Adolescent Influence on Fashion in Japan
Japan, The Land of the Sun, has always been ahead of their time. Ever since the boom of technology, new ideals, and money of the later 20th century, Japan has been going non-stop since then. Traditional culture and values started to decline once a new generation came into the scene. The internet, along with new pop culture icons and idols, started to become prominent allowing fashion to be more fluid. The idea of femininity and strict gender roles was slowly getting rejected by the youth. This would be the start of a whole new revolution in fashion.
The hub of all things weird and unique in Japan is a district in Tokyo named Harajuku. Here, young people of all genders, sexualities, and subcultures would collide and hang out. The sheer comfort in knowing no matter what group people saw themselves in made this area the place for music and fashion. The abundance of various styles would feed off of each other and influence different types of wears.
Western culture of America was somewhat idolized within Japan in the later years of the 20th century. Gyaru, a style that developed in the 70s, took stereotypical western styles and trends but magnified them. Typed by their extreme tans and bleached hair, it was a total rejection of the typical low impact fashion many wore back in the day. It stood out and many were thought to be tacky since it also consisted of costume jewelry and brightly colored clothes. Gyaru girls were seen as outlandish but in reality the whole subculture was a step in a newer direction.
One notable type of style that caught wind in Japan was the style Visual Kei. Starting in the 80s, many different bands and designers started to altogether reject the formality of Japanese culture. Visual Kei consists of the western style of Glam Rock but also combining traditional Japanese elements to create a whole new pocket into the world of fashion. Many young people saw this as a way to break free and express themselves while keeping up with American trends and artists. Femininity was embraced among the subculture which meant all genders could easily be who they wanted to be with the use of makeup and clothes. X Japan, the first group to perform in Visual Kei attire, brought more attention to the style. With the influence of Visual Kei, more and more styles emerged.
The youth of Japan that were raised on television and soon the internet, clashed among their older counterparts’. The newer, flashier culture of the 80s and 90s along with pop culture such as movies and music, created a whole new set of tools young people could work with. The club culture of the 90s also greatly influenced different styles and subcultures. Brands such as SUPER LOVERS, established in 1988 and originated from Harajuku, influenced club and youth fashion. The vibrant nightlife and new music that was becoming popular among youth such as hip hop took the greatest elements of both concepts to a whole new level. Strange combinations of western type attire such as cowboy boots and hats were brought together with baggy pants of 90s rap stars. It was a new and improved lifestyle that young people saw as an escape from their normal day to day lives.
With the total rejection of traditional culture and the unlimited possibilities of the near future, young people created a new Japan and revolutionized fashion for the better. Subcultures began to get attention from media outlets and television shows. Anime, created in the 80s, took trends among youth and presented it in a totally new way. Animation became a huge influence as time went on and gained popularity very quickly. Styles from particular subgroups such as Lolita and Gothic Lolita were easily represented in shows due to the youthful and child-like appearance. This slowly started to normalize unique fashion as it conditioned people to see it as a more “common” idea. This was all due to the huge impact of kids and their unapologetic style. Along with new types of shows, music also got an update. Rock and roll from the west started to make its mark by influencing what we know now as J-Rock, which was a shocking change from the cookie cutter idol music that many music companies would sell to the public. Punk and rock influences slowly crept into fashion as well, bringing tough elements such as spiked hardware and plaid printed garments to the scene.
As newer subgenres of fashion come into play, the limitless future of fashion will continue to make its way through Japanese youth. The use of the internet and the easy access to information allows ample amounts of resources for new styles to exist. As young people step out into their world, the foot of fashion will continue to make its imprint.