Bold & Beautiful: 6 Unconventional Japanese Fashion Icons

Meet 'The Pigeon Shoe Lady' And Other Unique And Inspiring New Faces

By Lucy Dayman
August 17, 2017
Fashion, Latest Trends

Japan is a country known for its fashion icons. From Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake to Yohji Yamamoto and Nigo, there are hundreds of legendary icons that continue to push the boundaries of what the term ‘fashion’ actually can encapsulate. But fashion can also be found where we are least searching for it. Like in these six unconventional faces that are currently heating up Japan.

What’s so great about Japan’s love of fashion is that it’s not just the high-end houses that produce inspirational and iconic fashionistas. Spend some time on the streets of Shibuya, or just scroll through and you’ll unearth a whole weird and wonderful world of Japanese fashion. Here are our picks for some of the best unconventional local figures making waves on the fashion scene.

1. Coco Princess: Japan’s most stylish 6-year-old

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This year has seen a six-year-old Harajuku local become Instagram’s hottest fashion property. Coco, who now has over 162,000 followers on Instagram, shows off her diverse street wear and effortlessly cool poses via the account @coco_pinkprincess. Once major international media outlets like Vogue magazine caught wind of the tot’s account late last year, her popularity has skyrocketed — even the hipster bible VICE magazine made a mini-documentary on the fashionista’s life so far. 

What has captured the hearts of most Coco fans is the pint-sized icon’s shunning of the typical ‘cutsie’ ideas many kids her age embrace. Instead, she traverses the world of avant-garde, punk, thrift store chic, hip-hop and high-end fashion all within a single week of posts. Though she’s made a lot of influential fashion friends during her meteoric rise to virtual fame, our guess is a lot of her influence comes from her trendy parents who own a local vintage store called Funktique.

2. Keiko Ohata: For the love of the birds 

Meet Keiko Ohata, aka the ‘pigeon shoe lady.’ Strange and endearing on equal levels, Ohata captured hearts and Facebook newsfeeds across the globe a little earlier this year when a passerby spotted the artist sporting her now ultra famous ‘pigeon shoes’ in Ueno park.

An artist and shoemaker by trade, Ohata wanted to make a very specific pair of shoes to wear to her local park. Over time she’d noticed that pigeons would scatter as she walked through the area, so she wanted to craft a set of high heels that would allow her to get close to the Ueno pigeons without scaring them! Wanting to share her ingenious design with others, she’s posted step by step instructions on how to make the felt, Styrofoam, and wool creations. Try them out for yourself if you also like pigeons. 

3. Mr. Bon and Mrs. Pon: #RelationshipGoals 

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Given that Instagram is pretty much the catwalk for the internet age, it’s only natural that these super cute fashion icons also found fame on the social media network. Since joining in December last year, couple Mr. Bon and Mrs. Pon aka @bonpon511 have amassed over half a million followers, which is pretty staggering. What’s even more impressive is that the pair is both over 60, an age where social media is not necessarily the hottest topic in everyday life.

Inspired by their daughter’s encouragement, the couple regularly posts adorable pictures of their stylishly coordinated outfits. They’ve basically become the encapsulation of the #relationshipgoals hashtag.

4. Peey: Genderless Kawaii 

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In a different world of fashion-focused gender nonconformity sits Peey, one of the poster children of Japan’s rising “genderless kei” movement. As the world of Harajuku girls and outlandish Japanese fashion moves into the more minimalist, understated mainstream ubiquity of Uniqlo and Muji, Genderless Kei shows it’s still cool to be kawaii — no matter your gender. While working at a boutique in Harajuku, Peey has collected fans from across the world thanks to his eye-catching bubblegum tinged take on fashion. And his account is now followed by 63k and growing. 

5. Emiko Mori: Japan’s Coolest Grandma 

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We challenge you to find an Instagram account cuter and more heartwarming than Chinami Mori’s. Going by the tag @1000wave, the young Japanese weaver and textiles artist regularly posts her latest creations to her almost 40,000 strong follower base. But as stunning as her work is, it’s fair to say that Mori has her grandmother Emiko to thank for her online success. The smiling and super cool 94-year-old visits her granddaughter’s studio daily to be photographed wearing her latest creations. Photos and videos of this gleeful model will make your heart warm and inspiration boost — she is just that adorable.  

6. Naomi Watanabe: Breaking Barriers 

Known domestically as the “Japanese Beyonce,” comedian, TV personality, model, and fashion designer, Naomi Watanabe, is one of the country’s most lovable modern day icons and most followed Japanese person on Instagram. Given her magnetic personality and exotic looks, she has amassed a massive seven million followers on Instagram and is scouted for editorial shoots not only in her home country but across the world.

What makes Watanabe an unconventional icon is what also makes her such an important figure. The Japanese-Taiwanese star is challenging the long held Japanese ideology that being beautiful means being skinny. She’s been quoted as saying her ideal body “is that of a sumo wrestler — big but muscular.” If you wanted a measure of her popularity, just know that Seibu Railway even designed a train dedicated to her during Halloween last year! Now that’s iconic!