Since Western Fashion began spreading overseas, Japanese teens have been searching for innovative and stylish clothing. The result of their quest has garnered several movements and inspired fashionistas all over the world.
What it's all about
Japanese teens are on a constant quest for "Kawaii-worthy" threads. Kawaii is a term meaning "cute," however when it pertains to fashion, the word takes on several different meanings. Cute, groovy, styling, awesome are all applicable meanings of Kawaii when speaking about clothing. In order to be taken seriously as a teen fashionista you must be dressed in all things Kawaii, or you're wasting your time. This obsession for high status clothing is where interest starts, which makes clothing design and shopping a popular hobby for Japanese teens.
Retro prints, skull and cross bones, bows and big buttons are part of the cutesy, but tough, ingenue style that so many of the younger girls aged 13 to 16 aim for. It's a popular version of the punk style but feminized to look more attractive on upbeat girls. There is also the trend of high class geisha inspired designs. This includes Kimono-sleeved dresses and tops along with denim skirts or hot pants, paired with heels. Usually women aged 17 and up use this style for a more sophisticated and trendy look.
Obsession with Western culture has fueled a full scale revolution in Japanese fashion. American celebrities who are idolized in japan are imitated by those with the most disposable income: Japanese teens. Some things transcend every culture, like obsessions with idols and fashion. In keeping with Eastern tradition however, the Japanese add a hometown twist with either calligraphy or graphics to appease their government and elders. Celebrities like Gwen Stefani take pride in Japanese teen creativity and show it off by helping propel the fashion forward attitudes of their fans. In 2005 Gwen Stefani launched her own clothing line completely inspired by the Harajuku girls that roam Tokyo's streets.
A completely different branch all it's own, Harajuku style is flashy and theatrical. Only the boldest of girls would dare try out the style out of fear they may not get it right. Bold bags and puffy sleeves with elaborate make-up, this style isn't easy to master. Gwen Stefani brought this fashion movement to it's height with her song "Harajuku Girls" in 2005.