Yes folks, it’s that time of year again: welcome to Tokyo Telephone’s run-down of the trends of 2012. This is by no means a complete list, as I’m sure you can appreciate that the fast-paced fads of the Tokyo come and go with bewildering speed – yesterday’s must-have neon beanie hat becomes today’s cat-eared beret – and I have it from a reliable source that this season scarves must be wound around the neck and tied behind the head to give the impression of tiny wings. Phew.

Honourable mentions must go to the aforementioned neon beanie hats, skater skirts, spare collars and tiny skateboards. Let’s get started:

Green hair: While pink and grey may have been the hair colours of choice in warmer weather, this winter it’s been all about green hair. A festive look, we’ve seen it popping up with increasing regularity over the latter part of 2012. Below are some examples of more forrest and turquoise shades, but lime and apple have also been spotted on men and women, with short hair looking especially striking in brighter colours.

Akihabara: I really don’t want to use the cliche “geek chic”, even though it could legitimately be applied here. This year has no doubt been the year of Akihabara-influenced fashion, with both national and international acclaim for Tokyo Telephone favourites Mikio Sakabe, Jenny Fax, Runurunu and friends, and it shows no signs of slowing down in 2013. On the streets we’ve seen an exponential rise in tote bags decorated with characters and Japanese slogans, along with big badges and even tattoo tights featuring stylised quotes from famous manga series. (See for more)

(A prime example of colourful male Akihabara style, and fujoshi influences for women)

Sportswear: A recurring trend along with florals and denim, sportswear has seen a jump in popularity this year. From high-end active wear to the humble backback, it’s a look that’s everywhere. New Balance trainers with rolled-up trouser cuffs have been an autumnal favourite for both men and women.

Platform shoes and tattoo tights: Two trends that are often seen together. This year, if you didn’t have either “tattoo” or patterned tights, or some kind of platform shoes, then you were most definitely out of the loop. As a lady with fairly heavily tattooed legs, I lost count of the number of times someone admired my stockings before I had to explain that actually these don’t come off at the end of the day. If you’re looking for your own, we like Avant Garde, Grimoire and Syrup, or for a budget option you can’t go wrong with Village Vanguard’s fun choice.

Having tried a few pairs of platform shoes (my favourites are brogues with a multi-coloured sole), I can confirm that that the flatter soles are very comfortable and the larger size of the shoes makes your legs look longer and slimmer by comparison – no wonder they’ve been such a hit.

Chunky scarves: A late-comer for this winter season, the must-have scarf is as big as possible – think chunky wool wrapped around several times and hiding the lower half of the face. A much more practical and fun alternative to the virus-busting face masks that are such a feature of Japan (I found fancy rose-scented masks in the supermarket the other day, but even that won’t convince me to wear one).

High blusher: With false upper and lower lashes still a big hit from last year, it takes something a little different to stand out these days. Enter the high blusher trend. Usually seen in either a strong pink or peach, blusher (sometimes eyeshadow for an even more dramatic look) is layered high on the cheeks, and right up to the eyes. Use a heavy or light hand to determine how much of the dolly look you’d like.

(Sidenote: remember when this hair style was referred to as “hime”, and was a lolita’s dream cut?)

Brass jewellery: After the glitz and faceted stones have returned to mainstream silver jewellery, male tastes have been shifting in a more restrained direction, and brass offers a more wearable (and affordable) option. Samuel informs me that it’s all about wallet chains and key-holders, and who am I to argue with that?

Cats: Always a big hit at Telephone Towers, cats have been the animal of choice for 2012. Mover over, rabbits and deer! From Shibuya to Shinjuku, you can’t walk for more than 10 minutes without seeing cat bags, t-shirts, headbands, hats and of course printed tights. We suggest Ahcahcum Muchacha’s mook bags for a quirky cat that looks great when personalised as below:

Round glasses: As the 90s revival continues (we’re still undecided as it brings back some rather difficult childhood fashion memories), one of the best bits to return to street fashion has been round-framed glasses. Shades or clear, real or fake, men or women, it’s a strong choice – John Lennon or the Gallagher brothers?

Sheer: Still popular from 2011, sheer clothing (skirts, shirts, scarves, stockings…) adds an extra dimension to any outfit. Cool and breezy for the sticky summer, or layered over and under for the winter, run as fast as you can to Kinji in Harajuku for rails and rails of the stuff in pastel shades.

The new suit: Probably one of my personal favourites of 2012 has to be the re-imagined suit. Not just functional clothing for boring business men commuters, these are vintage items lovingly worn in the 21st century. It’s a look that’s open to interpretation as you see fit, but of course extra points go to those who manage to form a complete outfit of originals – the multitude of vintage stores in Koenji are your best bet here.

So there you have it: our 12 trends of 2012. What’s been your favourite this year?

(All images thanks to RidSnap)

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One Response to 12 Tokyo Street Fashion Trends of 2012

  1. Leanne says:

    Love it Rebecca! I somehow missed this post before. LOVE your first point that green and turquoise hair is a big trend – woohoo! In the west it’s still (yawn) pink that the masses head for if they’re trying out the ombre look.

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