Japanese Street Styles: What You Need to Know


Create the perfect lolita look with this sweet lolita dress from CutesyKink.

The creative and colourful world of Japanese street style is constantly inspiring, an area of alternative fashion where the rules are completely thrown out, allowing for incredibly creative and unique alternative styles that are in a world of their own.

From the Victorian style of gothic lolita, to the colourful decora look, each style in the world of Japanese street fashion is unique in it’s own way. Compared to the classic styles of gothic and punk, Japanese street fashion has many sub genres and styles that we’ve barely seen on the streets of the UK or US, lets take a look at some of the most cutting edge and alternative Japanese street styles.

Lolita fashion is one of the most renowned and well known street styles to come out of Japan. Inspired by Victorian fashion, the Japanese lolita style has many sub-genres from ‘sweet lolita’ to ‘gothic lolita’, all keeping in with the same Victorian style, with their own niche additions.

The lolita look initially began as one of modesty, with a focus on quality in both the material and manufacture of the clothing. The original style of lolita attire often focuses on a knee length skirt or dress with a empire line style, shaped with puffed sleeves and skirts, and plenty of lace detailing. Additional elements like corsets, knee high socks and head dresses finish off the look.

A lot of care and attention to detail goes into piecing together the perfect lolita outfit, with many choosing to wear pieces from renowned and well loved labels that are associated with the look, such as Baby The Stars Shine Bright, Milk, and Angelic Pretty. Today, it’s far easier than you’d imagine to source lolita fashion to piece together your own sweet, or gothic lolita look, with sellers like our very own CutesyKink providing the perfect items to piece together your outfit, from sweet lolita dresses, to Victorian styled skirts.


Piece together a Bosozoku styled outfit with these customized jeans by Peppermint Giraffe.

On a complete flip side to the quaint lolita style is Bosozoku, a Japanese youth subculture that translates as “running-out-of-control (as of a vehicle) tribe”. This cult style is associated with motorcycle sub-culture, with a particular interest in customizing.

Much like the customized hot rods of rockabilly style, Bosozoku sub culture takes to customizing motorcycles, often at times tying in with races. A sub culture that dates back as far as the emergence of rockabilly in the 1950’s, it’s no wonder that this style is often tied in with the rise of youth rebellion that emerged in the ’50’s.

As a style, Bosozoku fashion takes inspiration from the original ’50’s rockabilly look, mixed in with an apocalyptic futurism look. Taking items like work jumpsuits, military coats, leather jackets, wrap around sunglasses, face masks, and high heels, finishing the look off with dyed hair, and plenty of make up on Bosozoku women. To recreate this classic look why not try these customized diy style jeans by Peppermint Giraffe, finished off with a work shirt, and a pair of killer high heels, like these predator heels by Hades.

Showing just how varied Japanese street style is, Kogal, is at a complete parallel to the raucous style of Bosozoku. A style that takes inspiration from the Japanese school uniform, often worn with loose socks and kawaii accessories.

You may actually recognise the look, as depicted by the murderous Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill Vol. 1, with her pleated short skirt, knee high socks, and long hair. Not too dissimilar from the classic kogal style, which also adds kawaii accessories like back packs, alongside platform shoes. Whilst the style may not be worn so much these days, it’s still one that we often associate with Japanese street style. For a more cosplay inspired approach to this look, this Sucker Punch inspired outfit by Koolies Kreations, takes a pinch of inspiration from the kogal look.


Classic Decora style, with plenty of accessories on show.

As the popularity in Kogal waned, it gave way to the more colourful Decora style. With it’s neon accessories, kawaii outfits, and layers upon layers of cute accessories, it’s a style that we’ve taken to with much aplomb. Instantly kawaii, and incredibly creative, the decora look allows for a world of accessorizing that you never knew possible before.

A classic decora look often focuses around a wardrobe of neon colours, much like the classic cyber goth look of the late nineties; in fact, cult brands like Cyberdog, have often been associated with the decora look. Although compared to the cyber look, decora hair and make up are often styled naturally to give more focus on the accessories of the outfit.

Decora is all about the accessories, if you love layering jewellery and hair accessories, then this look is just perfect for you. Accessories are layered on, at times until the clothing and hair are just about visible underneath the layers of hair clips, beaded jewellery, and arm-warmers. Items like Atomic Lace’s kawaii jewellery, and Pearls and Swine’s fascinator’s suit this look perfectly, layered up over plenty of colourful accessories.

Then there’s styles that we may be more familiar with than we’d realise, Japanese Rockabilly, is not too dissimilar at all to the classic look that we know and love. With many key elements that are similar to the classic style, such as leather clothing, swing skirts, slicked back hair, and pompadours.

The only difference between Japanese rockabilly and the classic rockabilly style, is the emphasis on style. In Japan, rockabilly is much more of a fashion aesthetic, styled within an inch of absolute perfection, often associated alongside Lolita as a major sub culture fashion style on the streets on Japan. You could easily pay homage to this classic look with leather jackets, like this stylish jacket by Shitsville clothing, with a pair of black jeans and slicked back hair.


A classic Ganguro look.

Last, but not least, is the cult Ganguro style, with similarities to Kogal, Ganguro features a similar look with long hair, and more of a deep set tan to the minimal look often worn in kogal looks.

Ganguro style is well known for it’s look of bold tans, and bleached hair, accompanied by false eyelashes, white make up and colourful facial gems. Worn alongside an outfit of colourful clothing, platform shoes, and colourful accessories.

Whilst the accessories may be somewhat tame when compared to decora, they’re still a crucial element to the look, with colourful bracelets and rings often worn alongside brightly coloured clothing. This look is still popular outside of Japan, but has given way to the more toned down Gyaru look with it’s glam approach to the original ganguro look, with a more toned tan, hair extensions and false eyelashes playing a crucial part to the look.

There’s even more sub genres, and street styles worn on the streets of Japan that you’d recognise instantly, from Visual Kei to Shironuri. Thanks to cult publications like “Fruits” these cult Japanese street styles have made a huge impact on alternative fashion worldwide, and still go on to inspire many. Whilst some of the styles may not be as popular in Japan today, they’re still admired worldwide for their creative approach to alternative and street style.

Japanese street fashion has certainly influenced many alternative designers worldwide, just take a look at our sellers ranges of Kawaii and street fashion inspired clothing and accessories to see plenty of street style inspired items, from kawaii jewellery, to lolita clothing, and Bosozoku styled attire, you’ll be sure to find something perfect to finish off your look.

Image credits:

Decora picture – jiofashion at Deviantart

Ganuro picture – Saki-Matsi at Deviantart