You may have already noticed that the fashion for streetwear , which could be translated as “street clothing”, is more and more present around us. We are witnessing the rise of brands such as Palace, Off-White or even Supreme and this style of clothing is clearly not about to interrupt its growth.
If we're talking about it today it's because in streetwear we find a lot of clothing (sneakers, pants, caps) inspired by Japanese or Asian fashion. Therefore, it was important for us to talk to you about it because even if streetwear is not an ancestral fashion like the kimono or the jinbei, it is nevertheless something very present in modern Japan .
Origin of Japanese streetwear
More generally, streetwear is a fashion that appeared in the 1980s in New York. Initially worn by street gangs, this style crossed between the skater, surfer and hip-hop trends of the time would not take long to become more popular. It will gradually bring together numerous groups driven by common passions such as graffiti, skateboarding, music or dance and will reach a real peak in the 1990s.
Big brands embrace streetwear
In view of the exponential growth of this new fashion worn everywhere in the streets of New York, major brands such as Adidas or Nike were quick to offer their own streetwear clothing. Among these we find, for example, the timeless Superstar sneakers from Adidas or the Air Jordans from Nike.
The arrival of streetwear in Japan
Following the success experienced in the United States, streetwear will soon develop internationally in Europe as well as in Asian countries such as Japan. It was in 1989 that DJ Hiroshi Fujiwara introduced this style to the archipelago as well as youth culture following a meeting in New York with Malcolm McLaren, a pioneer of punk and hip-hop fashion from the 1970s and 1980.
The popularization of streetwear in Japan
In Japan, we are witnessing the opening of numerous streetwear boutiques in Tokyo in the Harajuku district, today considered the cradle of Japanese streetwear . Brands like Nowhere/A Bathing Ape will appear as well as Goodenough, Hiroshi Fujiwara's brand which will stand out from the others by adopting a limited edition sales model (as Supreme does today). Hiroshi Fujiwara is renowned worldwide for his creations and has collaborated with the biggest brands such as Louis Vuitton, Nike, Beats and Moncler.
The golden age of Japanese streetwear
Despite the influence of New York brands like Stüssy and then Supreme, the Harajuku district will gradually appropriate streetwear to redefine its codes and make them evolve according to its own vision of streetwear.
The development of a unique style
Streetwear fashion will eventually spread to the neighboring Harajuku district, Shibuya, and we will then witness the opening of many second-hand stores. This will further popularize this style in the Japanese capital, Tokyo. Legendary pieces in the world of streetwear will then see the light of day such as the graphic t-shirts from A Bathing Ape (Bape), thus placing Tokyo as the second world capital of streetwear, after New York. However, Japanese streetwear stands out from New York streetwear for a reason. Where American designers are the sole decision-makers of streetwear clothing and what will be worn, the Japanese take the initiative to personalize their style by adding accessories such as chains or rings.
The 1990s are thus considered the golden age of Japanese streetwear . Especially since the arrival of the internet in the 2000s and online sales with eBay will encourage the purchase/resale of streetwear clothing and will allow many small designers to offer their creations.
The arrival of kawaii fashion
Going against the tide of streetwear, kawaii will then appear on the streets of Tokyo. Much more extravagant, this style is driven more by a desire to break classic codes and assert oneself according to one's own tastes. Very extravagant colors and looks will soon follow this movement such as Cyberpunk, Lolita and Gothic Lolita. The expansion of video games in Japan will certainly have had a strong influence on these fashions and still continues to do so among many cosplay fans. Tokyo then established itself in the 2000s as a very heterogeneous fashion capital in which we find many distinct styles but sharing one thing in common: non- conformism .
image source: http://tokyofashion.com/
The convergence between streetwear and luxury
In the same way as in Japan, streetwear will continue to expand in the United States and will be highlighted by influential rappers like 2Pac or 50 Cent. This will break the distance that existed between luxury brands which until now did not mix with streetwear considered as street fashion and not as a style in its own right. Versace will be the first to offer its streetwear clothing and this proximity between luxury and streetwear will be affirmed with the arrival of Kanye West who will highlight collaborations with for example Louis Vuitton or Givenchy.
The high-end streetwear market is still very developed today and successful brands like Supreme (New York), Bape (Japan) or Comme des Garçons (Japan) illustrate this perfectly.
Japanese streetwear today
Contrary to what luxury brands might have thought in the past, streetwear has indeed developed as a style in its own right and not as ephemeral street fashion. He even initiated his own style with an urban culture represented in different pieces of clothing such as patterned tank tops, XXL parkas, loose tracksuits or baggy jogging pants. Japanese brands that are pioneers of streetwear like A Bathing Ape or Neighborhood continue to thrive today and are not about to lose the favor of their fans. Many of them also collaborate with the biggest names in the world of luxury (LV, Moncler, etc.), which is how Japanese streetwear has established itself on a global scale in the trends of fashion and this, at all scales of fashion.