As I have discussed before, one of the big reasons I got interested in Japan is the fashion there, specifically the street fashion. I discussed street fashion in my literature review, which can be viewed here, but I did not get to talk about the different fashions very much. Here, I will discuss what makes each fashion unique and include some example photos.
Visual Kei is a fashion known for very elaborate hair and usually gothic or punk style outfits, and sometimes an androgynous look. As seen in the photos, the style can be more toned down, or full-out costumes. The fashion has been popular since the 1980s and is also a style of music. This music can be seen as a unique subgenre because it is not just the sound of the music, but also the look of the band that makes it Visual Kei. An example of the music can be listened to here. This style is known for its distinct looks, however, there are not very many rules to it.
Gyaru is an interesting fashion that is known for its over-the-top makeup, heavily bleached hair, and tanned skin. Many aspects of it are a direct rebellion against traditional Japanese beauty standards. Tan skin, blond hair, and sexy clothes are a part of the fashion, the exact opposite of what was traditionally thought of as beautiful in Japan. The fashion focuses on “man-made” beauty, like fake eyelashes and wigs, and challenges what is “pretty”. The fashion was the most popular in the 2000s but has since died out. A more extreme version of the fashion is called Manba.
A style that is rising in popularity, Mori Kei, or “Forest Girl”, is characterized by long, flowing, and loose-fitting clothes, lots of layers, natural fabrics and colors, and very little to no makeup. This style is becoming popular because women in Japan love the natural look of it as well as the fact that it focuses on looking (and feeling!) soft and comfortable.
Fairy Kei is style that gets its inspiration from 80s girls’ cartoons and often features motifs of characters from shows like 80s My Little Pony, Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, and 80s Barbie. It is a lot of fluff, sparkle, and general cuteness! The major brand for the fashion, and basically the creator of this style, is a shop called Spank! Here is an interview with the creator of the shop. It has some pictures of the inside of the shop and is worth a look.
Decora is a super fun style that focuses on bright colors and putting on as many accessories as you can! I don’t think I would ever wear it, but I love the look of it!! The pictures are pretty self-explanatory as to what the fashion is like. Bright colors of any shade and any theme. As you can see, some go for a pink look and some go for a primary color look. It is not just for girls, but anyone! One can be as simple or as over-the-top as they want with this fashion. It is just about having fun. View more pictures here!
Lastly, here is my favorite style of Japanese street fashion and the one that I actually own clothes for. Lolita fashion, which has absolutely nothing to do with the book of the same name, is all about Victorian era dresses and their aesthetics. Like those dresses, these ones also focus on modesty, high-quality fabric and craftsmanship, (which is what makes this fashion expensive) and ruffles! There are many rules to the fashion, included how to be modest for it, such as always covering knees and shoulders.There are three major substyles of Lolita as well as
There are three major substyles of Lolita as well as many more smaller styles.
The first substyle is Sweet Lolita. This is the style that I personally wear and like the best. As you can see in the pictures, it focuses on pinks, blues, purples, yellows, and other pastels, but can have other colors as long as it is “sweet” looking. Prints on these dresses are often sweets, cakes, fruits, unicorns, cats, and any other things that are cute!
Here is a video that shows what the inside of the shop of one of the major brands of Lolita fashion looks like as well as how to coordinate an outfit! Give it a watch, it’s cute!
Gothic Lolita is pretty much the opposite of sweet. Colors for it are mostly black and it can also have white, red, blue, or other dark color accents. Print themes can be Halloween-ish, religious, or just a simple pattern.
Classic Lolita goes for crèmes, browns, and dark reds, blues, and greens. Usually, they just solid colors or they can have a floral print. This is a style that many Lolitas convert to as they get older and think that other styles are too childish.
Other minor styles of Lolita:
There are many other sub-styles of Lolita. Pictured here I have Country Lolita, which is the girl in the straw hat. A fairly self-explanatory style. The one with shorts is called Kodona or Ouji, which is known as “boy-style” Lolita. The blue and white one is Sailor Lolita, and the girl in the fancy pink dress is wearing Hime Lolita, or Princess Lolita.
I hope you learned something new from this post and I encourage you to go check out more pictures of these awesome unique styles! If you ever want to talk about these styles more with me or have any questions, just shoot me a message. I could talk about Japanese Street Fashion for hours!