Decora chan : Japanese fashion subculture

I wrote an article about decora for Jpopexpress and here is the link.

Decora, a Japanese street fashion subculture, is often mistaken for FRUiTS fashion, a fashion style magazine/guide to Japanese street fashion culture for the foreigner. Decora means ‘decorative’ in Japanese, which basically means to dress up decoratively to show the kawaii (cuteness) aspect of self-expressionism in fashion.

“(Decora is) identifiable through the use of toys as acessories to create an aura of playfulness and childhood. The toys are often very colorful, blink, make noises, and are closely related to youung children. Unlike fRuIts, decoras wear mostly simple clothes and endeavor to appear as kawaii as possible by decorating themselves excessively with accessories used with clothing that is bright, fuzzy, and innocent. Shoes are often oversized and shirts are almost always too tight. Females try to look as young as possible by wearing babydoll dresses, Mary Jane shoes, bows, ribbons, and colorful stockings. Their hair is usually dyed pink, blonde, or auburn and worn in pigtails or curled excessively. They are very similar to the gothic lolita style of fashion save for the goth.” by urban dictionary

“Decora is a Japanese fashion subculture about kawaii (cuteness) and being childlike. It is about heavy mix and match of colors, themes and layers, a lot of layers of clothing. Early decora style goes like basically mix and match since the early 90s.

“(Deocra girls) Often called ‘Decora-chan’, these girls roamed the streets of the Harajuku and Shibuya districts in Tokyo during the mid- to late-90s.
The style is said to originate from the Japanese pop idol Tomoe Shinohara, who hosted television shows and sang hit songs in fluffy petticoats and knee-high colored boots.”
” -by deviantART

And the fashion style is all about decorating yourselves as cutely and brightly as possible. After all these years, the trend still comes and goes, and now it is making a comeback with 4 sub categories: Original/Casual Decora, Pink Decora, Dark Decora/Koteosa and Decololi/Decora-Lolita.

Original/Casual Decora
Original or casual Decora-chan are most often seen strutting more color and originality than those of the other styles, including but not limited to: wearing capris or shorts with or without a skirt, school uniforms, sweaters, skirts in more varied colors/designs and shapes, etc. There is no real ‘limit’ to this style because there are no definite rules for the outfit’s color and design, making its possibilities endless. Casual style focuses less on layers and excessive amounts of accesories, and so beginning Decora-chan will have the most luck with this style while starting out/gradually collecting more things for their outfits. Just remember to stay away from excessive amounts of darker, dull colors!

Pink Decora
This style is the most common of Decora that you’ll see out there, because of what it is, layers and layers of pink (who doesn’t love that)! This style (of coarse) emphasises on the color pink with hints of red, white or very little touches of black. The shades of pink may vary throughout the outfit but more often than not is hot pink the main focus of the outfit. This style also has some rigid rules and a more defined design.

Dark Decora/Koteosa
Besides the newest variation, Decololi, Dark Decora is probably the least popular out of the four styles because of its focus on a more Goth or Visual Kei-oriented look rather than a child-like appearance (which is what Decora has become to be known for) but has been steadily gaining more and more popularity! Just like Pink Decora, variety in color is limited and mostly black with very little touches of color such as white, purple, green, red or pink. Darker characters and accesories are used for this style such as Gloomy Bear, Kuromi, Badtz-Maru and etc. Leopard print, checked patterns, band or brand t-shirts are also popular. Even though Dark Decora is mostly about the color black, some Dark Decora-chan prefer to branch out from the nearly-all black color scheme and make up almost half their outfit white to contrast!

Decololi is a relatively new-to-the-scene variation, and is a crossover between Sweet Lolita and Decora! Lolita and Decora are both very common and popular Harajuku fashions, so it’s no wonder when there would come a time when they are mixed up together into one crazy sweet, over-accesorized outfit! Decololi outfits are more vibrant and bright in color like Decora, compared to Sweet Lolita, and emphasizes mainly on pinks and reds with long, curly pigtails and the like. This look basically follows the guidelines of Sweet Lolita but with all the accesorizing and childish touches of Decora with its bright colors, hairclips, jewelry and characters. Small hats or hair bows are worn rather than headdresses; smaller hairclips are also adorned in poofier, curly hair.” -by Diala Dix Nyappy on facebook

On the internet there are many Decora community groups if you are interested, and the best one is Decora world. There are also Decora fashion and Decora outing on facebook if you are interested to see more of how Decora-chan dress up in their own interpretation of Decora.

Also, I made a decora and sweet lolita store selling accessories about Japanese fashion Decora, kawaii and sweet lolita subculture called Skinniwini Kawaii Community

About writer
Skinniwini is a graphic designer originally from Hong Kong but is now living in San Francisco. She is a sweet decora lolita girl who is interested in Japanese Kawaii culture and blogs about random inspirations between Asian and American cultures.

Her design Portfolio is at in-ni design with smile for better tomorrow

Her blog is called Skinni inner inspiration outer space and is about kawaii between western and Asian culture.

She published a thesis book called “Power of Cute”, which investigates the power of “cuteness”, and how it changes the connotative meaning of the object itself. It also explores whether the appearance of an object is enough to dictate a person’s emotions, i.e. feeling comfortable or ill at ease as a direct result of its appearance. The main focus is on Japanese Kawaii (cuteness) culture.



Filed under My kawaii writing

8 responses to “Decora chan : Japanese fashion subculture

  1. Loved this article! I would love to go to just people watch on a sunday in downtown Tokyo and see all this. Do you have a favorite style of Japanese street fashion?

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  3. KawaiiLover

    This is so cool!
    I would totally wear it, if i wasn’t this shy…..


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