AFwww or Akihabara Fashion War Week W is the first fashion show to come out of the series of events curated by the group of fashion designers synonymous with underground Tokyo fashion broadly compromised of Mikio Sakabe, Junya Suzuki (now under the name of Chloma), Bodysong (with Bodyrotten), runurunu, 5Toy, Balmung, Hatora, Jenny Fax and Veveropparuuu.  Together they have participated in Akihabara culture themed exhibitions and somehow managed to channel the 2D aesthetic and lifestyle associated with it into fashion that is sculptural, challenging and most importantly of all – representative of modern Japan.  In the same was as Mikio Sakabe’s runway presentations with Denpa-Gumi embrace the disconcerting and uncomfortable associated with this 2.5D compromise between the flat world and our own, so too is this a core aspect of the aforementioned designers work although rarely admitted to for fear of not finding an understanding audience.

That is why it was such a revelation to see a fashion show from this group of brands where their models were not the inexplicably traditional models of Tokyo fashion week, but their idol muses.  Instead of the strong stride associated with the catwalk, the idols jumped around the Akihabara stage sending fabrics swishing and billowing, their youthful exuberance the obvious match for the explosive fashion they wore.  In many ways it highlighted the power of these designers clothes to completely consume their wearer, but even with the obvious Cosplay inspirations from the designers, it never felt like a costume as such.

The show was tucked away in Dear Stage in Akihabara and even though I arrived with my customary 5 minutes to spare the line to get in was already causing a blockage on the street, organizers on the door were looking concerned and it was clear that not everyone in the line was going to get in (by a long long way).  Mercifully the designer of Bodysong spotted me on approach and got me inside and away from the impending anarchy outside as the surprisingly pushy fans of the idols themselves jostled with fashion types (a very odd combination of people).

The stage inside was likewise a mix of the two cultures with Akiba idols “Bromides” (pictures of the girls) mixed with clothes by the designers as well as pictures of their fashion inspirations.  It was odd to see pictures of Vivienne Westwood mixed in with maids, school-girls and the like, but it somehow held together as an aesthetic and collided the fashion-otaku with the Akiba-otaku nicely.  As for the show itself, I hope that these pictures give you an idea of what it was like (all that is missing is a high-pitched Akihabara soundtrack…).

A classic Junya Suzuki / Chloma design that summed up the “war” theme of the show.

This outfit made me see Balmung’s work in a whole new light.

Bodysong’s fantastic work that this poor girl’s body could barely support!

It takes a very special girl to look confident in this Jenny Fax prom dress.

A custom maid outfit by Junya Suzuki – the man comes closer to capturing 2D in reality than anyone else that comes to mind.

Mikio Sakabe stole the show for me with this urban landscape inspired outer.  The combination of the urban otaku space that is so fundamental to our modern definition is rarely effectively expressed in any medium, so it was a shock to see it done justice in fashion form.

This model in runurunu easily got the biggest response from the crowd – a fan favorite perhaps?

After the fashion show the girls burst into song which was a great chance for me to see the clothes in motion and the fans who were clearly here for the girls and not the fashion came out of their shells and started singing along, doing the routines, etc.  Overall I would say that the success of this show was that it did not isolate either group, but somehow managed to bridge the Akihabara and fashion world together in a way I truly wasn’t expecting.

For a bit of further reading, I recommend starting with this piece and if you have any questions or comments then ask away!

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13 Responses to Akihabara Fashion War Week – 2.5D Fashion Collections on Dear Stage

  1. Wim's says:

    When did it take place ? Is it open to public ? Will it take place next year as well ? Thanks 😀

  2. Samuel says:

    @ Wim’s

    It was on the 30th of December and open to the public. As it happens there were actually only a handful of people in the press area, and at least half of those were from Akiba related mags/sites.

    This one was planned as a one-off, but keep an eye on Mikio Sakabe next fashion week as word is that he will include Denpa-Gumi in his presentation once again.


  3. Wim's says:


    Thanks for the answer. I’ve heard about it too late (on tokyotelephone website actually) but I would have love to be there. I’ve discover the brand Runurunu and I love the clothing but there are only a very few stockists. Thank you for making me discover new designers I come on !

  4. Samuel says:

    @ Wim’s

    No problem, that is the whole point of the site afterall!


  5. […] the following could get lost next to the latest from Balmung, runurunu or Bodysong (as exemplified here), but give it your time and you will find something acutely representative of the core of […]

  6. I love Tokyo and the culture, but Akihabara culture has never personally been what I am attracted to. However, this event seems like it was amazing… The combination of avant-garde and high fashion collaborated with Akiba culture is extremely unique, I think!

    I’m thinking the designers were pretty smart too, as far as getting excess press from a different crowd of people. Who knows, maybe some manga otaku kids will end up getting otaku’d about fashion! (I said otaku’d..oops)

  7. Samuel says:

    @ Lactose Intoler-Art

    Ah, funny you should say that! I have spent a bit of time in Akihabara lately (getting my retro game on!) and I have noticed more and more individual fashion types. Not the lame V-Kei /Onii-Kei but truly unique fashion – I saw a guy who had customed a jacket with a ton of studs, but also idol badges on the lapels and a manga back-piece. Surprisingly cool! There is also the obvious history of cultism in the area and I fondly remember the nice end of that when there were more bizarrely dressed monk-like people on the streets and the weird pseudo futurist types.

    I guess the line between eccentric and fashion blurs sometimes and ultimately any area that celebrates the extremes of human behavior should provide an interesting topic for fashion.


  8. Wow Sam, that sounds kind of awesome actually! Especially being more on the east side of the Yamanote line. I realize Akihabara is definitely different than the business areas, but I usually just didn’t spend much of my time over there. (However, I’m also into retro gaming..Nintendo/Super Nintendo, that was actually one of the first reasons I originally thought Tokyo must be a cool place to visit).

    But seeing that there may possibly be somewhat of a new movement, or even just really intense fashion going on there besides the obvious like you stated, makes me want to jump back over to Akihabara next time I’m in Japan. Excited for you guys to keep an eye on this kind of thing, actually sounds very fresh.

  9. Samuel says:

    @ Lactose Intoler-Art

    Well the east side of Tokyo has some really interesting fashion areas, you have the old artisan district, jewelers district, old leather workers district and oh so much more. It is difficult to navigate, but it can be worth it once you get your bearings. As for Akihabara, it is doubtlessly boiling over into a movement proper, it started a couple of years ago with fashionable people ironically referencing nerdy subjects, but now it is the nerds themselves creating the fashion.

    Keep an eye on Chloma, Hatora and the gang as they are right at the heart of it and I will see what I can do…



  11. […] FROM AKIBA TODAY FEATURING BODYSONG, BALMUNG, RUNURUNU, HATORA, 5TOY, MIKIO SAKABE AND MORE. READ Tokyo Telephone – Your Direct Line to the Real Japan > Men's […]

  12. […] of Akihabara culture on fashion quite recently on Tokyo Telephone.  It all began with the Akihabara Fashion Week, then a look into 5okai, the shop that is leading the way in the future of Akihabara fashion, but […]

  13. […] more on Hatra you can see a past season here and modeled as part of a fashion show here.  I am interviewing the designer later this week so stand by for much more on this brand very soon […]

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