The Ultimate English Language Guide to Beams’ 40th Anniversary Video

W. David Marx
Dec 5, 2016 · 29 min read


2016 marked Japanese select-shop chain Beams’s fortieth anniversary, and to celebrate this momentous event, the company made a special video taking us year-by-year through the changes in Tokyo culture, all to a rotation of famous singers covering the iconic 1994 Kenji Ozawa/Scha Dara Parr track “Konya Wa Boogie Back.”

In trying to cover forty years in five minutes, the video has to move through dozens and dozens of micro-trends very quickly, and most of the hash-tagged descriptors may be unknown to non-Japanese audiences. So I thought it would be useful to put together an English guide to the video’s keywords, which will hopefully act as a mini-encyclopedia of the last few decades of Japanese pop culture.

For readers of the Japanese language, Beams and Magazine House have released a fantastic book companion to the video called WHAT’S NEXT? TOKYO CULTURE STORY with much more detail on Tokyo cultural history. And if anyone wants to read about many of these trends in a broader context, you may enjoy my book, Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style.

Some General Thoughts

  • Bending the timeline: This video is a musical commercial, not an academic history project, and the format of needing certain singers to appear at certain times means the timeline gets mixed up once in a while. (One major example is that the Fifties boom hit mid-1970s but does not show up in the video until 1981.) That being said, Beams’ video works as a useful summary of how trends stacked up over time.
  • Bending the styling: In our current era of anything-goes fashion, we can delve into the past for hot looks to wear right now. Beams clearly had this in mind, as the styling in the video is better understood as modern adaptations of historical looks rather than precise recreations. Because honestly, no one wants to dress like an actual 1980s Preppy couple in matching yellow plaid.
  • Bending the class divisions: The video presents forty years of Tokyo trends in a straight line, but it’s crucial to understand that different kinds of people engaged in different trends. The working class kids who made up the Takenokozoku and the rockabilly Rollers did not become members of the Crow Tribe, and the Gals (gyaru) did not become Mori Girls.
  • The missing pieces: For what I am guessing are boring corporate reasons, many important fashion moments do not make it into the video. Just off the top of my head, there is no mention of Paul Smith nor the Euro luxury brands despite having a long influence on Tokyo style.

Notes by Year


UCLA STYLE: In 1976, Beams opened its first shop (#BEAMS_OPEN) inside a small space in the Harajuku neighborhood that used to be a grocery. The name “Beams” played off the five-letter store name trend (CREWS, SHIPS, CANOE) and the fact that the character (光) in parent company Shinkō Inc.’s name can mean “beam of light.” At first, Beams sold athletic-minded West Coast collegiate clothing (#COLLEGE), with the store set up like a mock dorm room at UCLA and selling things like Nike roller skates.

HEAVY DUTY: The Heavy Duty trend in the 1970s started with the Made in U.S.A. catalog and the pages of Men’s Club and was all about wearing American camping/outdoor gear out on the streets of Tokyo (photo). But the video associates the trend with the heavy fabrics of #NICOLE, one of the earliest Japanese brands in the DC (designer and character) boom, matched with a #SUNVISOR hat.

#CITY_POP: Post-hippie music movement of the 1970s focused on slick, sophisticated AOR sounds in contrast to previous years’ earnest, rural-obsessed folk. Think bands like Sugar Babe and everything Haruomi Hosono and Eiichi Ohtaki were up to.
YOSHITAKA MINAMI (#南佳孝): Yoshitaka Minami, singer-songwriter associated with the City Pop movement.


OUTDOOR STYLE: Outdoor Style and Heavy Duty are essentially one-in-the-same, but for differentiation purposes, Beams already referred to Heavy Duty as a womenswear movement so needs to call the men’s version “Outdoor Style.”
#BUFFALO_CHECK: Buffalo check flannel shirts of the American West, a micro-trend of the Heavy Duty movement.
• #SIERRA_DESIGNS: The American brand Sierra Designs’ 60/40 parka (60% cotton and 40% nylon) was the jacket of the moment.

FOLKLORE: The “folklore” boom was an important fashion trend for women throughout the 1970s, driven by magazines an•an and nonno and related to a newfound interest in provincial traditional cultures as part of the “Discover Japan” movement.
#PINK_HOUSE: An important Japanese DC brand that would get even bigger in the early 1980s.
HANAGARA (#花柄): “Flower pattern.”


SURF STYLE: By 1978, Beams and like-minded publication Popeye had turned Japanese youth on to various American West Coast sports, with surfing becoming a full-fledged subculture out in the beach areas of Shōnan and Chiba. Most Japanese wearing surf clothing, however, had never been on a board, so they were known by the epithet “oka surfer” (“surfers on a hill”).
#LIGHTNING_BOLT: Legendary American surfing brand that started making boards and moved on to colorful clothing.
#FLARE_SLACKS: The preferred bottoms for surfer dudes.

MANNISH STYLE: On the women’s side, the mannish style was an industry-driven trend, which Beams link to the film Annie Hall. Beams calls this look “mannish,” but in most histories, the era is defined by the Nyūtora (new traditional) and Hamatora (Yokohama traditional) trends of rich young women dressing like their mothers. It’s surprising that Beams does not mention Hamatora in this video, in that the Hamatora girls’ demand for branded crew-neck sweatshirts made Beams a fortune in its early years.
#KNIT_VEST: A key part of Nyūtora, err, I mean, “mannish style.”
• #STICK: Was there a time when Japanese women carried around walking sticks as props? No, but the item was often seen in fashion editorial at the time.

