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Differences between Korean Fashion and Japanese Fashion

Differences between Korean Fashion and Japanese Fashion

When it comes to streetwear, Asian brands are dominating the fashion world. Two countries, in particular, Korea and Japan, have become global trendsetters in street fashion. Think ADLV Acme de la vie or Fila from Korea and Bape or FR2 from Japan.

Although Korea and Japan are located very close to each other, you will find that their fashion styles are very different.

Korean fashion is all the same?

Korean fashion styleupk

Image: pinterest

Until a few years ago, there is a popular saying that the fashion sense of koreans is very similar. Meaning that everyone wears very similar clothing style.

This might be because korean fashion was more associated with casual women fashion in the past.

But as streetwear becomes the new norm in Korea, this stereotype is gradually changed, with more local designer brands showcasing their different personality and concept.

Japanese fashion is all anime style?

Tokyo fashion styleupk

Image: Tokyo-fashion

For Japanese fashion, it is no cookie cutter fashion. With their colorful anime style clothing, Harajuku fashion might first come to mind.

However, this style is more niche, and the typical Japanese might wear something that range from cute style to something like Muji style.

Are you also curious about the difference between Japanese and Korean fashion?

Let’s dive right in.


Korean Fashion

Korean fashion styleupk

Image: modestoechic

The notion of korean fashion used to be associated only with Dongdaemun fashion style. This is the typical blouse, skirt, dress style that cater more to females. Think cute tennis skirts.

However, as the korean music industry aka kpop gain popularity, its fashion style is also changed.

Influence of k-pop on korean fashion

You would have realized that Kpop music does not sound very Asian per se. In fact, the elements are very inspired by Western rap and hip-hop.

Korean streetwear styleupk

Image: @gcfparkguk

Inevitably, hip-hop-inspired clothing like oversized T-shirts and hoodies start to become the norm. People like it for the comfortable yet stylish streetwear look. It also confers them a unique personality.

Currently, Korean streetwear fashion is best described as edgy chic. You’ll see two main types of K-fashion: classic-elegant and urban-edgy.

Not standalone fashion style

Not standalone fashion styleupk

Image: okchicas

Classic elegant refers to the Dongdaemun fashion style and urban edgy refers to the korean streetwear fashion.

These are not standalone fashion style though. Koreans sometimes combine them. For example, many girls pair oversized hoodies/T-shirts with form-fitting jeans or skirts.

In essence, K-fashion is relatively more conservative in terms of designs and colors. It values simplicity and refined styles.

With long legs are an ideal Korean beauty standard, you will also find many short skirts as the fashion trend.


Japanese fashion

Now, let’s get to Japanese fashion: what is it, and what are its defining characteristics?

Overall, modern Japan fashion is very diverse. Japanese street styles are unique because they can be simple or very bold.

These days, you’ll find multiple streetwear styles in Japan. Kawaii styles like Lolita, Visual Kei, Kimono Style, and Ganguro are just some examples.

Lolita styleupk
Image: frederica1995

For one, there’s Lolita (pictured above). This aesthetic is influenced by Victorian era fashion. It has three main sub-styles: classic, sweet, and goth.

In Lolita fashion, girls usually wear voluminous skirts.

visual kei japan styleupk
Image: tokyo-fashion

Now, the above picture is an example of Visual Kei. Visual Kei was a movement in the Japanese music industry. Visual Kei street styles usually have extravagant hairstyles and costumes.

anime fashion japan styleupk


Image: pinterest

Ganguro trends began in the late 1990s. Mostly, these styles involved flashy, bright-colored clothes. However, the clothes usually contrasted with dramatic fake tans, nails, and hair.

People began following Ganguro styles after similar aesthetics appeared in European fashion.

Lastly, Kimono Style is very important in Japanese fashion. Kimono Style streetwear modernizes traditional clothing, making it appealing for younger generations.

For the typical school girls, they go towards cuter makeup and fashion style. For working ladies, they prefer a more laidback no frills Muji style during their off days.

In sum, there are many fashion subcultures in Japan. As such, Japanese brands are more diverse.

Differences between Korean fashion and Japanese fashion

1. Unisex vs genderized

Firstly, Japanese fashion is more gendered where Korean fashion is going towards being more unisex.

japan vs korean fashion


Japanese women still prefer skirts instead of pants. And go for a more women centric style.

korean women fashion
Korean casual fashion. Image: etsy

Korean street fashion is becoming more unisex. Instead of just frilly dresses and flowy skirts, many ladies are switching up for more comfortable denim jeans and sweatpants.

Many also wear loose fit activewear like oversized hoodies and t-shirts.

2. Gentle vs bold colors

japan fashion

Image: Vogue

Secondly, both street styles differ in color schemes. As you can see above, Japanese fashion trends usually feature brighter colors and patterns.

From bold primaries to neon shades, Japanese clothing incorporate many energetic and eye-catching colors.

iu fashion

Kpop star IU in an all white outfit, paired with a denim skirt. Image:

korean fashion

White attire matched with a yellow T-shirt. Image: Pinterest

Korean fashion trends prefer gentler colors like pastels and khaki.
They might match their outfit with a brighter colored shirt or bag, but the overall style is relatively more toned down.

japan muji fashion

On the other hand, we also have Japanese ladies who prefer lighter colors like ivory and light brown. However, their outfits usually have similar color scheme, without brighter color items.

3. Girly vs kawaii

korean fashion

Korean floral dress. Image: zaful

In general, Japanese fashion is cuter whereas Korean fashion is more feminine.

Korean women prefer dresses and skirts are pretty yet elegant that accentuate their elegance and grace.
japan cute fashion

Japan kawaii fashion. Image: bobon21

Japanese kawaii style go all in - for cuter pink outfits with ribbons to cuter makeup. High socks, cute accessories, bags and shoes is a must for the overall cute look.

Korean women might go for cute style, but they prefer to go for more subtle cuteness, for example opting for a teddy bear hoodie.


4. Conservative and diversity

Korean fashion is more conservative in a way that the street fashion styles are still largely similar.

There wouldn't be a particular style that will catch you by surprise on the streets.

harajuku fashion

Japan harajuku fashion. Image: tokyo fashion

On the other hand, Japanese fashion is much diverse. People portray their personality through their choice of clothing, and you will see a huge array of them in Japan, especially at Harajuku.

From no frills style to kawaii style to anime style, they are just so diverse in Japan.


Fashion inspiration from both countries

Of course, every country has its own unique fashion styles.
However, with globalization and Internet access, these fashion styles are dynamic.

NiziU style

niziu fashion style

Image: JYP Entertainment

For example, NiziU is a Japanese only girl group by JYP Entertainment. As compared to the usual Japanese girl group, their fashion style is more like the K-pop idol style.

Scrunchies back in trend

hair scrunchie

Image: pinterest

Hair scrunchies have always been popular in Japan. But over the past few months with newtro trend raging in Korea, it has brought back scrunchies in Korea.

As such, we will continue to see more of these two fashion styles taking inspiration from each other in the future. We look forward to the combination to create new eye catching styles!


In this article, we have highlighted the main differences between korean fashion and japanese fashion. On the one hand, Korean fashion is more subdued and simple. On the other hand, Japanese street fashion is more extravagant and diverse.

It is also notable that many Japanese brands incorporate bright, eye-catching colors while Koreans prefer gentle pastels and lighter tones.

Are you able to identify Korean fashion and Japanese fashion? Comment below for the differences between these 2 fashion styles!

Shop for korean designer brand clothing at StyleupK! Worn by Blackpink, BTS, Apink and more. Worldwide delivery, free shipping to Singapore and Malaysia.

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