The 70s were a wonderful time for Japanese street fashion, a time when trends and influences from abroad started to be interpreted rather than being produced verbatim as in the previous decade. For me the street level rebelliousness of the era is best expressed in the adoption of the sukajyan (souvenir jacket) by the street punks in downtown Tokyo and Yokohama. Originally a tradition of the occupying American forces who had their jackets embroidered with traditional artwork as a souvenir of their tours of service, they were then adopted by Japanese youth who in equal parts wanted to enjoy the notoriety of the army, but also who wanted to reclaim the embroidered images as a form of national identity. The latter force turned out to be strongest in the 70s and it was not long before the sukajyan was the symbol of rebellion, adorned with right-wing nationalist imagery and conveniently reversible so that you could hide your colours if need be.
It was with this powerful item that designer Miharu Yasuhiro opened his AW 2013 show in Paris, and from there we saw the jacket deconstructed and attached to tailoring and other trad wear in a very satisfyingly subversive show.
The title of the show was “chinpira”, a name which denotes a sub-yakuza level thug or lackey, but nevertheless there were also plenty of direct yakuza references in the work thanks to textiles with a very subtle traditional irezumi designs worked into the weave, but also flowing wide leg trousers and of course the slicked back hair styling.
This being the year of the snake Miharaysuhiro took this as an opportunity to incorporate even more snake skin than usual into his collection, it turned up in his shoes, which are always one of the brands strongest suits at retail in Japan, but also in his showpiece textiles which used real 18k gold thread (beaten and then wound to silk) to pick out a scale pattern – a technique that was popular in Japan in the 70s.
Love the subtle tattoo effect on this suit.
Miharayasuhiro didn’t pass up the opportunity to throw some technical pieces down the catwalk, constructed with clinical precision as ever.
The voluminous knits start to break up the clean silhouette but always looked elegant.
And finally the high end suits made their presence felt.
The show was accompanied by a live taiko drumming performance which complemented the ideals of youth and Japanese masculinity wonderfully, in itself a perfect antidote for the wave of NY city boys on the streets of Tokyo right now. All signs in Japanese fashion seem to be pointing to a return to this cocky youthful spirit, not punk (or more accurately – fashion punk), but bold conventionally masculine ensembles with just the right amount of swagger – and Miharayasuhiro has got the balance down to an art.