#NEW_WAVE: A global post-punk musical movement adding various ethnic and electronic sounds to the energy of punk. The movement had a stronger run in Japan than punk did, especially with the band The Plastics and its associated side projects.
JUN TOGAWA (#戸川純): Idiosyncratic New Wave singer Jun Togawa was the most iconic indie singer of the early 1980s, and her deranged pixie style was influential on later acts such as Shiina Ringo.


DISCO STYLE: Garish clothing in bad taste (#LEOPARD prints, #METALLIC colors) was great for nights out dancing at the disco.

CITY BOY: The term “city boy” started with countercultural magazine Takarajima and at first had connotations of urban men in the know, but once Popeye debuted with the subtitle “Magazine for City Boys” in 1976, the term became associated with upper middle class, well-educated urban young men who went to the right schools, read the right media, and bought the right brands. Beams uses the word here to represent the Preppy trad-revival of this group in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
#LACOSTE: A key brand in the Preppy boom of 1979.
• #BROOKS_BROTHERS: The venerable American Ivy brand finally opened up shop in Japan in 1979.

HARAJUKU HOKOTEN (#原宿ホコ天): “Harajuku Pedestrian Paradise.” In order to stop motorcycle gangs from weekend runs through Tokyo’s main thoroughfares, authorities closed off the streets in Harajuku on Sunday for pedestrian traffic. This, ironically, just encouraged similar types of delinquents to get off their bikes and start dancing (see Rollers and the Takenokozoku below).


TAKENOKOZOKU (#竹の子族): The Takenokozoku (literally “Bamboo Shoot Tribe” but not meant literally) were a group of disco-dancing Harajuku Hokoten dwellers, legendary for their strange unisex Oriental outfits, outrageous make-up, and synchronized dances. The name comes from Boutique Takenoko (#ブティック竹の子), a Harajuku shop that sold nylon and rayon “harem” outfits in bold colors. The Takenokozoku were mostly working class kids from Tokyo’s surrounding prefectures who got kicked out of discos and needed a new place to dance to Electric Light Orchestra.
#KUNG-FU_SHOES: The preferred soft slip-on shoes of the Takenokozoku.
BONTAN (#ボンタン): Bontan, pants very full at the top and highly tapered at the bottom, loved by rebellious yankii teens who often tailored their school uniforms in this style.(The origin of the word “bontan” is unclear and disputed.)


ROCKABILLY (#ROCK’N_ROLL): For reasons of flow, the video shoehorns all of Japan’s Fifties revival trend into 1981, but this cultural movement started in the mid-1970s with the opening of #CREAM_SODA, a Fifties-themed shop that really made Harajuku what it is today. Cream Soda ushered in a national boom for leather jackets, pomade pompadours, bowling shirts, and neon leopard print wallets.
ROLLER-ZOKU (#ローラー族): The “Roller Tribe.” Delinquent kids, mostly dropout kids not violent enough for motorcycle gangs, congregated in Harajuku to dance the #TWIST_DANCE to Oldies in groups dressed in Fifties costume purchased at Cream Soda.
RAJIKASE (#ラジカセ): “Radio cassette.” In English, boombox. These provided the soundtrack for Roller and the Takenokozoku dancing.
#PONY_TAIL: Preferred 1950s-inspired hair style of Roller girls.
#POLKA_DOTS: Preferred 1950s-inspired pattern seen on Roller girls.

SEIJI (GUITAR WOLF): Guitar Wolf were not contemporary to the 1980s rockabilly moment, but clearly part of its lineage.


KARASU-ZOKU (#カラス族): The “Crow Tribe,” intellectual young women dressed head-to-toe in deep-black Yohji Yamamoto (#YOHJI_YAMAMOTO_POUR_HOMME) and Comme des Garçons (#tricot_COMME_des_GARÇONS). Before these brands appeared, black clothing was reserved in Japan for funerals.


1st DC BOOM: DC stands for “designer” and “character”: in other words, conceptual, idiosyncratic fashion that pushes against traditional forms. The DC Boom started with the rise of globally-feted Yohji and CdG, but soon spread to domestic brands like Pink House.
#TECHNO_CUT: An angular haircut based on the look of techno-pop gods Yellow Magic Orchestra, who themselves took inspiration from the square do’s of the Peking Orchestra. A reaction against long hippie hair of the 1970s.
#BAND_COLLAR: A minor design detail of early 1980s Japanese avant-garde clothing.
#HONDA_S800: A Honda sports car, the inclusion of which is simply decorative in the video. But sure, it’s a cool car.

PIRATE LOOK: The Pirate Look was not so much a broad trend as much as a specific look pushed into the world by Vivienne Westwood’s World’s End (#WORLDS_END) line. The number of people who owned real Westwood in Japan in 1983 could be counted on a single hand — but Godfather of Japanese Streetwear, Hiroshi Fujiwara, was one of them.
#A_STORE_ROBOT: Tokyo punk/rockabilly store that sold Vivienne Westwood and clothed the underground scene. They are intertwined with the birth of Japanese streetwear: e.g. the sales clerk at A Store Robot gave Nigo his nickname.

KAZUFUMI KODAMA (#こだま和文): Founder of the dubby (#DUB), proto-acid-jazz band, Mute Beat, in 1981. He appears in the video playing trumpet.

