How does Japanese fashion inspire us?
Street Style in Tokyo & Trendy Neighborhoods
Following my trip to Japan in late February 2018 (my little brother lives there;)), I wanted to share with you my Japanese favorite and especially the FASHION of course!
Japanese fashion, what is it? Is it so different from Western fashion? What are their references, their brands, their preferences, their influences?
I will try to answer all these questions.
First, a small “historical” update:
The big names
When we talk about Japanese fashion, we think immediately (finally when we are passionate about fashion, like me what: p) reference brands: Issey Miyake, As Boys (Rei Kawakubo), Tsumori Chisato, Yohji Yamamoto.
They all had a notable influence on the world fashion by their minimalism and their stylistic break, this current “anti-fashion” greatly inspired in the 80s the young Belgian guard of the “Six of Antwerp” (Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Van Saene, Marina Yee, Dries Van Noten, Walter Van Beirendonck and Dirk Bikkembergs, Frederik Beyens). (Well, to confess I know only the work of two of them, the most famous ones … ^^)
Issey Miyake has profoundly transformed contemporary aesthetics, it is a forerunner of fashion, its specialty: research in textile development.
He thus resurrected the pleated Fortuny with the line “Pleats Please” (1989)
In 2010, he created the line 132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE with his R & D team, designed to create clothes that bring joy and happiness to those who wear them. The garment is an origami with preformed folds that becomes a textile sculpture once worn.
Comme des Garçons (Rei Kawakubo)
Rei Kawakubo is a rebel of fashion, she has exploded the codes by questioning the design of elegance “bourgeois” based on femininity, glamor, “good taste”, beauty. With its brand Comme des Garçons, it has imposed Japanese fashion in the world of haute couture.
Comme des Garçons’ “Play” line made of quality basics made in Japan is very popular. Its famous logo is recognizable among all, a heart with eyes drawn by the New York artist Filip Pagowski.
If you plan a trip, know that it’s worth buying the brand PLAY in Japan because it is much cheaper.
House founded in 1990, famous for its original colorful models with artistic prints and innovative cuts. Tsumori Chisato often embellishes pieces of embroidery or original motifs and ultra-trendy.
Bright colors, regressive patterns and artfully kitschy prints, the designer sprinkles pearls, embroidery, sequins and jewels to create an enchanting and refined wardrobe, all in tenderness and femininity.
The designer never follows the trends and claims it. Black & unstructured asymmetrical shapes are very present in his unstructured clothes inspired by masculine clothes.
And now let’s go back to THE STREET, place of all inspirations:
The street style
Japan is a land of extremes and even more in fashion. The most eccentric looks meet the wisest: there are so many styles of minimalism, from the uniform to the most eccentric looks like those of local boys and girls bands.
Because of their traditional outfits, Japanese have a very refined taste and ancestral know-how, their aestheticism has often brought new trends in fashion in recent decades.
I photographed some street style looks in Tokyo (look below;)). I have not seen so many extreme looks, at least not as much as we imagine.
Japanese street-style has become more mature, less kawaii and more romantic. There is less extreme fashion than in the 90s, but people dress better. Times are tough in Japan, it’s complicated to find a job, behaviors and expectations have changed.
I caught up with the extreme looks at the musical show of the restaurant robot.
My eyes took full of their retina and my ears literally exploded.
On a furious electro rhythm, robots, dragons, nymphs and futuristic knights are engaged in a choreographed battle without mercy. (I let the pictures speak !!)
I have also prepared a small selection of photos of the extreme looks of the moment found on Pinterest (cosplay with manga costume, lolita doll or gothic, kogyaru (young tanned girls and blond hair peroxide, mori girls (floral bohemian) ..)
Overall, Japanese fashion is kawaii, cute, aesthetic. There is often a reference to childhood in the look of adults. The basic rules of Japanese fashion are the accumulation, the superposition and the asymmetry of their clothes, which is found as much in the big names of the Japanese fashion as in the street styles extreme or minimalist styles.
If I had to generalize:
- Japanese women do not like low necklines.
