Innovative and individual. Cultural and colourful. Spirited and daring. With a history that’s produced a playground of subcultures, Japan heralds (arguably) the most avant-garde sartorial trends in the world. A quick Google search will surface some of the boldest and most diverse street-style looks on offer. Think clashing prints, socks and sandals, layers of texture, exaggerated silhouettes, pop culture references - all topped off with a rainbow hued ‘do.
In addition to its renowned street style, Japan has equally been a cornerstone for cutting-edge and world-class fashion design for years. Parenting international fashion heavyweights, Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons) and Kenzō Takada, Japan is consistently throwing a spotlight on burgeoning fashion trends and showcasing them on the international stage – often before they take flight elsewhere.
So, what is Japanese fashion? Here, we round up the top 7 Japanese fashion trends that are currently flooding the streets of Tokyo.
1/ The Clash
Colour, print, texture: the trilogy of clash when it comes to Japanese fashion. With a proclivity for animation and cartoons (ahem Sailor Moon anyone?) it’s no surprise that outfits with graphic, brash prints are all the rage in Japan. Combined a penchant for latex, velvet, faux fur, lace, puffer, embroidery, knits, tassels, bubbles, silk, sequins (you get the idea) in rule-breaking colour combo’s, clashing fashion is the epitome of self-expression in Japanese youth culture.
2/ Pleats Please
Debuted in his self-titled 1989 line, Pleats Please is the brainchild of Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake. After experiencing huge popularity, the collection which is created using a unique technique of micro-pleating became a stand-alone brand after the designers 1994 Summer/Spring show. Ever since, the distinct, lightweight style has become a staple for celebrities such as Mary-Kate Olsen and Meryl Streep and is synonymous with the Japanese fashion aesthetic.
3/ Oversized & Layered
If layering were a sport, Japan would win gold – every time! With hot summers and snowy winters, the Japanese certainly know how to layer up without skimping on style. Geared for any occasion it’s commonplace to see skirts over jeans over stockings over socks. The secret to their layering technique? Keep it long, loose and oversized.
Japan is at the forefront of androgynous dressing. The country which produced unisex mega brands such as UNIQLO, have been toying with gender stereotypes for generations. Not considered unusual to see men in floaty silhouettes and girls in boxy suits, the Japanese youth have nailed this gender-bending fashion trend.
Proving that Japanese fashion cannot be defined by one single trend, outfits made up entirely of neutral colours the streets of Tokyo during the 2019 Spring/Summer Fashion Week. Head to toe ensembles of beige, white and grey drew attention away from the more outlandish get-ups.
This new-wave of boho throws homage to the Mori Girl (meaning forest) street-style which is all about soft, flowing, romantic silhouettes in natural textiles. A slew of layered florals with pops of velvet and suede can be seen with embellished gypsy-esque accessories.