The Style Olympics: Japan
I was absolutely not prepared for Japan’s crazy fashion contrasts. One one hand, Japanese style is traditional and refined: women in elegant yukata –colorful, light cotton robes still worn during the summer and for special occasions — salarymen in somber suits and students in tailored school uniforms. And on the other hand, Japan street style has spawned a full-on youth rebellion of color and cuteness that goes into costume territory and proudly beyond.
Japan’s street fashion scene is wildly inventive, fiercely loyal and divided into tribes with specific shopping regions and looks. Cosplay (short for costume play) is a high art outside Harajuku station and Lolitas in their cupcake skirts and parasols shop in the sprawl of stores and stalls down adjacent Takeshita-dori, Japan’s most famous shopping street and the epicenter of Japanese street style.
The Gyaru girls, with their dyed hair, false eyelashes and giant eyes (courtesy of circle contact lenses) look like walking anime characters, so over-the-top adorable they don’t even look real.
Cuteness rules in Japan, even for guys. Colorful cartoons are everywhere — on keychains, eyeglasses, T-shirts and umbrellas. Even the weather icons on the Japanese news broadcasts are sweet smiling suns and frowny rainclouds. It made me smile to see business men in suits with cute little monster charms dangling from their cell phones
Sites I Love: Tokyo Fashion: Tips, maps and photos from all the cool places to shop in Tokyo Japanese Streets: This site is a love letter to Japanese street style. I can get lost here for hours and hours.
A Little Light Reading: FRUiTS Magazine: A great magazine that showcases Japanese street style Egg: This magazine is the Gyaru style bible, but it’s not available online, so here are some videos to give you an idea of what it’s all about.
Some Great Shops: Shibuya 109: Super trendy looks for guys and girls. The flagship store is huge and fascinating. Uniqlo: The middle ground of Japanese fashion – sleek, affordable basics Hysteric Glamour: Quirky, casual and more street than cute A Bathing Ape: Cool, urban T-shirts, polos and sneakers
Get the Look: Pick an extreme and embrace it! Go for a lush, yukata-inspired fabric, or give in to your fashion sweet tooth with bright colors, a crazy T-shirt or adorable charms.
So what do you think of Japanese street style? What elements can you incorporate into your own look? Comment below and tell me your thoughts!
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