Harajuku: Tokyo Street Fashion Exhibition

Street fashion is about the individual and expression, these tastemakers influence the trajectory of the fashion industry. Harajuku: Tokyo Street Fashion exhibition highlights a subset of fashion that is not often highlighted in the United States. This fashion is influential and I was very happy to see a museum bring this new experience to the public. I was disappointed to hear a few museumgoers laugh and sneer about the designs, I normally brush this off and understand that fashion and taste is individual, but something in their attitude left a bad taste in my mouth. I would like to address the laughs and sneers before I continue about the exhibition. On the PBS NewsHour recently they presented an essay from Robin Givhan the fashion critic for the The Washington Post and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Givhan spoke of embracing innovative fashion and the sexism behind the scoff. Enjoy the excerpt below and if you are interested watch the full essay here.

            “The fact that a woman might spend $20,000 on a Dior haute couture dress pushes many people to distraction. They seem to believe that the existence of such an expensive garment endangers the existence of $100 ZARA dresses. I assure you the $100 dress is safe.

I find this strange because I don’t detect similar outrage over, say, fancy cars. We don’t presume that the social fabric is being shredded by your $100,000 Cadillac or your $200,000 starter Bentley. But if you build a special elevator for them and then run for president, well, you will have a problem.

The cultural conversation about these luxury cars typically centers on their engineering, their sleek lines and their precision. That same conversation could be had about fashion. At its highest level, fashion is also about proportions and lines, balance and details, and considering performance.

But the conversation is different, because we still tend to think of cars as boys’ toys, and fashion is for girls. Fashion has a lot of problems of its own making. It isn’t as diverse as it should be. It appeals to our insecurities. And it struggles to balance creativity with commerce.”

The exhibition starts out with bright colors and a rotating structure of the many different expressions in the world of Harajuku. The exhibition is small and easy to navigate, you could spend a few minutes to over an hour depending on your interest.

The exhibition covers and explains the many different types of designs under the Harajuku umbrella. Each group of designs are enclosed in the theme, this makes it very easy for the viewer to grasp the designers intent. I do wish it was more in-depth and possible explore the history of this design movement but it is quick and sweet survey of Harajuku fashion. I applauded the Honolulu Museum of Art for showcasing a fashion movement that is highly influential but not as recognized. Check out this post from the curator, a look at the making of the exhibition. Overall it is a very fun exhibition and there is a furry pink wall!

Harajuku: Tokyo Street Fashion runs from November 19, 2015 – April 3, 2016

Honolulu Museum of Art

900 S Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96814