2011 in Fashion, part 1

2011 was an interesting year for J-fashion.  On one hand, the earthquake aftermath brought an interest in minimalism and practicality.  Fashion was frivolous and even hazardous, as the Tokyo office ladies who had to walk miles home in high heels would tell you.  On other hand, alternative fashion hung onto a quirkiness that could be found in style icons like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Even with tightened purse strings and grave matters on their minds, the truly devoted lovers of clothing found a way to express themselves.

What was left behind in 2010
Headbands – By headbands, I mean the ones worn across the forehead (hippie style). The ones worn on top of your head were still common.

Mountains of accessories – With the decline of decora, hime kei, and the economy, less became more. Although street fashion remains outrageous for some, most individuals seemed to limit their accessorizing.

Nordic fashion – Nordic prints didn’t last too long, as plaid and animal print came back in style (not that they ever really left).

Yama Girl – After Yama Girl became popular, there were attempts to make other outdoor activities trendy with chic running gear and the Tsuri Girl (Fishing Girl). Neither really took off, and the Yama Girl became more obscure. Either practicality won out style or the fashionistas decided to stay indoors.

What carried over into 2011
Bows and berets – Headwear has been growing in popularity. However, hair bows and berets became the must-have accessories, whether you were a gyaru, lolita, or punk.
2011 fashion3 from Kera, Nov. 2011

Fur – Fur went away for a couple years, and then it came back with a vengeance. The animal ear hats were bigger and fuzzier than ever (and they invaded the U.S.), and stoles became a hot winter item.

Marine – Army style gave way to the navy in 2010, and marine stripes and sailor outfits became popular with both the Shibuya 109 and LaForet crowds.
2011 fashion1

What sprouted up in 2011
Androgyny – While no stranger to alternative fashion, more masculine looks made their way into the trendier magazines with Zipper having a “boy vs. girl” feature and Soup giving their models a tomboy makeover.

Denim – Jeans aren’t a staple in Japan, as they are in the U.S. However, they became more popular in 2011. There was also denim jackets, Not only have jeans become more popular, but there were jackets, dresses,

Ora ora kei – Ora ora kei is a mishmash of gyaruo and yanki. Key points include black track suits, tank tops, tanned skin, tattoos, gold accessories, and sunglasses. Its popularity in the past year probably resulted from a need for a manlier style and for the gyaru, a tougher and sexier style. Ora Ora kei for the ladies really took off with the birth of Soul Sister.
2011 fashion4
Exile’s Atsushi is a style icon for ora ora kei guys.

Red – Perhaps in reaction to the neutral garments, red accents were seen all over the place: shoes, berets, and lips to name a few. Lolita also seemed to embrace the vibrant hue, as even the pastel-dominated brand Angel Pretty had a few red dresses.

Retro – 2011 fashion trends traveled through the decades. We had pleated skirts from the 1950s, maxi dresses from the 60s, wide-leg jeans form the 70s, and baggy shirts from the 80s. Rockabilly and old school punk influence the mainstream a bit, and Lumine paid tribute to the 60s and 80s at the Tokyo Girls Award fashion show.
2011 fashion2
Aya Omasa, who played the frilly fashion student Miwako in Paradise Kiss, shows off a simple 70s-inspired look.  From non-no Aug. 2011

Fashion seemed to change drastically in the past year, and yet there were many things we had seen before: black glasses, plaid, and fur. 2011 also saw a dichotomy of hard versus soft with the rise of ora ora kei juxtaposed with the softer vintage looks. Neutral tones and bright 60s-inspired palettes also provided an interesting contrast. It will be interesting to see where things go next year.

Listening to: “Wonder Woman” by Namie Amuro feat. AI and Anna Tsuchiya

Leave a comment


  1. Hello, Hibari-sensei-san!
    Indeed, I think Retro was popular in the street 2011.
    See you.

  2. Wonderful article! I wasn’t aware of a few trends, nice to read about!

  1. 2011 in Fashion – part 2 « Hibari-sensei's Classroom

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