Japanese Street Fashion’s impact on London culture

I was waiting for a train at Shoreditch station and noticed something I hadn’t before. For once I looked around me. Everyone looked dreary. It was just another frustrating moment in the July heatwave rush hour. All looked bored and all were impatiently looking up at the monitor for the next train. Then suddenly I saw her. Standing quite alone.

She was a human dressed as a work of art. she had bright purple hair with paper lollipops in it. and was wearing a bright green mini crinoline dress. I stopped transfixed and watched her as she adjusted her Panda bear’s head handbag. Her perfect make-up stayed in place. This girl was wearing ‘Harajuku kawaii’ which is an extraordinary Japanese fashion that is having an impact on London style.

This immaculate fashion takes a character and illustrates the design of that character right down to the last quirky detail. If you are planning to turn yourself into a rainbow don’t forget the love heart sweet patterned socks and top it off with a mini tutu. Forget colour blocking and forget colour coordination altogether. With ‘Harajuku kawaii’ there are no restrictions on colour or accessories. These Japanese style gurus pile on details until they resemble a walking candy counter. Harajuku style is a playful mix of girly and punk, popular among Japanese teenagers. Young people both in Japan and London are highly influenced by cartoons and gaming. This interest begins from childhood with exposure to Manga cartoons. This is such a strong influence on them they wish to take the idea further and become the embodiment of the cartoons that they idolise. This Japanese street style originated from a postwar combination of American and Japanese culture and formed mainly around the Harajuku district in Shibuya, Japan. Online UK shops specialise in ‘Harajuku kawaii’ and there are annual events such as the MCM London Comic-Con. Pop has naturally embraced the style with Gwen Stafani and her Harajuku Lovers brand.The most refreshing thing about kawaii fashion is it’s fun and it does not take itself too seriously. With kawaii fashion, there is a free expression for the individual and in this sense, it has much in common with the London punk movement of the 1970s.  Clip a hundred colourful hair clips in your hair and you might as well be wearing a super-glued Mohican. The emphasis is on ‘cute’ rather than aggression and this style takes cuteness to a surreal level. This over sweetness could be saccharine if it was not for the obvious sense of humour and playfulness that this insane fashion commands. It is almost like punk for kids, keeping the energy but removing the aggression. UK online stores such as ‘Cutesy Kink’ and ‘Juku Store’ have embraced the trend. HYPER JAPAN has opened a shop in the Stables Market, Camden.

Harajuku’s sticky-sweet street style has an influence on London and in turn, Japanese fashion is influenced by such designers as Vivienne Westwood with the popularity of the mini crinoline. There are also Gothic kawaii. The fashion relationship between London and Japan lies in its similarity to conform and yet rebel. There is an intense desire to ‘fit in’ in both Nationalities but at the same time, there is a resentment in doing so. This then leads to the subcultures of Harajuku kawaii and punk. Two subcultures that reveal the catalyst of conformity.