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Exploring CityBoy Style: Japan's Urban Street Fashion Phenomenon

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash


The streets of Tokyo are a canvas for the city's youth, a place where fashion is not just worn but lived. Among the myriad of styles that have emerged from Japan's vibrant street fashion scene, one stands out for its unique blend of urban cool and laid-back attitude: the CityBoy style. This fashion phenomenon, deeply rooted in the bustling life of the city, has become synonymous with Japanese streetwear, drawing inspiration from the '90s American street skate culture and hip-hop music.


The Cultural Tapestry of CityBoy Style

The CityBoy style is more than just clothing; it's a cultural tapestry that tells the story of Japanese youth and their adaptation of global trends. It began in the '90s when Japanese youth, influenced by American street skate culture and hip-hop music, started imitating the oversized style that was prevalent in those scenes. This style was not only about aesthetics but also functionality, as baggy cargo pants and oversized T-shirts allowed for comfortable movement while skateboarding.


CityBoy Style Outfit

The term "CityBoy" itself was coined from outside of Japan, but it perfectly encapsulates the essence of this urban fashion trend. Akio Hasegawa, often referred to as the CityBoy guru, played a pivotal role in popularizing this style through his work as an editor for Japanese street fashion magazines and as a freelance stylist. His vision was to create a fusion between the energetic urban life and street fashion, which resonated deeply with the youth of Tokyo.


The Brands That Define CityBoy Style

As we delve into the brands that have come to define CityBoy style, it's clear that each brings its own unique background and contribution to this fashion subculture. Here are some of the key players:


WTAPS: Urban and Military Fusion

Founded by designer Tetsu Nishiyama in 1996, WTAPS (pronounced "double taps") is a brand that stands at the intersection of military precision and streetwear rebellion. With a philosophy that marries functional design with an urban sensibility, WTAPS has become a staple in the wardrobes of those who favor a rugged yet refined aesthetic. The brand's name, a military term, reflects its combative spirit and commitment to 'placing things where they should be.' Learn more about WTAPS.




Wacko Maria: The Art of Bold Prints

Tokyo-based Wacko Maria is known for its love affair with bold prints and an aesthetic deeply influenced by music, art, and pop culture. Established in 2005 by Atsuhiko Mori and Keiji Ishizuka, two former J-League footballers, the brand has cultivated a line that's as expressive as it is eclectic, capturing the exuberance of Tokyo's street style. Wacko Maria is renowned for its high-quality fabrics and the use of audacious patterns that make a statement. Discover Wacko Maria's latest collection.




Descendant: Contemporary Classics

Descendant emerges as a contemporary voice in the CityBoy narrative, offering a modern twist on timeless silhouettes. Launched in 2015 by Tetsu Nishiyama, the same mind behind WTAPS, Descendant focuses on clean lines and versatile designs that resonate with today's urban youth. The brand is a family-oriented label that blends street sensibilities with casual everyday wear. Explore Descendant's vision.




Nanamica: Functional Fashion for the Urban Explorer

Nanamica combines the practicality of outdoor gear with the polish of urban fashion. Founded in 2003 by Eiichiro Homma, the brand's designs are a testament to the brand's commitment to creating clothing that serves the needs of the modern city explorer, offering both functionality and style. Nanamica is known for its innovative use of technical fabrics and classic American sportswear silhouettes. Find out more about Nanamica.



Daiwa Pier39: The Angler's Aesthetic

With a unique take on the CityBoy style, Daiwa Pier39 infuses its streetwear with the functional elements of fishing gear. This brand appeals to those who appreciate the fusion of urban life with the tranquility of nature. Daiwa Pier39 is an offshoot of the renowned Japanese fishing equipment company Daiwa, bringing the technical expertise of angling to the fashion forefront. See Daiwa Pier39's latest offerings.


Nautica JP: Nautical Nuances in Streetwear

Nautica JP bring the spirit of the sea to the streets, blending maritime motifs with the CityBoy trend. Their designs are fresh and invigorating, perfect for those looking to add a nautical edge to their wardrobe. While Nautica is an established global brand, its Japanese line offers a unique take that aligns with the local street fashion scene. Set sail with Nautica JP .


Beams Japan: The Intersection of Style and Culture

As a cultural institution, Beams Japan has been at the forefront of fashion, art, and design since its inception in 1976. The brand is a melting pot of styles, drawing from a rich tapestry of cultural influences to contribute to the CityBoy aesthetic. Beams Japan is not just a fashion label but a lifestyle brand that has played a pivotal role in shaping Japanese youth culture and fashion. Experience the world of Beams Japan.


The CityBoy style is more than just a fashion statement; it's a lifestyle choice for many young Japanese. It represents a blend of comfort, functionality, and aesthetic appeal, catering to the fast-paced life of the urban environment. The brands listed above are just a few key players that have shaped this unique style, each bringing their own flavor and innovation to the table.


As the CityBoy style continues to evolve, it remains a testament to Japan's ability to absorb global influences and reinterpret them through a local lens, creating something truly unique and influential.


For those who are intrigued by the intersection of outdoor functionality and urban style, the Gorpcore trend is another movement worth exploring. Characterized by its utilitarian garments and accessories, Gorpcore is a style that prioritizes practicality and comfort, making it a perfect complement to the CityBoy aesthetic.


If you're eager to explore more Japanese fashion trends and brands, be sure to check out our guide on "Brands to look out for in Tokyo" for an exciting guide to the latest in Tokyo's fashion scene.

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