Advances in Applied Sociology
2012. Vol.2, No.4, 292-302
Published Online December 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes . 292
The Transformation of Japanese Street Fashion between
2006 and 2011
Aliyaapon Jiratanatiteenun1, Chiyomi Mizutani2, Saori Kitaguchi3, Tetsuya Sato3,
Kanji Kajiwara 4
1Department of Engineering Design, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Kyoto, Japan
2Department of Textile and Clothing, Otsuma Women’s University, Tokyo, Japan
3The Center for Fiber and Textile Science, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Kyoto, Japan
4Fibre Innovation I ncubator, Shinshu Un i v ersity, Nagano, Japan
Email: cindy_emailbox@
Received August 13th, 2012; revised September 15th, 2012; accepted September 29th, 2012
The emergence of Japanese street fashion in the 1990s in young girls has created a notion of generation
identity and new fashion styles. Although Japanese street fashion was studied by scholars from multi-
ple-disciplines, little research has been carried-out on its evolution overtime. This paper aims to examine
its transition over a five year period from 2006 to 2011, and to explain the factors that led to these
changes. In order to follow the transition of street fashion, survey questionnaires were distributed to a to-
tal of 1094 female college students in Tokyo between 2006 and 2011. Further, fashion magazines were
studied and surveyed to understand their evolution and the influence on their readers. The findings
showed that economic recession in 2007, the fast fashion business, and the fashion models played a sig-
nificant role in shifting the popularity of each style, and Casual style became the most popular style
throughout the years of the study. In addition, fashion styles have merged and became difficult to differ-
entiate by their appearances. Many fashion magazines also added Casual style to their publication. Finally,
this paper suggests that teens created their own styles by combining several fashion elements, and as a
result new styles such as Ageha and Mori girl were observed in the fashion scenario.
Keywords: Street Fashion; Transformation; Japan; Fashion Styles; Youth Culture; Casual fashion
Street fashion referred to fashion styles that were created by
general public instead of professional fashion designers or
fashion studios. These people have mixed their own styles by
using several fashion elements in order to identify themselves
from the mainstream. The street fashions could come from any
person regardless of class statuses. However, it is notable that
in Japan, street fashions are female dominant and it is the girls
who control fashion trends.
Over the past decade the term “street fashion” has commonly
been used around the world as a representation of youth fashion.
It is widely accepted that street fashion sprung from youth sub-
culture rather than from fashion professionals. In effect, fashion
was used as a tool for group identity in order to distinguish the
group from the culture at large, and from other groups (Clarke
et al., 1993; Polhemus, 1994). Conversely to the classic trickle-
down theory (Simmel, 1904; Veblen, 1912), subculture styles
became a source of fashion that extended from the street to the
designer. In fact, scholars saw subculture styles as fashion in-
novation that generated a new process of fashion diffusion. This
fashion diffusion is known as trickle up theory or subcultural
leadership theory (Midgley & Wills, 1979; Sproles, 1981; Pol-
hemus, 1994).
In Japan, the street fashion phenomenon was triggered by the
economic recession in the 1980s. According to Kawamura
(2006), “after the tremendous economic prosperity of the 1980s,
followed by Japan’s economic bubble burst, and the country
experienced its worst and longest economic recession”. It has
been argued that Japanese conformist society may have cracked
under the strain of economic stagnation (Nathan, 2004). As a
result of this so called societal crack, the Japanese value system
such as selfless devotion, respect for seniors and perseverance
had changed, especially among teens (Ijiri, 1990). Teens saw
the assertion of individual identity as important and meaningful
(Kawamura, 2006) and exhibited this through revolutionizing
fashion. Under these social and economic conditions, Japanese
street fashion became increasingly creative and innovative, as if
the teens wanted to challenge and redefine the existing notion
of what is fashionable and aesthetic (Kawamura, 2006). This
trend was foreseeable since youngsters often construct their
personal identities through the consumption of cultural goods
such as fashionable clothing, and lifestyles (Crane, 2000).
Street fashion started appearing in fashion media and turned
to be the focus of fashion media in Japan with magazines such
as FRUiTS devoted to this genre (Miller, 2004; Godoy &
Varianian, 2007). The street fashion trend continued to spread
widely across Japan where rapid adoption by youth has led to
the occurrence of fashion identities in each district of Tokyo.
Street styles in Japan were categorized according to the shop-
ping districts in Tokyo, represented by the name of the district,
for example Ginza, Omotesando, and Harajuku fashion. Each
area exhibited a different kind of fashion and lifestyle identity.