#anan: Famed women’s magazine from Magazine House, started in 1970 as Elle Japon. an•an started many of the women’s fashion trends in the 1970s and 1980s. Reasons for inclusion in 1984 is likely for flow.


OLIVE GIRL: If Popeye was the Magazine House title for city boys, than Olive was founded in 1982 as the magazine for their city girl belles. Over time, however, the magazine went in its own aesthetic direction — namely an artsy, indie colorful culture for educated Tokyo private school girls, who were not quite as eggheady as women wearing the Crow Tribe brands.
#PERSON’S: Staggeringly popular DC brand of the mid-1980s.
#COLLEGE_JKT: Collegiate jackets popular with the Olive crowd.

PUNKS: There were not many punk bands in Japan during the rise of the Sex Pistols or the Clash, but by 1984, members of the Tokyo underground were wearing more explicitly punk garments.
#SEDITIONARIES: Legendary London punk brand from Vivienne Westwood. Extremely influential to the 1980s Japanese underground party scene.
• #BONDAGE: Specific stylistic element of Seditionaries punk gear, with straps hanging from shirts and pants.
• #CISCO: Famed Shibuya record store CISCO first opened in 1972, but by 1984 was the place to buy imported punk, New Wave, and hip hop. Went bankrupt in 2008.

#WALKMAN: Sony’s famed portable cassette player first debuted in 1979 but was mainstream by 1984.


BIG SHOULDER LOOK: A specific women’s fashion trend, global in nature. The look has been associated with the rise of women in the workplace, but like all fashion, it also was just an aesthetic reaction against what came before it. The #WAIST_MARKING was an important detail to make the shoulders look even bigger.
#JUNKO_SHIMADA: Womenswear designer of the Big Shoulder era.

2nd DC BOOM: In 1985, the DC brands took over mainstream fashion, pushing Trad and Ivy completely out of the picture. (photo) Normal people, however, could not afford the high prices of the top brands, so they would start shopping at second hand DC shops or wait for the seasonal sales at Marui. This devalued the entire DC scene by 1988.
#TAKEO_KIKUCHI: Famed designer of the 1970s line Bigi went solo with his own designer line in 1985. He made splashes with a very festive #NAPOLEON_JKT.


BUFFALO STYLE: The London style from Ray Petri’s Buffalo collective of artists, photographers, and models. The look did not influence mainstream Japanese fashion, but certainly influenced streetwear godfather Hiroshi Fujiwara, and through him, many elements later became central components of Japanese streetwear.
• #MA-1: The famed American military jacket, central to the Buffalo look. In the early 1990s, Hiroshi Fujiwara and Jun Takahashi’s brand AFFA (Anarchy Forever Forever Anarchy) made the jacket into a premier item in Japan.
• #KILT_SKIRT: Scottish, yet unisex. Probably not worn in Japan to any major degree.

#INSTANT_CAMERA: This should be “disposable camera,” which debuted from Fujifilm in 1986.

NEW ROMANTIC: Lacy, frilly feminine clothing style coming out of Olive.
#MILK: Hitomi Ōkawa’s Milk was one of the first boutiques in Harajuku, and by the 1980s, defined the cutesy feminine look of Olive girls. Ōkawa was also instrumental in discovering Hiroshi Fujiwara and setting him on his path to being a young tastemaker.
#I.S.: Another proponent of the cutesy look. Chisato Tsumori was the designer at the time.

CHISATO MORISAKA (#森高千里): “Intelligent idol singer,” who rose to fame with songs in the #DANCE_POP genre, combining schmaltzy Japanese kayōkyoku with contemporary electronic sounds. This soon became the signature sound of the 1980s and early 1990s music charts.


CHRISTOPHER NEMETH: British-born designer who lived in Japan and whose destructed and decayed pieces (#DECONSTRUCTIONALISTIC) made a particularly strong impact on Japanese fashion during the DC years. He was famous for his use of the #ROPE_MOTIF.

CHEMICAL JEANS SET UP: You can’t talk about 1987 without talking about acid washed jeans, called “chemical wash” (#CHEMICAL_WASH) in Japan. “Set up,” by the way, is just any time you wear matching tops and bottoms that are not a formal suit.
• #KENZO: Famed brand from designer Kenzō Takada, the first Japanese designer to go to Paris and succeed there. I believe his inclusion in 1987 is more about the particular outfit in the video than a key year in his history.


VIVIENNE WESTWOOD: From the days of Seditionaries and World’s End, Westwood has always had an disproportionally large presence in the Tokyo underground. By 1988, her eponymous brand, with its #ORB logo and Victorian style, got big with consumer-magazine reading women.
#PUNK_LOLITA: Here starts a major influence on the later “Lolita” fashion scene.

HIP HOP: By 1988, hip hop had become big enough globally to also impact the Japanese mainstream. People wearing the items below were still limited to a specific consumer subculture, but interest in American hip hop was high among city boys.
• #TRACK_SUITS: In imitation of Run DMC.
#adidas_SUPERSTAR: In imitation of Run DMC.
#KANGOL: In imitation of Run DMC — and LL Cool J.


SHIBU-CAJI (#渋カジ): “Shibuya Casual.” (I prefer to spell it shibukaji.) This look born from the wardrobes of upper middle class, highly educated teens from the Setagaya and Meguro neighborhoods was a style reaction against the overly mediated DC Boom. The rich kids just wanted to dress comfortably, so they preferred baggy casual clothing from classic American brands like Polo, Brooks Brothers, and Avirex. While mostly a men’s look, women also dressed in a similar spirit.
• #BIG_POLO: Nothing says Shibuya Casual like an oversized pique polo shirt, but it must be layered.
KONBURE (#紺ブレ): A new term for “Navy blazer” that took off at this time. Kon is “navy blue.”

