Tokyo is home to some of the great fashion innovators: Kawakubo, Yamamoto, Miyake, Watanabe, Takahashi, Osumi to name a few. It’s the home of some of the world’s greatest fashion shopping, with meccas such as Isetan, Parco, OIOI and Laforet. It’s also a city whose citizens are, on the whole, quite fashion savvy and the city’s trendsetters and fashionistas are some of the most innovative fashion stylists in the world. It’s no surprise that the streets of Tokyo are one of the great inspirations for the fashion industry at home and abroad. Photographers and bloggers also find rich material in the city.Street style in Shibuya, Yurakucho and Nakameguro.
We can probably trace the birth of recording modern Japanese street style to photographer Shoichi Aoki and the publication of his FRUiTS magazine in 1997. Aoki had previously been chronicling mostly foreign fashion in a magazine named STREET when he noticed in the mid 1990s that young Japanese were starting to become inventive with their fashion, mixing traditional Japanese clothing pieces with recycled and hand-made garments as well as contemporary fashion. Eschewing brand dressing and focusing on the unique style of the hip youth of Harajuku, FRUiTS soon gained cult status in fashion circles around the world and Harajuku gained celebrity status.
Since then, the digital camera, Internet and online blogging services have helped to make street fashion reportage a thriving category on the Web. It has been elevated to an art form by bloggers such as Scott Schuman on his The Sartorialist blog, which commenced publication in 2005 and was named one of the top 100 design influencers by Time magazine in 2007. Schuman is based in New York and tends to focus on that city and Europe but has brought his camera to Tokyo.
Regardless, Tokyo has its own home-grown street style blogs, a few of which are outlined below.
Fans of the Sartorialist will feel right at home on Rei Shito’s site, which follows a similar layout and approach to its content. Shito, a fashion photographer and ex-staffer at FRUiTS, began her bilingual blog in 2008. Her well composed photos mainly depict young Tokyoites with individual style on the streets of Harajuku, but she does take her camera to other parts of the city – into stores and to events such as parties and parades – and also includes pictures from beyond Japan’s shores. Her simple comments give the site a personal touch.
This site is deeply rooted in the fashion subcultures of Harajuku, publishing photos of all manner of stylish and quirky fashion followers in the area, though the photographers also snap people in nearby Shibuya and Shinjuku. Established in 1998, it’s run by a small collective of Japanese editors, photographers and writers and is published in English. Along with its regular street snaps are photo essays on funky fashion events around town and fashion related articles. TokyoFashion.com has a big Facebook and Twitter following and is available as an iOS and Android app.
Established in 2005, this Japanese language fashion news website has a built in translator and a Street Snaps section that features series of pictures of cool guys and gals – both Japanese and foreign – in Harajuku of course, but also beyond. The photographers zoom in on the various details of their subjects: shoes, bags, jewelry, hair accessories and so on and the posts usually feature information about the models and their outfits. The site also features photo collections of various Japanese design houses’ ranges and has audio podcasts in Japanese that focus on the fashion world. Also accessible on Facebook and Twitter.
This website, established in 2002 by the Japan Fashion Association, focuses on fashion related news, trends, shops, events and street style. It can be accessed in Japanese, Chinese, Korean or English and its street coverage extends beyond Harajuku and Omotesando to also show cool people and trends in Tokyo’s other style centers: Daikanyama, Ginza and Shibuya. It features detailed information about the models and series of close-up photos of their outfits. This site also categorizes its pictures by items, so you can for instance see a collection of pictures showing cool interpretations of hats or tote bags.
There’s plenty of fashion goodness in these sites: Enjoy.