Cute Overload: Japanese Kawaii Style

June 24th, 2013 10:00 am


Japanese street style is known for pushing the boundaries of what fashion can express. The fantastical, fairytale costumes sported by Japanese youth also have quickly been adapted by appreciative Western kids. Though not exactly new, Japanese kawaii style is definitely such an attention-grabber.

In modern Japanese, the word kawaii means ‘cute,’ ‘adorable,’ or ‘loveable.’ However, in the context of Japanese street fashion, its look is a Manga, candy shop and dollhouse mash-up.

This year’s Hyper Japan 2013 convention at Earls Court in London (from July 26-28) will feature a kawaii fashion parade and competition.

According to the Hyper Japan website, the kawaii ethos is channeled through many different variations: Sweet and Classic Lolita fashion, Wa- Lolita, Kawaii Kimono style, Gal, Pop-Kei (including fairy-kei), and Pastel Goth (a look often showcased by You Tube mega star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu). Though many of these categories are a bit abstract or get lost in translation, there is sure to be an abundance of all things frilly and cute.

One fan of kawaii says that this style of dressing is, in part, a reaction against the mature, glamorous sexuality of mainstream fashion. Scarlett Young (a previous winner of the Hyper Japan competition) says,“The detail on the clothes is amazing. We have teddy bears stuck in our hair, bows on our heads and colourful wigs and I have a hat with Sylvanian Families characters stuck on to it.” Her friend adds, “Passers-by always smile, whether they like the style or not, so it’s got to be a good thing.”

A fashion show and competition for Cosplay style – another fascinating subculture — will also be featured at the Hyper Japan event.


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© Anne Kroul, 2013.