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[whitespace] How to Harajuku

Shhhh! Wanna know where alternative fashions come from?

By Katy Bell

In Tokyo, Japan, somewhere in the middle of that bustling metropolis on a Sunday afternoon, you can watch it being born in the hub of creative self-expression known as Harajuku.

For 20 years, the district has been a trend-setting mecca. In the '70s, fad cultures here, "takenoko-zoku," "rock'n roller-zoku," and "band-zoku," birthed some of Japan's most popular performers. While no longer on any map, (except as the name of the JR train station), every one here knows where to find Harajuku.

Today, Harajuku is a mode of fashion as much as a physical place. After a week of school and studying (followed by Japanese school on Saturdays), local kids flock here Sundays to shop and be seen.

The unconventional Harajuku fashion has spawned designers and fashion collectives such as T. Kunitomo, Yuji Hasegawa, Pas de Calais and Cutie magazine, all of which recently set up shop in London and New York.

Harajuku trends harness the adolescent energy that comes out to play here. Because it is fueled by tireless young stamina, Harajuku is in a continual evolutionary state of pop. Although embraced and marketed by big designers, the style isn't defined by specific brands, rather the overall look and attitude.

I was somewhat disheartened to learn that right now, you're nobody if your socks aren't slouched around your ankles. Harajuku girls are even bringing back leg warmers! With too-short uniform skirts, they sport baggy white heavy-knit socks that bunch at the ankles and stretch all the way up to the knees.

And what better shoes to match than platform shoes or high-cut boots?

Sometimes, you can even spot someone sneaking by in a short skirt barely hiding boys' underwear.

Harajuku hair this season is bleached or dyed golden and clipped with enormous 3- to 4-inch flower ornaments. Skin is tanned bronze to avoid the frail or pallid looks. Don't wait for Vogue to pick up the trend. Do a little research and Vogue will be picking up you .

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From the January 3, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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