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The fashion in Tokyo had always been an issue for discussion. Hence, it is surrounded by considerable attention and interest among the wider public. Harakuju is not only a part of Japan’s capital city, but also a center of culture and fashion development. One of its streets, Omotesando, is often compared to the most famous street in Paris – Champ Elysees – where the most remarkable brands’ shops are located. It is very difficult to characterize Harakuju trend as well as any other street style because the variety of existing interpretations and elements are changing so rapidly that it is hardly noticeable for those who are not much interested in it. Among the people who are in favor of this fashion trend, appearance of new wave is widely discussed and evaluated from different sides. The aim of this project is to research the background for the establishment of the Harakuju trends as well as to comprehend the reason of their uniqueness, originality and their spreading all over the world, introducing new waves in clothing and creating individual images in the area of street fashion.
To provide deeper analysis of the Harajuku trends, their development and spreading, I have interviewed my Japanese friend and a few other people who have eagerly answered to all my questions. Namely, the questions were as follows: in what way does Harajuku reflect Japanese culture? What changes has it undergone in the last fifty years? What fashion designs and trends from the west are connected with the current Japanese trends? What are Harajuku trends and how can they be predicted?
In what way does Harajuku reflect Japanese culture?
First of all, this Harajuku area has been claimed to be not only the center of Japanese trends due to the location of numerous shops there. It has also been a gather-together point for the youth wearing all possible styles of clothes, which served another advantage for the Harajuku trend: there is no a single style everybody follows. Practically, there are no restrictions concerning th clothes because in order to be fashionable, one should feel comfortable. The combination of styles is possibly one of the most interesting and significant issues of Harajuku culture. Sometimes particular tendencies mix, evolve or disappear, however, their main purpose that really matters always remains the same - to show the Japanese world from the inside.
The national culture has found its reflection in a separate trend area. Harajuku comprises various interesting styles such as cosplay, Lolita, Gyaru, Ganguro, Yamanba/Manba, Visual Kei, Harajuku Mini, etc. Some of these styles are more native to the Japanese while others have been borrowed from abroad and reflect the changes that Japanese culture has undergone under the western influence. For instance, cosplay is one of the most famous and favorite Japanese way of attiring as it allows to adopt the images from any book, movie, game, image, etc. usually of Japanese origin. Lolita is a reflection of the Victorian-era influences. Punk shows the rebelliousness and punk-rock popularity growth among the youth. Gayaru is the embodiment of the Americans on Japanese culture; it is particularly popular among the teenagers. Hence, the styles reflect a number of features that are borrowed to Japanese culture from other territories and imply the idea of it being versatile, bright, open to novelties, experimentations as well as apt to learning the best from the other cultures.
What changes has it undergone in the last fifty years?
The background behind the emergence of Harajuku as a separate trend is connected to the postwar period, the time when American soldiers along with the civil population lived altogether in the part which locals later on called “the Harajuku tribe”. Already at that time it was a new culture and people had a chance to experience a lot of new goods at their shops owing to the Americans, who were actually targeted to buy these products. These new comings have added to the establishment of new trends in the cultural life of Japan.
Afterwarrds, 1964 Tokyo Olympics took place, and it was the event that turned upside down the desire to be absolutely original; Japanese again got the chance to observe something unusual due to the fact that new shops were brought to Tokyo in order to satisfy the demands from tourists, coming to see the Olympics. Since that time, more new trends based on the truly genuine Japanese or borrowed from any other countries elements became a part of Harajuku fashion.
A number of substyles have become the reflection of intercultural interactions. The examples of visual ley, cosplay, Lolita, guaru, yamanba and others is a great evidence of the Japanese cultural development under the influence of the west. With each tendency worldwide, a new corresponding trend in Harajuku has appeared. Nowadays, each of these trends reflects the past and remains fashionable. Hence, wearing some vintage-style clothes is considered to be luxurious in the modern Japanese society.
What fashion designs and trends from the west are connected with the current Japanese trends?
All fashion trends always take an inspiration from various sources such as previous experiences, ancient cultures as well as older trends obtaining new life by adding new items to create different yet original images and styles.
One the world’s fashion centers London is extremely favorable of the Japanese vogue and views it as a good sample of how the industry should develop and transform. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that British fashion world, unlike the culture, is open to modern revelations of any art decisions, establishment and integration of improved variations of existing trends, more than any other country in Europe. Moreover, the cosplay tendency, which is gaining more and more popularity is another evidence of the impact on the world. Cosplay-style parties and meetings have long time ago gone beyond the borders of Japan and become widely spread all over the world, but with slight differences and in views closer to the given culture than the Japanese one.