Login:
Password:
  •  

Tokyo Girls Collection

Populism and Real Clothes
01 June 2007
Introduction
The annual collection show for young women's "real clothes" is changing the way a generation thinks about fashion.
The Fourth Annual Tokyo Girls Collection was held on March 3 at the Yokohama Arena, attracting an audience of almost 22,000. Press and members of industry organizations may have been well represented, but the majority of the crowd was normal everyday women in their late teens and early 20s. These nominal "fashion shows" have the energy of rock concerts, but not just because of the guest musical performances. Girls congregated from all over Japan to see their heroes — models Yuri Ebihara and Rina Fujii from their beloved fashion magazines (Can Cam, ViVi and JJ) — prance upon the stage in real life.

Created in 2004 by Xavel — the company behind cyber apparel retailer fashionwalker.com — the Tokyo Girls Collection events were planned to give proper exhibition to domestic brands that supply the “real clothes” worn by Japanese girls in their daily life. In this, the organizers and participating brands are challenging the idea that runway shows and collections are the sole conceptual property of European import brands, domestic high fashion, and indie avant designers. And in this bottom-up rebellion, they are wilding succeeding.

Some History

Over the last several decades, there has been a growing synthesis of two major conceptualizations of "fashion" in Japan. High fashion – composed of "designer brands" — started to become a familiar aspirational item to Japanese middle-class consumers in the 1960s. At first-rate department stores like Seibu, shoppers were able to browse European luxury apparel in the same retail space as their everyday household goods. Although mostly unaffordable at the time, high-end brands became convenient symbols of economic success for the society as a whole. Incomes and taste standards rose up to a point in the mid-1980s where the DC Boom (DC = “designer and character”) swept Japan and made domestic designer brands the fashion standard. With the Plaza Accord doubling the value of the Yen in a short time, "normal" consumption of the world’s greatest luxury brands followed in tow. An important note: the locus of legitimacy for the high fashion stream is clearly overseas — especially Europe (Paris and Milan). Even the dominant domestic brands like Comme des Garçons or Issey Miyake won most of their local esteem after widespread international recognition.

Running parallel to high fashion has been the street brands which range from the casual Ivy League fashion of Van to the myriad sub-cultural looks of social delinquents and their middle-class imitators. In 1988, after a few years of being displaced by the DC Boom, casual anti-fashion made its way back to the top through the Shibu-Kaji (Shibuya Casual) trend. Epoch-making street brands have mostly been domestic, and while Japanese fashion may take influence from foreign trends, the codification of style usually happens at the hands of Japanese actors — whether bottom-up subcultures or top-down magazines.

The 1990s explosion in street-wear — especially the brands geographically based in the Ura-Harajuku neighborhood — saw a synthesis of the two trends in the form of high-priced casual brands with foreign recognition. These brands used limited-edition supply to build an aura of exclusivity similar to high- fashion. These days, several post-streetwear brands like Under Cover, Number Nine, and N. Hoolywood have managed to win high-fashion approval for clothing that began life within a street brand association (although you cannot deny that these brands boast superior concepts and loftier aspirations than their meat-and-potatoes t-shirt-and-sneakers peers.)
< Previous Page
1 of 3