Tokyo has always been a fashion wonderland, a city where no one would ever just throw something on and waltz out the door, a place where bad hair days are virtually unknown. As a result, the city has long served as an international barometer of what’s hip, happening and next in fashion and beauty. What has changed, though, is that fashion has become segmented here. In this ultra trend-conscious city, each fashion tribe has its own neighborhood, glossy bible, iconic model, superstar stylist and set of trends. Tiffany Godoy, an American-born fashion editor living and working in Tokyo, takes us on a tour.
The Neighborhood: Shibuya
The Look: Glamorous Girls
‘Celeb style’ rules here, and these girls are so sexy, they’ve even divided sexy into two styles: ero-kakoii (cool sexy) and ero-kawaii (cute sexy). Current heroines are Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Jennifer Lopez and models who regularly appear in Glamorous. Their uniform is super-short skirts, skinny denim (ripped, studded, dark or faded), colorful high heels, decorative nails and portable phones, big movie star sunglasses, tinted hair and an accessorized dachshund. There is a high-end glamorous girl and a low-end glamorous girl, both known as gyarus. In general they go for very bronzed skin and iridescent makeup on the eyes and face. Hair is always an artificial shade that ranges from ash to orange. They mix luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana with cheap domestic luxury copycat brands from the department store 109. The high-end girls are moving toward a more dressed-up and flashy sensibility; the younger extreme gyarus are now wearing baggy sweatsuits and house slippers with punk-Kabuki makeup.
The Neighborhood: Harajuku
The Look: Eighties Japan and Natural
Though most of the nearby neighborhood is overrun by busloads of tourists, there are still a few progressive kids around. Girls in their early 20s mix vintage Comme des Garçons jackets with used jeans or T-shirts or Tokyo microbrands. Unlike Eighties Tokyo, they’re not antifeminine. Their makeup tends to be light: Either the eyes or lips are accented with gloss or shadow and they like pink cheeks. Their eyebrows are shaved or very short. On the other side of the fashion universe but in the same neighborhood is the cute-earthy look. This trend is followed by fashion students who devour information from the monthly magazine Fudge. The look is a mix of used clothing and girly domestic brands (Jeansis in LaForet is popular) in colors like khaki and cream. The silhouette is long and incorporates trenchcoats, accessories are ethnic beads or scarves and shoes are boots or flats with round toes. The clothes may be natural but the hair and makeup tends to be cute and colorful.
The Neighborhood: Daikanyama/ Nakameguro
The Look: Kawaii Fashion
One of my favorite neighborhoods, it is so laid-back compared to Shibuya and Harajuku and more underground then Omote Sando. The girls here aren’t sexy, elegant or high fashion but plain, clean and sophisticated. The image is eclectic and kawaii (cute). Their hair is colored and feminine. Their makeup consists mainly of mascara, rouged cheeks and pale skin from whitening foundations. Clothing tends to be heavy on the ruffles, lace, bows and embroidery but carried off with a preppy and clean twist. They want to look effortless. These days they love the girlyness of Tokyo microbrands like Foundation Addict or GVGV, the conceptual-cute looks at Color by Numbers and the softness of a billowy Chloé-type silhouette.
The Neighborhood: Aoyama
The Look: Vogue-ing
Aoyama is still the most sophisticated and fashionable part of Tokyo. Here, the ladies are feminine with an edge. Favorite looks include a sharp jacket with a decorative T-shirt and skirt or a swing coat over skinny pants. The only thing that calls out attention is a bright color accent or a gorgeous bag (with no logos). This neighborhood is about subtlety. Preferred designers like Stella McCartney, Balenciaga and Chloé are picked up at shops like Loveless, or L’Eclaireur or the new Chloé shop. Organic restaurants and the grocery and obento (boxed food) store Natural House are packed during lunchtime. Natural skin care lines Weleda and Jurlique are popular, as are skin whitening products from SKII and Clé de Peau. The hair is stylishly natural, and makeup is nude, with only lip gloss and mascara. Cocktail-filled evenings often end with a germanium bath for a quick detox, so spas in the area, like Relax Body, keep their doors open until 5 a.m.
This article appeared in WWD BeautyBiz a special publication to WWD available to subscribers.