The Style Olympics: Japan

Yukata Convention
Photo by yamuhaton via Flickr

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.

Girls Out!!
Photo by sprengben via Flickr

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.


Punk and metal are big influences in the Harajuku district too, but the clothes don’t read as gritty or intense as they do in other cities. The Japanese have a light, almost ironic take on punk.

Young Japanese couple, Kyoto
Photo by mithrandir3 via Flickr

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.

pacute
Photo by Yapo Nightroad via Flickr

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

COMME des GARCONS Key Ring
Photo by Yohei Yamashita via Flickr

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.

Harajuku Fashion Mosaic
Photo by Tanya Dawn via Flickr

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.

Street Fashion 433
Photo by Mehmet Aktugan via Flickr

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

Rosy Alcie
Photo by shieldkitten via Flickr

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? Comment below and tell me your thoughts!

excite_snap_20080107_2
Photo by excite_snap via Flickr

Fashion Singer 2
Photo by Gideon Davidson via Flickr

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