Harajuku Girls: How Tokyo created the blueprint for Instagram

In the 1990s one area of Tokyo saw the rise of a unique style movement that would go on to change street fashion forever. Harajuku, a small neighbourhood between the busy shopping mecca of Shibuya and neon-hued nightlife of Shinjuku became the epicentre of a series of truly fashion-led subcultures that were transmitted to the rest of the world through the street style bible FRUiTS. From urahara to lolita, wamono to decora, teenagers from all over Japan would come to show off their latest genre-bending looks. With trends appearing in a flash and disappearing just as quickly, this thriving area became the most exciting place to be in Tokyo in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At the time, these style subcultures were a rebellion against the upright, corporate mentality of Japan. Little did these innovators know that their jaw-dropping approach to fashion would still be influencing and inspiring the global fashion industry over two decades on.

In this episode, Osman Ahmed, Fashion Features Director at i-D talks to Yuniya Kawamura, author of ‘Fashioning Japanese Subcultures’ and Professor of Sociology at FIT, about what makes a Japanese subculture different from one we might find in the West. Josephine Rout, Japan Curator at the V&A explains how this area of Tokyo came to be one of the most innovative style incubators in the world. Vogue Japan’s Tiffany Godoy recounts her first-hand experience of Harajuku when she moved to Japan in the late 1990s and the innovations in fashion she witnessed there, while Yoon Ahn describes the diversity of styles she came into contact with when she moved to Tokyo in 2003. Shoichi Aoki, editor of legendary street style magazine FRUiTS, explains his motivation behind capturing the looks of Harajuku, and Shahan Assadourian, founder of @archiving.stacks tells us why Harajuku subcultures are still so relevant today.

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