Street style is renowned as a central tenet of Japanese fashion. The scene itself – borne out of the shops and small boutiques that line Takeshidadori and neighbouring streets and up to Harajuku Koen in central Tokyo – is still alive to streetwear and cosplay – the two intertwine, making Sundays part mass teenage convention, part tourist show.
But to define Japan’s fashion scene by this movement, in this time, is misleading. It’s contrary to what is actually going on in the best Japanese designers’ minds right now. Likewise, the proposition of such a scene has long since gone global: everyone is a street artist now, and to be one – in the post-mainstream age – doesn’t turn heads at quite the same speed.
For many years streetwear in Tokyo has been highly representative: the work of designers who are now operating at the pinnacle of international design have been touched by it.
But now the tables have turned so that streetwear is influencing more formal and couture clothing. Japan no longer uniquely influences couture (in fact many Japanese brands seek a Western aesthetic) although they do have a more radical, costumized street scene.
It was a sense of democracy that led to the fusion of street and design in Japan, but it is further global democracy that makes Japan’s domestic relationships less intriguing as a major influence on the rest of the world or its own bright sparks, becaue both are looking elsewhere too.