We are going to be having an extended look at the renewed Japanese pop and Otaku culture themed floor 6 of Parco Part 1 in Shibuya here on Tokyo Telephone, but before that we couldn’t wait to highlight what is indubitably the most culturally significant opening – Shibuya Girls Pop. This is a shop that marks the culmination of a new subculture that we have seen growing out of Shibuya via Itazura and Wagado’s decadent anime themed club nights, and before that scattered across Koenji at Hikari and other vintage shops, right back to its origins in Akihabara. It is a subculture defined by an overly sweet, adult kawaii and decidedly sexual aesthetic (note the ball gag used as necklace below by Lady Spade on the right) that is actually on closer examination the polar opposite of the hard and plasticky drawing style that is dominating the male otaku markets over in East Tokyo.
It is an aesthetic that some describe as Shibuya girls pop-culture, basically defining it as pop-culture through the lens of cool, but when you actually talk to the original creators that I did in a professional capacity over at the recent Comiket, it becomes rather harder to pin down and certainly far from the most tortured definition of kawaii. What is know is that it has grown primarily out of the art world in zines and art work sold at vintage shops over Tokyo, live-painting and other events that shops like The Virgin Mary have taken the lead on. It was then adopted by Shibuya Girls Pop as a means of distributing underground art for free on postcards in the Shibuya area, all the while evolving as otaku and kawaii culture blurred over the last couple of years.
As you can imagine given the formative nature of the movement most of the clothes are remade or very niche, meaning that for this mainstream shop in the heart of Parco they have gone for easy to digest and incorporate accessories, but ones featuring a truly comprehensive A-Z of underground artists and designers working in the genre. Indeed, the only artist that I didn’t spot was Ai Madonna whose artwork was covering the uniforms of Denpa Gumi who were the ones greeting guests at the opening party (but more on them later).
Talking to the manager he said that he would like to stock more clothes in the near future, but wanted the shop to be fun and accesible to begin with.
Alice in Wonderland remains as ever an integral part of the vast majority of youth sub-cultures.
I will admit that I do occasionally struggle with the slightly off proportions of kigurumi fans, but I can always appreciate when someone is doing it well.
I never thought I would see this kind of underground culture in Parco – maybe its time has come at last?
I was distinctly impressed with how cheaply you could walk out with a a nice bit of handmade/hand drawn work.
If you want to pay them a visit they are up on the 6th floor of Parco Part 1 in Shibuya and trust me when I say that this is one to keep your eye on.