|JOL: The Changing Face of the Harajuku Hangout|
Whilst the dominant image of Harajuku is of wild alternative street styles (as featured in Fruits and Gwen Stephanie videos), since those days, as with any trend, time has moved on, and so have the hot young things. The UK WCS team visited this vibrant part of Tokyo to see where all the cool kids are hanging out in 2012.
Though many alternative brands still have their flagship stores in Harajuku, you’re more likely to encounter tourists and budget shoppers on the packed streets than goths or punks.But that doesn’t mean Harajuku has lost its style crown. The WCS team was given a tour of Dream Station JOL this summer, for a first hand look at where the fashionistas are flocking.
According to HYPER JAPAN WCS blogger Emily, JOL is, “A popular after-school hang out for teens, JOL stands for “Joy of Life” and is located on Harajuku’s famous shopping street, Takeshita-dori. One of five stores located across the country, Dream Station JOL is a mini mall housing everything from clothing brands to food outlets – and even the JOL Studio – a place where girls can change clothes after school and try out the latest make-up products and hair straighteners.”
The team learnt about the new Akihabara influenced fashion wave in Tokyo. Cat ears are in, as are idols and anime, and school uniform style (seifuku) is having a bit of a revival. Also trending are Dollywink eyelashes and Bubbleflop, flip flops from Korea emblazoned with bubbles, plastic sweets, dolphins and other decorations.
Upstairs, JOL has a stage where they host regular shows and talent competitions. When we arrived, local idol group AmoYamo were performing their new single and they seemed to have a lot of fans! It’s no surprise that local singers are becoming more popular after the success of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (Kyary was spotted by local fashion magazines in Harajuku before going on to launch her own singing career). Here’s yet another example of Akihabara’s influence in Harajuku – once upon a time, wannabe idols would perform on the streets of Akihabara, hoping to attract fans. Nowadays JOL gives teens a platform to perform in a safe environment, on a real stage in front of their peers.
Whereas in the past, Akihabara was a hot spot for local singers to pitch up and perform, increasingly performers are flocking to Harajuku, bolstered no doubt by the success of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, who was first spotted in this district. JOL is a committed supported of these local acts, and has its own stage where it hosts regular shows and talent contests, to the delight of it’s excitable patrons.
To learn more about changing Harajuku trends, and for a full account of team UK's WCS adventures, check out their fascinating WCS blog.