Otaku influenced fashion doesn’t always lend itself to subtlety all that well, something that ironically goes against the “anything goes, as long as it is private” attitude of the previous, and not particularly fashion conscious generation.   Mercifully for those looking for a more credible way to wear their hearts on their sleeves their exists people like J.S.Art for armor and weapon aficionados, and for the retro gamers out there – THUNDERBOX.  Even if I haven’t kept up with modern games all that well (the only console I now have is a NEOGEO AES), I still remember the scene in a very fondly, and in particular my student days when I was a regular at the toughest game center in Kabukicho – Mikado.  Having spent hours of my youth in game centers or else playing on the various iterations of Gameboys on the way to game centers, it is no surprise that even the subtlest references to that world in fashion are really very evocative for me.  THUNDERBOX does keep things relatively subtle to the point where sometimes you need someone to point out the gaming nods, but that is all part of ensuring that this doesn’t get lumped into the geek-chic, t-shirt with a ironic print on it territory.

THUNDERBOX has experimented with a couple of geek/otaku references so far, but he seems pretty settled on the Nintendo Gameboy right now.  The philosophy of creation taught by its creator Gunpei Yokoi actually fits very well in fashion and there is so much to draw out of the iconic design of the unit itself before you even begin to explore the games themselves.

I caught up with the designer at the AW 2013-14 exhibition in the Design Festa gallery right in the heart of Harajuku:

The core look is Harajuku bohemian at its best, core streetwear with perfectly considered flourishes.

To really see how much depth there is in the work I thought we would take a look at one single item and see how it breaks down.  As you can see the classic riders is given a Gameboy makeover and as the plaque says – you are the cartridge.

Love the details and you might be surprised that this comes in at around 50000 yen – not bad at all.

Elsewhere little details are everywhere you look.

The energy cell studs are THUNDERBOX’s signature and whether you wear one on your lapel or have studded arms it is a nice way of spotting others in the THUNDERBOX club on the streets of Tokyo.

Accessories were always a big part of the Gameboy world, indeed the amount of add-ons for it was ridiculous, but the ability to convert the unit itself into an accessory is thanks to this case and strap from Konami which allows you to show your colours wherever you go – not to mention game on the go.

The other accessories proved more subtle:

Beyond the fashion the designer also brought a selection from his own Gameboy collection to the exhibition:

Some of this is actually quite rare, and it all echoes the idea of dressing the Gameboy with accessories, which is what you in turn are doing to yourself with fashion.

You can shop selections of the line-up here, and further reading and past collections can be had on this site and on their homepage.

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