When we think about Japan’s fashion many things come into our mind. It’s impossible not to think about the importance of anime, kawaii, and manga, among other variations and movements in this culture. Fashion is no exception. We’ve seen all those images on television, movies, or even social media of young people wearing bizarre and eccentric clothes resembling the colorful world of animation. We’ve become familiar with styles like the Victorian and Edwardian-inspired Lolitas. We’ve seen a parade of colorful bright wigs, neon stockings, short skirts, and of course, many accessories to complete the look.
This fashion style is generally known as Harajuku, in honor of the street in Tokyo where all the fashion trends are born. This street became the center of youth culture when the Second World War ended. By the Olympic games of 1964, one of the athlete villages was set there and, naturally, became a spot for young people who wanted to catch a glimpse of the celebrity visitors. Looking at a great business opportunity, many merchants started opening shops for the youth, hungry to set themselves apart from traditional and conservative norms.
It’s no surprise that this street has become one of the most important ones for the fashion movements in Japan. Now, one of the most important things about this style is that, despite what we might think, it’s not just a matter of everybody following trends, but of experimenting and representing one's own personality and essence. In that way, the street became a spot for people to express themselves freely and share their individuality. Naturally, with commercialization and globalization, these ideas have somehow faded, and there are more set trends we could identify. Still, it’s impressive how diverse they can be.
Despite how often this fashion movement has been represented and stereotypes in the West, it actually has a progressive nature attached to it. Currently, people still dress with their colorful attires, but in general terms, there has been an evolution, or to put it in other words, the style has been simplified. Now, you can walk throughout the street and encounter a diversity of styles and personalities portrayed through fashion, but only true followers of the Harajuku history and evolution will be wearing a more sober choice of clothes. However, sober doesn’t mean lacking style. On the contrary, it’s just a matter of color choices and shapes.
Japan has a long tradition of art that is unique and that has conquered every single aspect of their everyday life. In that way, it’s no surprise that the sobriety of the new Harajuku transpires some of the principles of minimalist Japanese art with simple structures and a moderate selection of colors. As you might have noticed, one contrasting and common palette is the combination of black and red. In some occasions, these are combined with white or other colors, but in a minimum amount.
No matter the simplicity or the extravagance of their fashion, Harajuku has an undeniable essence that has turned it into an icon and a landmark of Japanese culture, particularly of its capital. Many travel to Tokyo only to witness the street runway of styles. And although many believe this fashion movement is dying, many accounts in social media prove the contrary. So, are you ready to adopt the black and red Harajuku style?
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