Happening at Hatsume: Costume & Fashion Show Contests

Hatsume Fair’s annual Costume and Fashion Show contests are the highlights of the weekend, but if you’re a first-time contestant, maybe you’re wondering which one is right for you. Don’t fret, we’re here to help you out! Read on to find out a little more about the differences between the two. For those of you not competing, stick around for a few pointers on how to best enjoy these two fierce competitions. Don’t forget to check out parts one, two and three of our Happening at Hatsume series for more!

Saturday – Hatsume Costume Contest

Since the addition of Anime@Hatsume, the annual costume contest has been a fan favorite. From your favorite anime characters, to creative interpretations of creatures from Japanese folklore, the Costume Contest has played host to many. This contest is firmly rooted in the cosplay world, and both the categories and the rules are created with this cosplay culture in mind.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, cosplay – from the words costume play –  is a performance art in which participants wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea. Cosplayers often take on the personality, mannerisms and characteristics of their subject and act out short skits, famous lines, or simply try to convey the attitude of their character during competitions. The Hatsume Costume Contest is a little different because there is no acting required. Participants simply come dressed as their favorite character, and strut their stuff on the runway.

You can check out the Hatsume Costume Contest categories and rules here, or on our Hatsume page, but to put it briefly – entrants in the costume contest are judged by our panel of judges from the 3000Brigade on a scale from Junior to Master, with each level progressing toward more intricate detail, higher quality craftsmanship and characters likeness. In short, the Costume Contest is all about bringing a character to life!

Sunday – Hatsume Fashion Show Contest

This year marks the Third Annual Fashion Show at Hatsume. Drawing on the popularity of Japanese Street Fashion, this competition is quite the spectacle! Contestants come dressed to the nines in their best Lolita, Decora, and Roji-en inspired duds.

Each category is inspired by a different fashion category popular in Tokyo’s most fashionable district – Harajuku. The streets of Harajuku have inspired scores of fashion designers and photographers because they are full of people expressing their own personal style within the bounds of a developed form. For instance, Lolitas dress in a signature doll-like dress or skirt that incorporates victorian-era patterns and accents. Lolitas can fit into categories like Sweet Lolita, Gothic Lolita, and even Kodona – a masculine version of the style, but each individual incorporates their own sensibilities.

On the runway, you’ll see contestants in six categories:

Junior/Youth: This category is for contestants under 12 who made their own outfits. Any of our junior fashionistas wearing outfits constructed or put together by an adult will be entered into the adult categories.

Sugar Lolita: The sugar subset of Lolitas includes Classic Lolita, Sweet Lolita and Kodonda. Each of these subsets are based on Victorian-era fashion and the Lolita silhouette – a knee-length skirt or dress with a “cupcake” shape, assisted by petticoats. Classic Lolita is the big sister of all the Lolita styles. Classic Lolis wear more mature, sophisticated, even business-like attire. This style focuses on small, intricate patterns, neutral colors like cream and navy, and functional (vs. whimsical) accessories. Sweet Lolita style, by contrast, is the baby sister. This style includes more innocent and cute patterns like baby animals, toys, and fruit, and Sweet Lolis often carry stuffed animals, and wear bonnets, ribbons and bows. Kodona, sometimes called Oji (prince) Lolita, does not include the original dress silhouette, but does draw inspiration from Victorian-era boys’ clothing. You might call them the baby brother of the group. Cropped pants, knee high socks, top hats, and newsboy caps are popular.

Spice Lolita: The spice subsets include Gothic and Punk Lolita. Goth Lolis draw inspiration from the Eastern and Victorian Goth styles, and patterns often include bats, spiders and Victorian iron gates. Gothic Lolita style is the darker, more brooding version of Classic Lolita, and generally keeps the same shape and style of the classic version, only in darker colors with a gothic twist. Males in this style are called Aristocrats, and incorporate the long trenches, top hats and round glasses of victorian-era aristocrats. Punk Lolita style also employs the original Lolita skirt and petticoat look, but incorporates punk accessories like tattered fabric, ties, safety pins and chains. Patterns often include plaids and mismatched fabrics, and these looks draw inspiration from London’s punk epicenter – the Camden Town markets.

Decora: The base of any Decora outfit is a hoodie and tutu-like skirt, but you probably won’t even notice these pieces because the point of Decora – short for decoration – is to cover them in accessories. Important elements of Decora style include bright colors (generally pinks), wigs, legwarmers or socks (usually multiple pairs in complementary colors) decorated dental masks, and lots and lots and lots of plastic accessories. You can never wear too many plastic toys, barrettes, bracelets or necklaces in this style.

Steampunk: This style is based on Industrial-Revolution-era steam machines and Victorian-era fashion. Steampunk features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them. Clothing items such as  bustles, corsets, gowns, and petticoats, and male garments like suits with waistcoats, top hats, tailcoats, spats and military-inspired garments, are combined with accessories like timepieces, parasols, and flying/driving goggles.

Roji-en Inspired: Easily our favorite category, the Roji-en inspired outfits of the past few years have been brilliant in the way they have combined high fashion and the many elements of our six distinct Japanese gardens. Contestants in this category have surpassed our expectations of how Roji-en: Garden of the Drops of Dew can inspire a catwalk-worthy, original ensemble.

Tips for Spectators

If you’re not one for the limelight, grab a seat and take in the show! If you’ve never attended Hatsume here’s a few insider tips on how you can get the most out of these spectacular shows.

1) Get a weekend pass – You can’t see both shows if you aren’t here both days! Weekend passes are only available online, in advance – so get yours now!

2) Grab a seat early – Both shows start at 5pm and are very popular.  This year, both contests will be held on the Tokyo stage, so grab a seat at the last taiko performance and stay for the runway!

3) Play Paparazzi – These looks are memorable, but if you want to capture every detail be sure to bring your camera! Remember, most cosplayers love to have their photo taken, but be sure to ask if you’d like a photo with them before or after the runway.

4) Get Loud – our 3000Brigade judges are great at what they do, but sometimes they need a second opinion. Cheer for your favorite characters and outfits so the judges (and contestants!) know just how much you like what these participants have done.

5) Get Inspired – we LOVE when visitors come dressed as their favorite characters or in their favorite styles from Japan. Take a page out of these brave contestants’ books and compete next year, come dressed up to our next festival, or show us what you’ve got on social media with #morikami!

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