• Retro Hong Kong caff interior at Matchbox Cafe
  • Spot the fake in Mong Kok malls. @christopherkanestudio HK style
  • Hello Birdy
  • Just got lashes @paperself - ed at @openingceremony #openingceremonytokyo 1st year anniversary party
  • Mega cute stuff from new brand @littlesunnybiteyoppy

It's understandable if you've come on to the blog in recent weeks and just been plain CONFUUUUUSED.  The names of designers that I saw at Tokyo Fashion Week aren't exactly household or internationally renowned (yet).  If any of you saw the excellent 'Future Beauty' exhibition at the Barbican you might have been wondering what was the next saga to come after the Comme, Issey, Yohji chapters in the trajectory of Japanese fashion.  The 'Japan Fashion Now' exhibition at the FIT might have provided some clues into the complex street style-led fashion landscape of Tokyo.  An exhibition that is currently on in Tokyo's Opera City Gallery entitled 'Feel and Think: A New Era of Tokyo Fashion' is the culminative step to both those exhibitions.  Ten designers, all having started their businesses roughly at the beginning of the 21st century, all coming off the back of Japan's sublime impact on fashion in the 80s and the rise of street style culture in the 90s.  They form the structure of this fascinating exhibition that invites each designer to present an installation, which sums up their work.  This doesn't necessarily mean yer' basic clothes arrangedon mannequins which is precisely what made the exhibition such a joy to navigate and on top of that, there was the physical configuration of architect Ryuji Nakamura's eye-level beams that divided up the space.  So it was that I spent an afternoon getting lost in a rabbit warren of the unknown which I'm going to attempt to break down here…

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Anrealage
Designer: Kunihiko Morinaga
Established 2003
Morinaga was born in 1980 and graduated in sociology from Waseda University.  He went onto to Vantan Design Academy where he remade second-hand clothes as a student.  His adage is 'God is in the details', valuing the little things that would normally go unnoticed.

Anrealage

Anrealage's installation comprised of a representation of their 'wideshortslimlong' collection where clothes are stretched beyond belief both vertically and horizontally.  It was a perplexing feeling looking at the exhibition and becomes even more so when you find out that the clothes are entirely wearable – just that the proportions have all shifted.  Like I said before, Anrealage could well be likened to  Viktor & Rolf, but if i'm honest there's a cleverness to Anrealage's clothes that perhaps the Dutch duo's recent seasons currently lack. 

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Where to buy? Zozotown (worldwide shipping)

Anrealage

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h.Naoto
Designer: Naoto Hirooka
Established 2000
Hirooka was born in Hyogo in 1977 and graduated from Bunka Fashion College.  His punk-led designs initially catered to the subcultures of gothic-lolita and visual-kei and have now gained an international audience crossing over to music, cartoons, animation and game collabs.

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h.Naoto admittedly isn't an aesthetic that I can personally get down with but his clothes certainly represent a sector of fashion in Tokyo that can't be ignored because of the city's unique make-up of sub-cultures and style tribes.  Visual-kei, gothic lolita are worlds that I know nothing about but weirdly Naoto's appeal has become rather international with pocket niche audiences in the USA and Europe hankering after his clothes.  It's an affirmation of the idea that most Western preconception of Japanese fashion is intrinsically linked to Japanese 'crazy' streetstyle.

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Where to buy?  E-shop (worldwide shipping)

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Keisuke Kanda
Designer: Keisuke Kanda
Established 2005
Kanda was born in Kagoshima in 1977 and he's a self-taught designer who began by wanting to impress a girl by making her a dress.  He never gave her the dress but has since been making heavily 'sweet' hand crafted clothes that riff off of Japanese lolita subculture.

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Keisuke Kanda's work probably intrigues me the most because I know so little about it. He doesn't have a list of stockists as such as sells mostly direct to customers through roving trunk shows.  Kanda exhibited a version of a sort of wedding trousseau as well as video installations of 'kawaii' girls, the sort that manifest into innocent/subversive manga drawings.  There's no getting away from a lot of this new gen of Tokyo fashion designers as being sublimely affected by Tokyo streetstyle culture.  Kanda invents his own specific streetstyle tribe that fit in with his aesthetic and it's a world that you either want to violently escape into or are completely turned off by.  I'm definitely the former.

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Where to buy?  E-shop and Lamp Harajuku (both Japan only) Very excited that he's opening a store in Koenji soon though!!!