For international contribution, in addition to their luxurious
fashion, Japanese street fashion also caught worldwide attention
and inspired global trend (Godoy & Varianian, 2007). Many of
the Japanese designers such as Kenzo Takada, Hiroshi Fujiwara
and Keita Maruyama took part in Paris fashion collections (Su-
gimoto, 2008; Godoy & Varianian, 2007; Skov, 1996, 2005).
Japanese street fashion, especially its cause of emergence
and characteristics, was very appealing to researchers, and was
studied by scholars from multiple-disciplines. Miller (2004)
saw the emergence of Japanese street fashion as a notion of
generational identity, Kawamura (2006) studied on the role of
Japanese teens as the producers of street fashion. Godoy and
Varianian (2007) provided an insight and subject comprehen-
sion of street styles on Harajuku. Park (2011) studied the
changes of Japanese street fashion by compared to their mother
cultures. However, the research on its movement was slightly
untouched. This research is aimed to trace the chronological
change of street fashion in Japan and to show the influential
factors which transformed the fashion styles between 2006 and
Methodology and Theoretical Framework
In order to understand the transition of Japanese street fash-
ion, a survey of female undergraduate students aged between 18
- 23 was conducted by questionnaire at a private women’s uni-
versity in Tokyo. The group of female undergraduate students
was selected as target of the survey due to the fact that Japanese
street fashion was female predominant phenomenon. Further-
more, this study considers under the assumption that under-
graduate students are groups of young Japanese females who
are mostly in the stage of developing and creating their own
personal fashion styles and lifestyles. At these ages, many of
them were responsible for personal allowances and managed
their own allowances. These allowances were spent enthusias-
tically for fashion and cosmetic items. In addition, the respon-
dents were selected from one of the traditional women’s uni-
versities which was established around 100 years ago. The stu-
dents here have high fashion consciousness and they came from
all over Japan.
This study was initially conducted in 2006 and repeated in
2008, 2010 and 2011. The numbers of the respondents from
each year were as follows; 2006 = 260 people, 2008 = 285 peo-
ple, 2010 = 284 people, and 2011 = 265 people.
The questionnaire was separated into two sections. The first
section consisted of 82 questions asking the respondents about
their lifestyles, fashion influences, and buying behaviors by
using a five-point scale “Not at all” = 1, “Very” = 5. The sec-
ond section asked the respondents to indicate their personal
fashion interests, their fashion styles, and their favorite fashion
magazines. The purpose of the second section was to investi-
gate the popular fashion styles and magazines among the re-
spondents. In addition, all respondents were photographed in
order to observe their appearances, and to make a comparison
with the fashion magazines they chose as their favorite. This
paper further examined fashion magazines, analyzing their
fashion trends in Japan in 2010 and 2011.
The survey result was then concluded and analyzed using the
following theories.
As to paint a clearer picture on what actually went on in
transformation of street fashion during the survey period,
Sproles’ (1974) 5 phases of fashion diffusion (Adoption lead-
ership, Social visibility and communicability, Conformity
within and across social system, Market and social saturation,
and Decline and obsolescence) were adopted as the discussion
For the cause of transformation, this research analyzed the
transformation of fashion trends in Japan through the society
(macro) and individual (micro) level perspective employing
model proposed by Cholachatpinyo et al. in 2002. The model
suggested that fashion transformation could be observed in
terms of macro-micro continuum divided into 4 levels namely:
1) macro-subjective level (values on a societal level); 2)
macro-objective level (social object); 3) micro-objective level
(individual object); and 4) micro-subjective level (individual
decision making).
Further, the idea surrounding Blumer’s (1969) collective se-
lection theory noting that “fashion trends are screened and ma-
nipulated into fashion objects, simultaneously, innovative con-
sumers may experiment with many possible alternatives, but
the ultimate test in the fashion process is the competition be-
tween alternative styles for positions of fashionability” was
used to understand the apparel industry’s focus on casual styles.
Research of Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955), which summarized
that regardless of class status, any individual can be the real
leadership of fashion due to mass production and mass com-
munication in the market, was used to help explain the rapid
growth of the fast fashion retail.
