The quirky fashion and street style of Tokyo

Quirky Japanese girls pose for a photo

The quirky street styles of Tokyo have garnered much global attention, with many blogs and stylists cropping up to capture the well styled Tokyoites. I recently travelled to the fashion capital of Japan, in the hope of discovering first-hand the essence of Tokyo Street Fashion.

The hub of fashion in Tokyo has long been considered Harajuku. The area is located in the Tokyo Special Ward of Shibuya and is known for its unrivaled ‘dress-up’ culture, the grounds for which began to slowly emerge after WW2. In its time it has housed the exploration of youth trends from Goth-Loli, to Mori Girl, to Cyber-Punk, Decora Fashion and Steam Punk. Whilst these fashion trends are intriguing, there are other dress codes present in Tokyo which also deserve notoriety.

Japanese street style

If you step outside of the small, albeit highly influential subculture of Harajuku, the streets become filled with relatively Westernised styles. Just a few blocks away avenues such as Omotesando, (nick named ‘Tokyo’s Champs-Elysées’) house brands from Louis Vuitton to Dior, and Armani, bringing our latest trends straight to Tokyo’s doorstep. As a result one can see Western elements creeping into the Tokyo outfits, such as darker colour schemes, with the mixing of blacks, whites, and greys, or glimpses of the popular Sports Luxe influence. For these fashion led looks there is a stunning air of refinement and sensibility that is employed. Granted, this is often offset with something quirky (making it more appealing), but the basis is really very well considered. In terms of more casual looks, there is a clear American influence, with sneaker shops such as Nike ruling the streets, alongside numerous outlets for American T-shirt brands.

But do not fret, no matter what is being worn, almost every Tokyoite will add a playful twist to an outfit, incorporating anything from platform shoes, to ‘cute’ accessories, or even bright coloured socks creeping out from a rolled trouser hem. Interestingly, outside of Harajuku the most colour I saw was in uniforms - from convenience store employees (Lawson sports an exciting graphic striped blue shirt), to traffic controllers (bright block-colour blues) to construction workers with big contrast yellow stripes.

Japanese street style

Japanese street style

So, what do all of these influences feel like in one place? Well, imagine this...just as you are appreciating the shades of grey one man has styled with refined precision, you will see in your peripheral the bedazzling block-coloured, bright-blue uniform of a traffic controller, both of which you can somehow envisage going straight down a catwalk. Then you’ll turn and see a Décora-styled girl, clad in hundreds of clashing plastic accessories, showing off what appears to be every colour in the pantone palette. You’ll blink and notice her brushing past a young teen who is oogling at the latest Nikes in a shop front window and...well at this point your head will probably start to spin a little.

Inevitably, all of these elements existing in the one visual landscape made it quite the challenge to truly pin point what the ‘Tokyo street style,’ is all about. On a popular Japanese blog,, the site explains that Tokyo Fashion is not as simple as it once was, revealing that the fast-paced nature of trends and brands now require new documentation to literally occur from ‘day to day, hour to hour.’ After I read this my desire to pick trends, analyse colour palettes or dissect common silhouettes became a tad irrelevant.

So, for my final week in Tokyo I decided to change my approach...

I sat back, I watched and I applauded all of the Tokyo Street Styles in all of their magnificent, contradictory glory!

Intro Image: Credit