Keisuke

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matohu
Designers: Hiroyuki Horihata and Makikio Sekiguchi
Established 2005
Horihata and Sekuguchi both went to Bunka Fashion College and then gained pattern cutting experience in Comme des Garcons womenswear and Yohji Yamamoto menswear.  Together they launched matohu under the concept of 'the Japanese aesthetics that underlies newly created clothes.'

Matohu

I'll be visiting Matohu's collection further but you have to be very careful not to misread their clothes.  These aren't 'traditional' Japanese clothes and the designers are very wary of being labelled thus for fear of alienating a domestic audience that often have trouble with wearing traditional Japanese dress (in the same way that I'd never wear a cheong sam‚Ķ).  Instead, Matohu's clothes are rooted in Japanese themes but are articulated as contemporary dress.  Their signature Nagagi robe which I tried on in their calming installation is neither a Kimono or a Western piece of clothing but a timeless piece that has inklings of a Japanese sensibility.

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Where to buy? Nuan (in Japan only)

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mina perhonen
Designer: Akira Minagawa
Established 1995
Minagawa is primarily a textiles designer who started mina perhonen (initially called mina) in 1995 fusing Scandinavian sensibilities with Japanese in clothes that he considers to be 'daily wear'.

Minaperhonen

mina perhonen has an exhaustive list of international stockists and is often mistaken for being Finnish because of the misleading name.  The print work reminds me of Eley Kishimoto and even Marimekko at times (both have vast appeal in Japan).  I had a go sticking my head through the cardboard cut-out at the exhibition‚Ķ

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Where to buy? Couverture (worldwide shipping)

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mintdesigns
Designers: Hokuto Katsui and Nao Yagi
Established 2001
katsui and Yagi met at Central Saint Martins London and returned to Tokyo after graduation to start mintdesigns based on creating clothes that are design products rather than transient trend pieces, with a focus on original textiles.

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mintdesigns' latest collection totally floored me for being utterly accomplished and assured of their aesthetic and that probably comes from their ten years of experience.  Here, ten years of archive prints are on display amongst a mass of shredded paper.  I couldn't help but be slayed by the playfulness of mintdesigns' message and actually beyond the prints, their original fabrics are also worthy of a mention (I can attest to that with a pair of hideously expensive trousers I bought in Parco on the trip‚Ķ but you'll see why they're worth the moolah later‚Ķ)

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Where to buy? Zozotown (worldwide shipping) and Nuan (in Japan only)

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SASQUATCHfabrix
Designers: Daisuke Yokoyama and Katsuki Araki
Established 2003
Yokoyama comes from an architectural design background and Araki came from textile designs and together they started off with graphic design t-shirts that has now evolved into a menswear brand that mines the world for inspiration, seeing the 'foreign' world through their Japanese eyes.

Sasquatch

SASQUATCHfabrix isn't short of international recognition with supporters like LN-CC in London.  If i were a man I'd be getting into SASQUATCHfabrix unique blends of culture-mixing ensembles.  They are just one of the many insanely good menswear labels that are thriving and catching international eyes in Tokyo right now.  They're a prime example of being able to look at cultures outside their own – Mexican, Tibetan, American casual and workwear, Scandinavian – and interpret these influences in their own unique way.  Like a Japanese tourist gone mad‚Ķ

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Where to buy? LN-CC (worldwide shipping) - I spot a jacket that's very Drive-esque just in case any of you are crushing Ryan Gosling

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Somarta
Designer: Tamae Hirokawa
Established 2006
Hirokawa was born in Kanagawa in 1976 and graduated from Bunka Fashion College.  After working in Issey Miyake's knitwear department, she founded SOMA DESIGN, a collective that specialises in fashion, graphics, sound and visual direction.  Her own label Somarta rose to fame through her 'Skin Series' of seamless knitted bodysuits and continues to push fabric techniques to the max.

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I was so happy to see Somarta's knitted bodysuits in their full glory at the exhibition as these were what caught my attention a few years ago.  I vaguely remember a paltry blog post.  It's easy to see how Somarta made a buzz when she first burst onto Tokyo's Fashion Scene and the trick now is to see how she takes her design to a commercial level. 

