Ever since Mikio Sakabe prophetically aligned his class of cheerleaders to the place in his remarkable AW 2013-14 collection this time last year, the writing was on the wall for a fashion revolution in Nakano Broadway, west Tokyo. Already known worldwide by collectors of the weird and the wonderful, Nakano Broadway pulls in aficionados of esoteric art, occult paraphernalia, militaria, and of course the rarest of the the rare anime and manga collectables that would have even hardened otaku raising their eyebrows – but crucially not fashion, that is, until now. Needless to say, in the glory days of Mandarake there were of course a huge number of cosplay shops, but it has only been in the last couple of years that those gradually started to turn their colors towards lolita, extreme kawaii and other sub-cultural fashion, all scattered throughout the Broadway’s Shin Megami Tensei-esque labyrinthine corridors with a lack of rhyme or reason that oddly befits the place. Some might think that the increased presence of fashion in such a place is somehow at odds with its slightly geeky, outsider credentials, but I for one can’t help but think that extreme fashion has much more in common with collectors of the obscure than the truly bizarre cults of luxury lifestyle branding that line Omotesando-doori. Especially as high fashion at present is content with plundering the vaults of these subculture, why shouldn’t the subcultures own their own fashion?
Paving the path for a new generation of fashion culture in Nakano Broadway we find an as yet unnamed shop, a new outpost for the Akihabara based fashion space Gokai (don’t worry the original Akiba shop is still open) that pioneered the concept of Akihabara fashion. But whereas the Akihabara Gokai firmly orbited Akiba idol culture, the space in Nakano Broaday is aligned more with the counter culture and cults that define the west Tokyo area, as illustrated by the cult and doujin films playing on the TV sets in lieu of a shop front:
Inside we find a small shrine to a certain idol (bonus points if you can guess who), centered around these fabulous boots from Mikio Sakabe:
I like how the mannequin on the right is clothed as a mock salaryman via illustration, but then wearing bodysong over it.
Further in and the racks are positively heaving with work from Tokyo Fashion Week’s finest, the Chaos Lounge art collective and underground icons. You don’t know whether you are going to find an explosion of Tumblr graphics on a t-shirt for 6000 yen or a dress worn by an idol in a music video for 60000.
The space is obviously a little more commercial minded than the Akihabara original that was almost impossible to find without a good knowledge of the area, but from my conversations with the director of the space, I think it would be a mistake to assume that the point of this new shop is to necessarily sell more, but more to create a monument to culture that didn’t fit in in Akihabara.
Here you can see new knitted work from Rurumu.
Illustrations from Borutanext5 peer down at you as you browse.
Ai Madonna winks back at you,and don’t miss new brand M5YKB on the bottom left.
The eagle-eyed of you should be able to spot some Tarzan Kick deep in the chaos.
There are so many pieces in the shop connected with exciting points in Tokyo fashion history that I hope never get sold – it is like walking around a nostalgia inducing museum (the above is from the very first Akihabara Fashion Week).
Those looking for something more toned down are well catered for with some crust punk inspired items that could slot into almost any wardrobe.
But it goes without saying that those on the hunt for a statement of identity will find themselves in heaven.
Great to see work from iLiL lurking in the back.
Mikio’s fantastic un-gendered school uniforms.
I was pleased to find some very old designs from Chaos Lounge’s early exhibitions – love the mock Keisuke Kanda stitching on the collar!
For those wanting to make the pilgrimage to Gokai Nakano Broadway you will find it in the B1 section in the half that isn’t “Petit Paris”. It is conveniently next to Nakano Ropeway, a shop which we will be looking at in depth another time, so stay tuned for more from Nakano Broadway very soon.