL (Elegant Gothic Lolita) is the more mature cousin of Gothic Lolita. It involves dressing up like a Victorian Era aristocrat. A Classic Lolita's wardrobe boasts leather boots, shirt ruffles, corsets, top hats and anything that's worth Victorian nobility.
Elegant Gothic Lolitas (EGL) at Jingu Bridge
Creepers, the preferred Lolita shoes
Guro Lolitas play on blood and gore
Curious to see what's hanging on the racks at a Gothic Lolita boutique?
Gothic Lolita Coordination test
The Harajuku street culture is constantly redefining itself with fresh styles and cutting-edge trends -many of which have already caught on like wild fire after being internationally commercialized. Simply put, we can be sure that this unique culture will only continue to flourish and that the Harajuku neighborhood will remain a sanctuary and experimental playground for Japan's youths to freely express their individualism and creativity.
Harajuku Fashion Walk
Japan's youths tell us what Harajuku means to them.
- 6% DOKIDOKI
A shop with Harajuku culture!
If you haven't already done so, don't miss out on a visit to Harajuku for a mind-blowing and refreshing experience!
Kings of Harajuku
Vote for the coolest, most unique street style that rule the streets of Harajuku.