In order to understand the transformation of Japanese street
fashion during the five year period, this research saw impor-
tance in discussing background information of Japanese street
fashion such as the emergence of Japanese street fashion, the
characteristics of Japanese street fashion, and the role of fash-
ion magazines, and therefore provided them in the next three
The Emergence of Japanese Street Fashion
Japanese street fashion became more recognizable in the
mid-1990s because of young teenage girls known as Kogal
(abbreviated from kokosei gyaru, high school girls), who cen-
tered their life around the Shibuya train station. Being a Kogal
was a way of expressing a trendy lifestyle or identity that was
extraordinarily fashionable. Although this subculture bubbled
up from the street to become mainstream like other well-known
subcultures in the west such as mods (Cohen, 1972), punks
(Hebdige, 1979), rockers (Cohen, 1972), and skinheads (Clarke,
1993), there were two major differences. First, unlike punks,
mods, rockers, and skinheads, Kogal was not associated with
any violence or moral panic. Secondly, and most importantly,
Kogal has been predominantly a female phenomenon, whereas
post-war subculture in Europe was predominantly a male phe-
nomenon and girls played only a marginal role.
As Miller (2004) pointed out youth are enthusiastic in form-
ing new fashion by combining aspects of different cultures or
historical eras. This has been characterized by process scholars
as creolization or hybridity. The Kogal style was similar to
school uniforms with short plaid skirts, knee-high white socks,
heavy make-up and artificial suntans (Kawamura, 2006). Kogal
girls in effect shifted the perspective of their parent culture and
established a new youth subculture, where they created a new
generation identity to set themselves apart from their elders.
Until the mid-1960s, fashion among Japanese women was re-
gardless of age or class and beauty ideology was shared be-
tween mother and daughter, for example they read the same
fashion magazines (Miller, 2004). Miller asserted that the ap-
pearance of Kogal not only irritated the older generation, but
surprised foreign observers and media pundits, and it surfaced
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 293
in Harper’s Bazaar (Hume, 2002) and the New Yorker maga-
zine (Mead, 2002) as objects of fascination. The Kogal style
was known internationally as one of the Japanese subcultures
and gained several followers from around the world especially
in Europe (Robinson, 2009).
From Kogal, the style spread and escalated to a more ex-
treme look with long bleached-blond or dyed brown hair and
saddle-brown tans with heavy make-up, brightly colored mini-
skirts or short pants and high platform boots known as Ganguro
(literally means “black face”). Ganguro led to Amazoness,
which was more extreme than ganguro, but it did not last long.
In the late 1990s, Yamamba (mountain ogresses) another fash-
ion and youth subculture emerged to replace ganguro and ama-
zoness. Yamamba developed into Mamba which was the last
serial fashion of the Kogal subculture. Although these styles
had their distinctive names, the styles were similar and could be
differentiated by make-up sty les (Kawamura, 200 6 ).
The Characteristics of Japanese Street Fashions
At present, Japanese street fashion can be categorized ac-
cording to the shopping streets in Tokyo. Ginza, Harajuku,
Omotesando, Shibuya, and Daikanyama are the five main
shopping districts with street style in Tokyo (Style arena, 2002).
The styles vary due to living expenses and lifestyles. However,
the most popular street fashion areas among teenagers are Ha-
rajuku and Shibuya, where the latest trends with affordable
prices are avail able.
Harajuku is known as a unique fashion spot that is always
crowded with teenagers on weekends. It was here in the late
1980s where the street style began by amateur musicians who
created their own fashion styles. These performers gained at-
tention for Harajuku, and the area was turned into one of the
main fashion districts in Tokyo. Nowadays, Harajuku is filled
with small shops that sell Cosplay, Punk, Lolita, and Girly
fashions, with Cosplay and Lolita as the most famous. Cosplay
(costume play), originated from obsessive fans of anime and
manga known as Otaku, first appeared in the early 1970s
(Kotani, 2004), is a kind of amateur performance in which peo-
ple dress themselves according to a particular fiction character,
in order to entertain themselves in the world of imagination.
Lolita fashion, developed from Cosplay of J-rock music, was
first seen around Harajuku in the late 1990s (Katsuhiko, 2007)
and came to its peak of popularity in the mid 2000s.
Without any regard to the sexual connotations portrayed by
Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita” (1955), Lolita style repre-
sents the look of being cute and elegant. The style is inspired by
Rococo, Victorian and/or Edwardian fashion with emphasis on
cuteness. The costume was originally characterized by a knee
length skirt or dress in a bell shape assisted by petticoats, worn
with a blouse, knee high socks or stockings and a headdress.
Lolita has various different sub-styles such as Gothic Lolita,
Casual Lolita , and Hime Lolita , in which designs a nd colors a re
different (Neko, 2008). Lolita is a special fashion style that has
a strong subculture and community. According to Holson
(2005), Lolita followers have created a community website for
members to communicate and maintain their subculture iden-
Harajuku is also known for kawaii fashion such as Girly
styles. Kawaii means cute in Japanese which can be thought of
as precious and adorable. Girly is one of the Casual sub-styles,
with casual clothes that emphasized the kawaii concept. Ac-
cording to Kinsella (1995), kawaii culture is rooted in Japanese
society especially among female, and any product which is
considered cute usually sells well in the Japanese market. Girly
is one of the long lasting fashion styles in Japan, and its influ-
ence is often displayed on popular magazines and the clothes
commonly come in floral printed or pale colors. Girls who wear
girly styles also wear soft make-up and use accessories with
cute cartoon characters.
