Kawaii Fashion – The Clothing Style Born in Harajuku, Tokyo

Once known for their fearless samurai and graceful geishas, Japanese culture has taken a very jarring turn. Japan is now synonymous with something entirely different from the past, kawaii. Kawaii catkeyhole bra has been adopted by Japanese pop culture, but kawaii has a different origin. Today’s word, kawaii neko lingerie is a variation of multiple Japanese words meaning “one’s face is aglow” and “the ability to be loved”. Now, kawaii essentially encompasses everything adorable, and its essence is rooted in childhood nostalgia. Kawaii reverts back to a time when life was simpler, problems smaller, and everything was much, much more brightly colored. Adorable infantile characters and clothing the hue of vibrant bubblegum and big, innocent unblinking eyes characterize this cultural movement – Kawaii Fashion.

Kawaii Fashion – Origin

The kawaii culture has an unusual origin story – the invention of the mechanical pencil. In the early 1970’s, mechanical pencils were introduced and widely adopted in schools. Teenage girls in junior high school quickly took advantage of their finely tipped lead, which was so much more delicate than pencils of the past. Girls began to change their writing style. Strokes became much rounder and more childlike. This new handwriting spread like wildflowers and sparked an entire youth movement which still echoes today. Variations of this new handwriting trend included cutesy characters alongside little pictures of hearts or baby animals.

A time before memes and viral anything, this intensely trendy handwriting style spread to popular mangas and took root in advertising campaigns targeting young girls. The first truly kawaii character, Hello Kitty, with her oversized head, cuddly body, and pink bow, was stamped onto a coin purse. There’s been no going back since. Hello Kitty has been mass marketed globally; everything from stuffed animals to debit cards to rice cookers has her face . She is instantly recognizable. She is kawaii.

Kawaii Fashion – Harajuku, the place to be!

Kawaii isn’t just an aesthetic choice, but has became a fashion cultural focal point sprouting dozens of subcultures. Harajuku girls or Lolita or button adorned bags and jackets, the spread of kawaii pearl panties can’t be stopped. Harajuku is the epicenter of kawaii, and you have to walk through intersecting streets of colorful stores, shops devoted to your favorite anime characters and vintage stores to truly experience the best of Japanese cute culture. You can’t just window shop, you have to people watch. While the number of Harajuku girls with short hemlines and shockingly bright blues and pinks has dwindled in recent years, kawaii has grown. You’ll still spot girls mixing ultra-feminine pinks and frills with knee socks. Some kawaii style even plays with aspects of punk culture, thick combat boots, but in colors and its style remain playful and young.