Global Fashion Capitals: Tokyo

Global Fashion Capitals: Tokyo

By Lina Goelzer

Crowned by Vogue as the “number one city in the world for street style”, Tokyo is a paradise for fashion lovers from all ends of the spectrum. Anything from the understated to the extravagant is executed to perfection.  Street style is composed of a mix of both local and foreign labels, with no hesitation to try progressive and avant-garde styles fresh off the catwalk3  .  For designers around the world, this adventurous nature has made Tokyo a major source of inspiration.5 Districts such as Harajuku, Shibuya, and Ginza are known internationally for their outlandish styles and subcultures.  Harajuku, in particular, has become iconic as the birthplace of numerous designers and fashion trends.

The style subcultures found in Tokyo are unmatched in the U.S. or Europe; many of them have their own signature stores and fashion magazines that cater to their demographic. “Lolita”, “ganguro”, and “decora” are a few of the most prominent5.  Some anthropologists have credited the development of Tokyo’s unique style subcultures to Japan’s long history of isolationism, while others identify graphically strong art forms, such as anime or manga, as a source of inspiration.6

In contrast with Tokyo’s street-style, the international image of Japanese high fashion has, since the 1980’s, been  associated with the austerity and cutting edge design of three cornerstone brands of Japanese fashion: Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Rei Kawakubo of the Comme des Garçons.3  Japan’s fashion industry has continued to capitalize on technology and innovation to create one of a kind garments at lower costs.  Tokyo’s taste for high fashion has remained strong for decades; according to a recent study from McKinsey,  Japan’s luxury market is valued at $15-$20 billion, second only to that of US4

Scroll through for a taste of Tokyo’s fashion.