Shibuya, another fashion area close to Harajuku, is also rec-
ognized as the birth place of distinctive fashion styles. In the
past 20 years, the fashion style in Shibuya has changed occa-
sionally from Kogal to Mamba. Although Kogal fashion has
more or less disappeared, Gyaru, a dilution of Kogal, exists as
one of the mainstream fashions. Gyaru consists of ordinary
outfits but the clothing style is sexier than other fashions and
the make-up style is heavier than others.
Shibuya is also known for its night life where night clubs,
bars, lounges, and karaokes are popular. The night life in Shi-
buya has created a new fashion style called “Ageha” meaning
swallowtail butterfly. Ageha is a fashion style related to a host-
ess club culture, and emerged to mainstream attention in late
2007. The costume is similar to Japan’s hostess fashion style
but with rather baby-faced look. The emphasis is on eye make-
up using heavy liquid eyeliner, false lashes and special contact
lenses to make the eyes appear almost inhumanly larger. In
addition, Ageha favors pale skin, light hair colors, and volumi-
nous hair (Misha, 2010). They adorn their bodies with sparkling
accessories and luxury handbags.
The Role of Fashion Magazines in Japan
Fashion magazines are an important media outlet that intro-
duces the latest fashion trends to readers. Normally, magazines
are used for several purposes such as self-improvement, inspi-
ration, and as a means to understand social behavior (Levine &
Smolak, 1996; Thomsen et al., 2002; Tiggemann, 2005). There
are over 50 fashion magazines published each month in Japan
and these magazines can be categorized according to the fash-
ion styles that they present. In general, these magazines are
composed of fashion shoots, dress up guidelines, fashion snap
shots from local streets, make-up guide s, and trendy hair sty les.
At present, Gisele, Koakuma Ageha, Kera, Non-no, Ray, and
ViVi are prominent fashion magazines, each presenting a dis-
tinctive fashion style.
It is widely thought that these magazines play a significant
role in guiding the fashion styles of young girl. This seems to
be the case especially among secondary school girls imitating
the styles found in magazines. Gaunlett (2002) mentioned that
teenagers are more engaged with the magazines than older
women. “They are in the way of learning how women should
be like by women’s magazines, and the fashion magazines give
them the inculcation for being body attractive”, but for older
age women “they highlighted the importance of being your-
Dynamic of Fashion Styles
From the 2006 results and from the general acceptance of
fashion trends in Japan, this paper categorizes Japanese street
fashion mainly into 6 types: Casual, Gyaru, Onei (older sister
style), Mode, Lolita, and OL (Office lady). Figure 1 illustrates
the different fashion styles.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Figure 1.
Illustrative representation prominent Japanese street
A brief description of each style: Casual style is simple,
non-distinctive, relaxed, and informal appearance. Gyaru cloth
is florid, exposed and body-tight. Onei costume is extremely
feminine and mature, and decorated with lace and ribbon. Mode
cloth is designed in a similar concept of haute couture. Lolita
outfit is influenced by Rococo, Victorian, and Edwardian styles,
where headwear, bloomers, socks, shoes, and accessories such
as umbrella and bag are basic elements. OL design is conserva-
tive, and resembles the fashion of working women.
According to the results in 2006, 34% of the respondents
considered their fashion style as Casual, 25% as Lolita, 16% as
Onei, 7% as Gyaru, 4% as Mode, 3% as OL, while 11% did not
belong to any particul ar t ype.
The results in 2008, showed a significant increase of those
wearing Casual style, which jumped from 34% to 43%. The
percentage of Gyaru wearers remained the same as in 2006. On
the other hand, the results showed a decreasing number of Onei
style, while Mode, Lolita, and OL disappeared from the an-
swers of the respondents. In addition, two new types of fash-
ions were observed from the answers of the respondents which
were Hime and Ageha. Hime (princess) cloth is adaptation of
Lolita fashion combine with Gyaru and Onei fashions. The
style represents the look of old-style European royalty. Hair is
curled and well cared. Ageha cloth is glamorous and sexy with
fundamental inspirations by Gyaru and hostess fashions.
