From the Sweet Lolitas to the anime addicts, expect to see much more of these Japanese fashion tribes across London in the immediate future. We’re heading for a Tokyo takeover. Do you want to know more? Read on….
While the emergence of K-Pop, the South Korean pop music phenomenon, was big news late last year, in 2012 it’s J-Pop that is taking centre stage with London’s teens – and bringing with it a Japanese street-style scene.
As Japan is the world’s second largest music market behind the US, its latest export already has a massive cult youth following and London’s club scene has been quick to embrace the trend.
New Bloomsbury Lanes club night Japan Underground boasts live bands and music from top J-Pop and J-Rock DJs. The launch night, themed on the cult Samurai fighting game Sengoku Basara, sold out and the venue’s next night, on February 4, is set to be a Japanese tribute to the best of the West – with a full DJ set of remixed dance-floor hits and a Queen cover band.
But music is not the only aspect of Japanese culture that has engrossed London’s youth. Current J-Pop icons, such as nine-strong girl group Morning Musume and oshare kei three-piece ALiBi, have found fame as much through their eccentric fashion. Self-confessed queen of kook Kyary Pamyu Pamyu started life as a style blogger before turning to music, while Ayumi Hamasaki – known as Ayu to her fans and the Empress of J-Pop to the media – embodies a constantly changing image which earned her Japanese campaigns with London-based brands Rimmel and Aquascutum last year, as well as becoming the first J-Pop artist to have a number one album for 13 consecutive years since her debut.
Iconic Japanese street fashion, most notably hailing from the Harajuku shopping district of Tokyo, is being adopted by many style tribes, from the black lace grunge of Gothic Lolita to the glam rock aesthetic of Visual Kei and the purveyors of all things cute and fluffy, Kawaii. But, J-Pop artists aside, several Western pop stars have moulded their image in the same quirky way. Style extremist Nicki Minaj and blue-haired chameleon Katy Perry are currently helping to make the look mainstream.
This season the unique Japanese street style has also trickled into high fashion circles. On the spring/summer 2012 catwalks the look was championed by eclectic London Fashion Week designers Meadham Kirchhoff, who layered frilled blouses with teddy bear pinafores and paired knee-high socks with pom-pom Geta sandals. Miu Miu also teamed A-line patchwork skirts, crop tops and off-the-shoulder capes that reflected the doll-like styling favoured by Lolitas.
But for the devoted Londoners – for whom Japanese styling is more than just a fashion trend – there is a Far East fest coming to the capital. Next month, Japanese culture convention Hyper Japan heads to Brompton Hall, celebrating everything from sushi and sake to J-Pop and Harajuku. From the Sweet Lolitas to the anime addicts, expect to see much more of these Japanese fashion tribes across London in the immediate future. We’re heading for a Tokyo takeover.
Article written by Emma McCarthy, published on Evening Standard (23/01/12)