They rarely reveal their shoulders and décolletés, they slip thin t-shirts close to the body under their indented clothes.
- They like wide skirts & pants.
They prefer them to trousers and jeans slims or tight, by modesty or for the sake of comfort. The loose shapes and light materials of the trousers and wide skirts are inspired by the hakama, the traditional samurai pants.
- Minimalism is natural for Japanese people.
On a daily basis, most Japanese are not eccentric, uniform or work wear oblige. The art of simplicity dominates, for traditional reasons but also for practical reasons: uniform at school, very high density of cities from which small apartments that only allow to possess the necessary.
- Japanese fashion is inspired by traditional kimono.
We still meet a few Japanese kimono (literally “what is worn on you”). But it is especially in the details of modern clothes that we detect the traditional inspiration: floating sleeves, crossed shirts, jackets tied by a silk belt…
- The suits are a basic in the Japanese cloakroom.
In France, the suits have become fashionable only in recent years whereas in Japan, women often wear them in a very elegant way.
- The Japanese are fans of converses and berets.
The Converse is Japanese style what Stan smith is Parisian, we see everywhere with a clear preference for the Converse low black or white. The Japanese likes headwear and France, so it is natural that she adopted the beret and this well before it is back to fashion in Paris.
- The Japanese are not afraid of the “total look”.
They rarely mix the different looks while the French do not hesitate to shift chic pieces with sportswear or casual pieces, to wear sneakers with pleated skirts.
The Japanese play the “total look” from top to bottom, whether eccentric or conventional for their work.
The influential fashion bloggers in Japan
All three have released their book gathering all their looks.
If you want to buy inspiring books in Tokyo and you do not attach too much to understanding the text, I highly recommend the Tsutaya bookstore.
Tsutaya Books – Bookshop on the 7th and 8th floor with cafe (in front of Shibuya Station)
〒150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya, Udagawacho, 21-6
T-site (epicenter of Daikanyama district): 17-5 Sarugakucho, Daikanyama, Tokyo 150-0033 Complex of several Tsutaya Books (night-time) bookstores, cafes, bars, terraces, restaurants, shops
On the Japanese application “Wear”, there are plenty of fashion and fashion. In short, it’s a mine of looks and inspirations!
Check out the website (no need to read Japanese … intuitively we get there :))
My favorite is Norii “@ norinori27”, a small piece of woman I love the ovesize looks. She wrote a book listing these beautiful looks that I of course bought in Tokyo at Tsutaya!
Shibata Saki, it’s a pearl of freshness, a mutinous face, I love to follow her on Instagram.
Maki Tamuru is of an absolute class, it’s a bit like the local “Ines de la Fressange”, an all-round elegance.
Trendy districts and « Fashion » addresses
Where to shop in Tokyo?
Harajuku is the district of “teenage” fashions, we can meet the most eccentric looks and many kawaï shops.
And above all there is the Purikura Land Noa, at the beginning of the street! You do not know the Purikura, they are places where there are plenty of photobooths cabins in the same space.
They are much more professional than a photomaton and especially much more funny, since there are different types of photobooths and you can retouch the photos, add texts, illustrations, take photos with friends, in short it’s FUN and very very KAWAÏ !!!
It’s the mecca of shopping, a bit of our Rue de Rivoli x Les Halles (or Oxford street) to us.
You will find the famous Tsutaya bookstore in a large tower facing the station, many department stores like Seibu, Loft, Tours 109 “109 Women” and “109 Men” and big brands such as Muji (gigantic cafeteria), Uniqlo, Zara, Forever 21 …
The Uniqlo and Muji are cheaper than in France but beware of the sizes, it is Japanese sizes! My sister went from XS to S to see M. (For me, apart from the socks it was grated : p)
This shopping street that joins Harajuku to Shibuya is also dangerous for the wallet, you will find the department store Laforet (mecca of kawai), Alice on wednesday, W heart C, Atmos (sneakers).
