When you think of Japanese fashion and clothing, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the colorful Harajuku style that was trending in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Originating from the hip and happening Tokyo neighborhood of Harajuku, this creative and hugely popular Japanese fashion trend gained world-wide fame. But what does the Japanese fashion scene look like in 2022? Is colorful apparel still in style, or have trends changed? Let’s have a look at what’s popular in Japan today!
Environmentally friendly and a true treasure trove for people looking for something unique, second-hand clothing stores in Japan have become very popular over the last few years. Neighborhoods like Shimokitazawa, Koenji and Shibuya are home to countless vintage shops, sometimes with a special theme such as mid-20th century or old American fashion. Young, trendy people don’t necessarily shop second-hand to save money – items often go for more than their original price tag – but simply want to put together an outfit that is personal and one-of-a-kind. High end clothing brands also make for coveted vintage items, and some can even serve as an investment that doesn’t lose its value.
The average Japanese person has a rather slim build which lends itself perfectly for looking good in oversized fashion. Over the last decade, oversized clothing has become extremely trendy amongst everyone from teens to people well into their 30s. When you walk around a busy area like Shibuya, you will see plenty of baggy pants, long, voluminous skirts as well as oversized sweaters and t-shirts. Besides the fact that most Japanese are able to wear a larger size than needed while still looking good, dressing modestly has always been a theme in Japanese fashion. In fact, the traditional kimono was designed to be non-revealing and not show any curves. Today, many people still feel most comfortable in clothes that don’t give away too much of what’s underneath.
Plaid is traditionally part of traditional British school uniforms and has always been associated with religion and status. The checkered pattern has also made it into many of Japan’s high school uniforms and is therefore linked to an image of innocence and youth. But even if you are already well past high school age, you can still wear plaid in Japan! Of course, one of the most common manifestations of plaid are the kawaii schoolgirl-style skirts, but that’s not the only way you will see this material used in Japanese fashion. Many young men like to wear colorful plaid pants, and then there are the popular oversized dresses made completely from this material. Since its invention in the early 90s, Harajuku-style has evolved into many sub-styles, one of which heavily uses plaid. Creative young fashionistas make entire outfits from this material, decking themselves out in plaid from hats to shoes.
Now this one is not for everyone, and in Japan, wearing animal print is even associated with a very specific demographic: the Osaka Obachan! As the name implies, these ladies hail from Osaka and are years past entering the stage of life called middle-age, but that doesn’t stop them from being loud and energetic. An Osaka Obachan is easy to recognize not only from her outgoing and friendly character, but also by the way she dresses: not only is she loud to the ears, but also to the eyes with her striking tiger- or leopard-printed shirts or pants (sometimes even both at the same time) and colorful accessories. If you admire their daring style, there are plenty of shops in Osaka that can provide you with a great assortment of animal print clothing, but surprisingly enough statistics show that Saitama prefecture apparently takes the crown for most animal printed purchases.
Print and Designer Masks
Mask-wearing has been a thing in Japan for decades, and even before the pandemic hit in 2020, a large percentage of people would frequently be wearing masks in public. Hence, print and designer masks have existed in Japan for a long time, but since 2020 the number of cool, cute and imaginative masks has been increasing like never before. No matter where you are in Japan you can now get reusable (and single-use) masks with interesting prints, branded masks and masks made of special materials like denim or extra breathable fabrics. Even when traveling, you will see unique souvenir masks in popular tourist spots with a design specifically representing the destination. The fact that commerce jumped in to create these souvenir masks is not surprising at all, as Japan has a tradition of selling ‘useful’ souvenirs in addition to ‘collectible’ souvenirs such as magnets and trinkets.
Wide Leg Pants
In line with Japan’s love for oversized clothes, the now-trending wide leg pants deserve a special mention. Inspired by traditional worker’s pants known as ‘nikkapokka’ (from the American word ‘knickerbocker’) and samurai-worn hakama, men and women like to pair these comfortable pants with a tight-fitting t-shirt, sometimes combined with a jacket. Especially during the hot and humid Japanese summer, this loose-fitting garment protects your legs from sunburns while allowing in air to keep you cool.
Fashion Tour in Tokyo
If you’re visiting Tokyo for the first time, it might be hard to know where to go shopping as there are simply so many amazing places in this bustling metropolis. Even if you know that you are interested in a particular area it can still be a challenge to figure out which shops have exactly what you are looking for, so why not book a private shopping tour in Harajuku and Omotesando and leave the details to a professional local guide? While this tour was designed with teenagers in mind, the itinerary can be adjusted to fit your interests and fashion taste since the tour is completely private. You will definitely have a memorable experience with a fashion-savvy local by your side who can also make sure the language barrier won’t ruin your shopping adventure.
We offer many other types of tours in various cities all over Japan, so check out our full selection and don’t forget to book your favorite tour before coming to Japan!
Japan Wonder Travel Tours
Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan.
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help you organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are visiting, our knowledgeable and friendly English speaking guides will happily take you to the best spots!
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if yu have any questions or need some help!
▶Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo and try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake with one of our friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guides!
▶Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
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▶Mt. Fuji Day Trip Bus Tour from Tokyo
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Stefanie Akkerman moved from the Netherlands to Japan in 2013 with her Japanese husband and son. She jumped into the niche of Dutch tour guiding in Tokyo and Kamakura in 2015 and occasionally writes articles about all the great sights and activities Japan has to offer. She loves (Japanese) food, and to work that all off she goes diving, snorkeling, cycling, or hiking.
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