A very Merry Christmas to all our readers, whether you celebrate the season or not (or do so under an alternative label) you have our heartiest seasons greetings, and we are very happy you are reading this at all given that you should be filling your face with good food and generally having a day off. Don’t worry, that is exactly what we are doing, but we thought we would take the time to try and come up with a “Christmas Message” of sorts (a bit like our good old Queen back in the UK!) to give you a very personal message of the season.
The first thing to say is that Japan hasn’t had the best year, not only has there been the looming spectre of the global financial crisis, but also the skyrocketing yen and a significant number of challenges posed by nature itself. Despite all of this, Japan has remained strong and in particular our own little pocket of culture, that predominantly orbits around fashion, has remained very healthy as well by all accounts (or as well as could be hoped anyway). The true proof of this strength came in October’s Tokyo Fashion Week, where Japanese fashion rose again after March’s JFW was mostly cancelled and trade shows were rather under-attended in the aftermath.
But what we thought we would take this Christmas Message to highlight is not the fashion brands that lead the high-culture, but rather the street level fashion and the people who participate in it. These are the people who wear the clothes, turn up in street-snaps and generally generate the Japanese culture we know and love. It is the street level designers who don’t hold their shows as part of Tokyo Fashion Week, but have an enormous say in how Japanese fashion is perceived and may even go on to influence the high fashion shows as well. With the exception of a handful of brands that manage to bridge that gap like Banal Chic Bizarre or Christian Dada, it is brands like Tokyo Bopper, Hiro, Juvenile Hall Rollcall, Balmung and the rest of the Tokyo underground who define the streets and the culture of Tokyo and it is they who deserve your attention and support in these trying times.
Here at Tokyo Telephone nothing cheers us up more than to get an email or a tweet saying that someone has chased down a designer who is a stranger even to the Japanese media and brought some of their work because they heard about it here. That is what this site is all about, and whether you spread the word on Tumblr or support the designer/artist directly, you are keeping this culture that we all love and admire alive. I am not going to start on a rampage against the fast fashion empires here, but I recently saw a complete rip-off of a Tokyo Bopper shoe in a certain shop and it made me truly sad to think that a tiny Harajuku shop was having their creative energy pillaged by a shop that pretends to be part of Harajuku culture.
In a nutshell our Christmas message from Tokyo Telephone is simple – we will try and make sure that the right people get the attention they deserve and we urge you all to support the right people and make sure it is they who are rewarded for their contributions to culture.