If you’re familiar with Kimono dresses, then you already must have an idea that Japan holds fashion close to its heart. However, as in the case of any country, trends come and go in this nation too. There are some trends though that has left a massive impact on the fashion industry of Japan. Wondering which these are? Let’s walk you through 4 trends that have left a powerful imprint on the history of Japanese fashion:

1 - Lolita

A trend so popular that it is also recognized globally, Lolita first came into being in 1987. But it wasn’t until the 1990s and the 2000s that fame kissed its feet when brands, stores, and magazines all started exhibiting it. If we were to describe Lolita in one word, we’d call it catchy since this trend is all about donning looks that catch attention.


Lolita dresses are like a shorter version of the Marie Antoinette style, coming with prints of teacups, bunnies, horses, skulls, and more. Often lace also finds some place at the hemline of a Lolita dress and so do silk ribbons. This trend can be further divided into three styles - Sweet Lolita, Gothic Lolita, and Classic Lolita.

Sweet Lolita fashion is about wearing pastel colors in girly prints. The overall look is cutesy with dreamily dramatic makeup. Classic Lolita is about wearing darker colors like plum and purple, putting on subtle makeup, and keeping the prints antique with swirls or florals. Whereas Gothic Lolita, as its name suggests, follows the goth style with black the chief among colors, and makeup being bold.

These days the Lolita trend is not as commonly seen as it used to be. However, it is known to the extent that it has a whole organization, known as the Japan Lolita Association, dedicated to it. This organization came into existence in 2003 and since then it has been working to increase the popularity of the trend which is already prominent.

2 - Ganguro

The literal translation of the word Ganguro is “black faced girls” and that’s exactly what this trend is about. The key features of this trend include rocking a tanned face with contrasting silver, orange or blond locks. The makeup is also popping with dark black eyeliner, white concealer for eyelids and lips, and fake lashes for added drama.


Ganguro girls avoid wearing black dresses and go for brighter colors and even neon shades. They wear lots of bracelets and also sometimes put hairpieces on. For footwear, they go for platform heels while their dresses are always on the shorter side, exposing more flesh in mini skirts and sarongs. This trend has expanded gradually because initially it was not accepted by society.

Ganguro fashion was birthed in the mid-1990s and followed by teens who rebelled against the typical idea of what a Japanese woman should look like - white skin, dark hair, and subtle makeup. Though the trend was widely known in the latter half of the 1900s, it lost its recognition in the 2000s. However, it hasn’t died down completely and some traces of it can still be seen.

Ganguro also has extremist forms which are known as Yamanba and Manba. These styles take the striking factor a notch up with even more tanned skins, white lipsticks, stickers for faces, black or white contact lenses and shocking colors. A difference between both is that in Yamanba, eyeshadow is worn only above the eyes while Manba girls paste it on both above and below the eyes.

3 - Kawaii

The Japanese are obsessed with cuteness which in their language is called “kawaii.” The Kawaii culture, which is believed to have begun in the 1960s, is all about looking adorable, vulnerable, and positive. Think Hello Kitty products. In fact, HK is the ambassador of this culture with its white face, red clothes, and bow. Overall, the style adopted by this trend is cutesy, and childlike.


Today, Kawaii is internationally renowned with people from different parts of the world following this fashion. Kawaii also happens to be a frequently used term in Japan as women use it to compliment one another. Girls who follow this trend clad themselves in pink, red, baby blue, and other such colors. Kawaii prints include hello kitty, polka dots, stripes and the like.

Kawaii dresses often have bows, ruffles, and other such marks of girly loveliness. You’ll also notice Kawai girls carrying stuffed animal toys around or wearing Mary Janes with socks reaching up their legs while their puffy frocks end just above their knees. Kawaii is, however, more than just fashion. It has also found its way into art, technology as well as food.

You can say that Kawaii is an entire lifestyle. A popular version of Kawaii fashion is Decora, a word which comes from decoration. Quite self-explanatory, this trend is all about decorating yourself as much as possible. This means girls who follow this fashion wear lots of badges, carry many accessories, and even put on makeup that is funky and colorful.

4 - Visual-Kei

Visual-Kei fashion is like the emo of Japanese trends. This trend isn’t very popular among the masses in this decade, but its strong impact is one that still can be seen in magazines, and among certain groups. It came into existence as a way to rebel the traditional modest looks favored in the country and was introduced basically by musicians.


Musicians didn’t just introduce it, but they were also responsible for spreading it. Some popular bands that fueled the passion for this fashion include Luna Sea, Buck-Tick, X Japan, and more. The Visual-Kei trend can be followed by adopting various features, however, prominent ones include piercings, bold and wild grunge-style makeup, and the use of dark-colored lenses.

Followers of this trend often also have tattoos. They can also be labeled punk since you can see several people who stick to this style wearing puck-style jewelry. The use of eyeshadows is common among Visual-Kei fanatics. You can spot a person who employs elements of this trend from afar from his hair. Visual-Kei men and women go for straight hair in the form of bangs.

If you want to try any of these looks but aren’t sure where to find them know that Pomelo ladies’ apparel is one store where various styles of dresses that can help you nail one of these looks are available. If you’d rather shop when a sale is running, simply use a coupon or promo code. Through coupons, you can even get a buy one, get one free offer. This way, you’ll try various trends without cashing out too much money on them.

Wrap up thoughts

Japan’s history is dotted by some overwhelming fashion trends, some traditional, other rebellious. These include the Lolita, Ganguro, Kawaii, and Visual-Kei trends. To an extent, all of these go to extreme lengths. While they aren’t popular anymore as they once were, their effects can still be seen here and there. Which one of these did you like the most? Tell us in the comments!