When I think of diversity, I do not necessarily go to the normal categories. Race, sexuality, gender, age, disability, and many others can seem, on occasion, not universal enough for people to discuss on a broader scale. When I think of diversity I think of the self, how each person, no matter their age, creed, hopes or dreams, is different and how we can make our individuality who we are. People are not all that different once we start wearing our true face on the outside. Everyone knows a little about themselves and therefore can determine their own style. Everyone can create their own diverse fashion.
The inspiration for this article is the Harajuku fashion culture. Originating from a region of Tokyo famed for its street art and performances, the culture gloriously pays tribute to the beauty of the inner self, asking its followers to be everything they want to be. As Mary Quant said, ‘Fashion is not frivolous. It is part of being alive today‘; many people will think of Harajuku fashion as the classic Decora, Kawaii or Ganguro garb made up of super-cute outfits and pastels. However, the frivolity, bright colours and extreme California Girl stereotype of the avant-garde district are far from the limit in the Harajuku culture. Traditional Lolita apparel with a nod to Victorian and Rococo style or Visual Kei which holds more with the punk rock genre enables the style to have an overarching reach and be inclusive to a wide range of tastes and ideals.
What I find most interesting about Harajuku fashion is its power and its history. Spanning for decades the region lives with a vibrancy that speaks to the individual in everyone, connoting that a community can be formed around extreme style and passion. This anarchistic fashion movement has a style for everyone and so awakens our creativity. It promoted diverse fashion.
Flowering: Fighting the freeze with diverse fashion
We all like to think that the world is diverse and that the things we hold close at heart are as loving and inclusive as we are. But when people see that which floats the norm they cannot help but stop and stare. Why? Because that which is not kosher, is fascinating. The individuality highlighted in the Harajuku line opines the truest image of ourselves. Whether plus size or petite, it promotes expressing the self with all our strange and garish nature and loving ourselves through our outward appearance.
Why can we not in everyday life leave the house with the raw image of ourselves on full display? Why can we not look at our true self, the most inner part of us, and smile? David Hockney once said; ‘A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms’, yet the fear that people would stop and stare should we be the one fully exposing our passions through our clothes prevents us from embracing our inner selves so outwardly. We do not like the limelight. Our own blossoming seems small and unacceptable in comparison. We often think that we cannot compete with those that surround us; they bloom more fully. So we freeze!
The Fade: Feeling the diversity frump
But I do not think that it is what we wear that matters. Instead it is how we wear it. Björk never became a wallflower at the 73rd Academy Awards in her infamous swan dress. Nor did Prince ever hide his electric purple jacket. To pay homage to Coco Chanel, ‘Fashion fades, only style remains the same’. I think if you stand tall, walk with conviction and think like June Osbourne in The Handmaid’s Tale with a healthy, unaggressive ‘nolites tes bastardes carporandorum‘ attitude, people would be far happier with their everyday appearance and that would domino into everyday life. In lockdown, how many of us have lounged in pyjamas or our exercise gear with nothing to do after our daily exercise? How does that make you feel and how does it affect your day?
I like to begin my day productively. If I feel empowered, I find myself with a positive mindset and therefore achieve more. I am a Wiccan so I dress myself with the planetary alignment in mind. Embodying the notion that how I dress could more powerfully align my day gives me room for inspiration and positivity. It makes me more productive. My way of starting the day will not work for everyone, for most it will even seem ridiculous. However, it assists me begin the day mindfully and with enough self-love to make me feel empowered. That is what I see in diverse fashion: empowerment. What empowers you?
Fashion is a way of wearing our opinions on the outside and presenting ourselves to the world. We are the ones in charge of our own image and what we put out into the world is exactly our choice. We should fear nothing, like the Harajuku fashion culture and embrace our inner outlandishness. Mother Teresa once said, ‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love‘. Our beauty is on a global scale quite small, and it is only ours to share. Diverse fashion promotes being ourselves, perhaps we should begin with this small thing and show the world how great our love is and how this can blossom into a great thing.
To me, the Harajuku style advocates a way of dressing to be more inclusive. When we are comfortable with ourselves, we also become more comfortable and inclusive with others. “The most important thing in the world is to enjoy your life- to be happy- it’s all that matters.” as Audrey Hepburn once said, and with that in mind I ask you to mindfully think of your own wardrobe as an artist’s paint box. Represent you and your diversity. Why not wear something that makes your body sing? Or don that jewellery that you inherited and remember someone special? Harajuku fashion is not for everyone but I hope it can inspire you to dress for you. Show your diverse fashion, whether that diversity be your culture, religion, sexual orientation, size, or anything else; show the world the beauty of you and revel in it every day. Everyone makes the world a beautiful mosaic, make sure your tile stands out.