When it comes to fashion, no one does street-style like Japan. Once known for traditional and demure garb, Japanese fashion – commonly known as J fashion – has taken a turn for the bold, brazen and unusual. Let’s take a look at some of the J fashion street styles that are leading the charge for international inspiration.
J Fashion Street Trends
We couldn’t start a list about J fashion without beginning with Lolita. Heavily influenced by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Lolita fashion is characterized by Victorian inspired attire – frilly petticoat and crinoline-lined skirts, high-neck blouses and jackets, tights and large bows are all fair game – and the cuter and more doll-like, the better.
But it doesn’t stop there. Lolita fashionistas have spawned Lolita subcultures that include gothic and punk which put a dark twist on the ultra feminine ensembles of Sweet Lolita, the most childlike of the Lolita subcultures, features Hello Kitty and other popular children’s characters.
Fun fact: In 2009, in an effort to popularize Japanese fashion, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs gave three models the title of Kawaa Taishi, which translates to “ambassador of cuteness.” The Lolita style ambassador Misako Aoki, went on to establish the Japan Association for Lolita Fashion in 2013.
Source: Georges Seguin (Okki) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4349810
Popular among musicians, visual kei is a style inspired by the glam and punk rockers of the 1980s and 90s. Wild haircuts and makeup and androgynous fashion (think anything from Motley Crue to Marilyn Manson) make Visual Kei fashion stand out.
Inspired by the models in the popular magazine FRUiTS and the Harajuku pop artist Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, those who dress in Decora style adorn themselves with anything brightly colored and “cute.” Decora devotees can be seen donning barrettes, toys, plastic jewelry, stickers, plush purses and all things pink. We dare you not to smile when you check out Instagrammer and decoraboy Junnyan69’s rainbow bright feed.
If you looked up the word “whimsical” in the dictionary, you’d probably see a pic of someone dressed in the J Fashion trend, Fairy Kai. Emphasis on cute (are you seeing a trend?), Fairy Kei is inspired by 1980s characters like Polly Pocket, Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake. Like the Lolita style, Fairy Kei has crossed the ocean, and has become popular in American cosplay.
If the Decora and Fairy Kei styles are one one end of the spectrum, Mori Girls are on the other end. Translated into English as “forest girl,” mori girls dress to look like ethereal woodland wanderers, donning themselves in loose fitting layers and earthy colors. Think Free People, but in Japan. Mori girls keep their hair simple, often with bangs and braids and are drawn to natural fabrics like cotton and linen in solid patterns, plaids and florals.
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If the 2002 version of Paris Hilton and the cast of the Jersey Shore had a baby, it would be Gyaru style. Peaking in the 2000s, Gyaru style is heavily influenced by western fashion and features a deep tan, bleached hair, fake eyelashes, and LOTS of jewelry. Japanese Instagrammer @Keicham00 pulls off this J fashion trend so well, we’re actually nostalgic for the days of GTL.
Kogal ladies aren’t your average school girl. Kogal style ups the fashion ante by accessorizing traditional school girl uniforms with platform boots, scarves and oversized socks and legwarmers.
The Shiro-Nuri subculture gained widespread popularity thanks to Japanese artist and model Minori (follow her on Instagram @minori00mon). Translated as “painted in white,” the style features white painted skin and clothes that emulate the Lolita style. Instagrammer and makeup artist @minsooky is a master of the Shiro-Nuri style. Check out her eye catching photographs and up-close videos of this enchanting look.
Japanese fashion embodies everything we love about cosplay culture. It’s more than simply dressing up in a crazy outfit or costume, it’s a form of self expression that not only creates incredible pieces of living art, but builds communities and connections.
What is your favorite Japanese fashion trend? We’d love to hear what you think. Let us know in the comments and include your social media handle so we can keep in touch!