First used in Japan in the 19th century, school uniforms became a fashion in their own right, especially among girls. “Seifuku”, the Japanese word for “sailor school uniform”, together with plaid skirts, vests or loafers are now trendy items even for girls who do not go to schools that require them.
The bustling streets of Harajuku, a popular fashion area in Tokyo, are a favorite resort for schoolgirls in uniform-style outfits. Many of them flock to Conomi, a store selling various uniform-style clothing such as blazers, cardigans and plaid skirts, but also school bags, ties, socks and ribbons. The store’s officials claim Conomi has clients from all over the world, as it promotes Japanese pop culture and fashion.
“When we get together in uniform-style outfits, we can feel more strongly that we are friends,” said Kotoko Hosokawa, a 17-year-old sophomore at high school who works at the store, according to Kyodo news agency.
As a cultural significance, uniforms can have a nostalgic characteristic for those who are not students anymore and they are generally with a cheerful and carefree youth. Decades ago, brightly coloured types of seifuku were also used by Japanese yankees, who were called like this because of their drive to modernization, and by Bōsōzoku biker gangs.