Japanese Fashion, Slightly U.S. 80s Retro?

Is it me? Or does it seem like in some parts of Japan American 80s fashion is alive and well?

Okay, let me back up. I can’t say Japanese fashion mirrors all US 80s fashion trends. If that were the case, and somebody resurrected the fashion trends from my neighborhood in the 80s you’d get jheri curls, bright flip-flops, and kool-aid socks. If you’re not familiar with the jheri curls, consider yourself lucky. A jheri curl was this god-awful, wet looking curl that always required adding some kind of spray or juice to it. People would literally have sleep wearing shower caps to keep the juice from staining their pillows. If you’ve seen the Eddie Murphy classic, Coming to America, you know exactly what I mean. This is a jheri curl:

Though wildly famous in the African-American community at one point in time, why jheri curls ever saw the light of day? Your guess is as good as mine. Now the bright-colored flip-flips and kool-aid socks (a nick-name for the socks that had the colored bands around the top, near the calf) I can kind of understand…color equals fun.

Despite not being representative of all U.S. 80s fashion, there are some elements of Japanese fashion that are reminiscent of the 80s (though maybe just a hair different):

Exhibit A: Japanese Women With Bangs

- There’s absolutely nothing wrong with bangs. I’ve seen many women make them look quite cool. But they were a gigantic part of 80s fashion and they are big part of Japanese fashion today. Truth be told, though, I actually think the bangs look is making a resurgence in the U.S..

Exhibit B: Japanese Men With Big Hair

- This one doesn’t seem to be making much of a resurgence among American men. But here in Japan, big hair is…well…big. I’ve been in the bathroom several times seeing men making sure their hair spikes just right. Many men have what I like to call the “organized, spiky chaos look.” Now I don’t mean 1980s, punk rock spiky. It’s just spiky enough to be professional and just spiky enough to be slightly 80s. This a common hairdo with the businessman or as they say in Japan the “salaryman.”

Exhibit C: Japanese Women Wearing Colored Tights

: Probably the number one 80s retro-style example I can find here in Japan. I see colored tights everyday and I mean that, everyday. If I was to go a day without seeing at least one pair, I’d think something was wrong. I’m not talking about stockings either. Being a man and all it’s hard for me to tell the difference exactly, but aren’t stockings much thinner? These are colored, proper tights. Now the colors generally aren’t as flashy as the fluorescent yellows, oranges, blues, etc., that you might have seen in the 80s, but they’re colored tights nonetheless. The ones I’ve seen are generally darker shades of green or blue. Uh oh, that’s going to make people think I’m a pervert or something, walking around looking at Japanese women’s legs all day. I would never ever stare…okay, well, maybe if she’s really cute.

Okay, so I’ve got a little game for you, if you’re willing to play. The next time you’re on the train, or just walking around see how many women with bangs you can spot, how many men with big hair, and how many women wearing colored tights. Bangs= 3 points, big hair=3 points, and tights=2 points. If you spot a U.S. eighties fashion outside of those three (like leg warmers or halter tops on men (remember Rocky 3 when he was wearing the halter top while training…just wouldn’t go over so well these days, ne?))…it’s a whopping ten points!! GOOD LUCK, LOL :D

Donald Ash

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  • Anthony

    Here in northern california, the whole 80′s scene is everywhere. Bright colors, clothes that hardly match thrown together, neon plastic glasses. I seen one lady with a jheri curl while on the bus in san francisco, but other than that, I have seen a handful of teens rocking high top fades and the late 80′s-early 90′s punk rock mullets haha.

  • Bri

    Music. =.= Omg, I swear so much jpop sounds like it’s from the 70s-90s. All I can say is thank goodness more kpop are going over and doing things in Japanese, hopefully they will be able to push the music up a decade. x))

  • christinanolanXD


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