The brainchild of otaku fashion pioneer Junya Suzuki and formidable patterner Reiko Sakuma, underground brand Chloma has infection on the mind for their latest collection covered as it is in distorted images of the Fukushima reactors, structures taken from radiation protection suits and silhouettes inspired by surreal anime nurses. But that is just the surface level, look a little deeper and you will find that there is a lot in the collection about Japanese cultural malaise in general, and something more pervasive even than the invisible elephant in the room: radiation.
I have interviewed both the designers in depth on that very topic (and their work in general) for another project so I am afraid that you are going to have to wait a little longer to hear all about that in their words. In the meantime, I thought we would scratch the surface here and start to get excited about the impeding collection soon to go on sale in Tokyo. For the record the best stockist that keeps almost the entire collection is Pyaruco in Parco Part 1 Shibuya, which is also probably the only place in Tokyo capable of providing the appropriate physical context for Chloma outside of Gokai in Akihabara.
The new collection is positively packed with textiles from KAYTAY TEXINNO, a Fukui based technical fabric innovator, responsible for making even the boxiest coats in the collection as light as a feather while still holding their shape. It is actually quite uncanny to try some of the jackets on and be greeted by instant heat, but also such a strong form that almost projects itself away from the body without any significant weight at all. As you can see from the photo above the construction is also in a league of its own with precise lines rendered with hidden stitching that further exaggerates the futuristic undercurrent of the Chloma world.
Providing the graphics for the collection is Ume Labo from the Chaos Lounge group who has lent his distinctive corrupted pop-culture aesthetic to the mix with works that delve into otaku and internet culture, spliced with images of the Fukushima reactors.
It is very telling that Chloma chose to release their collection online, avoiding any of the traditional fashion and media establishment in the process. When asked why, Junya responded that all those avenues favor the West, leaving the internet as the only safe place for a celebration of real Japanese modern culture and identity. Iif that is the only place that appreciates the modern Japanese pop-culture infused aesthetic, created in Japan from Japanese developed technical fabrics, then the industry probably needs to have a long hard think about just why that is.