Japan has phenomenally impacted the world! They have given us karaoke, sushi, yakisoba, sake, Nintendo, manga, Saga, flip-flops (called Zōri in Japan), leaf blowers, Jujitsu, Sumo, Sony, fortune cookies (it wasn’t the Chinese!! Fortune cookies originated in Kyoto, Japan) and unfortunately, Crystal Meth. The Japanese chemist Akira Ogata created Crystal Meth in 1919. It was originally created for alertness.
Because of their world contributions, May is Asian Pacific Heritage month. The United States Congress picked May to commemorate the first Japanese who immigrated to the United States on May 7th 1843.
Where would we be without flip-flops? Thanks Japan!
Today’s Flip Flops Zōri (Japanese Slippers) Tabi (Socks worn with Zōri) The finished look
However, I believe Japan’s greatest gift to mankind is ANIME! Of course, I also love their fashion! It’s about time I took a trip to Japan. After all I need to find out how to put some of that great Japanese culture in my closet. So with my chump change budget, I purchased a $4.50 luxury Air Metro F line ticket to Japan. Weeeell, I ended up in Little Tokyo, which is a shopping area located between St. Mark’s Place and 10th St. in the East Village.
St. Marks Place-Little Tokyo
Like everything in New York, Little Japan is a peculiar juxtaposition of cultures. Here in New York you’ll find food fusions like Cuban Chinese, Pizza Falafel, Mexican Irish. Yup I said it, “Mexican Irish”. I don’t know how that happened but you can find Mexican Irish food at Jose Malone’s Mexican Irish Restaurant in Troy, NY! So off course when I arrived in Little Japan my expectations were dashed. I was expecting to see troves of Japanese stores, Harajuku girls, and trendy Japanese professionals wearing top designer clothing. Instead I entered into a layback Bohemian atmosphere with clusters of Japanese restaurants and $1 dollar pizza joints ran by Mexicans. Yuup, the Mexicans are taking over! It was a hot day so people were dressed in shorts, tanks simple summer dresses, plain T’s and denim. Not one Harajuku girl in sight.
Noodle and pizza shops in Little Tokoyo
Little Tokyo lay back street style
While taking photos like a snapshot happy tourist, I came across Mina Ferguson. She is the lovely owner of a women’s wear boutique called “Saada”. Saada, which means happiness in Arabic, has been in business for 13 years and is located on 1159 Second Avenue in New York City. Being of Japanese/Korean descent, Mina frequents Japan and is well versed on Japanese fashion.
She informed me about the crazy cool Harajuku street fashion that is slowly trickling into American culture. She also stated that it’s the youth who loves to partake in street fashion. You wouldn’t find a 30-year-old woman dressed as a Harajuku girl.
Mina Ferguson owner of Saada www.saadanyc.com
So what exactly is Harajuku? Well, According to Professor Wikipedia, renowned for its unique street fashion, Harajuku is the common name for the area around Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, Japan. Harajuku is also a fashion capital of the world, its street style is promoted in Japanese and international publications such as Kera, Tune, Gothic & Lolita Bible and Fruits.
Check out this video for more info on Harajuku style.
Harajuku is so popular, even Gwen Stefani has Harajuku girls as her back up and Nicki Minaj calls her self the Harajuku Barbie.
Gwen Stafani and the Harajuku girls and line of Harajuku themed perfume. I like Baby the best it smells like sweet baby powder
Nicki Minaj Harajuku Barbie
Hungry for more info I interviewed a future fashion designer, the self-proclaimed Providence, Rhode Island Harajuku Specialist, Miss Carmela Wilkins.
Rubi Girl: Miss Carmela why do you love Japanese fashion?
Miss Carmela: My love of Japanese fashion came from my love and obsession of anime and manga. With that everything just sorta branched off from there. Its just so different and represents itself in its own way screaming “IM NOT LIKE YOU SO KEEP STARING!!”
Rubi Girl: What are the different types of Harajuku and overall Japanese street style
Miss Carmela: There are so many variations of what Japanese street style portrays. They embrace a lot of different trends and form collaborations with them. There are Visual Kei, Decora, Cosplayers, Ganguro, Lolita, Udoli, Bōsōzoku, Gothic, Steam Punk, Rockabilly, Hippies and Punk, just to name a few. I love Lolita. With this rare look, your clothes is suppose to secretly say how innocent and naive you are. Even if you might be a Gothic or Punk Lolita (yes there is a difference) with all those dark shades you still have to look girly and feminine
Miss Rubi: Which Japanese styles do you prefer?
