It sometimes seems as if Japanese fashion comes from another planet and they’re lightyears ahead of everyone else. The Japanese have their own unique sense of style, to say the least. Pioneers such as Issey Miyaki, Yohji Yamamato, Kenzo Takada, and Junya Watanabe are just a few of the names that have kept Japanese fashion on the international map. If that’s not enough, the theme of the 2017 Met Gala was in honor of Comme des Garçon’s Rei Kawakubo. The exhibition celebrated her avant-garde vision and how she challenges conventional notions of beauty, taste and fashion. The designer’s talent for challenging convention seems to be an innate characteristic of the Japanese and their approach to personal style.
When you think of Japanese fashion, you probably won’t conjure just one particular image. Japanese fashion is incredibly diverse, thanks in large part to the country’s rich culture and history. Japan is a hotbed for trends due to the many existing subcultures and the ease in which the Japanese adapt to varying aesthetics. When it comes to streetwear fashion, both on the streets of Japan and all over the world, we can thank Japanese brands like A Bathing Ape (Bape), Undercover, Neighborhood, and Visvim for leading the way for the likes of Supreme.
Tokyo in particular has been vastly associated with bold, expressive, outlandish and flamboyant fashion, the most popular arguably being the Harajuku fashion. However, aside from Harajuku, Ginza and Shibuya are also districts where style subcultures thrive and are unmatched anywhere else in the world. Within Japanese fashion and numerous style aesthetics that can be classified by a certain kei or substyle. However, many of these substyles can overlap or change from one season to another, making it difficult to strictly label an individual as belonging to one particular kei. Some of the most popular kei’s that you can identify include:
Minimalist, clean and conservative dressing
Style that’s inspired by music, particularly rock n roll, with looks that include punk hairstyles, leather jackets and metallic outfits
Think hypebeast but with the Japanese flair and up to date with the latest trends
Described as “forest style”, favoring loose layers and cozy knitwear
Drawing inspiration from Victorian and Edwardian European fashion but with a gothic edge
Characterized by light feminine colors, ruffles, frills and girlie attire
Trendy women with girly glam style
These are just a few of the fashion subcultures that show how expressive, unique and inventive the Japanese are when it comes to fashion. It’s no wonder that the current generation of both established and emerging Japanese designers are continuing to pave fashion runways with their distinct perspectives, unconventional aesthetics and innovative design approaches.