Tag Archives: street fashion

Street Style: Seeing Green


I adore spring fashion, and as the warmer weather approaches I find myself wishing for a complete wardrobe overhaul, but I never know where to begin.  I enjoy fashion but by no means do I consider myself a style expert. That’s why if I am in need of some inspiration I check out one of the many street style blogs to see what those far more fashionable than myself are wearing.  What is everyone wearing? Shades of green appear to be popular, like the flowy green maxi-skirt pictured above, worn by Andy from Berlin.  I like the way she paired it with simple accessories and a great pair of black heels. So perfectly spring.

Urban Weeds

The Portland street style blog Urban Weeds is fairly new on the scene. I’ve been checking it out regularly since the beginning, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Portland must be inhabited by a super human race of cool people who are down to earth and know a thing or two about personal style. Like the gentleman in this photo; I don’t think he could look more laid-back and casual. Love the colour combo he’s sporting, those yellow pants are perfectly on trend and look great on him.

The Locals

People in Copenhagen dress impeccably, it’s a fact, or at least that’s what I gather from perusing  The Locals street style blog. I’m especially drawn to the style of the woman pictured above. From her green leather jacket to her simple side ponytail, everything about this fantastic look is effortless and chic.

The Sartorialist

The Sartorialist is “the” blog when it comes to street style, and it was chosen as one of Time’s Top 100 Design Influences. Not only do you get to see some beautiful clothes on interesting people but you also get a dose of great photography. There definitely seems to be an imbalance between the number of men and women photographed on most of the street style blogs, but this handsome gentleman made the cut due to his immaculate look and the unexpected jolt of colour in his Hermes scarf.

Urban Weeds

Okay, so this little fashion plate isn’t wearing any green but you have to admit he does have a great sense of style. Love the old-fashioned rain boots and his grey hoodie, and a happy grin like that is always in fashion.

That’s all for my street style round up. For the next few weeks we’re going to be putting together more fashion posts on Fridays. So check back next week for a post about some incredible shoes.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

When the Kimono’s a No-Go – Modern Japanese Fashion Part 4: BosozukoGangs and GanguroGirls

Bosozuko and Ganguro subcultures have waned a bit in popularity over recent years, but have fascinating origins and backgrounds.


Bosozuko fashion

Classic Bosozuko look

First seen in the 1950s, with the explosion of the Japanese automobile industry, these early Bosozuko groups were disaffected youth – mainly men under 20- generally on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. They were known for commonly driving their tricked out motorcycles and cars around city streets while committing crime and causing mayhem. In the beginning, many of the hard-core Bozokuko would go on to become low-ranking Yakuza – the name given to the Japanese version of The Mob. In more recent years, the gang connotation associated with Bosozuko has faded, though they’re often still rabble-rousers who engage in reckless driving (as seen in the movie “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”) In 2004 a law was passed that gave police freer reign to arrest those participating in these group-rides and drag races. Today Bosozuko groups organize large events that showcase the artistry of their vehicular modifications.

Customized vehicles

And it’s not just the cars that are on display: Tremendously impressive pompadours, workman’s jumpsuits and military style overcoats emblazoned with kanji slogans characterize the fashion of the Bosozuko. Although with modifications on the cars like six-foot tail pipes (photo above), it’s hard to figure out which is more impressive.

Ganguro Girls – The Japanese take on Valley Girl Beauty


Two Yomanbas walking Toyko streets.

The literal translation of Ganguro is “black face” or “intensely dark”. This is a referenceto the deep tan (usually – and hopefully – a fake makeup tan) iconic to the look. This is married with bleached hair, fake eyelashes, white eyeliner, and the brightest / loudest clothing, much of which is made from plastic. Academics -because in Japan this trend confounded many-suggest that the Ganguro Girl style offers a lot of social commentary. Overtly, this look flies in the face of the Asian beauty ideal of snowy fair skin; whilethe subtler commentary provides a scathing statement on the tyranny of constraint and isolation of the culture at large. Despite the rebellious roots, it’s a fun and flirty style, with obvious references to the Californian surfer girl. Extreme practitioners of the style are known as Yamanbas (or manbas for short), meaning ‘mountain hag’, a reference to a character from folklore. Certainly,Ganguro Girls are more fun for one to see than describe.









Lolita – Modern Japanese Fashion Part 3

The Lolita look executed in white and in black

Lolita fashion, not to be confused with Nabokov’s novel and its underage connotations, is a fight for both modesty and attention. Variations on the theme include Sweet Lolita and Gothic Lolita, among others, all of which reference the Victorian era and Rococo styling. The subculture emerged in the 80s, traced to the English New Wave and Visual Kei music movement. Those who dress in the Lolita style, regardless of the sort, wear very elaborate dress, which includes attention paid to hairstyle and accessories. Headpieces, stockings and footwear are as important as the petticoat.

