For many the concept of Harajuku fashion style came upon the shores of the West by way of Gwen Stefani. Stefani brought us music mentioning "Harajuku Girls" and suddenly young girls everywhere were hitching on the bandwagon but not quite sure what Harajuku meant. Whenever I see Stefani posing with an entourage of cute Asian women that are apparently not allowed to speak, unless they are saying, "My name is 'Love'. My name is 'Angel'. My name is 'Music'. My name is 'Baby'". (Gwen Stefani's album and clothing label L.A.M.B stands for Love. Angel. Music. Baby.) I actually don't intend to come down hard on Stefani. She's a talented woman. But every time I hear her mention Harajuku fashion I think to myself.."well, where is it?"
So, what is Harajuku? It's the reference for the area around the Harajuku station of Tokyo, Japan. Every Sunday, young people dress in a variety of styles and socialize with each other. It is a fashion capital known for it's street fashion. It is also a shopping district.
I first learned of Harajuku fashion in 2001. I was working at a book store at the time and stumbled upon a book of photography called FRUiTs by photographer Shoichi Aoki.
The book is a collection of young Japanese men and women who dress in unique fashions. Many of the fashions are handmade DIY. The book is based off of Aoki's FRUiTs Fashion Magazine created in 1994. Ever since the magazine has had an on going cult status.
I was delighted when four years later Aoki released a sequel entitled Fresh FRUiTs.
In 2007 by Masayuki Yoshinaga and Katsuhiko Ishikawa released Gothic & Lolita.
Notice the book title is Gothic AND Lolita. The cover offers two young women in lolita style outfits.
So, yes, goth styles are represented as well.
What I've come to learn is that Harajuku Fashion or Japanese Street Fashion has come to be an umbrella for various styles that have their own categories.
The below information is via Harajuku Syle.net. I should note that all of this information is based off of a website and I imagine not the views of every individual who sports these looks. My personal knowledge is limited.
Visual Kei refers to a movement among Japanese rock (jrock) musicians and is characterized by the use of elaborate costumes, eccentric, looks and hairstyles. The Visual Kei look usually involves striking make-up
Kawaii has become a major aspect of Japanese culture, entertainment, food, clothing, toys, personal appearance and behavior. Kawaii fashion generally relates to someone wearing clothing that appears to be made for young children or clothes that accentuates the cuteness of the individual wearing the clothing. Ruffles and pastel or bright colors may be worn, and accessories often include oversize toys or bags featuring anime characters
Decora also known as "Decoration" is a japanese style adopted mainly by young japanese girls. Decora consists of bright colors and hair clips with bows. Lots of layering and colorful accessories are used in Decora. The accessories include plastic and furry toys and jewelry, which stick together and make noise as the wearer moves
Ganguro fashion appeared somewhere around the early 90s in Japan and peaked around the year 2000. Ganguro fashion is and was primarily adopted by young woman in their 20s. The style consists of a deep tan combined with dyed hair that can be either bleached gray, silver or various shades of orange. Ganguro girls also wear white lipstick and eye shadow. White concealer is often used for both. Black ink is often used as an eyeliner along with false eyelashes and facial gems (plastic) and pearl powder. Clothing wise Ganguro girls wear brightly coloured clothes including miniskirts, tie-dyed sarongs, lots or rings, necklaces and bracelets.
Ganguro is believed to have started as a kind of revenge against the traditional norm in Japanese society as to what feminine beauty should be. Many Japanese researchers believe that the rebellion against japanese society is due to resentment of neglect.
Probably the most famous Ganguro girl was known as Buriteri - named after a black soy sauce. Eggmagazine made her famous after constantly showing her picture at the height of the Ganguro craze. Ganguro culture even evolved its own style of dances, know as Para Para. Dancers to para para dance to predetermined moves in sync to J-pop music. Ganguro girls would either go to clubs or gather together to learn new dances.
Kogal girls are know for prominently "showing off" their disposable income through the fashions they wear, their taste in music and their social activity in general.Kogal fashion is similar to that of the sun tanned California Valley Girl.
Kogal fashion is also similar to Ganguro although the two should not be confused. Kogal girls sport designer accessories such as louis vuitton handbags and are often the first consumers of japanese mobile phones. Kogal girls may partake in "compensated dating", which some consider to be quasi-legal prostitution. Internet usage of the word has led some Westerners to believe that "kogal" means "prostitute".
CosplayCosplay is an abbreviation of Costume Play. It is a Japanese subculture based on dressing like characters from manga, anime,and video games. The term cosplay pronounced "kosupure" in Japanese.
In Japan, "cosplay" as a hobby is usually an end unto itself. Cosplay can be seen at public events and shows as well as at dedicated cosplay parties.
In places such as in the Harajuku district of Tokyo it is not unusual for Japanese teenagers to gather with friends in places like to engage in cosplay.
Tokyo's Akihabara district contains a large number of cosplay cafes, catering to devoted anime and cosplay fans. The waitresses at such places usually dress as a maid (or meido).
Probably the largest cosplaying event in Japan is in the semiannual doujinshi market, Comiket. This event, held in summer and winter and attracts thousands of manga otaku cosplayers.
There are pluses and minuses to bringing a concept into the mainstream and keeping it away from mainstream. As far as I can see, these styles remain in Japan and haven't graced the L.A. streets of Sunset and Vine.
So, yes, Ms. Stefani you have not truly introduced Harajuku fashion to the masses.
For information about FRUiTS Magazine visit the official website here.
To purchase FRUiTS click here.
To purchase Fresh FRUiTs by Aoki Shoichi click here.
To purchase Gothic & Lolita by Masayuki Yoshinaga and Katsuhiko Ishikawa click here.
To visit Harajuku Style.net click here.
To visit Tokyo Fashion. com click here.