DOUBLE ASANO (#W浅野): Two popular actresses at the time both had the last name Asano: Atsuko Asano and Yūko Asano. They starred in a TV show called Dakishimetai and became faces of Bubble Era culture. You don’t have to remember this. It won’t be on the quiz.
#GAMEBOY: Nintendo’s Game Boy debuted in April of 1989.


ANTWERP SIX: 1990 marks the rise of designers Walter van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs, and Marina Yee, who all graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts (#ANTWERP_ROYAL_ACADEMY). Highly influenced by Comme des Garçons, their look became popular in Japanese high-fashion circles.

IMPORT BRAND MIX: This is a relatively vague term for something very concrete: “nouveau riche office ladies” of the Bubble era who were buying a lot of Versace and other Euro brands during boom times.
• #FUR: A specific micro-trend of 1990.
• #BIG_BELT: A specific micro-trend of 1990.

EYE (BOREDOMS): Prolific avant-garde noise pop musician, founder of the Boredoms, Shock City Shockers, ad infinitum.
#ALTERNATIVE_ROCK: You know, Nirvana and those guys. Nevermind was selling 400,000 copies per week at the end of 1991.
• NYŪ-AKA (#ニューアカ):“New Academism.” This started as a mid-1980s mainstream interest in difficult French postmodernist theory of Jacques Derrida and Japanese scholars like Akira Asada and Kōjin Karatani.


GRUNGE: The look of Seattle, in all its second-hand shop flannel glory. Worth noting, however, that grunge was not a mainstream look until a few years later, and Marc Jacobs’ famed grunge collection for Perry Ellis did not happen until 1992.
• #STRIPE_CARDIGAN: Classic grunge item for both sexes. Think Cobain.
• #DAMAGE_DENIM: How could one be an important, introspective musician without holes in one’s denim?
• #CONVERSE: Converse All-Stars used to go for around $20 a pair, so they were the classic shoe of the pop culturally-minded unemployed artist/slacker. (Now they’re $55.)

BODYCON LOOK (#BODY_CONSCIOUS): Tight-fitting dresses popular with club-going women. Bodycon actually starts in the late 1980s but peaked around 1991.
#JULIANA’S TOKYO: A giant disco club that became a social phenomenon at the very end of the Bubble era, opening in 1991 and closing in 1993. Juliana’s was famous not just for its nouveau riche excesses, but for the women in bodycon outfits dancing on raised platforms, holding a feathery #FAN.
#mova: An early mobile phone from NTT DoCoMo, helpful for setting up dates at Juliana’s.


OUTDOOR MIX: Fashion micro-trend of the year, evolving out of the Shibuya Casual look, that saw men wearing outdoor gear in bright colors (#BRIGHT_COLOR) out in the Tokyo streets.
#PATAGONIA: Famed American outdoor brand, which became popular in Japan first in the late 1970s (at first for rugby shirts) but saw a revival in the 1990s with its down jackets.

COUNTRY STYLE: Beams describes this as the “anti-Bodycon” look — loose ethnic garments (#CONCHO_BELT and #TURQUOISE_ACCESSORIES), with an eye towards Central and South America.


URAHARA MOVEMENT INITIAL STAGE (#裏原初期): The “Ura-Harajuku” (back streets of Harajuku) movement started brewing in 1990 with the rise of Hiroshi Fujiwara’s streetwear brand Goodenough. The opening of Jun Takahashi and Nigo’s shop NOWHERE in 1993, however, gave the movement a proper base of operations.
• #A.F.F.A.: Anarchy Forever Forever Anarchy. Rare collaboration line between Fujiwara and Takahashi of MA-1 jackets festooned with Leftist slogans.

FRENCH CASUAL: Olive girls got very into French brands in the early 1990s, especially agnès b., #A.P.C., and the classic nautical stripes of #SAINT_JAMES. (Orcival was too expensive.)

MAKI NOMIYA (#野宮真貴): Lead singer of Pizzicato Five (and before that, Portable Rock), who struck it big in 1993 with the song “Sweet Soul Revue.”
#SHIBUYA-KEI: Movement of likeminded young Japanese musicians such as Flipper’s Guitar, Pizzicato Five, Scha Dara Parr, and Kahimi Karie, who were making Japanese versions of Western music that recreated obscure retro sounds. (my history of Shibuya-kei)

#DISCMAN: Sony’s beloved portable CD player becomes mainstream around this time.
KȲOKO OKAZAKI (#岡崎京子): Famous indie manga artist who pushed the “shōjo manga” to radical thematic extremes.


#UNDERCOVER: Jun Takahashi’s punk-inspired streetwear brand was the first of the Ura-Hara (#裏原) brands to take off in the fashion world (a few years before A Bathing Ape caught fire). It also became popular with women after the opening of an additional store, Nowhere Ltd.
• #NOWHERE: The Ura-Harajuku store that sold Undercover on one side and A Bathing Ape on the other side.


BABY GENERATION: The name for this trend comes from a Sofia Coppola, Kim Gordon, Mike Mills etc. photo book but the phrase sums up the era nicely: 1990s Japanese women love to wear undersized T-shirts and jeans from brands like #X-GIRL. (an oral history of X-Girl) Another hit item was the #BABY-G, the smaller women’s size of Casio’s G-Shock watch. (Coppola’s MILKFED. got very big around 2000.)

