Patriotism and fashion rarely go hand in hand without causing a little bit of controversy and when that patriotism is concerned with reclaiming WWII-era imagery as part of the Neo Japanism movement you know that you are on dangerous ground to begin with. Now I am not saying that Zeke who work out of Stroker in Shimokitazawa handle the subject particularly delicately, but they do it with pride and style. So while you cannot deny that this is deliberately provocative, you have to bear in mind that is secondary to the desire to reclaim traditional Japanese imagery and spirit. This is as edgy as even most Japanese bikers would want to go, but regardless of the cultural complexity behind the work, it is brilliantly realised and pretty much the polar opposite to the friendly Japonica presented by Atelier Kasuh. It just goes to show that along with Luciferian Art, there are not a lot of taboos left to break in the silver scene.
The brand is named after the codename given to one of Japan’s finest aircraft – the Zero Fighter. A triumph of engineering and a symbol for Japanese creation to this day and that is what is being saluted here.
Enough intros, on with the silver:
The cockpit of the Zero Fighter stunningly realised in ring form.
But not everything has to be Japanese inspired. Zeke also does an (admittedly smaller) line in general biker jewelry, but still with that amazing level of detail.
Sakura are still surprisingly controversial in certain contexts and I am all for their wider usage to reclaim them as a mainstream motif in kawaii culture.
Nice use of the Japanese hawk on the right.
I do have to say that Zeke shines in their 3D details, i.e. that the detail goes all around every surface of the piece disguising any ugly scooped areas.
It should be noted that this Kamikaze image has long been re-appropriated by the biker crowd and is ironically one of the least controversial motifs here.
Amazing work on the inset skulls on the left.
The Kanji for Rising Sun in a nice earring on the left.
And finally a charity ring produced in the aftermath of the Tohoku quake, a noble cause and a very noble sentiment.
So the big question, would I (as a silver fan and an Englishman) wear this brand? Difficult, but then again these have become biker symbols and not wartime ones. I do own work by Stoplight who deals in simular motifs, but that is only because the designer and I have been known to hang out, have a laugh and talk about his work. I don’t know the designer over at Zeke, but if he is anything like Stoplight his heart is in the right place and this is more about reclaiming these powerful motifs from their past and make them relevant again without losing their potency.
Either way I admire him as a designer and look forward to what comes out of this surge in Neo Japanism imagery.