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WHAT IS 80's JAPANESE FASHION? : A Close Look at 6 Trends

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

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Scenery of Shinjuku, Japan in 1980

September 21, 2023

Hey there,

Have you ever been curious about the allure of Japanese fashion?

Well, it's not just about clothes; it's about self-expression.

And this unique form of expression found its roots in the 1980s.

In this article, we're diving deep into the fashion trends that defined Japan during that era, breaking them down into six key style categories.


1. HAMATORA (Early '80s)

HAMATORA, derived from "Yokohama Traditional," took the fashion scene by storm after being featured in the popular women's fashion magazine "JJ."

Yokohama, a bustling port city, radiates style and sophistication, and that's precisely what the HAMATORA style embodies.

Japanese fashion magazine "JJ" issued 1979, November
『JJ』1979年 11月号

Women's street fashion in 1980, Hamatora style
Source on Pinterest

Style: Imagine a comfy polo shirt beneath a stylish vest and a cozy cardigan. Pair it with a trendy plaid-wrapped skirt, high socks, and classic loafers for the iconic "HAMATORA" look.


"Japanese Preppy" owes its name to the influence of the classic American "Ivy Look" from the 1950s.

American Ivy league style in 1980
Source on Pinterest

Magazines like "POPEYE" and "MEN’S CLUB" played a pivotal role in popularizing this trend.

Driven by a deep admiration for Americanized fashion, Japanese enthusiasts began crafting their unique version of the preppy style.

Japanese fashion magazine "POPEYE" issued in 1981, October
POPEYE ポパイ No.112 1981年10月10日号 プロパー・アイビー

Style: Think oversized school uniforms seamlessly integrated into daily wear, with vibrant '80s colors distinguishing it from the classic "Ivy look." Emblem-adorned blazers, cardigans, button-down shirts, comfy cotton pants, and stylish loafers are the essentials for mastering this trend.

3. KARASU-ZOKU (1982)

KARASU-ZOKU, or "A group of crows," might sound peculiar, but it originated from the "Shock of Black" fashion movement led by iconic Japanese designers Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons) during the 1982 Paris Collection.

Picture this: the fashion world was all about colours, vibrancy, and body-hugging styles.

But then, Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons decided to turn it all on its head by presenting an all-black, baggy, and well-worn clothing lineup to the global stage.

Fast forward to today, and black is considered a timeless colour in our daily wardrobe. But back in the day, their collection received its fair share of both criticism and praise.

However, in Japan, this all-black, roomy style was the epitome of fashion-forward for trendsetters.

So, these trendsetters, often referred to as "KARASU-ZOKU," were largely die-hard fans of Japanese designer brands (DC brand).

1980, Japanese all black fashion style, KARASUZOKU
Source on Pinterest

Style: Picture oversized outfits concealing body silhouettes, bold makeup, and 'Boyish' hairstyles dominating this fashion scene.

Learn more about: Comme des Garcons / Yohji Yamamoto

4. Olive Girls (1984)

Olive Girls embrace a cute and girlish style inspired by the popular women's fashion magazine “olive.” Frills, bows, pink, and red are the key ingredients for achieving that coveted 'Kawaii' look.

Japanese fashion magazine "OLIVE" in 1984
Olive オリーブ 1984年 No.42 4月号 マガジンハウス

Japanese fashion magazine "OLIVE" issued in 1993
Olive オリーブ 1993年 No.42 10月号 マガジンハウス

Style: Look for big collars, plaid patterns, frills, and bows as signature elements in this magazine-worthy style.


This style ranks among the most iconic '80s fashion trends in Japan.

It's all about flaunting vibrant body-conscious dresses while maintaining impeccably styled one-length hair.

Even today, you might spot echoes of this style on Japanese television, especially during '80s-themed performances.

popular body conscious style in the 80s japan
Source on Pinterest

Body conscious style in the 80's in japan
CanCam 1987年9月号〈「上品でセクシーな服」を選ぶ〉

Style: Showcase form-fitting silhouettes, eye-popping colors, and mini dresses.

Don't forget the iconic jacket with bold shoulder pads to complete the look!

6. SHIBUKAJI (1988)

'Shibukaji,' short for 'Shibuya Casual,' emerged as a counter-movement to the 'Domestic Character brand' (DC) trend.

In the early 1980s, during the rise of the 'Domestic Character brand' (DC) trend, people often dressed head-to-toe in a single brand.

However, 'Shibukaji' shook things up by promoting the idea of 'styling with various brands'—essentially, it was a trend that embraced diversity in fashion.

The iconic 'Shibukaji' style consists of timeless pieces that never go out of fashion, worn with a touch of chicness.

Shibukaji fashion style in Japan in the 80s
Source on Pinterest

Japanese fashion magazine "POPEYE" featuring Shibuya casual
ポパイ POPEYE 1989年9/20 特大号

Key Takeaway

In the early '80s, American style strongly influenced Japan, ushering in waves of Hamatora and Japanese preppy fashion. However, a desire to embrace domestic culture and appreciate Japanese designers gave rise to DC brands, local fashion talent, and character-inspired fashion.

Moreover, this era saw significant progress for Japanese women, symbolized by the popularity of power shoulder suits.

You can clearly see the distinctive characteristics of this era.

In the '80s, your fashion choices didn't just define your style; they marked your place in the ever-evolving tapestry of '80s culture.

This era laid the foundation for the remarkable creativity that continues to define Japanese fashion today.