Lately, there has been a lot of talk about whether Harajuku subcultures are dead or not.
Decora has long been a symbol of the Harajuku district, but have you ever wondered what happened to it? Although toned-down and transformed, Harajuku street fashion is very much alive.
Read on to find out what happened to decora and other substyles.
Is Japanese Decora Fashion Still Alive Today?
Tokyo is famous for its eccentric and shocking fashion, and decora and kawaii fashion have long been one of the synonyms for Japanese street style. But, what’s the situation like today? Rumors have appeared recently in the fashion world about the death of Harajuku fashion. Be aware that the media can sometimes blow things out of proportion, so things may not be as bad as it seems.
Just so we’re clear, “Harajuku style” is not an actual fashion style, because the very definition of Harajuku style signifies a lack of rules. However, if we do have to find one style that is representative of the Harajuku district, it would probably be decora.
The rumors may have started because many high fashion and fast fashion chains, and even some banks and businesses, have opened in the area thanks to the globalization of Japan. It is no wonder that many subcultures had to adapt to the new climate, and also adjust their prices accordingly, and decora is no exception.
Although decora fashion has indeed changed drastically since its beginning, one might say it has only evolved, which is natural for any fashion style. While the colorful decora may have toned down, Harajuku is still a place where one can express themself without any rules. And although the area may not seem like something you’ve seen in FRUiTS anymore, it is still a place where street fashion is born.
Although its popularity has declined, Decora fashion is still being worn and documented on social media and street photography. These trends are quite unpredictable, so we never know when a trend is going to die or re-emerge.
Where to Buy Japanese Decora Fashion?
One of the most convincing pieces of evidence that decora isn’t dead is, of course, the stores that still sell it. So if you like this type of fashion, here are some stores that you need to check out:
ACDC RAG is a very popular store on the streets of Harajuku for all things alternative! They mainly sell clothes but have various accessories as well.
If you like Kyary Pamyu Pamyun and other kawaii icons, 6%DokiDoki is the place for you! Although the popularity of decora fashion may have dropped, this store is still doing well. Here you can find many different accessories, clothes, and toys, and the colorful store in Harajuku itself is hard to miss.
Tasty Peach Studios
Tasty Peach Studios is a store that many of you may know for their plushies, but they also sell T-shirts, accessories, jewelry, and wigs.
Sanrio is the home of Hello Kitty, and pop culture accessories are a must-have in decora. Sanrio has both physical and online shops, where you can find all you need for your perfect decora coordinate.
Similar to Tasty Peach, TokiDoki sells primarily toys, but they also have a clothing and accessories range. They have had many collaborations with pop culture brands - Sanrio among others.
Cutesy Kink is a UK store that sells cosplay, j-fashion items, and plushies. They have a great selection to choose from for your perfect decora outfit!
What is Decora Fashion?
Decora is a popular Japanese style and has become the face of Harajuku style globally. The style includes wearing many bright colors and layering accessories. Although it peaked in the mid-2000s, it is still well-known and popular.
Decora fashion started in the late 90s and early 2000s and rose to global popularity. In the beginning, it was promoted by the singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. The followers of this style usually stick to one color palette, such as dark decora, pink decora, or rainbow decora.
A signature outfit for decora girls includes a T-shirt, a hoodie, and a tutu skirt. The hair is usually worn in two ponytails or buns with bangs, while the makeup is usually pretty basic.
However, the most important part of the decora style is tons of accessories, including hair clips on bangs. Stockings and legwarmers are also worn in layers. This style has decreased in popularity, but it still has lots of followers around the world.
Colors are used in decora in abundance, from pastel to neon, to rainbow colors. The type of clothes in decora is not as important as colors and accessories. However, there are some popular items. Decora is inspired by the 80s and cartoon characters, such as Hello Kitty, Pokemon, or Care bears. Tshirts and hoodies with these prints are commonly worn.
The first rule of decora is to wear as many accessories as you can. It’s what sets this style apart from other styles. Accessories include face masks, band-aids, necklaces, rings, bows, and enough bracelets to cover almost the whole forearm.
Shoes can be different, from high-top sneakers to mary-janes. Decora makeup is usually minimal, to give it that innocent, child-like look. However, some like to experiment with makeup as well, wearing stickers, rhinestones, or glitter under their eyes.
As for the hair, it can be in pastel colors to match the outfit, or in natural colors with curls, bangs and pigtails, and lots and lots of hair accessories. Longer hairstyles are popular among men, too.
Is Harajuku Fashion Dead?
In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about “the death of Harajuku”, due to the appearance of many tourists and chains like Uniqlo. However, these rumors don’t seem to be true.
Subcultural fashion changes, just like mainstream fashion, so it’s natural that some styles have come to an end. Fashion is naturally evolving. For example, check out the TokyoFashion.com website.
It’s an accurate representation of what is going on on the streets of Tokyo. On their Medium page they wrote that Harajuku is not a specific style, but a zone of creativity. Harajuku is a place where people go to express themselves without being judged.
So as long as it continues to attract creative young people - Harajuku is still alive.
The truth is, that the classic subcultural fashion such as decora and gothic lolita is not what the current trendsetters are wearing, but that doesn’t mean that these styles have disappeared. However, if you asked an average high school student what 6%DOKIDOKI is, they probably wouldn’t know.
Also, when Shoichi Aoki said that “there are no cool kids to photograph,” he didn’t mean that the people of Harajuku aren’t interesting anymore, he simply meant that there aren’t as many people in the area as there used to be. Also, times have changed, so people don’t have to hang around in Harajuku to get noticed by photographers anymore, they can publish their own photos on their social media.
Sure, mainstream brands have occupied the area, but that doesn’t mean we should all change our style to match the current trends. If traditional Harajuku styles are what you know and love - wear them. If you prefer modern styles, you can wear them too. Fashion is freedom of expression.
Now you see that decora fashion is very much alive, and all the places where you can shop! Harajuku subcultures are not dying, they are just changing and evolving like all fashion trends, but this area is still one of the world’s capitals of style and innovation. It is safe to say that what is happening to Harajuku and decora fashion is not an end, only a change. Harajuku is not dead. It’s just putting on a new outfit.