Harajuku: Japanese fashion

Teenagers dressing up as their favorite movie hero, cartoon character, lolita or goth is very normal in Tokyo. Everything is done to stand out as much as possible in the busy crowd; from making up the face unrecognizable to sticking pieces of glass under the eyes. But it doesn’t stop there….

Harajuku girls

Japan, the land of the rising sun, but also of fashion trends. In the Harajuku district, young people, decked out in clothes from Hello Kitty or Pucci, stroll through the busy streets. The hip young people come together in the Yoyogi Park. It seems as if they have walked straight out of a fairytale forest. Colored wigs, piercings, tattoos, brightly colored lenses, angel wings, magic wands. Every Japanese has now created his or her own style. The so-called Harajuku Girls have now become a tourist phenomenon and shamelessly allow themselves to be photographed on the streets.

Sweet Lolita

Not only comic heroes form the street scene of Harajuku, but also the Sweet and Gothic Lolitas. The Sweet Lolitas characterize themselves by wearing light pink dresses with puff sleeves, mainly from the Victorian era, which are decorated with ribbons, lace, ruffles and bows. Underneath they wear a corset, white petticoats, knee-high socks and sky-high platform heels. Preferably shoe size XXL, because the higher the better. A lace umbrella against the bright sun completes the Sweet Lolita fashion image. Young people often want to appear very childish with this costume.

Gothic Lolita

The counterpart of the Sweet Lolitas are the Gothic Lolitas, often also called Elegant Gothic Lolitas. This more extreme type of clothing is the hottest thing in Tokyo at the moment. The young people wear black and white skirts and blouses, again with lots of frills on them. The often jet-black make-up and bright red lips often give the teenagers a horror-like appearance. A porcelain doll or dog under the arm, dressed in a lolita outfit, are the appropriate accessories for the Goths.

Japanese education

Harajuku youth dress up according to the example of Western subcultures. Popular street fashion has only become more extreme over the years. The main reason for wearing these extreme forms of clothing is Japanese education. By wearing Harajuku fashion, youth rebel against the school uniforms they have to wear every week.

Sailor suits

Japanese people are required to wear sailor suits from kindergarten through college. Guidelines for hairstyles are even given. Because the emphasis is mainly on learning, there is little attention for expression in schools; young people can never be themselves and express themselves. The Japanese government believes that education is the key to a better future for the country. And wants to turn school-going youth into good citizens.


Harajuku is also increasingly appearing in the fashion scene in Europe. Designers Kenzo and Dries van Noten have already added a hint of Japanese influences to their new summer collection. At H&M you can find a lot of clothing with frills and lace and the popular ¾ jeans that are slowly becoming a fashion trend in the Netherlands are also originally a Japanese idea.


Not only designers are contributing to the westernization of Harajuku, stars such as Gwen Stefani and Paris Hilton are also taking advantage of the Asian craze. Hilton has T-shirts printed and Stefani recently presented her own Harajuku Lovers clothing line (HL). Her music clips and lyrics are also associated with trendy Japanese fashion, which has given Harajuku some fame in Europe.


There is one store in the Netherlands that sells Harajuku clothing, called M-Fasion. Owner Leyla Cavusoglu has established her store in the Bilthoven shopping center ‘De Kwinkelier’. She imports clothing from various countries and sells them in her authentic store in the De Kwinkelier shopping center. The store also has an online shop.

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