No offense to “The Big Four” fashion capitals, but―subtle differences aside―the street style in New York, London, Milan, and Paris all kind of tends to blend together. Such is not the case in Tokyo, where wildly creative dressing is a way of life for men and women alike. While the hardcore punk and kawaii Harajuku looks still remain popular in Japan, we’re seeing a lot more streetwear, logos, and magpie eccentricity à la Gucci. Here, 50 of the most inspiring outfits from Tokyo Fashion Week.
Is there a street fashion scene on earth that hasn’t felt the force of Gosha Rubchinskiy (and Demna Gvasalia/Lotta Volkova of Vetements)? Maybe somewhere, but this isn’t it. Gosha’s ironic sporty retro collections shook the Harajuku scene along with the rest of the planet.
This year we’ve seen a boom in menswear looks that mix Gosha’s nostalgic sports-nerd-hipster-punk influences with elements of Japanese and Korean streetwear. Logos and sentimental graphics, side-striped pants, neon accents, waist bags and crossbody bags, tucked-in shirts, cropped hoodies, high-waist and cropped pants, belts belts and more belts, sunglasses, suspenders, tube socks, and sneakers are recurring elements in these coordinates.
While Gosha deserves much credit, the top tier Japanese street fashion kids don’t wear looks “off the rack”. Like the best of 1990s FRUiTs Magazine, today’s kids remix and reinterpret international trends with a Japanese twist — tube socks and belts feature kanji instead of Gosha’s cyrillic script; a kimono coat substitutes for a sporty jacket; platform shoes replace retro sneakers. There are also several popular-in-Harajuku Korean streetwear brands (More Than Dope, ESC Studio, etc.) offering their own takes on ironic sporty streetwear.
While creative inspirations push and pull from all directions, many of the actual pieces Japanese kids use to put these look together come from Tokyo vintage and resale shops, such as the very popular Kinji Harajuku. A beautiful element of Gosha’s nostalgic aesthetic in the first place is that while the looks are so fresh, they are at the same time extremely familiar. Sourcing resale not only keeps prices at student-friendly levels, but also assures that each look — while evoking recognizable themes — remains unique.
Though Gosha’s ideas undeniably sway trends in today’s Japanese street fashion scene, it isn’t a one-way relationship. In fact, it was a Japanese fashion brand that gave Gosha his big break in the first place.
Next Generation Harajuku Boys — Punk Influences, Japanese Designers & Gosha
When people think of Harajuku — both in Japan and abroad — they tend to think of Harajuku girls. There are a few popular boys in every Harajuku generation, yet girls have dominated the scene for decades.
But in the last few years we’ve seen a wave of fashionable Harajuku boys flood the streets. It’s not uncommon to hear longtime Harajuku-ites comment on how many fashionable boys are currently on the street compared to the number of fashionable girls.
Inside of the Japanese street fashion scene, kids challenge and inspire each other. When one person creates — and is seen in — an exceptional look, other kids try to outdo that look by putting in even more effort and pushing the envelope further.
No one is sure why boys seem to be winning Harajuku right now, but the sudden popularity of genderless kei is one popular theory.
With the rise of genderless kei last year, Harajuku boys completely stole the spotlight from girls. Peco was the most popular Harajuku girl of 2016, but even she was overshadowed by her more-popular male genderless kei icon partner Ryucheru. Though genderless kei’s newness faded in 2017, Harajuku boys remain in a strong cycle of inspiring and challenging each other.
The Harajuku boys class of 2017 doesn’t have a single distinct style, but there are several popular themes:
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