Once you have spent any significant time in the Tokyo fashion scene, it is very easy to get jaded by the hub of it all – Harajuku. You walk down Takeshita Doori, and see the same mass-produced, made in China, cheap tat being fawned over by tourists and school kids. It is not that the fashion on that particular street and other popular Harajuku shops is bad in any way, it is just that it is a vague approximation, maybe 80% of the real thing. So much of Harajuku fashion comes down to simple ideas done well, that at the end of the day, there is not much of a huge difference between one pair of slashed jeans and another or one printed T-shirt and another. But what you have to ask yourself is, if you did have the choice wouldn’t you rather buy something that was actually designed and made in Japan, produced by hand and actually know that what you are buying is a one-off rather than a run of thousands? That choice used to be easier to make in Harajuku, but the those small scale creators seem to have been pushed out to places like Koenji and left shops empty for yet another importer to sell soulless items from a husk of a stall (I told you it is easy to get jaded).
Bucking that trend is Acryl Bones, a new Harajuku select shop that opened earlier this year a stone’s throw from the station. Firstly the shop itself is completely decorated throughout by the team behind the shop with rough artwork and graffiti that firstly makes the shop feel like it has been there for years, but also connects the space with the clothes, like the shop, hand-painted, hand-printed and hand-customized in Japan. It is a simple message of creativity and DIY spirit that only seems to turn up at the higher end of the fashion market. Brands like Hiro and Juvenile Hall Rollcall may have started their fashion journey here, but they have taken it to extreme levels, it is nice to see someone doing it at a great price point with clothes that anyone can wear.
We are going to take a look at the two sides of the Acryl Bones shopping experience, starting with their own line of modern Tokyo punk and paint-splattered street fashion.
I love the DIY shop interior with stools and drawers mounted randomly on the wall, every little detail screams real Harajuku fashion culture, i.e. just keep creating.
The brands the shop keeps include Sabotage, 5th, Acryl Candy, and Acryl agitt, as well as a couple of other local designers. All are made in Japan and are part of a design gild with a core set of values. It is that loose gild element that keeps the vision strong and accusations of selling out at bay.
Some of the slightly more feminine accessories.
Jeans that are being processed hang on the walls, so you can see the dyeing process in action.
They also offer a jean printing service where you can choose from hundreds of designs and prints and where you would like them on your jeans, leave it with them and you will have a pair of genuinely unique jeans in no time.
Fun with prints and paint.
Well there you have it, another great addition to Harajuku, and an almost nostalgic reminder of how the punk/rock scene used to be.
I will have part 2 of the shop report for you tomorrow, but if I have tempted you to visit already, then the address is here along with their sister shops.