Japan is a fashion mecca. We at Grape Japan recently covered cosplayers Nakanojojo and Akira Itsuki, both of whom flash eye-popping anime-inspired styles to their fans.

A little further back, we covered kawaii and genderless fashion aficionados Peco and Ryuchell. Their popular Instagram feed features countless colorful outfits and an upfront appreciation of everything Disney. As a family—they are married with a young child—they feel fashion is an integral part of self-expression. The couple actively works to incorporate it into their day-to-day lives.

In Japan, it's clear that these fashionistas are not alone. The country has an active fashion community—including cosplayers—that is seen, at least in some areas, on the cutting edge. At the same time, there are many styles to choose for those with a keen eye. Why don't we look at some of the more iconic styles popular in recent years?

Kawaii and Decora

Decora, and overall kawaii fashion, is a subset of Japanese street fashion. Their style is bright and eccentric, bordering on the artistic and avant-garde.

Refinery29 did a deep dive on Decora fashion, following the bright and bubbly Haruka Kurebayashi. Haruka is a famous decora Instagrammer with over 200k followers. The influencer flashes multicolored wigs and extravagant amounts of accessories in expressing herself.

On the surface, decoras seem to push back on the rigidity of their society. Living in a culture that elevates uniformity, those that break the mold are in dire need of expressing themselves. Decoras typically achieve this by sporting elaborate socks, eye-catching bags and backpacks, rainbow hair clips, and more.

Later in the clip, decora Kenae takes Refinery29 through the two-hour process of her preparation. Naturally, the 23-year-old starts by choosing an outfit, selecting one of many flashy, boldly-colored garments. She then puts on her wig and arranges her hairclips. In the current iteration of decora fashion, excessive hair clips are a mainstay.

While the style may be surprising to the uninitiated, it is markedly harmless. Young people are only going to great efforts to look good, and show their true selves in the meantime.


Lolita is another Japanese street fashion you can’t help but notice if you’ve spent a significant amount of time in the country.

YouTuber CupofTJ dived deep into the fashion in a 2018 video. Like all kawaii fashions, the look is very cute with an overt victorian flare. Lolita outfits are elaborate, and often involve several layers and presumably difficult to find garments.

CupofTJ begins her transformation at a studio in Harajuku, selecting a course that costs 10,000 JPY ($93). She picks her favorite dress from an elaborate assortment, and the staff helps her choose the various shirts and undergarments that go along with it—even the socks.

After picking her shoes, she heads to the dressing room to change. With so many layers and details, it seems to take some time. Next, the YouTuber gets her makeup up done, applies eyelashes and a wig, and completes the outfit with a matching bow. Indeed, her transformation is shocking.


In another installation, Refinery29 heads to Nagoya to investigate the popularity of chicana-inspired fashion among some Japanese women.

The piece starts off with an obligatory disclaimer. The Japanese women featured have effectively designed their sensibilities around women of another race. There are some who consider this offensive and feel that their fashion choices simply elevate harmful stereotypes.

For fashionista Ayaka, this sentiment couldn't be further from the truth. Her obsession began from a place of inspiration and the desire to emulate what she admired in others. Her day begins with a laborious makeup session. Afterward, she chooses an outfit from a wardrobe inspired by 90s Latina fashion.

While the politics are treacherous to navigate, the Japanese women drawn to this fashion have genuine reasons for breaking from their cultural norms. Most popular styles in the country are undeniably "soft," which is undoubtedly a turnoff to many. Some women may be seeking to express a more powerful, unintimidated version of themselves. They approach this fashion with respect, so hopefully can be forgiven for being indiscreet.

By - Luke Mahoney.