In 2010, the majority of the respondents were Casual wearers
at 50.7%, 8.0% of the respondents claimed themselves as Girly
wearers, and 3.1% were Onei followers. Mode reappeared with
2.5%, and 8.0% did not belong to any particular fashion style.
In 2011, Casual was the most popular fashion style among
the respondents with 47.5%, Girly was at 6.8%, Onei at 1.9%,
Mode 0.8% and 15% chose no particular fashion style. In addi-
tion, new styles were observed in the answers of the respon-
dents in 2010 and 2011. Mori girl (Forest girl), Natural, and
Yama girl were the name given to these new styles. Mori girl
fashion is normally loose dresses or vintage prints. Mori means
forest in Japanese and the style looks like a girl from the forest
in a fairytale. Natural fashion is loose clothes with earth tone
colors. Yama girl fashion is a combination of casual and hiking
costumes with vivid colors, the trend which developed in 2009
after the rise in popularity of outdoor activities among young
people. The illustrative figure of Ageha, Hime, Mori girl,
Natural, and Yama girl is shown in Figure 2 and the birth and
progression of each fashion style among the respondents is
shown in Figure 3.
Fashion Transformation Process
The results between 2006 and 2011 showed the movement of
each fashion styles in each year. Based on Sproles (1974) fash-
ion 5 phases life-cycle, styles with substantial number among
the respondents such as Lolita, Onei, Ageha, and Mori girl were
observed as displayed in Figure 4.
According to the fashion genre circle shown in Figure 4,
Onei and Lolita were in phase 4 in 2006. At this phase Onei and
Lolita had reached their highest level of acceptance in society
and were worn by a large and visible number of people includ-
ing the respondents. On the other hand, Mori girl was in its first
phase where it was introduced and adopted by so called con-
sumer fashion change agents who are leaders of collective taste
within their social networks. The term “Mori girl” first ap-
peared in 2006 on a Japanese social network site called Mixi
before it was observed in Harajuku in 2008 (Steele, 2010).
Ageha was in the second phase which was worn mainly within
the social network of the fashion change agents as a part of
their unique life-style. In addition, it became visible as a new
alternative fashion. In 2008, Onei and Lolita were in phase 5.
Ageha Hime Mori girl
Natural Yama girl
Figure 2.
Illustrative representation of fashion style emerged
between 2008-2011.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 295
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Figure 3.
The birth and progression of each fashion style am o ng the respondents from 2006-2011.
Figure 4.
Fashion genre circle of Lolita, Onei, Ageha, and Mori girl among the respondents between 2006 and
At this stage their decline and obsolescence were forced by the
new fashion alternatives and the level of popularity decreased.
In contrast, Ageha and Mori girl were in phase 3 where they
passed the introductory initiation of the fashion process and
further gained social acceptance within and across their social
network. In 2010, Ageha and Mori girl moved to phase 4, as
observed in the survey that they were selected a s personal style s
among the respondents.
Further, the results showed that there was a significant
change in Japanese street fashion since 2008, where the per-
centage of casual wearers had significantly increased. 2008 was
a turning point behind which the main driving force was
thought to be the effect of economic recession. To analyze this
change the fashion transformation process model proposed by
Cholachatpinyo et al. was employed.
By first looking at the cause of the transformation at macro-
subjective level, it could be seen that in 2007, Japan suffered
from the global economic recession (Abe, 2012) where the
Japanese consumer confidence index started to decline in Oc-
tober and continued to slide over 29% within the following year
(Economic and Social Research Institute, 2004). This drop
clearly indicated consumer spending slump for commodities
including fashion objects. Extended analysis into the macro-
objective level showed, however, that apparel sale was ex-
pected to be the most important category of retail sales during
the economic downturn (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2010;
PwC, 2011). In process by which industrial trend setters chose
fashion style for investment, there was a process similar to that
suggested by collective selection theory (Blumer, 1969) of
which the outcome saw casual fashion as the leading style. As a
result, casual fashion was marketed in various forms to adapt to
multiple socio-economic classes.
At the micro-objective continuum, Leaders of Fashion retail
sector, such as western fast fashion companies like Zara and
H&M, first opened their Japanese branches in 2005 and 2008
respectively, had continued to expand their branches and sales
volume (Inditex Group, 2010; H&M, 2012). These fast fashion
companies provided fashionable and quality clothes with af-
fordable prices that were suitable for the economic recession
period. Their mass production and mass communication strat-
egy gave the outcome similar to that suggested by the mass
market theory proposed by Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955) by
which products were introduced to all socioeconomic classes
simultaneously. This practice was successful to help them ex-
pand deeper among Japanese consumers and led to the in-
creased number of casual wearers.
