Harajuku street fashion is a mix of many different Japanese styles. These include sweet lolita, goth-lolita, gyaru, decora, and more.
This style does not follow any guidelines and allows its wearers to be creative. The result is a refreshing style that has influenced other fashion trends. Shoichi Aoki started FRUiTS magazine to capture these youth-led styles in 1997.
Visual kei (VK) is a unique Japanese music subculture that blends rock, metal, punk and gothic styles. It first emerged in the 1980s, with bands such as X Japan and Seikima-II setting the style’s tone with their flamboyant stage performances and matching leather outfits.
In the 1990s, the genre hit its heyday, with bands such as LUNA SEA and Kuroyume achieving chart success. Other groups pushed for a harder or more experimental sound, such as Fumie Kikuchi’s psychedelic band Kuunatic.
The most distinguishing feature of VK is its dark, gothic and historical aesthetics, which are often reflected in spiky, dyed hairstyles that mimic those of characters from manga or anime shows. Other staples include ripped and studded clothes, dramatic makeup and piercings. Decorative accessories such as skulls, stripes and plaid are also common. These elements come together to form a distinctive look that’s often compared to Western rock music.
Decora is a style that emerged from Harajuku in the 1990s. Its followers like to layer their outfits with a variety of colorful accessories. They often wear tutu-like skirts and hoodies. They also have a lot of hair clips and wigs. The style has many subgroups, such as Sweet Lolita and Gothic Lolita. It is inspired by the popular cuteness culture in Japan.
Its emergence was organic, with groups enjoying mixing and matching items. Designer Sebastian Masuda helped the scene by introducing clothes and accessories inspired by vintage American toys, Showa era packaging, and American West club dance culture (Mohajer 1). He opened the store 6%DOKIDOKI in 1995. It became a cornerstone of unrelentingly cute kawaii fashion and culture. It is also the source of the outfits worn by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in her hit song PONPONPON.
The style gained popularity among teenagers because it allows them to express their individuality. Its popularity is reflected in the fact that it has made its way to the international press through street-fashion magazines such as Shoichi Aoki’s FRUiTS magazine.
The streets of Harajuku are a treasure trove for niche fashion, with the area centered on Takeshita Street a hotbed for trendsetters. From goth Lolita to the wild visual-kei goth look, this scene offers something for everyone. The area has also been a launchpad for fashion designers. Many of these creatives have small shops on the street, where they sell their limited collections to the public.
There have been suggestions that the Harajuku style scene is dead, but this is not true. It is simply evolving in a different way. Instead of taking photos on the streets, most young people are now embracing social media to showcase their styles.
There are still plenty of trendsetters to be found on the streets, but they are less apt to be approached by photographers. This is because the young people are now interacting with each other through social media. The style has also shifted to a more mature, sophisticated aesthetic.
After 20 years and 233 issues, FRUiTS shuttered because, as Shoichi Aoki put it, “there were no more cool kids to photograph.” But British Christopher Tordoff breathed new life into the magazine’s photo archive with the Instagram account @fruitsmagazine_archive.
Harajuku still thrives today, though the style is more subdued than it was when FRUiTS began. Some blame the cheap global chains like WEGO and H+M, as well as fast fashion, for killing creativity.
Other factors include a shift in priorities. Many young people now prioritize smart phones over creative clothing, but there’s no doubt that the spirit of Harajuku lives on.
If you’re interested in trying out harajuku styles, try shopping for secondhand items at websites like Lace Market. Lace Market is the eBay equivalent for Japan and you can find a variety of vintage kawaii and lolita clothes here. You can also check out sites like Depop and Facebook sales groups for J-fashion pieces.