Words by Georgia Cameron Art by Rochelle Oh
Our world and Australia especially are becoming increasingly globalised.
With this Melbourne, the city we all call home, has become one of the largest multicultural melting pots in the country. Due to this mass of people from across the globe, the fashion influences are coming from so many places.
While we all know of the major fashions hubs of New York and Paris there are some major style influences coming out of Asia. Here are some of the more unique and influential styles K-popping up.
In recent years there has been quite an interest in Korean Pop music (K-pop) amongst Australian youth, and with it came quite an interest in Korean beauty. Shops have cropped up across the city, selling major Asian beauty brands such as Innisfree, Etude house and The Face Shop hailing from Korea and including some Japanese brands like Canmake. Some of the major Korean brands have now opened up in several locations throughout Melbourne, Innisfree was the most recent to appear with a shop opening up next to Sephora in Melbourne Central earlier this year. With the increased interest in Korean beauty it has challenged the standard of Western beauty, and allows a different style of makeup to become more prominent and popular.
Seoul is another major fashion hub in the Asia-Pacific. Much like Melbourne and many other fashion-cities, it is fixated with designer and luxury brands. Influenced by K-pop stars, Korean youth are left to either pay large amounts of money to import brands like Supreme or shop at one of the many stalls selling branded clothing for around $20 AUD or less. Seoul is the 5th wealthiest city on earth and is known for some of the fastest internet speeds on the planet, so it is easy for the young people of Seoul to see what their favourite artists and musicians are wearing and mimic their style one way or another. Counterfeit culture is something appearing across Melbourne as well, with the desire for designer brands increasing. While Melbourne has many luxury and designer brands being sold throughout the city, there are various locations selling fakes to a market who cannot afford luxury like the influencers they follow.
Genderless fashion is an overlying theme in a lot of styles in Asia. With the idea of gender being challenged across the globe, many designers have incorporated things such as shapelessness in their clothes. Pop stars and influencers changing the idea of what gender is and what people of particular genders are “supposed” to be wearing is on the rise. With more men wearing makeup and incorporating things that were once considered feminine into their own personal styles and many women opting for more traditionally masculine hairstyles and clothes. While the idea of gender and gendered fashion is changing it is still not entirely embraced by older generations.
Mode style is a more modern trend emerging in Japanese clothing culture. It is one that may be reflected in the minimalist fashion we see in Melbourne. With designers like Yohji Yamamoto at the forefront, mode is often described as monotone, minimalist and unisex. Minimalism is a major style here in Melbourne and many other bustling cities. Many people living in these large cities often don’t have space for many clothes and so minimalist capsule closets are often an essential part of life. Mode in particular encompasses minimalist ideas with boxy and flowing designs, embracing that idea of genderless fashion.
Kawaii culture is one of the most well-known style collectives exported from Japan, with fits from Lolita and Yuri Kawaii being some of the most popular, bringing Western interest to the hotspot of Harajuku. While these styles aren’t seen as much in Harajuku, it’s still quite well known. The concept of cuteness or being ‘kawaii’ in the designs and compositions. While kawaii translates into cute it doesn’t hold the same condescending tone as the English translation might. These street styles encompass cuteness in many different ways. Lolita is probably the most dominant of the cute subcultures. It encapsulates modernised Victorian dresses and a doll-like look. The men and women aim for almost flamboyant outfits, and sometimes take on a gothic or pastel colour scheme. The trend began in the 1980s and has mostly evolved into other cute pastel fashions of today, but Lolita groups still meet up across the globe, including in Melbourne.
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