Seeing as I am tackling a lot of the big issues in the fashion industry lately I thought I would get off my chest one such issue that has lurking at the back of my mind for some time. Namely the effect of success – that most great brands or artists start out personally producing amazing work, that gets popular beyond an individuals capacity, that then necessitates business involvement, that then means that suddenly there are an awful lot of salaries to be paid, PR to be hired and campaigns to be organised and finally a deluge of celebrity tie-ins, gifts and product placements. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a problem for me, I wish success on most people, however the uncomfortable reality is that this success usually has a detrimental effect on the original product. In order to pay the salaries of the huge amount of people involved, the products price point needs to be raised (still no problems yet), but in certain cases the quality of the product is also reduced in the materials and labour to save some cash.

Key examples of this would be designer bags that are not even made of leather, cheap costume jewelery sold at a higher price than when it was made of silver (Vivienne Westwood, I am looking at you!) and awful plating – seriously, brass effect plating instead of brass, you have lost your mind!

All of this makes me retreat to my happy place, my formative years of fashion – my inspirations.


One of the many great things about being English is having been exposed to the biker, rocker and punk movements from a young age, which has gone on to influence my style – especially in the context of Japan where these movements are still flourishing, in an aesthetic sense at any rate. The sentiment and ideology may have long gone, but both styles have now entered into a very exclusive category for me of “Things that are going to be cool forever”. Personally I have always identified with the biker aesthetic – fitted but masculine, hard-wearing but already falling apart.

Now, the reason that this is my refuge from a bill-board of Jennifer Lopez cltuching a PVC Louis Vuitton handbag is that you literally cannot buy this look. OK you can in Vintage shops and at terrifying prices, but what you ought to do and what the original bikers did, is make the look for yourself. Whether it is clumsily repairing your ripped trousers for the 5th time or sitting down with 500 studs, a dart and a hammer and knowing that you are going to need more studs by the end of the day, this is all easy stuff that anyone can do. The crucial point is that while anyone could do it, it is time consuming, occasionally painful and requires actual physical strength without the industrial level equipment.

But what you are doing is making something that can’t be brought. The jacket you are studding may be impossible to personally make from scratch, but you can be sure that if the brand had had it studded themselves then it would be into the price bracket I tend to regard as “a cure for melancholy”.

So we all know that studs are in this winter, so why not stud, rip-up, destroy and repair something old and make it new – for yourself. Out of respect for the origins of this fashion, this is one look you should never hand over to retail.

Saying all that I would kill for a Junker jacket…

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9 Responses to Private No3 – Inspirations

  1. […] gone on and on about the joy of customising your own clothes the other day, I thought I would follow that up by pointing out an alternative for those who want […]

  2. […] week has been a bit post-apocalyptic here at Tokyo Telephone, it started with me getting all nostalgic for customising my own clothes, moved into something all the more fun and ended with Julius showing us how beautiful […]

  3. Leanne says:

    I LOVE the organic, old school punk look. It’s one of the things that drew Japanese gothic punk to me, which introduced me to other japanese fashion. I didn’t know you were English Samuel (I assumed you guys were from the US) – but you do remind me of Jarvis Cocker a bit! Or maybe Brett from Suede.

  4. Tokyo Telephone says:

    Well I will take both of those comparisons as compliments, definitely when I was younger I got the Jarvis Cocker one all the time. He was the man of the moment when I was at school and I did kinda copy his hair and glasses at the time.

    Back on the organic punk look, I would say that it was the dwindling of that style in the UK that led me to Japan where it was still booming and evolving.

    And on that subject I am in the middle of studding a vest at the moment (400-ish studs used so far!) takes me right back to my well-spent youth.

  5. […] realised that my last Private Number post did not actually have any pictures of me in it, I dug through Rebecca’s camera to grab a […]

  6. […] after. Needless to say, I am mostly interested in the fashion of this movement, sharing as I do, similar values. I thought I would have a look at that fashion, but also try and chart the trends and spirit of the […]

  7. […] our time has always included an element of self customisation which I grew up in awe of as I have written about in the past.  Ultimately, it is a great means of self-expression which I hope you will enjoye on the NOMI […]

  8. Gem says:

    “Back on the organic punk look, I would say that it was the dwindling of that style in the UK that led me to Japan where it was still booming and evolving.”

    That is exactly where my Japanese fashion obsession came from. I remember being 18 and going into Camden where everything was cool, punk influenced clothes were everywhere and the alternative scene in general was real buzzy.

    Now I call Camden ‘Camden by numbers’. Nearly every shop sells the same manufactured crap, most of the shops on the high street are owned by the same people and lots of high street labels are sneaking their way in. The only saving grace is the new Lock Village where you see (funnily enough normally East Asian) girls sewing away in the corner of their stalls or hacking at a t-shirt. I totally fell in love with Tokyo street fashion after stumbling across a copy of Fruits in a book shop – kids customising their stuff and mixing all sorts together, even though often cute bright coloured stuff, is still the basis of punk fashion. I know even Tokyo has become a bit western these days and I was appalled at some of the stuff I found in Shibuya 109 last November, but walking around Harajuku made me crazily happy.

    I’ll stop rambling. I look forwards to reading more on this site and also checking out NOMI. Am working on a collection for my own fashion line and this is all very inspiring.

  9. Tokyo Telephone says:

    Thanks for getting in touch Gem, looking forward to seeing your line on your very cool site.

    Camden leaves me very cold these days as well, at least Brick Lane has picked up the slack to a certain extent. I just feel sorry for the Japanese people who come over to Camden having idealized it as some kind of mecca for years and then being massively disappointed on seeing the dull reality.

    On the subject of 109, I think people have a very odd perception of what it is actually like, as much as there is fun to be had, it is actually only a tiny bit removed from the mainstream in reality. The real alternative fashion scene still rumbles away in Harajuku, but you really have to head out to Koenji to feel inspired and alive these days.

    S

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