This past weekend Chicago’s “Michigan Ave” became a makeshift Tokyo runway as the 5th Annual Harajuku Fashion Walk took place. With colorful layers and platform shoes, to your Gyaru school girl and Lolita maidens. Each individual person represented a unique and expressive sub-genre, yet others completely created their own looks from head to toe.
Harajuku fashion is one of a kind, born from the inspiration of those who walk the streets. Its no wonder fashion designers around the world look to Tokyo for raw and original inspiration. Its not so uncommon to see something in Shoichi Aoki’s “FRUiTS” one week and on the runway in Milan or London 6mnths later. Street fashion has been and always will be a pure form of radical self-expression and as long as people get creative with what they wear, it will only get more progressive as the fashion world evolves.
Chicago’s “Harajuku Walk” is the 5th in its making, but not the only one of its kind. With fashion walks taking place around the globe, one unique and inspiring young women named Eteria Drummer decided it was time Chicago had an event of its own.
We were lucky enough to join Eteria and our resident Sugar Gamer Kamilah with “Hard-Decora” for a day of fashion-frenzy, bubble tea and some Para Para. Meeting at Chicago’s “Water Tower Park” the fashion walk worked its way down and over the Chicago River and ended its journey at in Millennium Park at “The Cloud Gate”. As we made our way down Michigan Ave, tourists and locals alike lined to take photos. The fashion walk was clearly something most people had never seen, some people would stand confused and in a daze, while others jumped at the opportunity to find out what was going on.
Global street fashion is on the rise, with cities like London, Milan, New York and Tokyo leading the movement, what gave you the idea to bring it to the streets of Chicago..?
There is a large and active Lolita Fashion Community here in Chicago, but unfortunately if someone is interested in a Japanese street fashion other than Lolita, they’re out of luck when it comes to finding like minded people. I wanted to start holding Fashion Walks here to give people a chance to connect with new people and to have a chance to go all out in their fashion of choice.
Your event is slowly gaining popularity with almost 300+ likes on your Facebook page, did you ever think it would get this much attention..?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish it was more popular, but from the beginning stages of planning, when I only had close friends as support to now, where people I’ve never met are gathering their friends to come out and walk, I couldn’t have imagined the large number of supporters the event has gotten.
You had a vision to create this event, was there a long term goal you had in mind..?
When the walks first started, I really didn’t have anything else in mind, but as time has gone on, I’ve entertained the idea of holding Fashion Shows for Indie Designers, collaborating with conventions in the Chicagoland area and other big event ideas. I’m not quite at a point where that would be a successful idea, but I’m slowly getting there with every walk that passes.
Has anyone ever approached you and thanked you for the experience..?
If so, what did it do for them..?
I’ve been thanked many before but I can’t remember each instance, but those that always stick out to me are when I’m thanked by high schoolers. I remember being in high school and having such a hard time trying to be confident in my own fashion expression and wishing I knew more people who dressed like me. I’m glad I can do something for the people who are in that position now.
Most people aren’t familiar with the fashions in Japan, what gives you the confidence to pull it off here..?
Just the presence of other like minded, non judgmental, friendly people makes the experience much much less daunting than it would be otherwise and knowing that there are people to turn to in the case of ridicule makes the whole experience much more fun as a whole since the anxiety that might come from feeling judged is minimized.
Some people think they don’t have what it takes, can anyone do street wear..?
Absolutely, 100%. Japanese street fashion takes many different forms and there’s honestly something to fit everyone. Finding what fits you personally is the key.
What do you think makes Japanese street fashion so popular..?
In my opinion, there’s something about having the confidence to truly look how you want to look, regardless of what’s “expected” that draws people to j-fashion.
If someone wanted to get inspired, what are some basic tips for Japanese street fashion beginners..?
Don’t be a Clone
It’s fine to draw inspiration from your favorite fashion icons and bloggers, but don’t copy everything they wear. It makes it hard to find you underneath it all.
Don’t Hold Yourself Back
Take a leap of faith, and wear your favorite outfit to school or work or out shopping. It’s important to actually get out there and show the world who you are through your clothing. It may be scary at first to go out in your fashion style of choice but the more you do it the easier it becomes to get over any anxiety you may have. It’s okay to start small, baby steps are perfectly fine to help you start wearing the things you like everyday.
Don’t Worry About What Others Think
Wear what makes you happy, not what you think others want to see you in. That’s a good way to stress yourself out and take all of the fun out of the fashion you love. I know it can be hard to completely disregard the opinions of others but once you do, I can assure you that you’ll be a lot happier and secure in yourself and your clothing.
Find A Community
Do try to seek out some sort of community (online or for advice and solidarity)
It’s important to have people to fall back on when you’re not feeling your cutest or to just bounce outfit ideas off of. It may seem intimidating at first, but I promise, they don’t bite! Make sure you’re open to constructive criticism as well, as its the only way to evolve your style into the best it can be, but don’t let yourself get lost in trying to please everyone else.
DIY..! (Do It Yourself)
Some of the best things to wear are the things you made yourself! What better way to express your fashion ideal than by making it yourself? It’s much easier to start making your own things than you might think. Start small with tie-dye, shoe painting or simple jewelry making and in no time you’ll be making your own skirts and tops and being 100% you.
I’m proud to represent and introduce my friend and current Sugar Gamer Kamilah of Hard-Decora. Her art is not only colorful and playful, but full of raw kawaii-cora power. Kamilah combines her love for Japanese “Decora” fashion with heavy assault weapons creating quirky and eye catching illustrations.
As an artist its sometimes hard to find a balance between two very different aesthetics, yet Hard-Decora has managed to blend the gritty-edge of violence with the over-the-top cuteness of Decora. Kamilah currently operates here in Chicago, attending pop-up events and local conventions, her drive is incredible and her passion is clearly there.
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harddecora
Kamilah’s next event is here in Chicago at her pop-up booth at “The Elephant Room”.
For more on Kamilah and Hard-Decora you can follow her on social media.!
Also make sure to check out her super fun website and “StoreEnvy” page by clicking below.
Official Website: http://www.harddecora.com/
Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/harddecora
Official “StoreEnvy” Page: http://harddecora.storenvy.com/
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the event, we look forward to covering “International Harajuku Walk Day” coming soon this July.
For more information you can click below, arigatou..!
Official Harajuku Fashion Walk Chicago Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harajuku-Fashion-Walk-Chicago