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.
Perhaps the most internationally recognised fashion movement in Tokyo, the Lolita kei isn't solely about dressing like a child, as you might have mistakenly thought. In fact, its routes actually lie in rebelling against the over sexualisation of women by everyone from men to the media. Victorian-inspired silhouettes and knee length skirts bulked out with pretty petticoats, pastel colours, frills, aprons and bows are all characteristic of this super sweet but conservative look.
If you're a fan of all things kitsch and cute, then Decora kei may just be the thing for you. Obsessed with all things childlike and 'kawaii' (meaning cute), Decora kei is all about the decoration - gaudy style. Think cutesy hair clips, bows, ribbons, Hello Kitty, Pokémon, neon colours, tutus and accessories galore. The colours are bright and the 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's not all just thrown on though; this mismatched look takes hours of preparation.
Taking its name from an amalgamation of two non-Japanese words, Gosurori is a variant of the classic Lolita movement but with a much darker edge. Gosu is simply the Japanese pronunciation of the English word 'Goth', with rori an abbreviated version of the name Lolita. To get an idea of this Kei, take a Lolita outfit and dye it black, adding lashings of crisp white lace and a dark twist and there you have it! This isn't simply a Gothic inspired look though (which is more akin to the Visual kei look), as followers of Gosurori are pristinely turned out, with clean lines and perfectly dark eye makeup.
Music and fashion have gone hand in hand for years before us, with the likes of disco-dancing glitter and grungy Nirvana-esque plaids. Visual kei is no exception, taking its cues from glam rock and heavy metal, and building a look all about outlandish hair and over-the-top makeup. Flamboyant costumes and elaborate eye makeup are the keys to Visual kei's eccentric style. However, if you want to be taken seriously as part of Visual kei, the most important thing is to not just look the part, but have the musical passion and knowledge to back it up!
Gyaru kei originated from a 1970s brand of jeans called "gals" that had the advertising slogan 'I can't live without men'. Although originally personifying the mentality of Gyaru kei, the look is now more to do with a glitzy lifestyle of glamour and fashion, with 'gal circles' exhibiting a disinterest in growing up, careers or marriage. Gyaru kei 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 coolest city in the East for your fix of sartorial pleasure. This summer, Expedia have some great deals on flights to Tokyo to get you there.