What is Harajuku Streetwear?

What Is Harajuku Streetwear?

If you’re a fan of Japan’s streetwear fashion, then you have at least heard about Harajuku streetwear. For fashion-oriented people, a walk around Harajuku is an exciting experience.

Harajuku fashion and style are publicly displayed on the streets. It’s one of the best places to check out the latest trends. You’re going to learn more about Japanese streetwear brands on the streets than on runways.

If there’s anything that makes Tokyo streetwear an interesting topic to learn about is its diversity. It wasn’t until the 1940s that other clothing styles were introduced to the citizens of Japan.

Before the American soldiers went to Japan, the only clothing the Japanese wore was the kimono and other traditional styles.

Where It All Began

To fully understand Japanese men’s streetwear, let’s go back to the mid-nineties when things started to get busy on the streets of Harajuku, Urahara.

In the developing stages, Urahara is only about four blocks in length. However, the place already had plenty of boutiques with a wide variety of styles. What makes these boutiques a go-to place for fashion enthusiasts is how they’re all relevant to the trends in America.

One of the boutiques was called Nowhere, and while many would agree it’s such a plain name to call a shop, it is what the owner intended to be.

Over the years, Nowhere thrived because of word of mouth. The owner of Nowhere is Jun Takashi, who is now the proud founder and owner of A Bathing Ape.

What made Harajuku streetwear what it is today is because of these pioneering boutiques that embraced the subcultures before the trends caught the attention of the rest of the population.

They understood that the rising fashion in the United States and the United Kingdom was the next big thing. During this era, skate, hip-hop, punk and metal subcultures were gaining popularity.

The pioneers who led these Japanese streetwear brands had to translate the words into Japanese, so their buyers could understand them.

From there, people flock to the streets of Harajuku to rock their new clothing styles. As the place became more popular, other brands showed up, including Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Goodenough.

The popularity of Urahara is known for these three elements: denim, leather, and finally, the sought-after jewelry accessories. Everyone who loved the movement celebrated the birth of lifestyle varieties in Japan.

Harajuku street

Adding Colors To The Movement

While everyone was enjoying the laid-back, chill vibes from Harajuku’s back streets, the main streets were also starting a movement of their own.

Yes, these styles are the kawaii, lolita, gothic lolita and lastly cyberpunk subcultures. More and more Japanese streetwear brands are testing how diverse Japan's pop culture will become.

You’ve seen these styles from those crazy neon clothes to cute pastel dresses. They are meant to visually pop out of the picture to send a powerful message.

These fashion trends were meant to defy the cultural norm and to add colors to the movement. The citizens of Japan, especially the youth, loved the sensory overload get-up as they see these as a means of expressing their individuality.

Although both movements are different from each other, especially when it comes to their style and history, they do share something in common, which is self-expression in do-it-yourself clothes.

As you may already know, Japan is popular for its kawaii subculture fashion trend, which led to many countries adapting to the movement even up to this day.

Kawaii style

Tokyo Streetwear and Self-Expression

In the 1990s, the Japanese were trying to figure out what it would mean to become fashion-forward. At this time, they were at the peak of diversity and Japanese streetwear brands started experimenting with different designs and styles.

The Japanese prioritize their lifestyle as much as they care about aesthetics. Due to this, there was no comparison between the American and Japanese cultures because the Japanese were just too diverse.

In the early 2000s, Harajuku streetwear started to lean towards the wearer’s fashion details. Gone are the days when the designer was the main coordinator for the clothing. It’s all about self-expression, creativity and individuality.

To encourage customization, the boutiques started selling a mix of brand new and second-hand clothes. You can say that the 2000s was a time where you could see a blend of styles and remixes in Japan.

A lot of people were creating new ideas or rocking a style in the early 1990s. It can also be a mixture of both, depending on the individual’s mood for the day.

Harajuku fashion

Skater-Oriented Style

Supreme is definitely one of the strongest factors that shaped the streetwear fashion of Japan. In the year 1998, Supreme landed in Daikanyama. Years after its first Supreme store, Japan would have the most stores globally.

Due to the influence of Supreme, a lot more Japanese are loving the skater get-up, making clothing brands like Stussy well-known.

In the later years, with more and more people hopping onto social media, celebrities in the States became interested in Japan’s unique streetwear clothing.

Now, Japanese streetwear can be bought by people all around the world via fast fashion with the masses happily adapting to the styles.

Supreme Daikanyama


Harajuku streetwear has come a long way since the 1990s. It’s interesting how one movement that only started in a neighborhood that’s only four blocks long is now taking the world by storm.

Fashion is constantly evolving. What makes Japan’s streetwear fashion unique is how the pioneers were able to instantly adapt to the trend before anyone else was aware of it.

It was the dedication of the movement’s leaders who stayed true to their fashion. They knew about the importance of self-expression and individualism. Having the freedom to express yourself in your own clothing speaks volumes.

Harajuku streetwear