Harajuku: The Centre Of Japanese Street Fashion

Take a glimpse into the strange yet beautiful world of Japanese street fashion!

Japan has an extremely rich culture that lends itself to extremely unique traditions, food, and architecture – but, did you know that they have a vibrant fashion scene too? Read on to find out everything you need to know about Tokyo street fashion, from its humble beginnings to its groundbreaking trends.

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What Is Japanese Street Fashion?

Japanese street fashion is a cultural revolution against the country’s lack of avenues for self-expression. With a dress code for everything, the youth of Japan dare to be different, giving birth to some pretty eccentric outfits.

Two girls cosplaying
(Credit: Getty)

Harajuku District

The birthplace of the clothing revolution in Japan, Harajuku is now a certified fashion juggernaut on the world stage. Leading brands like Nubian, Fethers Goffa.x and Kubo Mitsuhiro’s GR8 have taken the lead in the fashion industry, forming the fashion capital of Japan. It’s the one-stop-shop in Tokyo for all fashionistas to show off their unique style.

Takeshita Street

Located just across Harajuku Station, Takeshita street is home to a collage of smaller affordable clothing stores mixed with brand stores like WC and Etude House. WC offers ruffled, pastel-coloured clothes while Etude House caters to those looking for Korean style make-up and accessories. When you’re not shopping, there are trendy crepe shops and cotton candy vendors to aid you on your hunt for your perfect outfit.

The Most Popular Trends

From fashion week to streetwear these trendy styles set the bar across the Japanese fashion scene. Here are ten subculture styles that dress to express.

Lolita Style

Drawing inspiration from Victorian, Rococo and Romantic periods, Lolita style is about looking kawaii as possible. They go for bright pastel colours to express feelings of modesty and innocence. This style is a stark contrast to the Goths who pick darker colours, harsh reds to express grief and unhappiness.

Goth Lolita

Goth is all about mystery and obscurity. They use parasols and wear their bangs over their eyes, making you wonder what lies beneath their dark exterior. This style is for those who enjoy emotional themes and want to express an air of melancholy.

Guro Lolita

Guro style is about the dynamic of looking cute yet damaged. What’s beautiful about Guro style is how they tackle Japan’s repressed thoughts of death, suffering, and pain. Unafraid, they express their pain through blood splatters on their clothes, bandages, and turn the purity found in Lolita style on its head.

Sweet Lolita

Sweet Lolita style is the very essence of Japan’s love for kawaii. Sweet Lolita fuses together Alice from Alice in Wonderland’s naivety with Hello Kitty’s innocence. Pulling off this look is all about the frills, ribbons, and how well you can channel your inner child. When it comes to Sweet Lolita, cuter is better!

Visual Kei

Androgynous and covered in leather, this style resembles the glam scene popular in the ’80s with the bands like Kiss, Queen, and Mötley Crüe.


Gyaru style is about breaking the rigid uniform applied to highschool girls all across Japan. The style features adjusted their school uniforms, short skirts, heavily styled hair, and nail extensions. Out-of-school gyaru girls flock to the most expensive trends to flaunt their wealth and style.  


People into this look go for a deep tan and put on white make-up. This style is an extreme version of Gyaru, further challenging the beauty standard with the reverse of typical Japanese women’s allure.


Decora style takes accessorising to a whole new level as they rock the entire rainbow when they get dressed. Expressing their inner child, they often blend patterns that contrast one another and it’s common to see them wear mismatched socks.


The most popular of the Harajuku styles, cosplaying is the act of portraying your favourite character in real life. Cosplayers around the world don’t just look the part, but act the part too! They go as far as copying how their characters walk or talk, spending months perfecting their cosplay to make them as detailed as can be.

Kodona Style

For all the guys and gals looking to rock a boyish appearance, Kodona style is for you! Donning puffy shorts paired with a classic vest, they top it off with stylised hair. This style is about capturing that boyish charm, and when done right, it can lead to princely results!

Worldwide Influence

Japanese fashion has influenced artists like Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry and Gwen Stefani to use it in their music and art. Taking it a step further, Gwen Stefani hired the Harajuku Girls as her background dancers, to join her on tour and in her music videos.

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