10 Things That Mattered in Harajuku Street Fashion in 2012

Harajuku style trends move quickly. Faces change, shops and brands come and go. It’s difficult to stop time and declare what matters the most. Even so, as the New Year kicks off we thought we’d take a quick look back at 2012. Our focus with this list – as with the site – is what’s important on the STREETS of Harajuku. Keep in mind that Harajuku street fashion is a scene of its own, distinct from the bigger world of Japan (or even greater Tokyo).

Hopefully, this list will give you a little insight into what mattered in Harajuku in 2012. We didn’t try to create an Ultimate Top 10 List. Many trends had to be cut (cable knit, faux leather, clutches, neon beanies, etc.) to get the list down to 10 items. We take no offense if you disagree with our choices.

Please have a look at our “Who What Where of Harajuku 2012” and let us know your thoughts in the comments. Happy New Year everyone!

Harajuku 2012 – Who


Juria Nakagawa was the It Girl of the 2012 Harajuku street fashion scene. Starting out the year at just sixteen years old, her style influence was felt strongly from the street to fashion magazines to social media and beyond. She was at the epicenter of several of this year’s big trends (tattoo tights, dip dye hair, edgier/sexier kawaii, Jeffery Campbell, chokers, etc.). She works at the uber-hot legwear boutique AvantGarde Harajuku. We’re still not sure what to call Juria’s look (Juria-kei?), but no matter what it’s called, this girl rocked Harajuku in 2012. [Juria on Twitter]

Hirari Ikeda

Though opposites in some ways, Hirari blew up along with Juria in 2012. While everyone on the street wanted to look like Juria, few dared to follow Hirari’s style experimentations. Between her hairstyles (including a stint with no hair at all), her various piercings (choker, enough said), and her totally not-safe-for-work Tumblr, Hirari kept us off balance for the entire year. Being one-of-a-kind (a tough feat in Harajuku) meant Hirari caught the attention of a number of creative tastemakers. She did several projects with Nicola Formichetti (one of the most influential stylists on the planet), appeared in magazines (including Dazed & Confused), and modeled for hip Japanese brands (including Alice Black, Vive Vagina, Plumb, and Nude n Rude). On top of that, she works at Dog Harajuku – one of the hippest underground (literally) street fashion boutiques in Japan. Quite a year for this small town girl and beauty school student who only arrived in Tokyo in 2011. [Hirari on Twitter]

Harajuku 2012 – What

Tattoo Tights

Everyone on the street wore tattoo tights in 2012. AvantGarde Harajuku was the center of this boom (with special mention to Choco Moo for the shocking popularity of her Mam AvantGarde designs). By the end of the summer, cheap inspired-by versions were in every shop in Harajuku, but AvantGarde is still The Place for anyone who wants the real deal.


George Cox or Underground x [any hip Japanese brand you can think of]. Creepers (they’re called “rubber soles” in Japan) – from classic black and white to leopard print to gold to neon pink and yellow – were a breakout item this year. Platform sneakers were also hot, but they’ve been booming for a couple years now.

Acid Wash

This spring, vintage acid wash jackets were ubiquitous. All of the hip girls were wearing them (usually oversized). Many of the early adopters of that trend were connected to the Harajuku resale shop Bubbles. We saw some resurgence in the fall/winter, but this trend definitely peaked in the Spring. [Acid wash trend article]

Dip Dye & Lavender Hair

Dip dye (pink & blue) along with lavender/lilac hair made 2012 a colorful year in Harajuku. If Tumblr had streets, the streets would look a lot like Harajuku did during the peak of the dip dye boom. Does that make sense? No? Okay, just look at the pretty pictures.

Harajuku 2012 – Where

AvantGarde Harajuku

Tattoo tights were probably the biggest fashion trend of the year in Japan and AvantGarde Harajuku is the reason. This little shop blew up big. According to sources, they sold half a million pairs of tights in 2012. They also host popular parties; were a major part of the Juria Nakagawa phenomenon; had Choco Moo paint their walls; helped launch Jeffery Campbell in Japan; have an owner with the world’s tallest mohawk; and the list goes on. [Official website]

Tokyo Bopper

If you asked 100 Harajuku street snap girls featured on this site (or in FRUiTS Magazine) in 2012 whether they own a pair of “Bopa” shoes, we’re betting 50% would say yes. But it might be closer to 80%. This indie Harajuku footwear company (Tokyo Bopper was born in Harajuku in 1991) was one of the must-have street brands for 2012. [Official website]


It’s been an amazing year for Spinns. Their main shop is the go-to place for Japanese high school girls (and some boys) who are fresh to the Harajuku scene. The prices are low and everything in the store is on-trend and looks just like what popular young Japanese magazine models are wearing. Since Kyary blew up, the number of people making a beeline for Spinns has increased exponentially. The main Spinns Harajuku store (next to Forever21) is packed with shoppers from open to close. In December, they opened a brand new location a few doors down from H&M. They have a third shop on the corner of Omotesando Dori & Meiji Dori, and we hear a fourth Harajuku location may be in the works. Their number of in-house brands keeps expanding (God Harajuku being our favorite), they work with many of the hip magazine models (Seto Ayumi has her own brand with Spinns), put on quarterly fashion shows in Harajuku where major artists like Kyary and Nakata appear, and just generally dominated an important Harajuku demographic in 2012. [Official website]

Boy London

Perhaps a strange choice because it’s not as omnipresent as our other picks. However, the speed with which Boy London took hold (one day people in Boy hats and shirts seemed to magically appear on every corner) and the dedication of Boy’s hardcore Japanese fans (head-to-toe Boy fashion, colored hair, piercings, glam makeup, etc) impressed us enough for the brand to make the cut. The Boy boom also seems related to a larger resurgence of classic “streetwear” in Tokyo. There is actually a pack of Boy London devotees who we see around the streets of Harajuku (usually after dark) and at Tokyo fashion parties. It’s like a (merry) gang where you have to be one of the most fashionable kids on the planet to get in. Boy London Tokyo group photo courtesy of Chamii. [Official website]

That’s our quick take on Harajuku street fashion/style trends for 2012. It’s just a tiny part of what actually happened here in the last 12 months. But Harajuku isn’t a place for looking backwards – it’s all about what’s now and what’s next. So, here’s to 2013 and the great year it’s going to be.

Happy New Year to each and every one of you, and thank you for supporting Tokyo Fashion past, present, and future!!!

Comments are closed.

  1. Absolutely love it! I’m excited for another year and hope some of these trends will trickle overseas!

  2. Victoria Moore

    I loved everything. Some stuff I remember from the 1980s but it still looked great for 2012. I’m looking forward to being inspired by and wearing some of Japan’s new trends for 2013.

  3. I totally agree with the Boy London thing! And honestly? I prefer Hirari over Juria. She’s just so much more intense and I find her waaay cooler.

  4. and kyary pamyu! (it has everything to do with harajuku, EVERYTHING!)

  5. I’m Canadian and I love your creations go fashion.


  6. I agreed with everything right up to number 10. I don’t disagree that that BOY exploded but so did a couple of other trends. I might have gone with the neon beanie hat although I suppose you could lump that in with SPINNS…!

  7. i think it’s safe to say that juria also popularized the dramatic colored eyeshadow trend as well…

  8. I will forever love japanese fashion I got in to it 2 years ago they always have that something your looking for I live how it’s always changing can’t wait to see what’s new :)

  9. I am looking for black fishnet face mask. Any one have a lead for me? we are are having fashion day on the Plaza here in Taos New Mexico on September 28th. I need it for my outfit…help!