MILITARY MIX: Micro-trend inside the larger streetwear takeover of men’s fashion that played with #U.S._ARMY surplus jackets and the #FATIGUE_SHIRT.


SHINO-RER (#シノラー): Followers of manic celebrity, Tomoe Shinohara, who mainstreamed the extreme Fruits style of Harajuku women, with some raver elements added in for good measure. She sang strange songs produced by Takkyu Ishino of Denki Groove and wore a lot of Super Lovers. Shinohara is mostly forgotten today among young women, and everyone thinks that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu started that particular aesthetic.
• #RANDOSERU (ランドセル): A leather backpack worn by nearly every single elementary school student in Japan. Also worn by Shinohara, who was too old for that kind of thing.
HYPER YO-YO (#ハイパーヨーヨー): An toy of the era. Anyone can sleep this puppy.

URA-HARA MOVEMENT FULL GROWTH (#裏原成熟期): Ura-Harajuku brands hit their peak in 1996, taking over most of the men’s fashion magazines. While #A_BATHING_APE’s sales spiked a few years later, this was the year when the brands had support from both media tastemakers and the wider public. Fujiwara’s #GOODENOUGH was always the rarest and most prestigious of the bunch.


B-BOY: Another moment for #HIP_HOP came around 1995 with the rise of Scha Dara Parr and East End X Yuri on the music charts. This generation of B-Boys was not necessarily a direct copy of African-American style but better understood as an offshoot of streetwear.
KAN TAKAGI (#高木完): One of Japan’s first hip-hop MCs, originally in the music group TINY PANX with Hiroshi Fujiwara. Takagi sings the next part of the song with fellow MC, Cypress Ueno (#サイプレス上野).
• #TOMMY_HILFIGER: American brand that had more support in Japan at first as a hip-hop brand than as a Trad one.
#BAGGY_DENIM: Signature hip-hop look.

AMURER (#アムラー): Fashion followers of Okinawan singer Namie Amuro who wore tight clothing and thick-soled boots (#厚底ブーツ), on top of brown chapatsu hair and a light tan.
• #PHS: Personal Handy-phone System. Cheap phones, with not quite the range of a full mobile phone, popular with high-school students and Shibuya dwellers.


BOYISH STYLE: At the time, this felt like the influence of Ura-Harajuku style on women’s fashion. A big part of the look was wearing #PATAGONIA’s oversized fleece jackets (#FLEECE_JKT).

ELECTRO MODE: I had a hard time understanding what Beams means by this, even after reading the blurb in What’s Next? They are trying to summarize the guys who wore #HELMUT_LANG_JEANS and #NIKE’s #VANDAL_HIGH_SUPREME high tops and listened to Radiohead.

HUSKING BEE: One of Japan’s popular #MELODIC_HARDCORE bands. By 2004, every rock band on the top charts sounded like this.


NEW VINTAGE: Not just an oxymoron. This was a microtrend at the end of the century, influenced from Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo ‘66, to wear #60'S_VINTAGE and #70'S_VINTAGE, with the
#TIGHT_LEATHER_JKT being a signature look.

GANGURO GAL: The ganguro — literally “black face” — was absolutely the most conspicuous Tokyo fashion trend of 1999, but I would wager that 0% of ganguro gals shopped at Beams. (They loved Shibuya 109, and sometimes, when things got tough, used markers and shoe polish as makeup.) Here’s an entire piece I wrote on the ganguro.
YAMAMBA (#ヤマンバ): Literally “mountain witch.” The most extreme girls in the ganguro tribe.
• #TRIBAL_MAKE-UP: While I would say all gyaru makeup was technically subcultural tribal makeup, I think they mean “tribal” like “primitive tribes.”


UK SKATER STYLE: As Ura-Harajuku wound down, young guys still wanting to dress in streetwear needed some newer brands. So they went for Supreme as well as London’s #SILAS&MARIA, which was sold outright to a Japanese company in 2007.

RELAX FOR GIRL: relax was Magazine House’s men’s magazine dedicated to the Ura-Harajuku and Shibuya-kei 1990s indie scenes. The editors would also do one-offs for female readers called relax for girls. Beams, however, does not mention this in their blurb, and instead talks about the magazine mini’s boyish casual look for women. This was also a big year for women starting to wear A Bathing Ape Baby Milo tees, who then got their own women’s line, Bapy.
#COSMIC_WONDER: A popular brand at the time.


LAYERED MILITARY: As Japan entered the 21st century and exited the Ura-Harajuku trend, the Japanese media found it difficult to put popular styles into a single standalone narrative. “Layered military” is essentially a nod to the rise of Raf Simons — #BOMBER jackets on top of streetwear.
#AFGHAN_STALL [sic]: “Afghan stole” is a keffiyeh, and back in 2001, everyone just called this a keffiyeh. But when the pro-Palestinian politics of the keffiyeh got too hot a few years later, the industry started calling them “afghan stoles.” (Read more about this.)

STREET (G)AL: Street as in the magazine Street, sister publication to Fruits. Why is the G in parenthesis? A reference to hot brand #NUMBER_(N)INE, which both men and women wore at the time. Here again is a name change for what was otherwise a pretty much unbroken stream of #STREET_CASUAL in women’s fashion from 1996 forward. The main publication pushing the look was mini.


