American Harajuku, Japanese contemporary fashion in America is a documentary photo project
I have been working on since 2004. Harajuku  is the common name for the Harajuku Station in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, Japan. Every Sunday, young people, dressed in a variety of fashion styles: gothic lolita, visual kei, decora, cosplayers, and extra, spend the day socializing. The fashion styles rarely conform to one particular style and are usually a mesh of many.
In America there really is no places were young people can come together and socialize around fashion.

 

Socialization around fashion in America is done mainly for business purposes or at schools. The New York or Los Angeles fashion week, red carpet events for movies, TV, and award shows are good examples. Events that show off new or avant-garde fashion designs are mainly used to showcase new products. Children from kindergarten to high school socialize around fashion as will. When they are young, children often form groups based on common looks and likes. Theses groups are formed by gender, race, dress, toys, and activities. When young, these groups are formed subconsciously and unknowingly by the children that form them. That is not to say that are no exceptions to the rule. Upon entering middle school and high school these groups become more defined and exclusive, sometimes being called cliques. By the time they become adults they have already formed their core ideas and personalities that can be seen in the outfits they wear. Ether they conform to social norms or become part of a subculture.

 

Documenting Americans wearing contemporary Japanese fashion is problematic. You can't just go out your door and find them standing at the mall. You have to go to anime, video game, and comic book conventions like Anime Expo and Comic-Con. These are the only venues where you can find people overtly wearing contemporary Japanese fashion. Otherwise you can find people wearing contemporary Japanese clothing as accessories. For the most part the clothing has to be stripped down because it looks a Halloween costume. By stripping it down to it's basic form it enters American culture as a fad. If it stays, the apparel becomes part of a subculture. Viewing these photographs I would like you to really think about what you are looking at. Are you seeing someone simply wearing a costume, playing a character, or are you looking at a persona trying to act out a persona they wish they were more like? In the end many of these people are simply having fun and would like you to join the fun.