Japanese Fashion Trends
View the Most Popular Japanese Fashion Styles
Japanese fashion styles have long been admired and emulated worldwide for their distinctive and cutting-edge trends. From the vibrant and eclectic street Japanese fashion trends of Harajuku to the elegant and minimalist designs of high-end Japanese designers, the country’s fashion scene is known for pushing boundaries and embracing individuality.
With a rich history deeply rooted in traditional garments such as kimonos and yukatas, Japanese fashion styles seamlessly blends the old and the new, resulting in a unique fusion of cultural heritage and contemporary aesthetics. Whether it’s the avant-garde and experimental looks seen on the runways or the effortlessly cool outfits sported by young trendsetters, Japanese fashion trends continues to captivate and inspire fashion enthusiasts across the globe.
Top 12 Japanese Fashion Trends
Japanese Lolita fashion is a subculture that originated in the 1970s and has since gained considerable popularity both within Japan and internationally. It is characterized by its doll-like and Victorian-inspired aesthetic, combining elements of modesty, elegance, and cuteness. Lolita fashion features separate styles, such as Gothic Lolita, Sweet Lolita, Classic Lolita, and Punk Lolita.
Gothic Lolita is characterized by its dark color palette with ruffles, lace, and elaborate accessories such as bows, crosses, and cameo necklaces are commonly seen in this style. Sweet Lolita, on the other hand, emphasizes pastel colors like baby pinks, lavender, and mint green. It often incorporates themes of cuteness, innocence, and youthfulness.
Classic Lolita refers to a more refined and mature style with a focus on vintage and historical elements. The color palette tends to be more subdued, including colors like cream, brown, and dusty rose. Punk Lolita is a rebellious and edgy interpretation of the Lolita fashion. It combines elements of traditional Lolita with punk-inspired aesthetics, such as tartan patterns, fishnet stockings, safety pins, and band tees.
Lolita fashion enthusiasts often gather at social events, tea parties, or themed meetings called “Lolita meet-ups” to showcase their outfits and socialize with other like-minded individuals. The fashion is not limited to women and girls; many men also participate in the subculture and adopt styles such as “Ouji” or “Boystyle” Lolita.
Japanese Chicano culture and fashion is a unique fusion of Mexican-American Chicano street culture influenced by Japanese fashion styles. It emerged in the late 20th century and gained popularity among Japanese youth, particularly in urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka.
In terms of fashion, Japanese Chicano style combines elements of traditional Chicano fashion with Japanese streetwear. It often includes oversize and baggy clothing, such as oversized t-shirts, baggy pants, and track jackets. Bandanas, often worn as headbands or around the neck, are a common accessory. The clothing is usually vibrant and colorful, with graffiti-inspired prints and bold patterns.
Japanese Gyaru fashion emerged in the 1990s and is associated with a subculture of young Japanese women known as “Gyaru.” The word “Gyaru” is derived from the English term “gal” and refers to a fashion-conscious and trendy girl. This fashion style is characterized by its bold, flamboyant, and attention-grabbing appearance.
The Japanese fashion trends of Gyaru is characterized by specific features that make it stand out. The first feature is the deep, dark tan, which is achieved through tanning beds, spray tans, or bronzing makeup products. The second feature is the long, voluminous, and heavily styled hair that is often dyed in bright colors or features colorful highlights. Makeup is also an essential aspect of Gyaru fashion, with thick, dark eyeliner, false lashes, colored contact lenses, vibrant eye shadow, and peachy or pink-toned blush being common features.
Clothing in Gyaru fashion encompasses various substyles like mainstream gyaru and Hime gyaru. However, short skirts or shorts, colorful and patterned clothing, platform shoes, and an emphasis on brand names are common across these styles. Accessories in Gyaru fashion are often excessive and flashy, with large and colorful jewelry being popular. Bow-shaped hairbands with lace or satin details are also a favorite accessory. Handbags are small and cute with brand logos prominently displayed.
Visual Kei is a unique and flamboyant music and fashion movement that was founded in Japan during the 1980s. It is characterized by a fusion of rock, punk, and metal music genres, combined with provocative and dramatic visual aesthetics.
Visual Kei bands focus just as much on their visual appearance as they do on their music, often sporting out of the world Japanese fashion styles, extensive makeup, colored hair, and eccentric stage costumes with corsets, frilly shirts, leather, chains, excessive accessories, and platform boots.
The term “Visual Kei” means “visual style” in English and represents the emphasis on the visual aspect of the genre. The movement’s origins can be traced back to bands like X Japan, Buck-Tick, and Luna Sea, who experimented with unique and theatrical presentation styles. Throughout the years, Visual Kei has seen numerous subgenres and variations emerge, each with its own distinct characteristics.
The Japanese fashion styles of Kawaii fashion refers to a popular street style in Japan that emphasizes cuteness, playfulness, and a youthful aesthetic. The term “kawaii” itself translates to “cute” or “adorable” in Japanese, and this fashion trend revolves around embracing all things cute and childlike. Kawaii fashion is not limited to clothing but also encompasses accessories, hairstyles, and even behavior.
