Fashion’s Night Out Tokyo has come and gone for another year, turning the road from Harajuku, through Omotesando and on to Aoyama into a parade of fashionistas, touts welcoming you into shops that would normally covert exclusivity and the accompanying detritus inevitable when every other shop is giving out free drinks, balloons and even cotton candy. It is an odd spectacle for a city that only loses its cool under the guise of practical shopping come the New Year sales and with a Fashion Week even the students are too respectful to crash, but that is precisely the point – this is an exceptional display of global fashion in an area predominantly known internationally for its domestic fashion. A flirtation with a different context if you will, and one that even the harshest critic can afford one day a year to.
The issue of context is one that I have been coming back to a lot on this site and in other projects lately, mainly because it is very clear that the current focus of Tokyo fashion is exploring different contexts for fashion at present. Whether that is uniting it with pop culture as Mikio Sakabe does now, or, as he has threatened the last time I spoke to him, with more abstract contexts such as architecture in the future. The whole undercurrent of domestic fashion is obsessed with challenging the means by which fashion is packaged, consumed and presented, but if we accept that contextualization of fashion as valid then we also have to accept the Vogue-led context. The issue comes when you only have one or the other, if you only have the Vogue (and this is coming from someone whose first mentor in writing was Vogue born and bred) this can be limiting, and when there are voices of dissent about FNO in Tokyo it tends to be because they worry that primarily the values of exclusivity and luxury lifestyle branding are at odds with the values of Japanese fashion, but also crucially due to it being the view that is becoming globalized in fashion internationally. After all, globalization is a scary business to handle in cultural terms at the best of times, but especially problematic in fashion and make-up.
The streets did bustle for longer than a usual Saturday night thanks to the later opening times, and I must say that the variety in the crowds of people was impressive, a lovely older lady struck up conversation with me as I was watching the crowds – apparently she usually shopped for all her brands in Ginza department stores, but had been coaxed away from her usual haunts by the offer of limited items on this night.
The epicenter of events was Omotesando Hills, in front of which was an Audi as you might have gathered.
LaForet was the focus of Vogue Girl Japan, a publication currently honoring my own Blighty as the flavor of Autumn.
As with last year the extent of the FNO offer or gift greatly effected turn-out, Gucci had people queuing up all night outside the store and had to employ crowd control when people started turning up hours in advance.
However, must brands stuck to very discreet branding (note the bottom right of the picture above) and contented themselves by inviting good customers in for a drink and a preview of the AW 2013-14 collections.
Beyond the main streets there were pockets of involvement such as Wut Berlin, but heading into Ura-Harajuku, the people continued but hardly any of the local brands were participating (and especially not officially!).
I have heard that other FNO worldwide try and promote more of their respective domestic brands, but I can’t help but think that if those brands don’t play by the same Vogue rules then they really shouldn’t be there. There is nothing wrong with segregation in fashion, and indeed segregation allows for a varied and exciting fashion scene to exist with crossover that actually feels like juxtaposition rather than banality. All we need to avoid is exclusivity in our views of fashion, even if some views of fashion depend on exclusivity.