Japan Style Guide – Visual Kei, Decora, Harajuku

Over the years, Japan has stood out with its alternative fashion style, which is widespread in regions such as Harajuku. The main one is called Visual Kei, which has spawned a lot of alternatives. In this Guide we are going to talk about all styles of Japanese fashion.

Many of the styles explained in this article are about subculture, they are many styles ending with ideogram [系] which literally means something like lineage, group and system that usually corresponds to a certain period of style and fashion.

Harajuku - Japan's Fashion and Style District

Shironuri (原宿) is a large urban center where you will find stores with the most current fashion trends, maid cafes, and the coolest and strangest fact is that you will find people dressed in cosplay, lolita, decora, otakus and much more.

Harajuku is a sub-district of Shibuya, and one of the most diverse centers of Tokyo, there you can be in character or as an ordinary person, there is the place where you will feel free to be yourself.

This area is known as a hangout for teenagers, and is the location of the Laforet department store, which works with most famous youth fashion brands. Harajuku is famous for the countless amount of fashion stores of all types, mainly urban fashion.

Harajuku is the scene of the emergence of several Japanese fashions, such as Visual Kei, which was one of the great influencers for the growth of the urban center. We have already written an article talking about this neighborhood, you can read by clicking here.

Lolita fashion and style

One of the most popular and prominent is the Lolita fashion, but we won't cover it too much in this article because we already have a giant article talking all about Lolita and related terms. If you want to read it, go to: Do you know what Lolita, Loli and Lolicon mean?

Lolita is a term that defines a Japanese style/fashion, where doll clothes are used, inspired by the Kawaii culture. These clothes sometimes involve nostalgia for other historical times and periods (Victorian or Rococo) or simply for childhood itself.

There are several types of styles and sub-styles of loli, among these styles we have: Sweet Lolita, Classical Lolita, Country Lolita, Hime Lolita, Shiro Lolita, Casual Lolita, Gothic Lolita, Kuro Lolita, Guro Lolita, Punk Lolita, Deco Lolita, Ero Lolita, Sailor LOlita and Qi Lolita.

Japanese styles - harajuku - lolita - visual kei - decora - gyaru - fairy kei - cult party kei - seifuku kei - dolly kei - mori girl - otome kei - shironuri fashion

Visual Kei - History and Curiosities

The Visual Kei or Visual Rock is a musical and visual movement that mixes various styles of rock with hybrid Punk/Gothic characteristics that became popular in Japan in several J-Pop and J-Rock groups.

This style was influenced by J-Rock bands like Devil Kitty and Mar Luna. In addition to Rock, Metal and Punk, Visual Kei music mixes classical music instruments such as violins, pianos and organs.

In japanese bizuaaru kei [ビジュアル系] takes the character [系] which stands for style, system, group and lineage, commonly used as a suffix to refer to groups and styles of Japanese fashion that circulate in Tokyo.

That is, it is a movement among Japanese musicians that involves elaborate costumes, colorful hair, striking makeup, unusual hairstyles, extravagant performances and a somewhat androgynous aesthetic.

history of visual kei

The movement visual kei emerged in the mid-60's/70's, but had its peak with the emergence of some bands like Buck-Tick, Kamaitachi and Color in the 80's and extends nowadays in the Japanese musical environment.

It took dedication and time to win over the Japanese audience, as they are quite reserved in some ways, but this goal was achieved and to this day visual kei It's part of eastern culture.

famous bands like MALICE MIZER, Moi dix Mois, Luna Sea and Versailles were influenced by the Visual Kei movement. Even solo singers stick to the style with flashy haircuts and outfits.

Japanese styles - harajuku - lolita - visual kei - decora - gyaru - fairy kei - cult party kei - seifuku kei - dolly kei - mori girl - otome kei - shironuri fashion

Visual Kei can be considered a copy of the gothic / punk style that exists in the west, but over time the style took shape and different characteristics, making it something unique and modest, not just based on black.

Visual Kei can be considered a fad, but the term is more suited to the style and music in question, which are linked to the rock, punk, goth, metal, and heavy metal genres.