Lastly the analysis into the micro-subjective level showed
that, affected by the economic recession, consumers sought to
dress economically in a fashionable way by choosing fast fash-
ion. This could be observed by the increased number of casual
wearers in our survey. Also the emergence of several new
styles such as, Ageha, Hime, Mori girl, Natural, and Yama girl
were apparent where styles were merged from at least two dif-
ferent casual fashion sub-styles.
Influence of Fashion Sources
One part of the questionnaire asked the respondents what
their sources of information on fashion trends were, and how
these sources inspired their sense of styles. The mean values of
each source of fashion information are shown in Table 1.
There were marginal changes in the mean values of all
Table 1.
Mean values of fashion sources in e a c h year.
Sources 2006 2008 2010 2011
TV 3.07 3.05 3.04 3.05
Movies 2.20 2.20 2.68 2.66
Newspapers/general magazines2.90 2.80 2.66 2.73
Fashion magazines 4.22 4.30 4.41 4.51
Animated cartoons/comics 1.60 1.65 1.91 1.85
Internet 2.15 2.27 3.21 3.47
Store displays 3.78 3.78 4.07 4.06
Fashion shops 4.01 4.09 4.38 4.38
Passers-by 3.80 3.87 4.08 4.03
Artists 3.24 3.31 3.48 3.53
Fashion shop staff 3.70 3.64 3.95 3.95
Friend’s style 3.40 3.52 3.81 3.74
Family members 2.07 2.11 2.24 2.16
sources when comparing the results over four years, except for
the internet. The sources that had mean values below 3 were
movies, newspapers/general magazines, animated cartoons/
comics, and family members. Their mean values remained sta-
ble from 2006 to 2011 and they didn’t seem to have any strong
influences on the respondents’ fashion styles. On the other hand,
TV, show windows, passers-by, artists, fashion shop staff, and
friend’s styles were the sources that moderately influenced the
respondents with mean values in the range of 3 to 4. Fashion
magazine and fashion shop were the most influential sources
for the respondents and the mean values for these sources were
over 4. It can be said that fashion magazines’ influence was
high and will remain stable as its mean values only fluctuated
A notable change could be seen in the mean value of the
internet which has significantly risen in the past few years, with
overall 26% gain in the five year period surveys. The Internet
has become an important purchasing channel in Japan with a
rapid rise in the number of users each year. PCs and mobile
phones were increasingly being used to shop online and to gain
access to fashion information. Moreover, the number of Japa-
nese Smartphone owners increased by 33.5% from September
to December 2010 (ComScore, 2011). In addition, many fash-
ion brands and department stores such as, Beams and Takashi-
maya were applying e-commerce models to serve their custom-
ers (Nagasawa & Salsberg, 2010). Looking from the recent
trend it would be fair to say that the internet would become
even more important to the fashion business in the near future.
Evolution of Fashion Magazines
Although the previous section showed that the respondents
received information on fashion mainly from three sources;
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 297
fashion magazines, followed by fashion shop, and passers-by.
However, this research deals mainly with fashion magazines,
due to the fact that they were the most influential fashion
sources, and they provided fashion view point that could easily
be shared and traced between the respondents and the re-
searcher. This section is devoted to the result and discussion on
transformations related to fashion magazine.
From the survey result, in 2010, 63.36% of the respondents
had at least two different favorite magazines, and around
42.85% of them read fashion magazines that contained different
fashion concepts. The result shown good agreement with
Gauntlett (2002) who pointed out that women’s fashion maga-
zines are powerful in representing and transmitting the “ideal
female” images to their female readers, and they may affect
readers’ behaviors in self-image creation and consumption. For
these girls, fashion magazines remained the main fashion in-
spiration where fashion ideas were taken and developed to their
personal styles.
The second section of the questionnaire asked the respon-
dents to specify their favorite fashion magazines and the results
were ranked to five orders as shown in Table 2.
These magazines displayed different kinds of fashion styles
as follows, Non-no, Mina, PS, Seda, Sweet, and Zipper dis-
played Casual fashions. ViVi displayed Gyaru styles, while
CanCam and Ray presented Onei fashions. Non-no and ViVi
were always popular among the respondents, and ViVi became
more popular each year. The popularity of many of the other
magazines changed year by year. However, magazines such as
CanCam and Mina had significantly lost their popularity among
the respondents in the latter years.