LAYERING STYLE (#レイヤード): A not particularly memorable era of Japanese women’s fashion where the best description is that they… layered clothes on top of other clothes. I believe this started before 2002 but one very Japanese-only look of the era was women wearing #ONE-PIECE_DRESSes over jeans.

TIGHT ROCK ELEGANCE: Hedi Slimane at Dior got Japanese guys back into suits with his slim jacket (#COMPACT_JKT) and very narrow ties (#NARROW_TIE). And If you have a tight jacket and narrow tie, you’re going to need some #TIGHT_DENIM as well.


MILITARY MIX: But for women. Beams says this came from the influence of Jennifer Lopez, which makes sense for NO SLEEVE SHIRTS (#ノースリーブ) and slim #CARGO_PANTS.

NEW GRUNGE: A reference to #NUMBER_(N)INE’s look at the time but not a broader trend.
#ROCK_T-SHIRT: The rock T-shirt, however, did have a new moment in the 2003–2006 time range, completely detached from whether people liked rock music. I wrote this back in 2005 about the phenomenon: “My Favorite Band is Dinosaur Jr. T-shirts” (complete with dead links and Momus comments).


UNDERWEAR STYLE: This is one of those trend names that no one really used at the time, but now looking back, makes a lot of sense: Men wearing waffle-knit thermal shirts (#THERMAL_SHIRT) in public as outerwear.
• #N.HOOLYWOOD: N. Hoolywood (pronounced “N. Hollywood” because misspelling is cool but misspeaking is lame) had a hot game going from around 2004, with its nearly hidden store behind Omotesando Hills, the facade of which was rumored to have been imported piece by piece from Los Angeles. And when you walked in, everything smelled like a sweet, pleasant Disney version of vintage store mustiness. And there was a lot of expensive men’s underwear sitting around meant to be worn in public as outerwear. Also the greatest hoodies of all time.

LA CELEB: Oh boy was this a thing, but not really for Beams shoppers. In 2004, the gyaru (gal) subculture looked on the verge of extinction after the end of ganguro, as many of its young women grew up to dress in gaudy “LA Celeb” style: a pink #VELOUR_JERSEY, a cheesy hat (Von Dutch, definitely), and big sunglasses. I never believed actual LA celebrities dressing like this, unless they were hungover and going to pick up their doxycycline prescription at the pharmacy.
• #ONE_MILE_WEAR: A term, not used much in Japan at the time, for clothing meant only to be worn one mile from your house. In Tokyo, there are literally like 100,000 people who live within a one mile radius of you, so maybe that’s why people dress up a little more than the U.S.

SUPERCAR (Koji Nakamura #ナカコー + Miki Fukukawa #フルカワミキ): Defunct rock-electronic act, formed in Aoyama. On a personal level, I really liked Supercar’s first album when it was just pure shoegazer pop, but they became much more legendary in the early 2000s after becoming full #ELECTRONICA.
• #TECHNO: Seems odd to have techno’s first hashtag appear in 2004 when Japan has long had a techno scene.
• #PowerBook_G4: The instrument of choice for the 21st century
• #Logic_Pro_7: Music editing software of choice for beats and glitch squirts.


#iMac_G4: Mac default desktop background image transition!

OTONA GAL (#大人ギャル): Gyarus went all-growns-up in 2005 (but probably did not own an iMac G4), wearing outrageous prints under fur vests. Long gone were the days of artificially blackened faces with terrifying white makeup, but the hair stayed a chestnut brown, lightly permed into flowing Farrah Fawcett-like locks.
• #GLAMOROUS: Key magazine for the grown-up gyaru, now defunct.

NEW HERITAGE: Honestly, I think 2005 is too early to talk about “New Heritage” as a significant youth fashion movement in Japan. I guess Free & Easy existed, but that was for dads and graying hipsters. In 2005, all the men’s fashion magazines were obsessed with Dior suits, Euro brands, and leftover remnants of streetwear. If you count fishing vests and Red Wings as #OLD_AMERICAN, I guess magazines styled things this way. Beams points to the brand Brown’s Beach — an American line reborn in Japan.
• #BEAMS_PLUS: Beams’ heritage line started in 1999 that goes on the embody the Neo-Ametora trend of 2008.

CLAMMBON: Relaxed female-vocal #POST_ROCK band. Post Rock, in Japan, always seems to be a weirder Tortoise/Jim O’Rourke kind of thing, but clammbon get lumped in because of vague “jazziness.”


LONDON MILITARY: 2006 was definitely more Euro than American, but I have no strong memory of “London military” as a trend. If this just means guys wore military jackets (#MILITARY_JKT) and jeans from #CHEAP_MONDAY, sure, that happened.

CASUAL ROMANTIC: When trends detach from broader narratives or subcultural affiliations, they can just become meaningless buzzwords, like “casual romantic.” There is no doubt at all that there was a cutesy, feminine style in 2006 in a grown-up gyaru vein that included #JILL_STUART and #See_By_Chloé, but this idea of “romantic” (being adored by potential suitors as well as female friends) has zero to do with the “romantic” of New Romantic back in the 1980s (dreamy fantasies of arty girls in bedrooms.)