Visual kei in the West

Visual kei and J-pop are mainly listened to by non-Asians in the west, having greater popularity between 1990 and 2000, and which nowadays reaches many fans, being disseminated by fans on the internet and in some cases, through soundtracks. of anime.

The success was tremendous that some producers began to invest in shows and agencies, making the style popular and attractive to the point of being confused as just J-Pop.

Japanese styles - harajuku - lolita - visual kei - decora - gyaru - fairy kei - cult party kei - seifuku kei - dolly kei - mori girl - otome kei - shironuri fashion

Visual Kei in Brazil

In Brazil, there are many visual kei fans who, in addition to visual rock, are also interested in other forms of Japanese rock. In 2006, the event J's Fest II (Japan Song Fest II) attracted 1,500 visitors to Circo Voador, in Rio de Janeiro, who attended, among other attractions, national bands inspired by visual kei and j-rock artists. Several events of a similar nature occur in different regions of the country frequently.

Visual kei or J-Pop is present in the lives of otakus, lovers of Japanese culture or lovers of style, not that this is a rule or a fact.

The article is still halfway through, but we recommend also reading:

Moda Decora - Knowing the Style

The decora look can be characterized by the use of printed pieces and bags, hair clips, stones in makeup, toys hanging around the neck, countless necklaces, bracelets and many colorful socks, being used at the same time, giving total freedom of choice and variety to who will use.

Where did Decora fashion originate?

The word Decora comes from “Decoration”, as this is the concept of style, along with a lot of authenticity, creativity and motivation. It is also known as FRUiTS style, thanks to the magazine of the same name where many photos of these people are published, which are unique and which circulate in Harajuku.

It is uncertain where the style came from, but I (the author), believe it to be in Harajuku, around 1990 and 1995, as it is a large urban center and known for containing several tribes.

Decorate style subdivisions

child decorates: they are the ones that use clothes, accessories, among others, from anime and otaku culture, leaving a more childish mark.

pink decorates: As the name suggests, pink is predominant, with variations in the shade of pink and red and white being accepted in clothing.

colorful decorates: There are no color restrictions in this category, having colored hair and fancy clothes, what matters is that there is no restriction.

dark decorate: Black is the main color, having variations with white, being able to be characterized as a punk style of the decora fashion.

Lolita decorate or Lolicora: is a mixture of lolita with decorate. Lolitas are by nature full of props as well as decora. Lolicoras are triple that.

Japanese styles - harajuku - lolita - visual kei - decora - gyaru - fairy kei - cult party kei - seifuku kei - dolly kei - mori girl - otome kei - shironuri fashion

Some features of Decora

  • Fashion enthusiasts usually walk in groups of 2 to 3 people, and usually coordinating accessories.
  • There are also boy fans;
  • The girls are between 13 and 17 years old;
  • The look is made to attract attention, something the fashionistas themselves want;
  • Some even wear 3 socks at the same time, all colorful and decorated;
  • The cute and childish aspect;
  • The accessories are usually from anime characters, making the style cuter;
  • The prevailing color is pink, not always;
  • The decora style does not follow any pattern, so the more you abuse in the visuals the better.
  • Little makeup;

How is decorating accepted in society?

Decora fashion is quite popular in Japan, more precisely on the streets of Harajuku and otaku entertainment venues, usually with an entirely female target audience, with exceptions.

Japan is a very diverse and liberal country, so Decora is just another style among many others, in Harajuku you will find people in cosplay styles, Lolita, among many others, so there is no reason to be prejudiced there, of course you can be in separate groups, but other than that, no problems.

The only thing that cannot be done is to use this style to go shopping, job interviews, among others, Japan is a very reserved country when it comes to everyday life, so common sense prevails. .

Gyaru - Independent Style

Gyaru [ギャル] is a Japanese fashion style that originated from the jeans brand called “Gurls“. This word originated from the English “girl” and the slang “gals” used to refer to pretty girls.

Gyaru style girls usually mix colors, prints, sparkles and all kinds of fashion bringing their own bold style to the oriental pattern. They often do indoor tanning, completely change their hair, and wear thousands of exotic accessories.

Gyaru also often has heavily bleached or dyed hair in shades of dark brown to blonde and decorated nails. The makeup consists of dark eyeliner and false eyelashes used to make the eyes look bigger.

