It is with enormous pride that I can now announce that one of your team here at Tokyo Telephone will be now be working with The Japan Times newspaper as a Stylewise columnist. This follows on from my menswear coverage of Tokyo fashion week for the newspaper, which I would advise you to check out here if you haven’t quite managed to get round to it yet, but this time I will be concentrating on general menswear news for the paper which will give me a nice opportunity to talk about things that might not necessarily fit the tone of this site.
Anyway, the most important thing is that my very first article is out today and you will find the paper at pretty much every newspaper stand and convenience store in Japan, so I advise you all to run out and buy it now – even if you are tucked up in bed in your room-wear with a cup of cocoa, I shall accept no excuses. If you absolutely can’t or are outside of Japan then don’t you worry, you will be able to read it on their homepage a couple of days after publication.
This time in my first brief column (I will have more space next month) I went into a topic that I think is currently one of the most relevant to those both inside and outside the Japanese fashion scene, namely the rapid encroachment of Otaku culture on fashion. I think it is a particularly difficult one for those who grew up in an age where fashion and Otaku culture most certainly did not mix, but now you have the Evangelion Store just off Takeshita Doori purveying genuinely stylish and fashionable clothes to actual “cool” people, the AKB48 store in Harajuku and even avant-garde designers like Mikio Sakabe, Balmung and Jenny Fax taking literal inspiration from cultural commodities a certain generation would never want to mix with, let alone declare publicly.
Some might see it as a shift in perception by the young who as ever will publicly define that which they believe to be cool and acceptable. This generation who has an articulated attitude to anime and manga, would never seek to tar a vast subject with the same geeky brush and clearly recognise the fashion potential in certain works.
I would say that although this feels like a new trend in urban space where the visual identity of a place like Harajuku and Akihabara are distinct, if you take it out of an urban context and place it on the media landscape there is evidence of this crossover going well back into recent cultural history. There are obviously a vast number of occasions where anime and manga has gone to fashion for its visual aesthetic (I wrote a piece on Kazuma Kaneko x Gareth Pugh here), but the progressive end of fashion has also seen the potential of mixing the Otaku curated aesthetic with fashion. A quick glance at my heaving bookcases reveals Yohji Yamamoto’s visual conversation with WARP, the creators of the Dreamcast game D2 and any number of instances where a designer whose primary goal in fashion is to distort proportions of the body, has seen the potential of stylized creations in anime and manga to do the same.
It is a tricky topic, which is at the same time not a new phenomenon in fashion culture, but a real shock in the case of the rigidly defined urban areas of Tokyo. Either way, the No, No, Yes! leather jackets in the Evangelion store Tokyo are beyond cool…
With that said, do check out the column, let me know what you think here (their site does not accept comments) and I hope you will join me for my future ones down the line.
Huge thanks go to the lovely Misha Janette for making this happen.