Japanese Style Consciousness

In Japan, fashion does not identify with classification of which social class people are in. The benefits of economic growth have lead to various consumer goods, and the spread of Internet technology has given an access to the latest information to all users, resulting in the value of diversity. Especially young and middle-aged Japanese are becoming style conscious, expressing individuality rather than a particular social class.

Fashion brings new values to the society. In the late 2000s, fast fashion spreads and [1] opens up people to have trendy fashion at a reasonable price and brings them more potential styles to coordinate, while breaking the idea that trendy style comes along with luxury brands; suddenly the style of head-to-toe luxury is not cool as before. Fashion magazines start featuring high-low fashion style [2] as a key trend. Even high-end magazines like VOGUE and ELLE bring up H&M and Uniqlo [3] in their pages; they define chic fashion [4] as more style-focused and not relying on luxury brand image too much. This brings people to generate ideas and style in their own way.

Following up with this trend, the Internet culture makes changes in behavior: the Internet services give a new platform allowing to access news and trends wherever you are, and purchase products at any time. Alongside the growth of online market, the Japanese people start networking and building connections, and then sharing ideas through SNS (social networking service), blogs or fashion sites like ZOZOTOWN, an e-commerce. Online network allows users to connect and share with each other their own ideas or styles, not belonging to a particular social class, which leads to development of diverse and unlimited creative ideas of style like Harajuku kawaii fashion [5] vibe.

Lately the fast fashion trends are losing their steam, but style-oriented fashion approach keeps growing thanks to online market with arising mobile devices like smartphones or tablets, allowing more people to reach and share upcoming trends and ideas on time without boundaries. The diverse fashion styles eventually lead to new fashion trends.


Written by: Chihiro Kuwahata

Edited by: Monika Dvirnaitė


Additional information

Editor’s notes:

  1. “Fast fashion” refers to the practice of taking the design ideas shown during high fashion events and quickly producing similar clothes for the mainstream audience for an affordable price. This was started in 1980s and 1990s. Examples are ZARA, H&M. Read more: http://www.divinecaroline.com/life-etc/culture-causes/ready-waste-ugly-side-fast-fashion
  2. High-low fashion trend involves combining luxury brand items with affordable or discount products from popular shops. Read more: http://www.chatelaine.com/style/fashion/how-to-pull-off-high-low-fashion/
  3. H&M (founded in Sweden) and Uniqlo (founded in Japan) are two casual wear stores very popular in Japan and abroad.
  4. “Chic fashion” (pronounced /ˈʃiːk/ ), is a very general term, meaning a very stylish and beautiful way of dressing. Read more: http://www.style.com/trendsshopping/stylenotes/073112_What_Is_Chic/
  5. Harajuku is a district in Tokyo, famous among the Japanese stylish youth. Takeshita Street is the main shopping street in the district, always packed with peple and full of clothing stores. “Harajuku kawaii fashion” is a style originating in Harajuku. The emphasis is on cuteness (kawaii) and experimentation. Watch a video from a recent Harajuku Fashion Walk in Tokyo (2013): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBo52-ixiaw  – Editor’s notes.



Author: Chihiro Kuwahata

Digital Marketing Analyst in Fashion & Lifestyle in Tokyo. Worked at ELLE DECOR Japan magazine and event production for PR after graduating from San Francisco State University.

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