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The Harajuku Style Tribe. Fantasy & Creativity with a Message

If you have an interest in the performing arts, manga or Japanese fashion culture... Get ready for the Harajuku tribe.

Hi and welcome to Fashion and Film TV - in this first - of hopefully many posts and videos about Style Tribes, I'll be exploring the energetic and rebellious stylings of the Harajuku tribe....and without further ado, let's get into it.

What is a Style Tribe?

...aesthetics of the outfits are familiar and connected throughout the trend.

A style tribe or fashion tribe is a group of people that dress in a distinctive style to show their membership in this group.[1][2] Examples include punks, goths, hip-hop devotees, and ravers.[1] The term "style tribe" appears to have been coined by anthropologist Ted Polhemus, who analyzed style tribes in terms of the modern primitive and an abandonment of a linear trajectory of progress in fashion.[1][3][4][5].

Source: Wikipedia

In other words, a style tribe is a group that wears similar styles to represent their association with that group. Chosen fabrics or patterns within the style may vary, but the overall aesthetics of the outfits are familiar and connected throughout the trend.

Harajuku Style Overview

Harajuku is an area of Tokyo famous for its street styles and youth culture but the name doesn't just refer to the geographic location, it also includes the energetic, playful and rebellious street styles of the Harajuku community.

Contrary to a generalization of the style, Harajuku is not a single style, but instead an amalgamation of many Japanese street styles. Trends can range for girly to punk and are created as a result of the combination of post war American and Japanese cultures.

Introduction to America

...if you were anything like yours truly, you didn't need Gwen to introduce you to Japanese art and media....You were already watching Dragon Ball Z.

According to some news outlets, the style became popular in the US after Gwen Stefani introduced her back up dancers as the "Harajuku girls" in her performances back in 2004 - but shortly after, Gwen was accused of cultural appropriation. Since then the story has fallen away from the headlines, but if you were anything like yours truly, you didn't need Gwen to introduce you to Japanese art and media....You were already watching Dragon Ball Z.

Brief History

The town or village of Harajuku has been around since at least the 12th century and is the fashion hub of Japan. The district is a part of modern Tokyo that began to cultivate its' own district identity after World War II, when US army barracks were built in the area.

The population influx paved the way for more shops and stores to be built to accommodate military families.

In 1964, Tokyo hosted the Olympics, allowing a new wave of tourism. With this wave came hoards of young people who were fascinated with the culture and the fantasy level of creativity incorporated in the style. More tourism meant increased commercial growth and the style variations of Harajuku continued to flourish.

In the late 1970s, Harajuku became a popular spot for High-end fashion designer shops. By the 1980s the area became even more popular due to road closures for vehicles on Sundays - opening a space for artists to perform and for young people to hang out and socialize.

By the 1990s, Harajuku was more than a geographical location, it became a hub for inspiration and expression. It represented ever changing fashion trends and a shift in the exploration of style mixtures and unlimited creativity.

Lolita Subculture

One popular subculture of Harajuku is Lolita Fashion. The style emerged in the late 1990s and pulls strong influences from Victorian styles.

Professor of Sociology at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and the best selling author of Fashion-ology and the recent Sneakers: Fashion, Gender and Subculture, Yuniya Kawamura states...

“Lolita girls are hyper feminine and cute. They make an effort to look like a Victorian doll or princess and wear a dress with lots of ruffles and lace trimmings,” she explains.

“They have their own dress code such as not making the skirt hem above the knees and exposing too much skin. They don’t smoke or drink. They go to tea parties, they usually don’t drink coffee.”

She made the point to state that many associate the name "Lolita" with a novel of the same name, but stresses that this subculture and the book have nothing in common.


Modern Harajuku

The newest generation of Harajuku fashion is more than a statement of creative expression, it's a way to express opposition to societal norms, while forming a comradery with other members of the tribe. The style has evolved to represent many modes of creativity and varying levels of expression - while staying true to the elements that made the popular fashion genre iconic.

Trends of the style have changed over the years, but it's still a style that inspires - from celebrities to those interested in manga, or anyone that appreciates the whimsy and wonderment created by the creative and expansive minds of the designers. Harajuku may not look the same as it once did, but it's still a very influential part of fashion and art today.

Other Sources:

FRUiTs Magazine



Info - Outlook Traveller

Vice Image -

Twenty Two Words -

Lolita Style in Hallway

By Mian -, CC BY 2.0,

Gothic Lolita

By Iriseyes at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

1964 Olympics Image

Teenagers dancing in the Harajuku district of Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, 1978 - credits on image

Keystone, Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Aiba Runa


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