Harajuku what? A guide to what's what in Japanese street style

Last weekend's

Harajuku Street Fashion Party at Hinterland

aimed to educate while giving aficonados a chance to deck out in Japanese pop styles and have a good time. If you were there, you might have caught on. And then again, you might not have. Here's a vague pathway through the back alleys of Harajuku street fashion. Beware, this is a culture where the alleys have alleys.

Gothic Lolita
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The full-on GothLoli is a vision in black and white ruffles, corset ties, frilly knee socks, aprons and bonnets, with pale skin and masses of ringlets the preferred hairstyle. But the Lolitas have more subsets than stars in the sky: Elegant Lolitas wear muted colors and sport a more sophisticated look, while Sweet Lolitas are all cotton candy with doll-like accessories. Punk Lolitas tend toward spiky hair, plaids and safety pins. Still another subset combines lolita looks with traditional Japanese garb, and the Guro Lolitas wear blood-spattered whites and bandages to depict "innocent gore."


Decora, a


or "cute" style, is characterized by loud, mismatched patterns and colors, and an overload of plastic accessories, including a patchwork of cheap barrettes and beads, tiaras and character goods, such as Hello Kitty or Disney's Winnie the Pooh bags. They also wear patterned knee socks and often pull child-sized rolling suitcases.


Super comfort drives the Kigurumi or "ethnic mascot" look, which basically requires wearing an adult-sized version of a child's one-piece animal pajama, sometimes depicting a character such as Pikachu.

Visual Kei

This androgynous group has its Bowie-esque roots in glam-rock, punk and metal, as well as Japanese rock.


Derived from the earlier Black Power subset and falling under the Sexy Gals or gyaru subculture, the ganguro look combines an overly tanned skin tone, bleached hair, with heavy black eyeliner and false eyelashes set off by colored contact lenses, and white lipstick and eye shadow. Overaccessorized ganguro girls wear platform shoes and mini skirts.

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