NEO AMETRA (#ネオ_アメトラ): “Neo-American Traditional.” The actual transliteration of the Japanese here would be “Neo Ametora” but maybe they collapsed the “o” to make it more like “trad”? (More paranoid reading: Are they trying to disassociate it with my book??) Anyway, remember what I said about narratives above? The Neo-Ametora trend actually had a story — the return of classic American clothing! — some clear designers — #THOM_BROWNE and Band of Outsiders — and therefore, actually lasted a few years. That being said, I wrote an entire article for Business of Fashion in 2008 that Ametora was not working as a trend in Japan, which later turned out to be wrong, but 2007 was the launch of American Trad, not the adoption of it.

MORI GIRL (#森ガール): Mori means “the woods,” and from the social network mixi came women calling themselves “Mori Girls”: essentially, dressing like you are stumbling out of a Grimm fairy tale.
#FURFUR: One of the key Mori Girl brands, pronounced like faa-faa in Japanese.

sasakure UK feat. HATSUNE MIKU (#初音ミク): Hatsune Miku, #YAMAHA’s #VOCALOID, was a real-deal artistic movement, when tens of thousands of bedroom “track makers” who could never find female singers suddenly had a vocaloid who could make all their electro-pop instrumentals into actual songs with lyrics. And then they could put those songs up on the Japanese video site #niconico so that other people could write their opinions as comments that scrolled over the video. Good to point out here that the vocaloid world is definitely removed from the normal Beams shopper, but so are gyaru and they got included. So good on Beams for looking at all of Tokyo.


ELECTRO STYLE: This is a good example of how the video’s format distorts the timeline: if you look at any men’s magazine from 2008, the core style was Neo-Ametora , but you can’t feature that again in the timeline because it was already the signature look of 2007. So we get “electro style” which was perhaps a coexisting trend but not one with as much impact. It seems pretty mild: some club-going guys wore brightly colored nylon jackets some hats from #NEW_ERA. I want to say that the global financial crisis encouraged discount shopping at #AMERICAN_APPAREL but American Apparel always felt very expensive in Japan compared to the US.

BOHEMIAN: A memorable micro-trend from the late Aughts. This had nothing to do with people taking on Bohemians values and everything to do women dressing in a vaguely Bohemian way, such as gauzy #MAXI_DRESSes.
#FAST_FASHION: This is weird. With the opening of H&M and rise of Uniqlo in 2008 (and the global financial crisis!), “fast fashion” became a major buzzword of the era. But Beams demotes the phrase to a sub-header in the Bohemian trend, which it had little to do with.
• #DACHSHUND: Sure, dogs can be trendy in Japan, but it’s hilarious that Beams decided 32 years into their video to suddenly feature the era’s most representative breed. If I knew that was on the table, I would have wanted way more dogs.


RUDE STYLE: “Rude” as in “rude boys,” but this was more of a Jamaica-filtered-through-Tokyo-streetwear kind of thing. Maybe it was just that some guys wore a rude boy #HAT.
#WACKO_MARIA: Men’s streetwear brand, founded by two former soccer players, with influences from grunge 1990s to 1950s vintage American work clothing to Jamaica rude boys.

AMA-KARA MIX (#甘辛ミックス): Ama-kara means “sweet-spicy“ — the combination of “sweet” cute feminine items with “spicy” masculine tough items. Beams ties this accurately to H&M, Forever 21, and Zara’s entrance into Japan at the time.
• #BEAUTIFUL_PEOPLE: Brand that Beams believes represents the Ama-Kara trend, but I know them because they made some cool VAN Jacket-homage leather bags back in the day.


HIGH END STREET: Runway-focused streetwear brands like #TAKAHIROMIYASHITATheSoloist. at one price level above normal streetwear. This surely starts with Junya Watanabe and Undercover a solid decade earlier.

YAMA GIRL (#山ガール): Yama means “mountain.” Compared to the Mori Girls, the Yama Girls dressed up in colorful outdoor gear like #MOUNTAIN_PARKAs to go hiking on mountains — or to walk around Tokyo as if they are about to go hike on a mountain at any moment.
#BEAMS_BOY: Beams’ vintage Americana line… for women. Things have changed recently, but in 2010 a lot of the Beams Boy merchandising looked identical to shrunken versions of the Beams Plus men’s line .

TEAM SHACHIHOKO (#チームしゃちほこ): I am admittedly not an idol music fan, but I have at least heard of a dozen idol groups. I have never heard of Team Shachihoko — a five-piece from Nagoya. With the matching color-coded costumes and infantile melodies, they adequate represent the modern “idol group” (#IDOL), and during the AKB48 rush of 2010, all popular music suddenly sounded like a third-rate version of the pre-set electro trash that spills out of pachinko parlors. Again, not really the Beams crowd, but idols were a society-defining trend since otaku were the only ones bold enough to buy anything at the time.


EDGY STYLE: This is all about Lady Gaga, and the Japanese semi-equivalent, Mademoiselle Julia.
#HARNESS_SKIRT: A particular hit item with S&M overtones. (Note: S&M itself was not youth trend in 2011.)
• #G.V.G.V.: Hit Tokyo indie women’s brand that sums up the edgy style well.

DOME-BRA MIX (#ドメブラMIX): This trend name sounds particularly odd in English. Dome is from “domestic” and bra is from “brand,” so put them together and you get “domestic brand mix.” This just means mixing different Japanese brands together — in contrast to mixing foreign brands together. If that does not sound like a powerhouse trend, it is because it is just the closest description someone could come up with for the anarchic fashion narrative of 2011 (that wasn’t Neo-Ametora). The guy in the video with the leopard print top, offers the most extreme version of the look.
• #SASQUATCHFABRIX: Japanese high-concept designer skate-inspired brand, founded in 2003.
#UNUSED: Japanese high-concept men’s brand, founded in 2004.


