Tokyo’s Fashion Tribes
The city of Tokyo is fast becoming a top contender in the ultimate power struggle to be crowned with the title of ‘Fashion Capital of the World’, fighting off stiff competition from the likes of London, Paris, New York and Milan. One thing’s for sure though: when it comes to fashion, Tokyo is a melting pot of creativity and diversity with ‘Kei’ or style tribes popping up all over the city, having developed a fail safe style to claim as all their own. Here we give you a lowdown on what’s what in the world of Tokyo fashion tribes.
Arguably the most famous fashion movement in Tokyo, Lolita kei isn’t – as you might think – about childlike dressing. In fact, its routes lie instead in a rebellion against the over sexualisation of women by everyone from men to the media. The look is all about Victorian-inspired silhouettes such as knee length skirts padded out with pretty petticoats, pastel colours, bows, frills and aprons. Lolita kei is a super sweet but conservative take on life.
If you’re a big fan of all things cute and kitsch, Decora kei may just be right up your street. Based on all things childish and ‘kawaii’ (meaning cute), Decora kei is heavy on the super bright and the super tacky. Think ribbons, bows, hairclips, Hello Kitty, Pokémon, neon colours and tutus and you’re on the right track. Clothes are layered up as much as possible, often with two of three pairs of clashing knee-high socks wore over the top of each other. It might look messy but this mismatched look takes hours of preparation.
Fashion and music have been best friends for years before us, with the disco-dancing glitter of the ‘70s and the ‘90s style grungy Nirvana plaids. Visual kei is no different, taking its inspiration from glam rock and heavy metal, with flamboyant costumes and elaborate eye makeup the keys to Visual kei’s eccentric style. If you want to be taken seriously as part of Visual kei, the most important thing is to not just dress the part, but also to have the musical passion and knowledge to back it up!
Taking its name from the combination of two non-Japanese words, Gosurori derives from the classic Lolita movement – but with a darker edge. Gosu is simply the Japanese pronunciation of the English word ‘Goth’, with rori an abbreviated version of the name Lolita. To look the part with this Kei, you need to take a Lolita outfit and dye it black, add layers of crisp white lace and a dark twist and you’ll be halfway there! This isn’t simply a Gothic-inspired look though (which is more similar to the Visual kei look), as followers of Gosurori are perfectly turned out, with clean lines and pristinely applied dark eye makeup.
Gyaru kei originated from a 1970s brand of jeans called “gals” with the advertising slogan ‘I can’t live without men’. These days, the look is less to do with men and more with a glitzy lifestyle of glamour and fashion. Kei meetups are called ‘gal circles’, where Gyaru exhibit a disinterest in growing up, careers or marriage. The look is typically characterised by its miniskirts and high heels, pristine makeup and high maintenance glamorousness.
So if we’ve tickled your fashion taste buds, head on over to the wackiest city in the East for your fix of sartorial pleasure. Don’t hesitate for a moment longer because this season, there are some great deals to be had on flights to Tokyo with Expedia. You could be exploring the fashion credentials of the zany city sooner than you think!