Looking to up your fashion game with some streetwear styles? If you’ve ever wanted to know what’s potting with women’s streetwear in Tokyo, we’ve got you covered.

Streetwear trends here are tough to keep ahead of. Japanese designers range from international giants to small, solo artisans specializing in their own styles. In addition, considering that different parts of Tokyo — like Harajuku — can seem like fashion islands, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But if you’re looking for a quick guide to the current trends in women’s streetwear, this is a good place to start.

A young woman is browsing a rail of clothes at a street market
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Where do Tokyo streetwear trends originate?

Tokyo’s fast-fashion scene is well developed, with international retailers like H&M and Zara competing with domestic brands like Uniqlo and Honeys. But it’s when you move away from the big shopfronts and onto social media that the real trendsetting begins to stand out.

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Even print magazines (see ViVi, for example) now lean heavily into platforms like Instagram and TikTok to find and produce content centered around the latest trends. Styles that were once clearly defined and laid out are constantly undergoing customization — in real time — to create dozens of unique looks and outfits with their own names and identities.

If this melange of styles catches your interest, here are some of the some of the most popular kinds of streetwear you can see on Tokyo’s streets.

1. Masculine Style

While not the most flattering name, Masculine Style is direct in its focus — a style based around traditionally masculine clothing. Starting in 2019, the trend developed from the popularity of oversized clothing in Japan.

Plus size woman in business clothes making selfie.
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The style uses oversized clothing and traditionally masculine designs to highlight the femininity of the wearer through contrast. Masculine Style clothing is often said to have a “borrowed” appearance, as if shared with a male partner.

As the style is trying to evoke masculine fashion, colors are usually more muted and accessories are rarely used. Imagine large, casual sports blazers, oversized chunky knitwear, messy hair and a “threw on the first thing I saw” look, and you’ll know a masculine look when you see it.

The style is popular with young adults and young professionals, due to the relative ease of creating a wardrobe adhering to the style. Though brands do specialize in the style, and boutique pieces are available, it is particularly thrift-friendly. Stores in areas such as Koenji and Shimokitazawa can be goldmines for larger male clothing that can be repurposed into a Masculine Style wardrobe If that sounds good to you, check out our second-hand shopping guide for Tokyo.

Stores to check out for Masculine Style fashion:

Woman shopping at clothing store, on street in Tokyo
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2. Jirai Kei

Jirai Kei is a relatively recent style from the early 2020s that has risen from a twist on more traditional Japanese clothing and fashion. It features a lot of cute and preppy clothing, but usually incorporates darker, contrasting shades for a stronger visual effect.

Black is the most common color in Jirai Kei, with most pieces having black segments or edgework. Other common colors are white, pink and purple, often contrasted with black. Expect to see frilly and bright dresses, mini skirts and petticoats, for a light, airy appearance, at sharp odds with dramatic hair and makeup choices. This has led to Jirai Kei being described as a gothic trend, or “cute with a gothic edge”.

The style was initially popular with teenagers, although now is popular with a much wider age group. The underlying rebelliousness and confrontation of mental health stereotypes that inspired the fashion gives Jirai Kei its name. Originally a cultural attempt to reclaim the derogatory “Jirai-onna”, a term used to insult emotional outbursts by women, the style has grown mainstream enough for high-end Tokyo boutiques to explore.

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Jirai Kei was originally a social-media driven fashion movement created through the darker ends of gothic styles and wardrobes. Now, however, Shibuya 109 is full of stores sporting exclusive pieces, and even Omotesando’s designer storefronts see the odd piece — but the aim of embodying the rebellious spirit against stereotypes still is the driving factor in the style, no matter how mainstream it gets.

Stores to check out for Jirai Kei fashion:

Girly Style Japanese fashion in a store in Tokyo
Photo by Shyam Bhardwa

3. Girly

As the name suggests, Girly fashion is centered around cute, peppy and traditionally feminine colors and designs. The origins of Girly are harder to pinpoint, with the style taking distinct form throughout the 2010s as a combination and adaptation of other styles.

The Girly style can usually be identified through its pastel designs — pink, white, and other colors in pastel tones are most commonly used. Simply designed dresses, cardigans, and skirts are the basics of the style, with longer cuts being the norm to create a demure appearance. Many pieces will also have “cute” detailing, such as lace, ruffles or ribbons. These are, however, used sparingly alongside simple accessories and makeup to keep a modest and natural appearance.

Girly also has several sub-themes, such as Adult Girly, Retro Girly, and Dark Girly. Here, the basic concepts of cuteness and feminine clothing are adapted to the sub-theme. For instance, Dark Girly pieces will look closer to a more gothic larme style, whereas Retro Girly will have vintage undertones.

The Girly style and its sub-themes are particularly popular with young adults. Stores and boutiques selling Girly pieces are easy to find in Tokyo’s pop fashion hubs, such as Shibuya 109 and Takeshita Street.

Stores to check out for Girly fashion:

A young Asian woman wearing retro-styled 1970's clothing. Both the model and set are styled to portray a teenager/young adult from 1976 with period correct clothing, furniture, and props.
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4. Vintage

As the saying goes: “Vintage is the only fashion that never goes out of style.” Tokyo seems determined to prove that, with Vintage fashion remaining one of the most popular streetwear trends in the city. Check out our secondhand shopping guide for the best places for vintage.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change.

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Filed under: Fashion | Shopping
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