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Youth Fashion in Japan



Every piece of clothing speaks a statement to the Japanese. Looking at fashion in Japan, it is undeniable that they have good taste in style, most especially their youth population. Right from the days of Kimono, Hakama (a traditional Japanese trouser), Yoroi-kabuto (an armour and a helmet), to the present popular street fashion, Japanese understands their swags, and their fashion choice which has a deeper meaning.

One desirable symbol of modernization amongst the Japanese youth is their borrowing and adaptation. In the past, they typically wore either one-piece garments or separate upper and lower garments (trousers/skirts). Soon after, Kimono came into limelight and became a prominent fashion because it could be worn by all, irrespective of the body-size. The Kimono originally means “clothing”, however it can now be said to be a robe worn with Hakama (the wide pants or skirt worn on the kimono). During the Meiji period (1868-1912), kimono fell out of fashion and was dominated by western clothing styles which were encouraged by the government.


In the early 21st century, street fashion became dominant amongst youths due to the dominant western culture. Kimono became mixed with modern-western style and is worn with designer bags or heels. The effect of western culture on fashion was seen majorly amongst high school and junior school students displaying the “kogal style (kogyaru)” wearing shorter skirts, loosed socks, scarfs or dyed hair. This style was popular amongst girls and was worn irrespective of the season. Other styles include the Visual Kei Style; the most used style by Japanese musicians, displayed with rag clothing, lot of bracelets and makeup. This type of style comes with flamboyant makeup.

The Decora style is also a common youth fashion that originated from Harajuku in the late 1990s; it is characterized by brightly coloured clothing and accessories such as lots of clips, bracelets, necklaces and bags used to decorate themselves. The Gyaru style is also exemplary; some believe is particular to the upper class, with most of the girls having dyed or bleached hair, using glitters, heavy make-ups, provocative dresses, and an attitude to match. These and others are the ‘Street Fashion’ that has become adopted amongst the youths in Japan. They are characterized by the use of manmade beauty and makeup.

As the world evolves, there are higher possibilities that fashion in Japan will also evolve from what it is today to something new, without neglecting its traditional passion. As of today, the most recognizable style amongst Japanese youths is the street fashion, which is believed to have been adapted from western countries and has shifted youths from disciplined industrial attitudes to much free prehensile ways. This western assimilation has also characterized the fashion economy and the glitters of Japanese society.



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