The birthplace of the Japanese fashion "street style" is the Harajuku district of Tokyo that is a venue for artists, independent spirits and a free expression. Young Japanese meet here in the evenings and at weekends to spend time with their friends and to show off their most up-to-date outfits. However, oppositely to the western youth, who mostly buy and wear clothes from top designers and fashionable boutiques, Japanese teens do not follow any particular trend of the Japanese fashion, they are creators of fashionable clothes themselves that are taken by the Japanese fashion industry for a general retail and sales.
The best way to understand the Japanese fashion and a huge variety and creativity of the Japanese street style is to learn the work of the most known street fashion photographer, Shoichi Aoki, and to look through his magazine FRUiTS and his book of the same name. In his book he presents a variety of styles from the most extreme to more modest and reveals all vibrancy and variability of the Japanese fashion in Harajuku district. Commonly, this fashion is not limited to Harajuku only. According to the recent survey of Amazon.com reviewer, eighty percent of teens in Tokyo dress the way, represented in FRUiTS and sometimes in a more extreme manner.
The teenage Japanese fashion is really fascinating and a complex phenomenon that combines different traditions and trends. Many trends are taken from the Western sources like American toys, British punk, hip-hop style, American military jackets and Victorian morning dress, but the styles are renewed and redesigned in the way they produce an entirely different effect an and impression.
One particular trend of the Japanese fashion is cuteness. Cuteness is an especially popular trend among young women and is characterized by bright colors, mainly pink, ruffles and clothes that is to be made for children. Accessories often include toys or bags with representations of cartoon characters.
Another major trend of the Japanese street fashion is Lolita style. The basic element of Lolita style is cuteness, though these two are still different. Lolitas do not carry toys, they dress in clothes that are childish, including pinafores and little formless dresses, which possibly a girl of an earlier era would wear, but elegant in the attention to details. A misleading idea is to associate Lolita style with Nabokov's Lolita in particular and with a sexual expression in general. Lolita style is not found to be sexually attractive, but it is a way to express politeness, kindness, gracefulness and self-confidence.
The Japanese street fashion also comprises military gear in the everyday fashion. It is important that the military clothes is never Japanese; predominantly, it is American. The designers of military wear create military jackets, embroidered with a lace and decorated with jewelry, the designs that deliver pacifist and antiwar ideas.
The last but not the least in our description will be an interesting Japanese subculture, known as cosplay. The term "cosplay" (pronounced in Japanese as kosupure) is a contraction, combining the words "costume" and "play", which describes the way of dressing up as one's favorite characters. The style is based on dressing as characters from manga, anime and video games or sometimes live action TV shows, movies or Japanese pop music bands. In Tokyo Akihabara district there is a large number of cosplay cafes, catering to anime and cosplay fans. Teens in Japan dress up in Japanese costumes of the cosplay style not only for a public event or for a show, but also for the purpose simply to do the cosplay and have fun with friends.