The ranking of the fashion magazines reflected and also
could be used to explain the movement of each fashion style in
Japan. When Onei style was very popular among the girls in
2006, CanCam was ranked as the second most popular maga-
zines among the respondents. However, in the past few years,
the popularity of the Onei style decreased, as well as CanCam
magazine which became less popular among the respondents in
other years. Another link can be drawn for one of the most
famous CanCam’s model, “Ebi chan” or “Yuri Ebihara”, a
Japanese model and actress, who was a symbol of Onei fashion,
and had had an exclusive contract with CanCam for six years.
Like CanCam, most Fashion magazines in Japan commonly
employed the same models repetitively for their fashion shoots,
and the models came to represent a particular fashion style. Ebi
chan gained her highest popularity in 2006, where she appeared
in several advertisements, movies, dramas, and magazines. Due
to Ebi chan’s numerous appearances in Onei fashion, Onei
became one of the most popular styles in Japan. As Ebi chan
career began to wind down, so did Onei fashion’s hold on the
top place among fashion styles. Now over 30, although she
remained one of the Onei fashion’s faces, Ebi chan was no
longer the face of CanCam and no longer popular among the
survey’s young respondents.
A perusal of the magazines showed modifications in the
fashion styles over the study period. For example, ViVi’s style
became less sexy and more casual, Non-no, PS, Seda, and Zip-
per retained their casual concepts but their styles became more
decorative and cuter than in the past. CanCam continued its
Onei concept and lost popularity among the respondents. In
contrast to CanCam, Ray modified its fashion styles by adopt-
ing casual and kawaii elements and replaced CanCam’s posi-
tion in the magazine ranking. It is fair to say that in recent years
Table 2.
Ranking of popular fashion magazines among the respondents.
Magazine ranking2006 2008 2010 2011
1 Non-no Non-no ViVi ViVi
2 CanCamViVi Non-no Non-no
3 PS Sweet Ray Seda
4 ViVi PS Zipper Ray
5 Mina Ray Seda Sweet and zipper
magazines have had to adjust to changes in their industry. That
is to say, as a result of the economic downturn, the advent of
fast fashion, and the increase in popularity of kawaii culture,
styles have become increasingly mixed.
In addition, many magazines started using the internet as a
means of connecting to their readers through webpage that
provides beauty tips, blogs, and shopping information. The
shopping pages were convenient for the readers to find the
items that they like in the magazines, also it was another chan-
nel to expand the sale volume for the fashion companies. As
model influence was vital to the magazine business, models
were connecting with their readers and fans via their blogs
where personal information, fashion styles, and activities were
posted, this could be one of the magazine strategies to keep it
popular among the readers.
Fashion Dependency and Self-Expression
The respondents were asked to identify their personal styles
and their favorite fashion magazines, and a comparison be-
tween their answers and their photographs were examined in
order to understand the influence of the fashion magazines. In
2006, the respondents followed the fashion styles provided by
the magazines and hardly modified the styles that they wore.
Therefore, it was not so difficult to distinguish their fashion
styles by their appearances. The imitation of the style was eas-
ily observed in Lolita fashion, where wearers strictly adhered to
the dress code of the style of the original concepts as shown in
Figure 5. Luo (2008) also found in her study that Japanese
teens were easily affected by the fashion from the magazines
and some even copied and dressed exactly like the model in the
magazines. In 2010, many of the respondents dressed in con-
trast to the style suggested by their favorite magazines as could
be seen in Figure 6, especially for the Kera’s readers who did
Figure 5.
Lolita fashion among the respondents in 2006.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Figure 6.
Fashion styles of reade rs from different magazines in 2010.
not wear Lolita clothes. By 2010, it appeared that young
women were using magazines more in a mix and match fash-
ions, combining fashion styles from several fashion magazines
to create their own identity. As a result, it became difficult to
distinguish their styles by their appearances.
The transformation of fashion styles could be observed by
comparing the photographs of the respondents year by year.
Figure 7 showed the movement of Casual styles. Casual style
was quite simple in the first two years of the survey, consisting
mainly of a t-shirt with any kind of bottom. In 2010 and 2011,
the t-shirts came with cute designs and decoration such as car-
toon characters, ribbons, and laces. The Casual style moved
from very simple to decorative and mixed. In addition, the
range of Casual styles became wider and merged with other
styles as shown in Figure 8. Figure 9 showed examples of
each style asserted by the respondents in 2010 and 2011. The
fashion styles selected by the respondents were influenced by
casual elements, which made their styles difficult to distinguish
at first glance. Besides, many girls decorated themselves with
accessories such as cardigans, scarfs, and necklaces to highlight
their individualistic styles.
