Hopefully your interest for visiting the Takeshita-dori is now piqued so it’s time to learn a little more about the wild and whimsical fashions of Harajuku.
When Monique and I visited I didn’t really know the trademark styles, so I couldn’t differentiate between them unless they were screamingly obvious. In retrospect, it would have been great to know what they were so I could appreciate the experience more.
When you visit the Takeshita-dori keep an eye out for these dazzling styles!
‘Kei’ is Japanese for ‘style’ and Visual Kei refers specially to the visual style of (Western) glam-rock and glam-metal musicians, reinterpreted by Japanese youth.
This was one of the first styles to emerge in Harajuku during the 80’s. The style is exemplified by bands such as D’erlanger, X-Japan or Buck Tick and is characterised by striking makeup, choppy blocked-dyed hair, elaborate clothing, and accessories (think belts, buckles, chains, and rings) and an emphasis on androgyny.
I struggled to find any ‘street’ pictures of this style so I suspect that it’s considered somewhat passe and is the fare of pre-teens looking to idolise brooding rock stars. If you listen to any or all of the bands listed above, I think you’ll find my theory confirmed. xD
One of it’s sub-genres is Nagoya-Kei which is heavily influenced by a Gothic aesthetic.
Both styles emphasise showing off your creativity and wearing clothing that enhances your cuteness. Both are characterised by ruffles, pastels, bright colours, and cute accessories. Decora puts particular focus on decoration and is very bright and over-accessorized.
Ganguro and Kogal first appeared during the early 90’s and are relatively new to Harajuku.
The Ganguro and Kogal styles are particularly unique. This is because the style’s trademark is dark (tanned) skin coupled with silver, grey or blonde hair. This is unusual because Japanese beauty is normally synonymous with pale skin.
Ganguro girls wear clothes that are brightly coloured or tie-dyed and there is an emphasis on mini skirts and over-accessorising. Kogal girls prefer to wear school-girl uniforms and don’t accessorise as heavily.
Gyaru Girls are known for being ‘trendy, cool, and for living glamorous lives’ (lol) and are the Japanese equivalent of the American ‘Valley Girl.’
Gyaru focuses on ‘standing out from the crowd’ by perfecting and maintaining ones appearance. One distinct feature of Gyaru culture is a phenomenon called ‘Gal Circles’ where Gyaru Girls meet up to promote and celebrate their lifestyle.
Loli-Girls are, in many ways, the exact opposite of Gyaru Girls. Lolita-kei imitates the fashions of the (Western) Victorian and Baroque eras, specifically focusing on children’s fashion. The style places emphasis on appearing sexy without showing skin and being cute and elegant
There are lots of ‘Loli’ sub-genres such as GothLoli, SweetLoli, QiLoli and CountryLoli.
A fairly familiar genre, Cosplay involves a Costume Player (in Japan called Kosupure) who dresses to imitate a favourite character from manga, anime or a video game.
Of course these are only a few of the many, many fashions you can find in Harajuku and are also quite stereotypical styles. I don’t think that you would find many of these styles exactly as represented here in Harajuku with the possible exception of GothLoli.
My research lead me to conclude that modern Harajuku fashion is about the styles in-between these and other ‘stereotypical’ styles. Here are some great examples from Tokyo Fashion:
To catch more up-to-date styles, check out magazines like FRUiTS, KERA or CURE. Also, a tag search on Tumblr will bring up some great results. Or follow the link to Tokyo Fashion that I listed above. They’re all great sources!
Take an hour or two out of your day to really research these fashions – I’m sure you’ll enjoy Harajuku a lot more if you do. Oh and make sure that you visit on a Sunday. That’s when all the fashionistas are out in force at Harajuku.
Next post: Ueno Zoo.
Until next time,
Kally & Mon.
[Image Credit (1): AnimeXX]
[Image Credit (2): I Dream of Japan]
[Image Credit (3): The Pastel Galaxxxy]
[Image Credit (4): Something Awful]
[Image Credit (5): Crunchyroll]
[Image Credit (6): Tokyo Fashion]
[Image Credit (7): The Guardian]
[Image Credit (8): Manga Castle]
What’s your favourite Harajuku fashion style?