I Wore That Before It Was Cool… The Hottest Fashion Trends in Japan That You Need to Try

Japan is a place that’s known for trendsetting and Avant-garde fashion. Walk down the streets of Tokyo and you’re likely to see dozens of different distinct and out-there styles even within a single block. But when you begin to explore some of the different districts, you begin to get an insight into just how many fashion trends in Japan have inspired worldwide emulation.

Japan consistently stands at the forefront of fashion trends, but why? This is an interesting question with an even more intriguing answer. To learn more about some of the hottest fashion trends in Japan, and why it’s them you should be following, read on.

What Makes Japan So Fashion Forward?

When and how did Japan become so fashion-forward? It wasn’t always so. In fact, it’s Japan from whence the phrase “it is the nail that sticks up that gets hammered down” hails.

Historically, Japan, in general, has had a very traditional culture. People were not inclined or encouraged to stand out from the crowd. Most in Japanese society follow a strict set of norms, and this goes for everything from behavior down to yes, the way you dress.

Looked at through this lens, the many different Japanese fashion trends and subcultures can be seen as a sort of rebellion against this homogeneity. Young people in Japan are ready to stand out, and that’s exactly what so many of them are succeeding in doing. This, coupled with its inherently futuristic nature, is what causes so many people to look to Japan—and Japanese young people in particular—for the next big thing in fashion.

Over the years, Japan hasn’t disappointed in terms of the trends it has created and inspired. No matter what your own personal style is, you’re sure to find something on the streets of Tokyo that will make you smile.

Blocks and Color Pop

Japanese fashionistas have never been ones to shy away from color (unless you’re talking about those who are fans of the J-goth movement). But this year, things are taken to a whole new level. Street style this season is all about pairing loud, bold, psychedelic colors with one another.

The trick to this color blocking trend is to follow the “color wheel’ rule. Look at which colors are beside each other on a traditional color wheel. This will help you to know which colors work well together.

Big Chunky Knits

You might be thinking that chunky knits are a fairly common wardrobe item, especially at this time of year. But trust the Japanese street stylists to take this trend above and beyond to a whole other level. This season, they’re going all out, wearing oversized cardigans in bright colors and bold patterns. 

The coatigan—a hybrid between a coat and a cardigan—is a popular item. As are larger-than-life fluffy sweaters. It’s a whole new take on knitwear, coming to a street near you, soon.

Styling in Sweatpants

Although seeing young people—and people of all ages for that matter—walking around in sweatpants is hardly a rare occurrence anywhere in the world, nobody’s doing it quite like the Japanese. They’re trying things like taking shiny Adidas striped bottoms and pairing them with a put-together blazer and blouse combo on top.

The juxtaposition between casual and formal is the kind of virtually interesting tension that the Japanese live for. It gives streetwear an added layer. It doesn’t hurt that they’re comfortable to walk around in either.

Statement Sneakers

Speaking of things that are comfortable to walk around in—let’s talk about sneakers. Fashion-conscious people from Japan have, for years, had a special love for shoes. From the influence of hip-hop style to the platforms worn by the original Harajuku girls, each subculture has its own unique relationship to and preference in sneakers.

Lately, designers have been experimenting to produce Japanese sneakers adorned with material from traditional Kimonos. This is a nice way of linking the traditional past of Japanese fashion to its present which is anything but.

Wide Leg Pants

One new trend currently being spotted on the streets of Tokyo and beyond is exaggerated wide-legged pants. Think 70s flares, 60s culottes, and baggy 90s shorts. If it’s got a diameter that’s around three times the size of your actual leg, then you’re heading in the right direction. 

Ever the style-conscious, the Japanese always strive to ensure there’s a balance in their outfits. This might mean a tighter fitting top to counter the wider bottom half, or a cropped jacket to create a more defined shape.

Bubblegum Pink

Japanese street style is known for taking dated concepts and tropes—the sexy schoolgirl for example—and putting its own modern and unique spin on it. This is exactly what is happening now with the surge in popularity for the girliest of bubblegum pinks. This particular trend involves dressing completely head to toe in the color.

It sounds like it could be a bit much, but surprisingly, it works. Think oversized t-shirts, bucket hats, leg warmers, and puffer jackets. It’s essentially dressing like a big kid, what could be more fun?

The Hottest Fashion Trends in Japan This Season

As always, Japan in general and Tokyo, in particular, are places to watch this season in order to see what trends might be coming your way in the coming months. If you’d like to get ahead of the curve, try incorporating different bits of these trends into your wardrobe rotation slowly.

The rest of the world may not be ready for some of these fashion trends in Japan quite yet, but it won’t be long before they’ve taken the fashion industry by storm. For more sage advice on style, lifestyle, and everything else, check out some of our other articles now.


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