The gals' clothing items differ depending on which gyaru style the girl chooses. They rolled up the skirts to be shorter, have their own slang and frequent specific places. They also pose with their tongues when taking pictures.

Japanese styles - harajuku - lolita - visual kei - decora - gyaru - fairy kei - cult party kei - seifuku kei - dolly kei - mori girl - otome kei - shironuri fashion

Fairy Kei

Fairy Kei is a style that will satisfy anyone who loves cute things, especially for those who say, "Awww, how Kawaii...", as the fashion is mainly composed of cute things, such as pastel colors, fluorescent pink, polka dots and a lot of nostalgia, Fairy Kei is a style inspired by the pop cuteness of the 80s!

The Style Arena website says that the fashion began around 2007, when Sebastian Masudea founder of the store “6% DOKI DOKI” decided and started producing collections based on expressions such as: “Sensational and lovely”, "não apenas bonito, mas também feliz" and“feeling of unreality”, Sensational and lovely, not only cute but also joyful, feeling the unreality.

Other stores began to invest in fashion, thus forming Fairy Kei. The origin of the name is not known for sure, but it is clear that the name is due to the fact that the clothes are delicate and lucid, after all, Estilo Fada is a name that does justice to fashion.

Cult Party Kei

Something that often happens in Japanese fashion is that the name of the fashion has been inspired by a brand, such as Dolly Kei fashion, for example. Of course, over time, fashion will create its own aesthetic, thus gaining recognition.

In the case of Cult Party Kei, even the name was taken from the Virgin Mary store, which was formerly called Cult Party. The concept and focus of the brand is “Eternal Girl that creates the world”, “The eternal girl that creates her world”.

Cult Party Kei is a little more recent than other fashions such as Mori Girl and Dolly Kei, being sometimes confused with these styles, but one of the main differences is that Cult Party is more oriented to Pop culture, while the others are more vintage oriented.

Clothes tend to have a lighter and synthetic appearance, having a kind of thrift store look, and most stores that represent fashion have this format.

Customizations on the pieces to make them original and unique are also always welcome. The mix of Lolita, Fairy Kei accessories along with assorted pop accessories enrich the style.

Japanese styles - harajuku - lolita - visual kei - decora - gyaru - fairy kei - cult party kei - seifuku kei - dolly kei - mori girl - otome kei - shironuri fashion

Seifuku Kei

The fashion style is precisely the focus of Japanese school uniforms, for us Brazilians this admiration for school uniforms may seem quite unusual, because we don't have this custom here.

The most curious thing is to know how this fashion fell in the taste of students.

The Japanese school uniform is one of the country's symbols and is recognized anywhere in the world. However, it's not always to the students' taste, for us it's not hard to understand why, so many of them feel like upgrading their uniform, or feel like having a nicer one.

In addition, over time, some schools are removing the concept that uniforms are mandatory, so fashion has an influence on those who don't need to wear them, but who want to try and use them. It also comes from those former students who miss their school days.

Japanese styles - harajuku - lolita - visual kei - decora - gyaru - fairy kei - cult party kei - seifuku kei - dolly kei - mori girl - otome kei - shironuri fashion

Dolly Kei

The Dolly Kei appeared in mid-2010. Like the Lolita style, the Dolly Kei has a dash of thrift store fashions, with a bit of a focus on vintage and fantasy films. One of the reference stores for fashion is the Grimoire store, which was created by Naoaki Tobe and Hitomi Nomura.

As with drawings, references are required. The main references of fashion is in movies and books, such as Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and Narnia. The focus is also on typical folk and gypsy clothes, with a lot of embroidery, fur, heavy materials such as leather and suede. The important thing is to bring a typical souvenir of a more medieval and rustic European time.

And of course, Japanese culture manages to give a unique and attractive touch to the style, maintaining a certain harmony. Unlike some fashions, Dolly Kei brings a certain reminder of Eastern European culture. Dolly Kei is a style that plays with the many layers and textures available.

Japanese fashion styles guide - visual kei, decora, harajuku

Mori Girl

The Mori Girl style is recent, the fashion was made for those who thought like the creator of Mori Girl, Choco. Choco spread her thoughts through a community she created on Mixi (equivalent to our Orkut, but Japanese). Choco's thinking was that of “a girl out of the forest”.

