In Tokyo, the end of March and early April means that it’s fashion week and exhibit season, with a flurry of brands revealing their 2017aw collections on and off the runways. There is one collection that *especially* eschews the traditional catwalk for something more unique and surprising. That collection is called “The Happening” and while they brought it last year, their goods are now hitting the shelves and the new collections are hitting the stores (shout out to Destination Tokyo in Shinjuku!). So here is a belated but still VERY worthy look back at when fashion took over the Center-gai in Shibuya.
Just the other evening, I was walking home through the busy Shibuya neighborhood. I was in a chic but casual navy blue dress, black tuxedo vest and heels, and pastel pink handbag. It was definitely erring on the side of “fashion”-y, but nothing avantgarde or gothic. Still, this dark ensemble was worn much to the chagrin of some random Japanese dude on the street. He couldn’t help but make sure I knew how annoyed he was with my outfit.
“Excuse me, but…. What’s up with those clothes? Did you come from a funeral or something?”
There comes a point where trends become so heated that they boil over into a frenzy of incoherent parts. The streets in Tokyo have been like an open air discotheque, from the awe-inspiring costumes of decora or Shironuri, down to casual POP looks of Yume Kawaii. It is the era of “anything goes”. Editor in chief of FRUiTS Shoichi Aoki even told me that it has become so disjointed that he suspects something big should happen soon. “It was like this right before Harajuku style appeared too, in the 90s.”
I have had my own heyday in colorful Harajuku street style, and it was some of the most fun I have ever had experimenting with “anything goes” fashion styling in my entire life. Street fashion has become like a 96-color box of crayons, with every shade represented. But no color in particular stands out among all the others.
The Happening is a ferocious group of Tokyo-based designers who will not go on without a round of awe and applause. Headed by stylist Kyoko Fushimi, they meld technology with wild artisanship, some good ol’ fashion and showmanship in a battle cry against the status quo. While I am still getting press releases from new brands (and old ones) lowering the bar of fashion by to trying to be “your everyday casual brand”, these guys throw “casualness” out of the window and walk all over it.
And while designers of yore may have quietly gone about their “art” in the workshop, The Happening stages guerrilla shows on the streets of Tokyo, making sure their voice is heard loud and clear. Have you heard it yet?
These are the young and the beauti-weird. These under-30 designers from around Japan and the world, presented some of the most conceptual art-as-fashion collections at Tokyo Designers Week. TDW is one of the most anticipated and attended design & technology fairs in the world, and it partners with TENT London and Milano Salone every year. The Asia Awards is a newer venture that culls the brightest fashion designers, musicians, artists and product designers from around the world to present to 80 top professionals on the judge panel. I was part of the fashion group for the past year and it was quite intense!
In celebration of the publication of the Tokyo Designers Week edition photo book, here are the best designers who are destined for great things. (the photo book is available at Tsutaya *the photos below are by the designers, with no relation to the book)