The Untold Truth Of Harajuku Culture

There isn’t one kind of outfit representative of Harajuku fashion. During its heyday in the late ’90s and early 2000s, the neighborhood’s streets crawled with young people sporting a hodgepodge of eye-catching styles. The themes were so varied that Culture Trip was able to compile a list of 10 iconic Harajuku looks. Westerners are probably most familiar with the cosplay theme, in which street fashionistas dress up as their favorite characters from anime, manga, video games, and other visual art. Leaning heavily into the cuteness of kawaii culture, the look known as Kogal and/or Ko-gyaru features the short skirts, blazers, backpacks, and loose-fitting socks of high school uniforms.

Another popular theme with several subcategories is that of the Lolitas. Inspired by the skirts, petticoats, corsets, and other garments of Victorian-era England, the various takes on this style also share the overarching theme of extreme cuteness. The three main Lolita sub-styles include Classic Lolita, Gothic Lolita, and Sweet Lolita, which focuses on being very childlike. There are also Punk Lolitas and a tomboy version known as Kodona.

One of the earliest forms of countercultural fashion trends in Harajuku was Gyaru — a transliteration of the English word “gal.” This term was used for fashion-forward teen girls in the ’70s and went on to represent several styles by the time its popularity reached a peak in the early 2000s. Other styles include Decora, which features vivid colors and tons of accessories, and Ganguro, which is pretty much the fashion equivalent of watching an episode of Jersey Shore.

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