Harajuku fashion has been in existence for a long time, more than any other fashion trend, but only very few people really understand what it's all about. Harajuku fashion is not just a fashion trend or style but can be likened to a lifestyle as it impacts our day-to-day lives.
The Background to Harajuku Fashion
Harajuku fashion has been in existence since the early 1980s, and it became known in the west around 2000s. The style was named after Harajuku station in Tokyo. Harajuku fashion is a movement against strict societal rules and norms. Harajuku style stands for a lot of different things now and while many trends cease to exist, Harajuku fashion still remains. At first, youngsters would occupy the streets dressed in unique and colourful outfits.
The first craze was mixing traditional Japanese attire with western clothing. The message these kids were sending was that they didn't care about mainstream fashion. They would and could dress as they wished, no matter how childish that seemed. “Fashion is an act of self-expression, linked to the foundation of humanity,” said Shoichi Aoki, Japanese photographer and creator of the cult FRUiTS magazine, in an interview with BBC Designed. Harajuku kids had a message to tell the world, and they sent that message through the Harajuku style.
How does the Harajuku style change your life?
Fashion can be defined in many ways. To sum it up, it's a way for people to express themselves. It can be a way to stand out from or blend in with the masses. Harajuku style is a mix of all the well-known Japanese sub-styles.
Harajuku fashion barely has any guidelines, so one can wear whatever he/she wants without worrying about fitting in or whether it looks 'normal.' That's the point of the whole Harajuku look. Even if it's often considered as a teenage thing, there are no age limits.
You don't have to consider whether your clothes match or not – if you like your outfit, then that's enough. You don't have to adopt a certain style or follow any fashion, you can mix them all together. You can dress totally differently every day – this style is all about self-expression. Harajuku is not a specific style or look — it is a special zone of creativity.
Many iconic fashion subcultures have been born in Harajuku, but none of those styles define it. Harajuku is the neighbourhood where people — many of them who are future Japanese creative leaders — come to experiment with fashion without (for the most part) being judged or discouraged; where they are rather encouraged to test original aesthetic concepts and theories, getting instant feedback from their peers and strangers.
The Final Verdict: People first called Harajuku style rebellious, yet every year we meet new sets of kids from 16 to 20 practising this style, knowing they won't get judged or needing to worry about how they look. Whilst some might find Harajuku fashion weird or childish, never let that stop you. Fashion is your way to express yourself, no matter what other people might say!