Happily Harajuku

22 February 2008

Inspired by Japanese teen culture, Erika Blomerus goes out to turn the high street into a stage.

Ask your average person what they would associate with modern British youth cultures, and the results will most likely be unflattering. Indeed, when thinking about the ‘teen tribes’ of today, you’d probably think either of hoards of angsty thirteen-year-olds hiding in their black hoodies and skinny jeans, or of crowds of bawdy pre-teens in jogging bottoms and the latest Kappa trainers and matching cap. British teens, it would seem, are not exactly at the forefront of original and inspirational dressing, but prefer to hide in groups, wearing identikit outfits, hoping that no-one notices them or anything that might be construed as “different”.

Luckily, things are different in Japan. Having been popularised (and, unfortunately, branded and packaged) by Gwen Stefani, the trendy kids who hand around the Harajuku shopping district of Tokyo have inspired others around the world to think outside the box. In Harajuku, the aim is to stand out in highly creative, original, and theatrical outfits. Unlike their British counterparts, these kids aren’t afraid to be noticed, and the results provide a visual feast.

The Harajuku kids take inspiration from a huge variety of sources, including Victoriana, 1950s pin-up girls, anime, punk, dolls’ outfits, Hello Kitty and school uniforms. They mix a multitude of colours and prints in a way that you’d expect to be headache-inducing. However, they somehow pull it off, and often look quite chic in the process. As always in fashion, confidence is key.

If you want to incorporate some of their youthful style into your look, the best way you could start would be to find your own eclectic range of influences and mix them together to create something new. But, if this sounds a bit frightening and you’d like a starting point, here are a few tips:

  • Think theatrical. Costume-inspired outfits are always bound to make a statement. Sailor shirts, massive bows, platform heels, and tutus are always a safe bet.
  • Think fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and appreciate that fashion is supposed to be enjoyable, not a daily drudge. Wear bright colours with pride, and always inject your look with a hint of kitsch. Stars, plastic beads, and skulls are a good place to start.
  • Think schoolgirl punk. This is a perennial favourite. Mix tartan or tweed skirts with shirts, ties, and knee-high socks. To avoid looking like someone on their way to a hen night, add some leopard print, maybe a waistcoast, and a huge dose of attitude.
  • Think Lolita. This is the easiest Harajuku look to pull off. Get a girly dress, some cute jewellery, and some dolly shoes, and prepare to play the role of the ‘innocent little angel’.

However you’re inspired by Harajuku, make sure you’re ready to be noticed. This look is fun, but NOT for the faint-hearted.

Inspired by Japanese teen culture, Erika Blomerus goes out to turn the high street into a stage.

Ask your average person what they would associate with modern British youth cultures, and the results will most likely be unflattering. Indeed, when thinking about the ‘teen tribes’ of today, you’d probably think either of hoards of angsty thirteen-year-olds hiding in their black hoodies and skinny jeans, or of crowds of bawdy pre-teens in jogging bottoms and the latest Kappa trainers and matching cap. British teens, it would seem, are not exactly at the forefront of original and inspirational dressing, but prefer to hide in groups, wearing identikit outfits, hoping that no-one notices them or anything that might be construed as ‘different’.

Luckily, things are different in Japan. Having been popularised (and, unfortunately, branded and packaged) by Gwen Stefani, the trendy kids who hand around the Harajuku shopping district of Tokyo have inspired others around the world to think outside the box. In Harajuku, the aim is to stand out in highly creative, original, and theatrical outfits. Unlike their British counterparts, these kids aren’t afraid to be noticed, and the results provide a visual feast.

The Harajuku kids take inspiration from a huge variety of sources, including Victoriana, 1950s pin-up girls, animé, punk, dolls’ outfits, Hello Kitty and school uniforms. They mix a multitude of colours and prints in a way that you’d expect to be headache-inducing. However, they somehow pull it off, and often look quite chic in the process. As always in fashion, confidence is key.

If you want to incorporate some of their youthful style into your look, the best way you could start would be to find your own eclectic range of influences and mix them together to create something new. But, if this sounds a bit frightening and you’d like a starting point, here are a few tips:

  • Think theatrical. Costume-inspired outfits are always bound to make a statement. Sailor shirts, massive bows, platform heels, and tutus are always a safe bet.
  • Think fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and appreciate that fashion is supposed to be enjoyable, not a daily drudge. Wear bright colours with pride, and always inject your look with a hint of kitsch. Stars, plastic beads, and skulls are a good place to start.
  • Think schoolgirl punk. This is a perennial favourite. Mix tartan or tweed skirts with shirts, ties, and knee-high socks. To avoid looking like someone on their way to a hen night, add some leopard print, maybe a waistcoast, and a huge dose of attitude.
  • Think Lolita. This is the easiest Harajuku look to pull off. Get a girly dress, some cute jewellery, and some dolly shoes, and prepare to play the role of the ‘innocent little angel’.

However you’re inspired by Harajuku, make sure you’re ready to be noticed. This look is fun, but NOT for the faint-hearted.