We judge trends by actually looking at what people are wearing on the street every day in Tokyo.
That might sound obvious, but we see plenty of articles (especially on Western blogs) trying to predict or declare Japanese fashion trends based on what they see in Japanese fashion magazines (not to mention those that just make things up). Japanese fashion magazines are, for the most part, in the business of creating content to drive the sale of certain products. The fact that a Japanese magazine – or multiple magazines – is promoting a “trend” doesn’t necessarily mean that the trend will ever make it to the street. As mentioned previous, the Japanese street is more than willing to reject top-down fashion “trends” these days.
With all of these forces pushing and pulling in different directions, it’s become more difficult for super-trends to emerge. The number of niche/smaller trends, however, appears to be ever increasin.
These days Japanese fashion brands would create certain trend items, shops would add these trending clothing items in their stock, and magazines explain exactly how the items should be worn for maximum effect. These coordinated efforts led to specific looks and pieces appearing everywhere on the street at once. The brands, shops, and magazines would then quickly move on to the next item, and so too would the street.
The decline of print fashion magazines over the last few years – combined with the increasing popularity of social media networks in Japan, independent online shops, the increasing influence of international fast fashion brands, and other “uncontrollable” influences on the Japanese fashion scene – has led to a less predictable (but just as quickly moving) stream of trends.