- OMOTESANDO HILLS
It is the shopping district in continuity of Shibuya, where you will find food, kawaï items, decoration and clothes. With a big chic shopping mall, the Tokyo Omotesando plaza (well known for its entrance with a very unstoppable ‘kaleidoscope of mirrors’ escalator), stores all along the avenue, I recommend Kiddy Land for toys & kawaï items and the “Oriental Bazaar” Temple for “traditional” souvenirs.
Going up this avenue, you will come across Cat Street (right out of Kiddy Land ;)).
Full of beautiful stores, it’s quite expensive but it’s worth it just for the charm of this quieter street and store architecture (“6”, Quorinest, Ragtag, miki Paris, Rainbow spectrum …) …
At the beginning of the street in a multibrand building, you will find “Play” the line of Comme des Garçons, much cheaper in Japan as I told you previously.
This is the district of big brands. On the advice of Tokyobanhbao who said on his blog that it was very expensive and not really memorable, I preferred to keep my time for other neighborhoods. (And yes, Tokyo is gigantic, impossible to do everything, I had to revise my program;))
- SHIMO KITAZAWA
My favorite district of Tokyo is Shimo Kitazawa, a cool “hypster” district with lots of cafes, bars, restaurants, shops (Marble South, BC stock …), thrift stores (Flamingo, Wego, Big time …), a great Muji on several floors (info, in Japan they have a grocery store food just super;)), Daiso (100 yen shop), Uniqlo, in short everything I love!
And do not be surprised by the name of the shops, the Japanese love to give them French names: « une nana cool », « joli bisous », « pêche…c’est quoi ?… un petit peu de tout », « cachette » (in English: « a cool girl”, “pretty kisses”, “Peach … what is it? … a little bit of everything”, “hiding” …) the spelling or meaning is not always there but it is often a cute and poetic incongruity.
A word of advice, if you go there, the area extends on both sides of the metro line, and it’s very nice to get lost in the pedestrian lanes in a relaxed atmosphere.
It’s a little crowded at the weekend, it’s true but as everywhere in Tokyo.
It is a part of the big district of SHIBUYA, at the top of a hill, a little bit of the local “Montmartre” with shops, terraces, restaurants, bookshops, ideal for strolling on weekends, perfect for observing new trends!
You’ll find among others: Tsutaya Bookstore, T-site Complex, Ivy Place Restaurant, Hello Records, Kodomo Beams, Standard Store, Kitsuné, Tenoha & Style Store.
For the joke, we found a Picard in a street going to the subway, WTF: p
- TOKYO BAY Shopping Center
> 2 Chome-1-1 Hamacho, Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture 273-8530, Japan
I do not regret moving to this slightly out-of-the-way shopping mall just after Disneyland. Initially with my sister, we were on a Sylvanians mission (when I was a child, we used to call them « Petits malins » (clever people, in English): p) for her daughter and at Tokyo Bay … you know what, there is a Sylvanians cafe with a small shop and that’s where we found the best choice of Sylvanians, the one that is not found in France and is cheaper ;). (Normally if you are a mother who has a baby girl, you are in heaven: p)
This shopping center was a real good discovery, there is an outdoor area that is reminiscent of “Miami” with its palm trees and pastel colors, and inside, the shopping center is extended on several floors. There are plenty of shops with Japanese brands more accessible than in the trendy areas of Tokyo: Mumokuteki & Mystic among others. (Middle-income Japanese dress here :))
With cafes, restaurants, toy shops, kawaï & traditional souvenirs, clothes, decoration, shoes, luxury … in short, there is something for everyone!
The neighborhood mixes vintage, art & rock’n’roll. It is quite unknown to tourists, which is a plus and it is cheap for Tokyo. You will find thrift shops, cafes (The Japanese love the cafe !!!!), retro shops, designers, cool personalities, a trendy cool atmosphere. But I still prefer Shimo Kitazawa 😉
Between Shibuya and Daikanyama, Nakameguro makes me think of the Parisian « Canal Saint-Martin » with its cafes, its concept stores, its small streets between the docks where it is good to stroll.
This is a selection because you also have Ebisu, Ropongi, Odaïba and other nuggets.
TOKYO is gigantic I told you !!!