Continuing our Japan Fashion Week coverage here at Tokyo Telephone we continue in the oft taken far too lightly vein of Shibuya street fashion with Vanquish. Held the day after Liz Lisa and in the same venue, but this was a polar opposite of the former – as it rightly should have been given the paired back rock-star cool the latter is famous for. However in an echo of the spirit of Liz Lisa, the theme of the show was presenting the designs in a different high-fashion context – as the designer himself ended the show by saying – This is how Shibuya Gyaru-O style would evolve to Mode if its market were to widen. A realization perhaps that over-specialisation of your market can be an all or nothing strategy inappropriate for the world in recession or perhaps this was just a chance for a skilled designer to flex his muscles – you may read into it whatever you will.
The lighting was dark and the only detail layered onto the venue was the sustained theme of the blue feathers which would go on to punctuate the spring/summer collection as a whole. The other element you could not help but notice was the number of collaborations in the collection, from their continued work with Adidas Originals to Sony Ericsson’s Xperia phone, a quarter of the items on display had a collaborative element. While the phone tie-in is nothing remarkable, the fact that Adidas Originals effectively now has a shop in every 109-2 in Japan is very interesting given that they would be the first foreign brand to ever do so. The models again were for the most part foreign but for the presence of Daigo and his gang who graced us with their trademark poses to much appreciation from the packed audience.
Continue on for an avalanche of the looks from the show and some thoughts and conclusions.
A “New World” apparently from Vanquish – one where dark blue is a universal accent, which I for one happen to love on black. A disappointing showing on the other hand for leather for the summer that everyone else seemed to be enjoying for next season at Fashion Week, but I can forgive them that as I think they have played a blinder with their unifying blue bird pattern. To me it is a hark right back to the early days of Shibuya Gyaru-O native styling, but with a modern flair.
The Sony Ericsson designs are purely conceptual and not for sale, but the sunglasses that accompany will be apparently as a collaborative venture with Dita and the denim with lighting bolts is produced with Fragment designs. Phew! Along with the Vanquish x Sega collaboration it seems that this is a business model that really works for Vanquish. While these are not rare in Japanese fashion, the brands that Vanquish is working with all seem to be means to widen their scope to more mainstream and mature audiences and looking at their collection you can see a brand doing exactly that.
As I have said previously on the subject of Buffalo Bobs this seems to be symptomatic of the world of 109-2 at the moment – and no bad thing if you ask me While some may be quick to say that this is an end to Gyaru-O or even 109-2, to me this strikes me simply as a changing market with changing aesthetics. This in turn leads to a different variety of customers with different shopping habits – which the market has to respond to. I may personally miss meeting my friends on the derelict top floor of 109-2 when you could hang out up there and not be bothered by shop staff, but it has now become more like a traditional Japanese department store like OIOI – which I would regard as a mark of success. After all sales are proportionally up across the key brands of 109-2, the price of the average item has gone up, as has the age of the average customer (but I think that is a topic for a dedicated post). In short with shows like this behind us I can see a shift in the classic Gyaru-O / Shibuya styling towards Mode. We have seen it happen in women’s fashion already this year and it seems on this occasion that mens is just a couple of steps behind.
Back on the collection at hand, I think it is interesting to see the lack of half-sleeves on suit jackets that permeated the entirety of 2010 S/S, a flash in the pan if ever there was one! But elsewhere there is not a huge amount to strike me, apart from perhaps to draw a line between this and Gyaru favorite MARS’ ability to establish a brand around a colour palate. It will be very interesting to see whether Vanquish persists with this blue that permeated even the snake skin on their studded belts as a brand identity from here onwards, or whether this will be only for one collection.
Of equal interest is to see how many Shibuya brands take the plunge as Vanquish and Liz Lisa have done for next year’s Japan Fashion Week in March. I for one applaud those brands that do, because they are entering a world that has always been fairly ambivalent to their presence. One thing is clear, that those that enter into a high-fashion context need to find a different way to present themselves to the fashion world beyond their established fan-base.
Thanks go to our hosts at Vanquish and JFW for their runway shots.
PS. Do check out Fashionsnap’s back stage coverage – here