What is Japanese Street Fashion?

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  • Written By: Susan Grindstaff
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2019
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Japanese street fashion is a fashion genre that encompasses several subcultures of alternative fashion. It usually involves taking an ordinary piece of clothing, such as a shirt, and altering it by adding personalized components, such as metal studs or fur trim. Often, these fashions are also heavily deconstructed, sometimes by ripping or shredding. Japanese street fashion leans toward fashions that are of the gothic and steam punk genres, and is primarily embraced by teens. It began as a fashion subculture in the late 1990s, and by 2008, Japanese street fashion had impacted the worldwide fashion scene.

One of the earliest and most common types of Japanese street fashion is called “Gothic Lolita,” or “Gothic Lolly.” It is believed to be influenced by anime characters such as Sailor Moon, and typically consists of dresses that emulate the frilly short frocks worn by little girls during the 1950s. The dresses often include dark touches of gothic, such as dark fabrics and white lace trimmings. The dresses are often worn with ripped stockings, pinafore aprons, and full tulle crinolines or petticoats. Gothic Lolita later evolved into full gathered skirts with crinolines, which are commonly worn with striped tops and stockings.


Deconstruction is also a big component of Japanese street fashion. Deconstructing a fashion usually means one of two things: ripping or tearing the fashion in some way, or taking different components of fashion and putting them together in an unusual way. A deconstructed fashion might include a pair of ripped and shredded jeans worn with a top made out of several pieces of different sweaters sewn together. Another type of deconstruction would include pants with one leg normal length, and the other leg cut off to be the length of a pair of shorts. The possible ways to deconstruct a particular fashion are as limitless as the imagination of the individual wearer or designer

Gangura is a “glitterati” type of Japanese street fashion that usually consists of platform heels or boots, often in gold or silver, worn with very short miniskirts. It is also characterized by very specific makeup. Girls who wear gangura type clothing usually wear very pale makeup on their faces and very dark lipstick and eye shadow. Extremely long, doll-like fake eyelashes are also a part of the overall look. It is believed to be heavily influenced by early punk rockers from the 1980s.


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