Miss Carmela: It’s hard to choose. But for me it would be Lolita, Ganguro, Udoli, ANYTHING that looks really edgy or has a Victorian flare. Ganguro is basically someone who has dark skin (can be faked) and wears white makeup and false eyelashes to enhance their techno party girl look.
Lolita- a youthful doll like look based on Victorian clothing. Lolita comes in several styles (gothic, sweet, punk, and classic).
Sweet Lolita Gothic Lolita
Punk Lolita Classic Lolita
Ganguro – Deep tan with bleached, gray, orange, or silver dyed hair paired with white lipstick and eyeshadow.
Miss Carmela: Udoli is a whole other world! “Udoli is a person who is of African descent or a Non-Asian race who sometimes enjoys making themselves up to look like dolls. They have an appreciation for the Asian pop culture and draw inspiration from African, Caribbean and other world cultures to set themselves apart.
Rubi Girl: Being that you are a Japanese fashion specialist, in your opinion what is street style’s future?
Miss Carmela: With their overall creativity, I will never cease to be awe struck by what might turn up next. Also anime and manga itself has had a big impact on the street culture. The extremely obvious thing between real girls and anime girls, are the big teased dyed hair, gigantic doll like eyes and pouting lips; that style may change as anime changes.
Here are some are some websites with great info on street style.
Rubi Girl: Everyone one should check out udoli.tumblr.com I’ve met and did an informal interview with the designer Tennelle. Tennelle is Brooklyn based and her work is super funky/cool. Her style is definitely Udoli
Tennelle Brooklyn Based Designer http://udoli.tumblr.com/
The interview with Miss Carmela turned my attentions to anime. Japanese street fashion draws a lot of inspiration from anime and manga.
My favorite is the American anime “Avatar The Last Airbender”.
Avatar tells the story of Aang an airbender who must master the elements water, earth and fire, in order to save the world from an evil fire lord. I really want to be an airbender. So, I trained with Sensei Photoshop to become a member of the Air Tribe!
|Before TrainingTenneh AKA Rubi Girl with kool-aid smile||Aang the Last Airbender||After Training Tenneh The First African Airbender!|
In order to get the scoop on some of the most fashionable anime characters, I interviewed Anime specialists Jerry Wilkins and Danielle Rivera
Jerry Wilkins Danielle Rivera
According to the specialists:
Best Dressed Anime Characters Winners areee – DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!
Girls From Chobits- Sweet and Gothic Lolitas
|Kingdom Hearts-cutesy Disney chic||Yuko from XxxHolic, sexy in modernize-traditional Japanese clothing.|
Abarai Renji from Bleach-Cool Dude makes looking good look easy
Commemorating Japanese culture The Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosted its annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden 2011 Cherry Blossom Festival ( It was so beautiful )
There anime and Japanese Fashion lovers came costumed for the event!
Harajuku Girls at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
|Miroku and Sango from InuYasha||Kurogane from TsubasaReservoir Chronicle||Madara Uchiha from NarutoInuyasa from InuyasaKakashi from Naruto|
|Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach & I think the girl is Nnoitra Gilgabut I’m not sure||From Left to Right: Death the Kid, Black Star, Asura-the Kishin, Medusa, Franken Stein, Maka from Soul Eater|
Now the main question is “How can I put all this in my wardrobe! Here is a mood board and sketches of designs I’ve created. I love Udoli, Sweet Lolita, Yuko’s style and cherry blossoms.
Japanese Fashion Inspired Mood Board I’ve created
HERE ARE DA GURLS – Miko in the cherry blossom dress channeling Sweet Lolita, Kaeda wearing denim and polka-dots channeling Udoli, and Sakura wearing pearls with a layered dress, channeling Yuko . I’m leaning more towards the cherry blossom dress that Miko’s wearing. I’ll create one of these outfits and post a picture of it in an upcoming blog.
Well, we have explored the trendy side of Japanese fashion. We still need to explore their traditional and modern fashion themes.
But for now goodbye or like the Japanese say “SAYONARA”! Thanks for traveling with me to Japan.
PS thanks for reading my blog 🙂