Continuing the spate of apocalyptic articles on Tokyo Telephone, I thought I would take it right back to the start with a look at how Mad Max has impacted around the globe and especially in Japan and Japanese fashion.  The Mad Max series was pretty much the first the mainstream had seen of this particular brand of post-apocalyptic aesthetic, confined as it had been to comics and fetish clubs previously.  However the world was clearly crying out for it as it went on to become a phenomenon and keyword in its own right for the disheveled and re-purposed modern armament.

Continue reading for yet more Gareth Pugh, Hokuto no Ken, Galliano and much more that is going to make you want to stud everything in sight.

Now before we get going I should probably say that the “Mad Max” movement is not just confined to that particular series.  You have films that came later like Demolition Man, but also the whole heavy metal scene and biker/punk movements of the time, but for ease of use, I am just referring to it as – Mad Max – as a shorthand as it were.

The basic tenets of the aesthetic are: to be disheveled and worn, armored and to reflect your sexuality.  The best examples tend to re-purpose something and make it really out of place – like the Japanese ghost mask used in Mad Max 3 – but make it somehow fit the outfit.

In the case of Japan, despite Mad Max being unbelievably popular this kind of aesthetic is more often associated with the manga – Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star) started in 1983 two years after the release of Mad Max 2.  Now Hokuto no Ken basically takes the preamble to Mad Max 2 as its basic concept, although the story does differ beyond that point, Kenshiro is based on Mel Gibson’s character (as well as Bruce Lee) and even some of the famous scenes are carbon copies of scenes from Mad Max.  So a kind homage then, but seeing as I am a massive fan of both the series I am not one to care about “inspiration”.  Regardless, I grew up reading Hokuto no Ken and fell in love with its slightly Japanese version of the Mad Max universe.

Biker boots, slim jeans, spikes – oh yes it is all there and present.  Along with Japanese biker imagery of the time it is really a telling piece of Japanese street fashion from the 80s, that would later go on to form Dog and ripped-up, studded-up Yasuyuki Ishii.  Personally in the context of Japan I would credit this phenomenally successful manga for popularising this aesthetic as well as evolving it beyond the confines of the films.

While this did lead to trends in the fashion world, it was more literally adopted by Kichijoji favorite JAP inc, who previously had been making studded wrist-bands.  They went on to produce monstrosities like the following that would be worn by the Visual-Kei gods of the 80s and 90s.

Since then the fashion has become more effete and delicate, but the apocalyptic rawness remains.  Most impressive for me are individuals like Mad Max Models who don’t just stud a jacket but find ways to actually make the costumes from the films.

Now these are obviously costumes and not fashion, but lets just take a moment to appreciate the fact that someone actually made this from scratch.  That is the Mad Max spirit.

While this may be all interesting from a pop-culture perspective, what of the fashion world?  Well since the early 80s this look may well have been the domain of bikers, punks, rebels and fetish club afficianados, the fashion world was never that far off.  Galliano has gone for something verging on a parody in recent years:

Hmm not quite ready for the streets yet…

Aha!  Lose the blood and we are almost there.  Studded jeans, awesome sculpted leather and a wallet chain – this all looks like stuff I would enjoy wearing.  But for a masterclass in how to sit the Mad Max dystopian future with fashion you knew I would have to turn to Gareth Pugh.

Relatively subtle, sculpted and formed.  Pugh takes the bulky elements that make this aesthetic work and strips them back and makes them as small as possible.  They still have the same impact, but they are, to put it bluntly, wearable and credible.  Don’t get me wrong Galliano can stud a pair of boots like no-one else, but for a trimmed down version of the look, I just love Pugh’s work.

Needless to say, Julius found himself influence by the same ideas, but through the lens of the classic Akira (also inspired by the films), and you can’t move an inch in 109-2 without bumping into some ripped jeans or some cheap machine studding.    If you haven’t seen the films (or any films mentioned in this article) go on and watch them, fashion owes them quite a favour.

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3 Responses to Beyond Thunderdome

  1. […] talked about the effect of the western dystopian future on Japanese fashion through the context of Mad Max, I thought I would complete the picture with a look at the Japanese apocalypse and the cyber-punk […]

  2. […] this fits in with the Mad Max look that I am such a fan of – the spirit of self-customisation, love of nature and desire to […]

  3. tankboi says:

    Love the dystopian look and use it everyday myself. im a huge mad max fan but there also some other really cool dystopian fashion icons that have to be mentioned. Tank Girl for example her chaotic style of biker boots covered in spurs and bandaids torn leather jackets filthy ripped t-shirts spikey shoulder pad armor, helmets, aviator hats and of course the goggles. She finds what she can and attaches it to give new life to a cast of piece of clothing. The video game fallout set in a alternate 20th century wasteland earth, theres use of a arsinal of kick ass costumes that i wish i could buy in the shops. metal fishnet vest, junky armor, leather,metal,plastic held together by lots of straps buckles chains give the game and its characters a totally awesome dystopian mad max feel. other movies Water World and the t.v show The Tribe are also dystopian fashion icons itll be cool to add some pics of the above to ur site.

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