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Since the explosion of fashion in Harajuku, Japan in the late 70s, Japan has done exceptionally well with adopting and integrating Western fashion into the Japanese lifestyle. Japanese streetwear has so many subsets and influences, it can be hard to nail down. But there is one influence that is clear in Japanese streetwear: African American culture.
The influence of popular black musicians and athletes reaches across the ocean. Ever since French apparel was first sold on Takeshita Dori, the Japanese have been adopting classic looks. You can still the 90s influence in contemporary streetwear.
The 90s were a boom for Western fashion crossing over into Japanese culture, with magazines like ‘Fruits’ highlighting this crossover. Even Cross Colours was doing its part spreading the culture overseas. Check that out here.
Compared to the U.S., Japan is generally more conservative in the way they dress. Japanese streetwear opts for a looser and layered style. You will often see oversized tees under a flannel or open jacket. Straight legged jeans, tapered cargo pants or joggers have become staples for the look.
Another difference between Japanese and American streetwear is the Japanese don’t rely on brands to the same extent. Each look is unique and made to suit that person’s lifestyle. Although, like the U.S., Japanese street fashion is heavily influenced by the music industry.
Take Hiroshi Fujiwara, also known as the ‘Godfather of Harajuku’. Fujiwara has ties to the music as well as fashion and design industries. He’s collaborated with the likes of Nike, Supreme, and Beats by Dre. Effectively reaching an audience through design, sports, and music.
Japanese Hip-Hop alone inspires many unique looks among college students in Tokyo.
Tomoaki Nigo, founder of BAPE in Hip-Hop inspired streetwear
If you're interested in adopting Japanese street style into your streetwear and still want to represent the culture, here are some recommendations.
(These recommendations are an attempt and a simple fit the has the layered and loose-fitting style Japanese streetwear is known for)