Fashion brings a desire for comfortable clothes that demonstrate romanticism and country style. Perhaps, to get away from the reality of the big city for a bit.

This fashion is also for those who have a more solitary lifestyle, who like to read books and who like to have coffee and tea in peace.

The fashion made the head of many other girls, spreading through the streets of Tokyo. Like many other fashions, Mori Girl was not left behind and had its popularity to the level of having its own magazines, clothing brands and events.

With influences from some other fashions, the Mori style brings loose floral dresses. Other accessories, such as layers of coats, vests, scarves, knitted and/or plush hats, socks and assorted shoes. Colors are usually used in combination with nature to keep the focus more attractive. Fabrics are best if they are handmade, with light and delicate textures.

Despite having the word “Girl” in the name, boys are also interested in fashion. As always, getting straightened out in style, wearing saruel-style pants, vests, coats, scarves, handmade hats and dreadlocks in her hair. Remember that it is not necessary to be so rigid in fashion.

In a Mori Girls community, a girl said, "You don't have to be so afraid of making mistakes." This is because it is a natural fashion, where nature is a part, and the most ideal thing is to have a style that does not deviate from the extreme of standards.

Japanese styles - harajuku - lolita - visual kei - decora - gyaru - fairy kei - cult party kei - seifuku kei - dolly kei - mori girl - otome kei - shironuri fashion

Otome Kei

Otome Kei is a more casual and reserved style, which alludes to dresses from the 60s. Otome Kei is an extremely feminine and delicate casual style. Currently owning some brands such as MILK, Axes Femme and Temple Cute.

Fashion, in terms of style, resembles the Japanese kawaii culture, being similar to the Lolita style, but do not confuse the two, with otome kei having cheerful and colorful colors, as well as the Sweet Lolita sub-genre.

The shape doesn't necessarily have to be accented. Also having some dresses that go under the bust, with discreet accessories that match the outfit you are wearing. Hair is also essential, as well as berets, hats, tiaras, ribbons... Remember to maintain harmony.

Some confuse the Otome Kei fashion with the Casual Lolita sub-style, as the two have a similar look at first glance. Otome Kei, therefore, is a much more informal style than Casual Lolita, although well coordinated.

Casual Lolita is in fact more formal, as it requires pieces made for Lolita fashion, in different combinations or in more exclusive and unique ways.

Japanese styles - harajuku - lolita - visual kei - decora - gyaru - fairy kei - cult party kei - seifuku kei - dolly kei - mori girl - otome kei - shironuri fashion

Alternative Metamorphosis - Shironuri Fashion

It is an aesthetic subculture. It emerged on the streets of Harajuku, in 2012 it became popular, gaining new fans. A living sculpture, like a blank canvas, facial expressions are completely hidden, being able to “redraw” them.

Shironuri [白塗り] is a Japanese style of make-up style, with traditional origins in makeup artists Maiko and Geisha and theater Kabuki. The term itself literally means “painted white”.

Its main feature is the super long eyelashes, and the use of Circle Lens that complement the outfit. Some crystals can be found on the cheekbones, very subtle.

Since the Meiji Era (1868-1912) Japanese arts have been influenced by Western Fine Arts. Currently with globalization and new technologies, the Japanese arts started a new transformation: They took all their cultural baggage and reinvented themselves, shaped by foreign influences.

Japanese styles - harajuku - lolita - visual kei - decora - gyaru - fairy kei - cult party kei - seifuku kei - dolly kei - mori girl - otome kei - shironuri fashion

Her fashion influences are: Vintage Fashion, Kawaii, Gothic, Horror, Nature, Anime, Decora, Masquerade, Rave Culture, Cyber and many other sources.

The Shironuri style became quite democratic, there is no rule (except for the softly adorned white painted faces) and is constantly being reinvented, the painting refers to different artistic contexts: You are the creator of your art.

Black is the most classic color in women's hair. Shironuri, and is the natural tone of the majority of the Japanese population, however, colorful and flashy tones giving a high contrast are quite common. They usually wear very full wigs, either straight or curly. They are usually long.


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