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Where to buy? Nuan (in Japan only)

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Theatre Products
Designers: Akira Takeuchi, Tayuka Nakanshi, Kao Kanamori
Established 2001
This design trio come from various disciplinary backgrounds but came together after exhibiting at the Little More Gallery and was established under the concept 'the world will become a theatre stage if we have theatrical clothes'.  Kitschy and whimsical themes form the basis of Theatre Products' collections.  Their presentations are known for innovation involving elaborate sets, wild locations and even AR technology. 

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An interactive installation will always get my vote and this 'shop' set up by Theatre Products made me want to shop immediately.  Sadly despite the real looking pricetags, nothing was for sale and instead a barcode reader was there to facilitate a tinkering of sound.  Each barcode would scan in as a musical note and so you could make up your own tune by going crazy with the scanner.  Rampantly, I ended up wanting to buy some Theatre Products and ducked into their Parco concession straight afterwards. 

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Where to buy? Zozotown (worldwide shipping) and Nuan (in Japan only)

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writtenafterwards
Designer: Yoshikazu Yamagata
Established 2006
Yoshikazu Yamagata studied at Central St Martins and worked for John Galliano as well as winning prizes at ITS#3 competition.  His collections are not based on seasonal delivery but rather he concentrates on asking what is fashion, normally in the form of installations that form basis for discussion and critique.

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writtenafterwards is another one that I wrote about in the early days of Style Bubble.  Yamagata is the one that created a giant bra for the sake of artistic/fashion-based expression. Why?  Well I'm not exactly sure.  Then again, I'm not exactly sure why I was peering inside a cottage where squirrels, badgers, polar bears and lions were hard at work on a weaving machine with piles of fake money on the floor.  A statement that combines notions of Animal Farm with child labour in factories today?  Who knows‚Ķ 
writtenafterwards is another one that creates curiosity in me by being fairly elusive. 

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Where to buy?  Nowhere as far as I'm aware‚Ķ

Comments (13)

  1. alexandre|p says:

    The Japanese creators are forward-looking, the fabrics, the cuts, the shapes, everything is Avant-garde! I am filled with admiration for their work, because the way they work is the way that we gonna work tomorrow.

  2. So much interesting talent in Japan these days, thanks for this in depth post!
    http://www.littleredbook-thatshaute.blogspot.com

  3. Deadly_bite says:

    Wonderful insight!
    I’ve been a fan of Tokyo’s craziest street styles for years, so h.Naoto is definitely the one in this list who has the biggest appeal for me (I love that chain display so much! *o*). However, the quality and the sheer originality of all the other pieces seen in this post is just undeniable.
    Japanese fashion is unique – I’ll always say it!
    Love! xx
    http://deadlysinsoutfits.blogspot.com/
    PS. I swear I thought there was something wrong with your blog when I first saw the pics of Anrealage’s display LOL

  4. Ophelia says:

    They all seem like really great designers!
    http://cestlavieophelia.blogspot.com/

  5. Emily says:

    Wow, this is a really great list! As I was reading, I was just thinking of all the effort that must have gone into it… it’s so great you write this blog.

  6. alexandre|p says:

    The Japanese creators are forward-looking, the fabrics, the cuts, the shapes, everything is Avant-garde! I am filled with admiration for their work, because the way they work is the way that we gonna work tomorrow.
    http://sleekdesignmontreal.blogspot.com/
    xx

  7. Oognaeast says:

    I always loved Asian designers :)

  8. Hello Susie!!:-)
    I just want you to know that I am a big fan of you!! i adore your blog sooooo much, and your style is really amazing!! You are the most stylish girl in the world!!
    A lot of hugs from me!

  9. Rosie says:

    oh my
    what an amazing collection of pictures
    they are soooo sooooo inspirational!
    it goes on forever!
    I love the blue dress with the bird and the crazy lace and the denim ball and the brides dresses and the streched pictures and of course you outfit!
    there are also many an amazing pair of shoes lurking in between them!
    ah i could go on forever about it!
    you got some serious talent girl and your such an amazing role model
    Rosie
    xxx
    check out my blog? x
    http://ohmyitsafashionblog.blogspot.com/

  10. OMG!!! You must have enjoyed the trip so much, Susie – you LUCKY girl!!! <3
    I love your little directory that you made... if I ever get to travel to JPN - this will be my ULTIMATE GUIDE!!!
    ^________^
    please check my blog out... F(art)SHiON
    http://f-artshion.blogspot.com
    I’d love to hear what you think… :)

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