Sweet lolita in a pink outfit

The Lolita look, in its various incarnations, is probably the most familiar Japanese fashion subculture to most of us, since this fashion statement pops up in anime and manga quite often. In the case of the Sweet Lolita, the elaborate, often custom tailored outfits reference porcelain dolls or a fantasy version of the upper class Victorian child’s life.

An all black outfit makes gothic Lolita

Gothic Lolita is a darker interpretation that emerged in the 1990s partially in response to the Gyaru “I can’t live without men” fashion movement. Gothic Lolita’s response to this was: “Uh, yeah, I’m pretty sure we can. And we’ll cover up while we’re at it”. Gothic Lolita fashion is characterized by Edwardian-influenced elegant, monochromatic apparel and accessories with the occasional bat or crucifix shaped purse thrown in.

While the Lolita look started out as a fringe fashion, and there remain the diehards whose lives embody the morals and mannerisms of the characters they personify, the movement has been co-opted by mainstream Japanese fashion outlets so that it’s become the kind of self-expression you can find in the department store. Lolita has since been popularized outside of Japan too, in part due to Gothic and Lolita Bible, a quarterly mook (book-magazine) now available in English thanks to Tokyopop.

Next installment: Bosozuko – literal translation, violent running tribe – kinda like that 12 year old suburban white kid rapping that he’s from the ghetto, but with tricked out cars.




Harajuku – The Best of Japan’s Street Style on Full Display – Modern Japanese Fashion Part 2

Japanese street styleHarajuku, an area around the Harajuku train station in Toyko, describes Japanese Street Style as much as its geographic location. Certainly the two definitions are inextricably linked. The area has a long history of youth-attracting and as nexus of creativity. Towards the end of WWII, the area was inhabited by occupying US soldiers, whose presence attracted curious Japanese youth, eager to expose themselves to Western culture. In 1958, with the completion of the Central Apartments Complex, which drew fashion designers, artists, photographers, and models as inhabitants, the area’s reputation as an artistic hub solidified. Post-1964 Olympics, the area was further developed and the distinct Harajuku culture truly emerged.

Girl sporting harajuku styleToday Harajuku is an international fashion epicenter, full of young hipsters in full regalia and scores of boutiques and fashion houses, both local and international (Milk, the famous Japanese fashion label, launched here in the 70s and today has neighbours including Chanel and Louis Vuitton). Each weekend Harajuku welcomes congregations of youth in their most fashion forward outfits, with looks from Gothic Lolita, Visual Kei, and Cosplay on full display (in Cosplay – short for ‘costume play’ – fans dress elaborately as their favorite character from manga, anime, or video games). A mix and (mis)matching of various trends is a prominent feature of Harajuku, which is a style in its own right.

Harajuku girls

The next post will focus on the Lolita trend – no relation to Nabokov.



When the Kimono’s a No Go – Modern Japanese Fashion Part 1

Japanese girl with blue hairArticles, and even entire blogs, on modern Japanese culture and fashion are easy to come by. There are a few that offer thorough and thought-provoking commentary, but many are just collections of the strangest photos and videos, generally taken out of context, for a cheap laugh and cheaper generalizations. In a series of articles, I’ll provide some choice overviews and commentary on some prominent Japanese subcultures and fashions. And yes, I’ll include all the requisite photos.

two harajuku girls taking a rest

Japan’s is a homogeneous culture. Post WWII, a flattened country hunkered down and by-our-own-bootstrapped it to become the titan (or tiger) of technological industry, all in mere decades. This was – and continues to be – hard work and requires the commitment of all citizenry. Fitting in, looking the part, and “No ‘I’ in Team”are guiding principles in Japan, with these sentiments echoed from government policy right down to the family unit (Exhibit A: An immigration policy that makes Arizona look like Canada; Exhibit B: The fastest growing segment of the plastic surgery market are parents copying their children’s enhancements so the family resemblance stays strong). In a collectivist culture that is fascinated by the opposing culture of the west, kids have a brief window in which to express themselves, often hard and loud, before they don their suits for a life in the office.

Harajuku girls in blackHarajuku girls in pink wearing lots of hairclipsWhile western mouths tend to fall agape at images of outrageous fashion, there’s a lot of social commentary, rabble rousing, and artistry happening here. Satire seems to be best delivered in a petticoat or coffin bag. One thing’s clear; the combination of unique aesthetic that includes cultural references – both historical and present day, and east-meets-west interpretations – means Japanese fashion is always edgy.