PASTEL COLOR: Think Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s house style in the video for “PON PON PON.” The so-called #KAWAII “cutesy” Harajuku look, with roots all the way back to the Shino-rer. Interesting point here that Harajuku girl style and otaku style had somewhat merged by this point, with brands openly using anime-like graphics. Take also, the designer #MIKIO_SAKABE, who often plays with Japanese anime inspirations.
• #JENNY_FAX: Japanese women’s brand with a Harajuku aesthetic. Maybe one of the best websites I have ever seen.

NEW CITY BOY: Takahiro Kinoshita took over editing Popeye in 2012 and returned the magazine to its roots with an emphasis on Tokyo “city boys” rather than “Euro brand devotees.” In order to provide something post-Neo-Ametora, the magazine has styled its young models in athletic gear with traditional influences. Say, a #DUFFLE_COAT over a nylon jacket with a #BASEBALL_CAP on top.

TOFU BEATS: Indie electronic producer from Kobe in the #CLOUD_RAP genre.
#MALTINE: (pronounced malti-nay) Important Japanese record label for bloggy beats. (Patrick St. Michel’s article)
#MacBook_Pro: All the kids who sold their turntables for guitars then sold their guitars for MacBook Pros.

SEIRA KARIYA (#仮谷せいら): Singer who often sings over contemporary electronic sounds [oh god am I so old to have written this meaningless description…]. Works sometimes with tofubeats.
• #HATRA: Contemporary brand for arty girls who listen to (or at least feel like) Seira Kariya.
#iPhone_5: An amazing device for using LINE.


NEO GRUNGE: A more fashion-oriented take on the old Seattle look, inspired by Hedi Slimate at Saint Laurent. Don’t get too excited, no one was listening to Screaming Trees or anything.
• #TIGHT_SILHOUETTE: Definitely a modern change to grunge style.
• #ELLEGANT: A typo of elegant.

BOYS MIX: Women’s style with boyish elements, inspired by Opening Ceremony, therefore, an #MCM backpack and some big graphics from #KENZO.


ONE POINT LUXURY: The idea here is that you’re wearing a generally casual, norm-core-y outfit built around a single piece from a luxury brand.
• #LONG_BRIM_HAT: I want to say this all starts with Pharrell’s hat at the Grammys, but these had been a part of Japanese men’s fashion for a while. Kind of boho look for men.
• #NATIVE_AMERICAN: The Harajuku brand Goro’s had been selling silver and turquoise jewelry to the kids for decades, and now those elements are baked into Japanese style, so the look swings back in once in a while.

NORM CORE: There may have been elements of Normcore in Japanese fashion at the time (a relaxation of color and pattern after the zany colors of Neo-Ametora), but this naming comes from overseas. Admittedly, there did seem something fresh again about a simple crewneck #SWEAT_SHIRT, perhaps from Loopwheeler, and simple sneakers, perhaps adidas’ #STAN_SMITH. Normcore is due a full post-mortem — was that a real “trend” or just a new way to describe a certain set of people?


MIXTURE STYLE: 39 years deep, and we’re officially out of descriptors here. “Mixture Style” might as well be called “Fashion Style.” What Beams means is basically Vetements.
#TUCK_IN: Dudes putting their shirt tails inside their pants to show off the high waists.

90’s SPORTS STYLE: Bigger silhouettes with athletic clothing. Beams means Vetements here too.
#HIGH_WAIST: A micro-trend for women’s pants that started a little earlier than 2015.

YONCE (Suchmos): Lead singer of the Kanagawa Prefectural band, Suchmos, that combines #ROCK and soul with a very, very small pinch of #ACID_JAZZ. (Listen to “Stay Tuned.”) At least the adidas track jacket is very Acid Jazz.


UNBALANCE STYLE: Loose tops with tight bottoms to create vertical asymmetry — for both men and women. (Or also when things get crazy, horizontal asymmetry.) This is definitely an industry, design-driven trend rather than one that came up from the street and “means” anything. (Although we tend to over-associate fashion looks with social meaning.) The latest Popeye fashion issue, however, had a lot of very big/loose pants so perhaps we’re just moving towards a complete Big Silhouette from top to bottom.
SOSUKE IKEMATSU (#池松壮亮): A surprise appearance in the video from actor Sosuke Ikematsu.
NANA KOMATSU (#小松菜奈): A surprise appearance in the video from actress Nana Komatsu, wearing a loose-fitting athletic jacket from #77circa. These two celebs probably hang out all the time, because they don’t seem that surprised or pleased to run into each other in the backstreets of Harajuku.
• #UNUSED: Whoa, double appearance from brand Unused. Big push from Beams!
#BEAMS: A select store chain and brand celebrating its 40th anniversary. This is approaching recursive territory.
• #ray_BEAMS: Beams’ fashion-y women’s brand.


FLYING CARS: Okay, we’re finally done and can all move on with our lives.

Ametora Extended

Footnotes, spin-offs, and updates to W.

Ametora Extended

Footnotes, spin-offs, and updates to W. David Marx’s book “Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style.”

W. David Marx

Written by

Tokyo-based author of “Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style” (Basic Books, December 2015). Co-founder/editor of Néojaponisme.

Ametora Extended

Footnotes, spin-offs, and updates to W. David Marx’s book “Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style.”