Japan is a collectivist society where people respect group
processes and decisions, for them keeping a good and harmo-
nious relationship within the group is important (Wong & Ahu-
via, 1998). Moreover, it is a unique society where imitation is
not considered as an inappropriate behavior (Tada, 1994). Un-
der this social structure teens were encouraged to be obedient
and discouraged to express their individualism in contradiction
to social norms. However, teens are generally known for want-
ing to change social norms, and for rebelling against the main-
stream. The results of 2006 showed that street fashion played a
major role in giving teens choices to be different from the
mainstream by belonging to a particular fashion group. As the
presence of the fashion groups subsided in Japanese society in
latter years, and due to the fact that the fashion market has
changed and now offered variety of casual clothing more popu-
lar than those particular group fashion styles, teens are thus less
influenced by group fashion and turned to casual style. How-
ever in desperate need to stand out as an individual from the
social norm, they have opted to create their uniqueness by mix-
ing their experience in the past with what is currently available
in the market resulting in even more diversified and unclassi-
fied new born styles under the realm of casual fashion.
Japanese street fashion was generated in the 1990s by teens
who wanted to create their generational identity. Later, it was
accepted as mainstream fashion and became rooted as a general
Figure 7.
Casual styles among the respondents from 2006-2010.
fashion concept among teenagers in Japan. Since its emergence,
street styles have been transforming dynamically as many styles
disappeared and new styles emerged in the fashion scenario.
This research was undertaken in order to trace the chronologi-
cal change of street fashion from 2006 to 2011, and was based
on the surveys of female college students in Tokyo. The results
were used to show the transformation of street fashion, and to
explain how/why casual styles became the key concept for the
fashion industry. In 2006, the street styles were categorized
mainly into 6 types which were Casual, Gyaru, Onei, Mode,
Lolita, and OL. In 2011, these street styles were still apparent
among the respondents but the number of casual wearers in-
creased around 13.5% comparing to the result in 2006. 2008
was a turning point for Onei and Lolita fashions as they began
losing popularity among the respondents. In 2010, several new
styles such as Hime, Ageha, and Natural became popular
among respondents. To understand the cause of the surge in
casual style’s popularity, research into the fashion market
throughout the course of 5 years was conducted. It can be con-
cluded that the economic recession in 2007 and the growth of
fast fashion business were two main factors that led to the radi-
cal changes of street fashion, and as a result casual fashion
became more popular and new styles were born.
Another significant aspect of the study was researched into
where respondents obtained fashion information. The findings
showed that although fashion magazines remained the most
popular fashion source in 2011, they have lessened influence on
guiding respondents’ fashion styles. Furthermore, it became
obvious that the internet was becoming an important source of
fashion information year by year.
The result of the magazine ranking survey showed that the
fashion magazines that presented casual fashion were always
ranked as the most popular magazine among the respondents. In
addition, the magazine ranking reflected the popularity of fash-
ion styles in each year. A perusal of the magazine showed that
many magazines combined casual elements to their original
concepts. In 2010, their styles became overlapping and were
difficult to classify. The magazines with casual combination
remained popular among the respondents. On the other hand,
the magazines that maintained their original concepts, for ex-
ample CanCam, lost their popularity among the respondents.
By 2011 the respondents were relying less and less on fash-
ion magazines for their fashion styles. They were more apt to
combine different styles which made street fashion difficult to
classify by appearance. Teens will more than likely to continue
to express identity through fashion and this will invariably be
reflected in a variety of new Japanese street fashion style.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 299
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Figure 8.
Wide range of casual styles among the respondents in 2010-2011.
Figure 9.
Several types of fashi o n s tyles selected by the respondents in 2010-2011.
Limitations ertheless, although female college students are one of the
dominant contributors of street fashion, there are other groups
of people who also contribute to the Japanese street fashion.
Therefore, application of findings from this research to other
different environments will require scholar judgments and pos-
sibly additional research works. For future research, random
sampling and wide ranges of respondents such as, passers-by,
high school girls or young boys may be required in order to
provide the larger picture of the Japanese street fashion.
This study showed the transformation of Japanese street
fashion during a five year period between 2006 and 2011.
While this study uses the sample of female college students to
explain the transformation of street fashion, there are limita-
tions for usage and applications of the study due to the scope of
study and its survey sampling. The researchers believe that the
result of survey with sampling of female college students could
explain the transformation of street fashion as discussed. Nev-
I thank all the respondents for their participation. Special
thanks to Yuriko Hashimoto, Chika Kondo, Mizue Kosuge,
students under the supervision of Professor Mizutani, Raleigh
Gosney, Charoen Jiewsang, Frank Pumipuntu and Xiong Qian
for their help.
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