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What Is Japanese Fashion?
Japanese fashion is host to dozens of distinct subcultures ranging from wildly experimental to relatively tame. On the one hand, you have the avant-garde stuff; think Harajuku, Lolita, or anime-inspired fashion. On the other hand, you have classic, timeless, and minimalist looks; this is where the casual yet sophisticated catalogues of Muji and Uniqlo come in.
No other country can boast of the sheer diversity of fashion trends quite like Japan. From the preppy styles inspired by American students to the girly-glam style of Gyaru, there is a Japanese-based aesthetic that fits every style. Their rich fashion culture has also produced some of the most successful designers in the fashion world like Yohji Yamamoto (Y3), Rei Kuwakubo (Commes de Garçons), and Kenzo Takada.
So if you’re curious about Japanese fashion, we’ve compiled a list of five of the best Japanese street fashion trends that will broaden your fashion horizons.
The 5 Best Current Japanese Fashion Trends
Layers, Layers, Layers
The secret to ever-changing weather and an excuse to mix and match
Japanese weather is crazy! They have scorching hot summers, snowy winters, and a lot of rain. But the Japanese seem to have found a way to look fashionable while getting through the tough weather. The secret? Layers! And a lot of it. Oversized coats are a staple in Japan’s winter fashion but are often worn all year round.
If you think you’ve mastered the art of layers, Japanese style clothing has taken it to a whole new level. This piece plays with the core concept of layers and clashing fabrics. The loose black faux fur jacket compliments the silver jacket inside. The red handbag also works very well with the colourful high waist skirt.
The Colour Clash
Clashing is a sin, but clashing well is an art
Some people say that clashing fabrics or patterns are some of the biggest no-nos you can commit when it comes to fashion. The Japanese would beg to differ. In fact, clashing fabrics is one of the biggest trends in Tokyo streetwear right now! It all revolves around the holy trinity of clash – print, colour, and texture.
Colourful is an understatement. The round floral pattern on the gypsy skirt works really well with the cornered patterns of her button up top! Looking to the other girl, the purple silk pants and the abstract button up top gives us hip retro vibes.
Kogal (School Girl)
Uniforms aren’t just for school
Kogal, or school girl fashion is very prominent in Japan. It involves grown women wearing an outfit based on the Japanese school uniform. Miniskirts, Burberry scarves, and loose socks are all staples in this Japanese clothing style and are sometimes paired with platform boots and dyed hair for added edge.
This variation of the Kogal trend shows that a bit of an emphasis on retro patterns can really bring a sense of class and nostalgia to an outfit. And notice that both the madras miniskirt or the madras top are complemented by their colourful handbags.
Rebellion at its cutest
While it was originally created as a form of rebellion, the concept of Kawaii – meaning cute in Japanese – evolved from cutesy handwriting to a global fashion sensation. The Cult of Cute has captured the hearts of millions and has evolved to incorporate the influence of subcultures like Lolita.
The Victorian-era coat on the left pairs wonderfully with the bright colourful accents at the fringes of the outfit. It’s both cute and elegant at the same time. But what really ties the whole look together are those retro glossy shoes.
Minimalist And Basic Fast Fashion
Who says fast can’t be fashionable?
Not all Japanese outfits are as colourful and wild as the examples above. In fact, the world is becoming obsessed with the basic and minimalist wear that was brought about by Japanese mega fashion brands like Uniqlo and Muji. Men's wear, women’s wear, kid’s wear these brands do it all.
Some people say that these companies are slowly killing the country’s sense of street fashion, while some people say that it’s just making Japan’s fashion identity an even stronger world presence.
Believe it or not, a lot of the pieces of this outfit come from fast fashion brands like Uniqlo, Goocy, and Titty&Co. The trenchcoat combined with the buttoned-up shirt and the midriff skirt creates a simple, no fuss outfit perfect for that business casual look.
Japanese Fashion Outside Of Japan
Japanese fashion is no longer limited to just the Japanese. Big labels like Uniqlo, Onitsuka Tiger, and Commes des Garçons have opened the door of Japanese fashion to the modern world and everyone is eating it up!
Fashion designer Issey Miyake’s stand-alone brand Pleats Please became a fashion sensation after his 1994 spring/summer show. The brand is heavily influenced by the Japanese aesthetic and is a staple in the fashion of celebrities like Meryl Streep and Mary-Kate Olsen.
The Japanese are known for innovation in so many areas and fashion is definitely one of them. So if you’re bored with your wardrobe, consider drawing inspiration from the Japanese aesthetic.
Sometimes the best way to evolve your style is to take influence from different cultures around the world. And when it comes to fashion, there’s no country better to learn from than from the Japanese; who dress to express not impress!