Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on August 2014
Tokyo fashion seems to be suffering an exodus of some of its finest talent, with the shocking announcement that designer Kunihiko Morinaga’s celebrated label Anrealage will relocate its Tokyo Fashion Week show to Paris. Known for its cutting-edge, technology-infused collections that can change both size and color to suit the whim of the wearer, the brand joins Lady Gaga outfitter Christian Dada from Masanori Morikawa in making the jump from Tokyo to Paris this year.
Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garcons established Paris as the gateway to the best of Tokyo fashion back in the ’80s. Whether the current generation can follow in their esteemed footsteps remains to be seen, but Tokyo’s official week is desperately in need of some new headline acts to bring in a fashion crowd with clout.
Breakthrough designer of the moment Leonard Wong has been making waves in the city with the launch of “Deuxième Line,” a toned-down, wearable take on the avant-garde extremes he first shot to fame with via his award-winning debut collection last year. That collection featured a wealth of futurist geometric creations rendered in bodice-hugging leather that wouldn’t look out of place dressing the villain in a superhero movie, but his second line reduces the core aesthetic to office-ready white shirts, razor-sharp pencil skirts and power-shouldered jackets that will guarantee a strict style without accusations of fashion victimhood.
The decision to dilute the aesthetic to appeal to the mass market isn’t the only progressive move he’s made—the young Chinese designer is a graduate of Tokyo-based Bunka Fashion College, and one of the first to center his activities as a designer in Japan post-graduation.
The Japanese love affair with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has spawned entire genres of Japanese fashion, inspiring generations of Lolita fashion aficionados and kawaii obsessives in the process. However, it’s usually the Disney retelling of the story, not the Carroll original, from which fashion takes its cues—ending up all the cuter for it. Bringing the tale full circle is Mad Tea Party, tucked away in a backstreet in the cutting-edge street fashion haven of Koenji. Taking its calls from the sense of danger and chaos found in the original work, the boutique mixes remade fashion hammered together from vintage clothes with museum-quality pieces of secret-society regalia, militaria and academic dress from around the world. The well-observed fusion is down to Okada, the shop’s owner, whose own time in Oxford, the home of Lewis Carroll, has informed the creation of a genuine wonderland.
Trends may come and go in Tokyo fashion, but sometimes a style just sticks. The Riot Grrl look first cropped up on the streets of Harajuku in the early 1990s—and arguably never left, with the Courtney Love-inspired “kinderwhore” subgenre in particular becoming a wardrobe mainstay for young Tokyo rebels. For a textbook example we look to model Manaha Hosoda, whose spot-on mix of a vintage pleated school skirt with a leather dog collar is a timeless combo we’ll be seeing on the street for decades to come.
Aug 22-Sep 7 | Shinjuku Creators Festa
The annual Shinjuku Creators festival is an open invitation to mix fashion, shopping and art in and around Shinjuku station. Commuters will have no choice but to pass through, but it’s well worth planning a visit to see fashionable endeavors from the likes of Yayoi Kusama. www.scf-web.net
Aug 23 | Ice Watch Tokyo Flagship Opening
Belgian watch brand Ice Watch finally adds a dedicated Tokyo territory to its worldwide empire, with the flagship in the heart of Harajuku set to echo the colorful branding of the instantly recognizable watches themselves. http://ice-watch.com
From Aug 27 | Sartorial Staples by Neil Barrett
With a promise to level-up your everyday style basics, Neil Barrett’s BlackBarret launches its first Tokyo shop in Isetan Men’s. Spending over ¥20,000 will net you a free gift at launch, but at ¥20,520 for a shirt, that shouldn’t be hard. isetan.mistore.jp/store
From Aug 30 | Otsuka Gofukuten comes to Tokyo
Affordable kimono outfitter Otsuka Gofukten comes to Kanto for the first time, following successful stores in Kyoto and Kobe. The brand mixes traditional kimono cuts with colorful modern textiles such as tartan and check at very accessible prices. www.lumine.ne.jp/shinjuku
Sep 2-15 | VTOPIA in LaForet Harajuku
The VTOPIA accessories label from cult Japanese label Mother has a limited showing in LaForet Harajuku. Dubbed “Utopia,” the limited edition shop is the perfect chance to grab some on-trend oversized jewelry. http://mothermother.com/mother/index.html