In recent years, the face of Japanese fashion, meaning the more "crazy", "outlandish" or simply artistic and expressive styles, as people knew them, are changing. Harajuku has seen a decline in new emerging fashion styles. The reasons for this are varied and unclear, but some have begun to speculate that Japanese fashion as it has been since the 1980s and 90s is either dying or evolving.
In the past, fashion styles in Japan, especially in Harajuku, were created fast and often, with trends rapidly changing and growing all the time. Large style pushes over the years have been trends like vintage-inspired fashions, to "kawaii" fashions, and many others.  However, this seems to be changing.
According to photographer Shoichi Aoki, the rise of fast fashion has begun to negatively impact fashion styles in Japan. The rise in popularity of brands like Uniqlo, with their hyper-specific and uniform style, has changed the focus from individual styles, like what was seen in the 1990s in Harajuku, to more mainstream trends. This move is what caused the leader of the famous street snap fashion magazine FRUiTS to close their doors. 
A more realistic view of the situation may be that consumer income has been dropping since 1998, leading more young people to prefer cheap and accessible fashion like mainstream fast fashion brands, as opposed to more expressive and unique styles. Additionally, Aoki states that fashion is less of a priority for young people these days.  Another source states that a growing interest in dressing "normal and fashionable" may be replacing the 1990s trend of wanting to stand out.  Yet another source says blaming Uniqlo is ill-informed, and that the true issue lies in a new desire for high-fashion brands that have evolved Japanese fashion into something new. He states, "Harajuku is not dead... it's just putting on a new [look]."  In another example, a handful of designers said the easy access provided by the internet to bully those who stand out has discouraged people from dressing in unique or different ways. While another source blames the shadow of Olympic construction, or the growing economic problems in Japan. 
It is likely that the stagnation of new fashion styles is a combination of many of these things. But regardless of which interpretation is correct, the fact remains that Japanese fashions are no longer being produced at the rapid rate they once were, leaving fashion enthusiasts with few new styles and trends to follow.
References[edit | edit source]
- "What the hell has happened to Tokyo's fashion subcultures?" Dazed. December 4, 2015. Retrieved November 15, 2020 from https://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/28687/1/what-the-hell-has-happened-to-tokyo-s-fashion-subcultures
- "Japan's wild, creative Harajuku street style is dead. Long live Uniqlo" Quartz. February 23, 2017. Retrieved November 15, 2020 from https://qz.com/909573/japans-wild-creative-harajuku-street-style-is-dead-long-live-uniqlo/
- "The Re(Evolution) of Harajuku." Metropolis. November 13, 2017. Retrieved November 15, 2020 from https://metropolisjapan.com/re-evolution-of-harajuku/
- "Tokyo Street Fashion Gets the Blahs." WWD. July 17, 2017. Retrieved November 15, 2020 from https://wwd.com/fashion-news/street-style/internet-culture-takes-toll-tokyo-street-fashion-10933879/