I spent a lot of time on our recent holiday in Japan observing the local style. I'm a huge fan of Japanese fashion, and it was fascinating to see how it translates to people's everyday wear.
It took me a while to process what I saw, which was not at all what I expected, and to understand it I had to read it the British fashion press: the Japanese have embraced normcore. Urban Japan is informal, modest, well turned out, rarely flashy but often very cool.
- High contrast neutrals are very popular - black or navy worn with camel, ecru, ivory and cream colours. Black and white/cream stripes.
- Long, loose, relaxed silhouettes. Not much tailoring among younger women.
- Outerwear tends to be oversized, with giant denim or bomber jackets being particularly popular. Longer coats tend to be macintoshes, loose fitting crombie and duster styles.
- Full and pleated midi skirts, often worn with slouchy socks and chunky shoes or platforms. Chiffon and plissé styles are very trendy.
- Harem pants. Cropped pants with dropped crotches are very popular with young men and young urban women with attitude.
- Culottes and cropped wide legged pants are almost ubiquitous. These seem to be not just fashionable, but almost part of the classic style vocabulary. Stylish older ladies wear them with aplomb.
- Denim is not at all unusual, but perhaps not as common as in Europe or the US. Jeans are (unsurprisingly) raw dark wash selvedge, worn boyfriend style and cuffed just above the ankle.
- Lots of beanies and wide-brimmed hats.
- Body art is unusual, but small decorative tattoos are catching on among younger women. Butterflies or dragon flies are popular designs.
- Onkul shows a grown-up, ladylike interpretation of normcore as it trickles down into the mainstream. Subtle and understated, this is lifestyle-oriented fashion.
- Larme is a self-identified sweet girly art book. Demonstrates the impact of gyaru and Lolita style on mainstream fashion consciousness. If you can see past the bewildering layout there's some exemplary teen fashion in here.
- FRUiTS is legendary. I had to hunt this one down but I managed to find two editions. Ground Zero of contemporary Japanese street style, it showcases the cream of authentic Harajuku fashion. I'm delighted to tell you that two young ladies featured in here sold me a pair of sneakers in Tokyo Bopper.