Kawaii Minus Gender: Genderless Kei


It’s been a long time since I last posted anything on Japanese street fashion, and of all the fashion-focused articles I have posted here on Otaku Lounge, all but one of them have been concerned primarily with women. After all, the vast majority of Japanese street fashions and subcultures have traditionally been dominated by female-centric styles: lolita, gyaru, mori girl, and plenty of others. Genderless kei – whose male participants have been gaining the lion’s share of media and fan attention – is changing that landscape. Continue reading

Motorbikes and Pompadours: The Bosozoku Style

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It would be no exaggeration to say that the majority of Japanese street fashion trends and subcultures that formed from the 1970s onwards were largely driven and characterised by women. While the likes of the lolita, gyaru, and mori girl subcultures (to name only a few) certainly have their male adherents and counterparts, most found their place in pop culture history via the female demographic – my primary focus so far whenever I’ve been discussing Japanese street fashion here on Otaku Lounge. Today however, I’d like to change things up a bit by turning my attention towards a subculture that, although picked up by some women in later years, originated in the hands of Japanese males. Continue reading

Of Vintage Whimsy and Forest Fancy: A Glance into Mori Girl Fashion

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Earthy tones, loose-fitting layers and a love of vintage – that’s mori girl (literally ‘forest girl’) in a nutshell, and against a backdrop of other current fashion trends among young women – bleached hair, heavy make-up, high heels and miniskirts – it makes for a refreshing change. Continue reading

Bold, Blonde and Beautiful?: Gyaru Fashion and Style

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My last street fashion-centric article for Otaku Lounge being on Japan’s lolita subculture back in October, I thought it might be time for a look at another trend, and one which might even be considered by some as the antithesis of lolita fashion at that: the ever-evolving gyaru style. Continue reading

Lolita: Fashion and Subculture

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Having explored FRUiTS fashion and the sailor fuku as a fashion statement in previous Otaku Lounge articles, I thought it might be a good time to look at another, more specific form of Japanese street fashion that has gained some recognition and popularity among fans across the globe – the lolita subculture.

Essentially, lolita fashion draws its inspiration from Victorian children’s clothing and 18th century French Rococo-period costumes. The general look therefore consists primarily of puffy knee-length dresses and skirts, lacy blouses, full petticoats, and varying forms of headdresses. Hand-held items such as dolls and plushies are sometimes carried in order to emphasise the childlike look, and make-up is often kept to a minimum. By adding gothic or other design elements into the mix, lolita fashion has evolved over the years into several different sub-styles, whose devotees often view their manner of dress as an entire lifestyle rather than as a simple fashion trend. Continue reading

FRUiTS Fashion: Show, Don’t Sell

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Since 1996, a monthly magazine called FRUiTS has been documenting street fashion in the bustling Harajuku area of Tokyo. What makes this fashion magazine different from any other is that there are no professional models and no mainstream advertising – in fact, the only ads you’ll see at all are for shops around the area, and for the magazine itself and its two affiliate magazines (STREET and TUNE). The photos are largely candid, the people usually staring straight into the camera. There is no airbrushing and no other photoshopping of any kind. Most images take up an entire page, with only a small white bar at the bottom containing a description of the outfit and a tiny biography of the person wearing it in their own words. Continue reading

Sailor Fuku: The Long and Short of it

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Despite or perhaps even because of their prevalence in anime, the humble sailor fuku is one of the more misunderstood articles of clothing out there, particularly by those viewers who watch anime only now and again and have little familiarity with Japanese culture as a whole. The two most common questions seem to be, ‘why is her skirt so short?’, and ‘why do the characters wear their school uniforms even when not at school?’ As a result, the idea that the sailor fuku acts primarily as some sort of fetish item seems to be a reasonably common one. Yeah, Sailor Moon has a lot to answer for. Continue reading