Quick guide to Japanese street fashion

Do you know your Harajuku from your Sweet Lolita? Ever since the 1997 release of Shoichi Aoki's FRUiTS magazine, Japanese street fashion has heavily influenced trends and subcultures in the UK, and even made its way onto the catwalks of London and Paris. Here we look at some of the main trends for street fashion in Japan.


Harajuku is actually a district in Tokyo, but in the UK it is largely associated with the style of dress of the young people who congregate there every Sunday. Prominent designers and trends have sprung from the Harajuku district, and the style meshes a range of influences, including Lolita, Cosplay and Cyber Punk.


The Lolita look has a childlike quality to it, and followers fo this Japanese fashion trend often adorn themselves with bows, ribbons and laces. Sweet Lolita is associated with pastel colours and cartoon characters like Hello Kitty. Gothic Lolita is more associated with dark colours and a "Victorian Gothic" look. "Kawaii", the Japanese word for cute, is the major source of inspiration for the Lolita look.


The Ganguro look is heavily influenced by Western fashion, and in particular the "California girl" stereotype. Wearers of this fashion often dye their hair blonde (or wear wigs), apply fake tan, wear fake eyelashes and surfer fashion brands.

Dolly Kei

Dolly Kei is associated with a fairy-tale look, and includes vintage skirts and dresses, and medieval-style jewellery.


Cosplay (short for costume play) is a costume based style. Favourite sources of inspiration include manga, anime, graphic novels and fantasy movies.

Of course, as with anywhere else, Japanese fashion changes over time and trends come and go. Ganguro, for example, probably reached its peak in the late 1990s and is now declining in fashion. Dolly Kei, on the other hand, is a newly emerging street fashion that is still being defined.

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