In kawaii fashion, individuals often wear clothing pieces that feature bright colors and specific patterns such as polka dots, bows, hearts, or cartoon characters. Common garments include frilly dresses, skirts, oversized sweaters, colorful tights, and accessories, as they play play a significant role in completing the kawaii fashion style. Layering is often seen as well, with multiple pieces worn together to create a unique look. While footwear options can range from sneakers to platform shoes adorned with bows or prints.
Mori Kei Fashion
Mori, which means forest in Japanese, and the term Kei, which refers to style or trend, can be roughly translated as “Forest Style” or “Forest Trend,” which reflects its nature-inspired aesthetic. This Japanese fashion trends emerged in the early 2010s and gained popularity among young women in Japan. It is characterized by its organic, earthy, and natural elements.
Mori Kei aims to create a nostalgic, romantic, and whimsical look. It incorporates loose, flowy, and layering pieces, mostly in muted earthy tones like browns, greens, and oranges. Accessories often include headbands, woven belts, hats, scarves, and natural-inspired jewelry such as wooden beads or feathers. Mori Kei followers also emphasize natural makeup and hairstyles. The makeup tends to be minimal and focuses on achieving a fresh and youthful appearance.
Japanese cosplay is a popular subculture that involves individuals dressing up as fictional characters from various forms of media, such as anime, manga, video games, and movies. Cosplay, a combination of the words “costume” and “play,” is not just about wearing a costume, but also portraying the character through accurate clothing, makeup, and accessories.
Cosplayers strive to recreate every aspect of the character’s appearance, including their clothes, hairstyle, and even their mannerisms. Cosplay fashion in Japan is not limited to just events or conventions; it has become a part of everyday life for many. In areas like Akihabara in Tokyo, you can frequently see cosplayers roaming the streets, dressed up as their favorite characters.
Additionally, there are cosplay cafes and themed events where people can gather to showcase their costumes and meet like-minded individuals. The popularity of Japanese cosplay fashion has also given rise to a thriving industry that caters to cosplayers.
Wafuku fashion is viewed as traditional Japanese clothing, refers to the attire and style that has been worn in Japan for centuries. Wafuku encompasses a wide range of garments, including kimono, yukata, haori, and obi.
Kimonos, worn by men and women for special occasions, are full-length garments with T-shaped sleeves and a wrap-around design. They are traditionally made from silk and feature intricate patterns and designs. Yukata is a lighter and more casual version of the kimono, typically worn in the summer or at informal gatherings and parties.
Haori is a formal jacket-like garment worn over kimonos. Haori can add an extra layer of elegance and visual interest to the overall outfit. The obi is a wide belt or sash that is worn with kimonos to secure and cinch the garment at the waist. It is a significant component of Japanese Wafuku fashion, as the obi can be intricately tied to create various styles and patterns.
Japanese streetwear fashion came about during the 1990s. Japanese streetwear combines traditional Japanese styles with modernized elements from various subcultures such as punk, hip-hop, skateboarding, and anime.
Brands like A Bathing Ape (BAPE), Comme des Garçons, Supreme, Undercover, and Visvim have played significant roles in shaping the Japanese streetwear scene. What sets Japanese streetwear apart is the ability to blend high fashion with everyday apparel effortlessly. There is a focus on creating unique and unconventional outfit combinations, challenging societal norms, and embracing individuality.
The Japanese fashion trends of otome fashion, also known as ‘maiden fashion,’ is a popular style in Japan primarily belonging to young women. Otome fashion is inspired by various fictional romance games and aims to create an elegant and feminine look. It allows individuals to dress up as if they are of their own love story.
Japanese otome fashion is characterized by its sweet, innocent, and youthful aesthetic. The fashion incorporates soft shades, vintage elements, and details that create a dreamy ambiance. Dresses and skirts are the main staples in otome fashion.
Accessories like bows, ribbons, headbands, and hair accessories are popular choices. Footwear is typically with ballet flats or low-heeled pumps being common choices. Hairstyles are often with loose waves, twintails, or braids. Overall, Japanese otome fashion is a style that encourages individuals to express their romantic and girly side through fashion.
Japanese cyberpunk fashion is a unique and avant-garde style that emerged in the 1980s and gained popularity in the futuristic subcultures of Japan. Inspired by the dystopian, high-tech, urban environments, and industrial aesthetics of cyberpunk literature and films, this fashion trend incorporates innovative elements and futuristic designs.
The key characteristics of Japanese cyberpunk fashion include an emphasis on technology, urban decay, and a blend of traditional Japanese and Western styles. One of the most recognizable elements of this fashion genre is the incorporation of high-tech accessories, such as neon lights, LED displays, holographic patterns, and augmented reality elements. These futuristic details are often embedded in clothing or worn as accessories, creating a visually striking and tech-infused appearance.
Onii-Kei is a style that originated within the Japanese fashion subculture known as “oshare (stylish) boys.” It can be seen as the male counterpart to the popular Lolita fashion style. Onii-Kei, which translates to “big brother style,” focuses on creating a sophisticated and elegant look inspired by traditional European men’s fashion.
The key elements of Onii-Kei fashion include tailored garments, refined color palettes, and accessorizing to achieve a classic and polished appearance. Men who follow this style often pair well-tailored blazers or coats with dress shirts or sweaters, along with trousers or dress pants. The overall silhouette tends to be more fitted and structured than other casual male fashion styles. Men who embrace this style often aim to create an elegant and sophisticated look.