Kawaii, but make it subversive: Japan’s latest fashion is more than its frills

All-conquering cute

It is hard to believe that we are approaching a decade since Kyary Pamyu Pamyu reignited international interest in Japanese kawaii with her 2011 hit song “Ponponpon.” Perhaps “reignited” is an inappropriate word for something that has never stopped smoldering, but it is hard to deny that the song, or more accurately the arresting video by art director Sebastian Masuda, kicked up some sparks.

Since then, kawaii street culture in Japan may have become a little less flamboyant, much to the disappointment of pre-COVID-19 tourists out on safari in Harajuku, but no less culturally relevant. Present-day youth fashion

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