Rounding off our in-depth look into the Harajuku institution that is Dog, today we are going to try and get to the bottom of the core aesthetic that has made this shop hallowed ground for generations of street fashion followers. But before we go any further you really must read Part 1 and Part 2 to contextualize yourself with the place as otherwise I fear that you might get lost in the jungle of studs and straps that we are about to delve into.
First up is a healthy does of glam rock, of shiny studs and spikes that Balmain wishes they could emulate. It is that real spirit of excess, but without the modern desire of brands like 99%is to try too hard to be perfect, instead the studs and stones are layered on as you go, designs aren’t quite centered and so on, and it all builds to a decadence that is quite hard to put your finger on.
It is an aesthetic that fits quite well with movements like horror punk that embrace the inherent theatrical elements that come with the territory. That is not to say that Dog fits into the “wacky Japan” narrative that so many people are keen on, it is grimy and serious enough to make the majority credible even outside of the immediate Harajuku area.
Obviously you can’t ignore the 90s cyber and happy hardcore rave influences in the shop which are always a nostalgic sight seeing as I haven’t seen a proper Japanese cyber wearer in ages (although you do see quite a few foreign fans in Harajuku).
Next is a little more excess, but this time of the 80s with tons of chains, metal work and oversized shoulders, but the best thing about Dog is that it deftly mixes it in with Patrick Nagel art deco simplicity so depending on how you style the look you can have the best of both worlds.
Of course 80s and early 90s fetish culture are a big influence on the shop and there are a bevy of bustiers and more black and red straps, restraints and collars than you could wish for.
The owner Kai’s masks are always a big feature in the shop, mainly because they are used to decorate the mannequin outside the shop before being retired inside. Now there is such a healthy backlog that he could easily hold an exhibition of them, although that is effectively what the inside of Dog is like everyday.
The final piece of the Dog puzzle is hard to define, but I guess it could be summarized by “experimentation”, you will always see things you never quite expect to in Dog, whether it is a jacket made from condoms, or clothes made from fake flowers and rubber chain-mail. It is all on a scale that that other people may talk about, but never follow through on.
Some lovely Versace details that have come right round in Vogue courtesy of the likes of Mademoiselle Yulia’s Giza.