DSM was closed last Thursday and Friday for their AW14 renewal, and I made my third visit back for their opening on Saturday.
Space - lots of rearrangement and cool new installations. You can see photos of the new spaces here.
Clothing - new collections are marvelous - definitely alot more interesting than my previous visits where there were only leftovers from SS14. I’ll try to keep it to the point as there are 6 floors and I don’t remember everything.
Gosha Rubchinskiy had some really nice furry sweaters and jackets, but other than that I still find the almost direct translation of Russian youth subculture a bit boring and lazy. He is new and needs time to figure out his direction I guess. Overall pretty fun clothing, nice to look through.
Paul Harnden - prices are too damn high ;_; I always feel really excited when looking through his clothes, iirc in “Pattern Mill” it is mentioned that there are random / inconsistent threads woven into the fabric by the machines or something like that (terrible explanation and probably a bit wrong, please excuse, I really need to look into Harnden more), so I tried to look for that in the pieces and ended up noticing and appreciating how beautiful the fabric actually is. Far away it just looks like crumpled, worn greys and browns, close up you can see that there are greens, yellows, blues, and a lot of delicate details. I will own a jacket one day… one day…
There was a freaking VENDING MACHINE inside the store, from which you could buy DSM totes from. How fun is that? $65 a pop though lol
I’ve always been really into Yohji and CdG - almost exclusively, actually. Ever since coming to Japan though, the exposure to so much diversity has opened my eyes and mind alot. I am definitely seeing alot of more tangible elements in clothing and designs that I have always been drawn to but have not been able to identify, if that makes sense.
So in this sense, DSM was heaven for me at this time. I discovered so many brands that sparked my interest. Alot of them had a handmade, rustic, organic feel. I made a note of them on my phone : Aganovich, Sunsea, Dosa, Marvielab, Casey Casey, Lena Lumelsky, Daniela Gregis, and Nemeth.
Among the most memorable were Casey Casey and Nemeth.
Casey Casey (formerly Casey Vidalenc) pieces were made from vintage materials or clothes - a concept that has really interested me for a while now. A waistcoat had a tag indicating that it was made from an old kimono. Stylistically really struck a chord with me as well - soon to be on my rakuten scavenging radar >:)
Nemeth - oh man. I had seen the name before somewhere - perhaps browsing rakuten and yahoo japan. I’d also seen it for sale at the CdG Trading Museum and DSM before the revamp, and it stayed at the back of my mind. This time though, it really stood out and caught my attention. I was determined to find out more about it. More on the brand in a few paragraphs.
The great thing about DSM is that it really is a habitat, a completely unique environment and feeding ground. You always read about and notice how smart CdG’s marketing is, but at DSM you really experience it and see it happen in front of your eyes. You are introduced to new designers that are similar to designers you already like, but are unique in their own way. It keeps things really exciting. There is such great synergy between many of the brands and spaces. “You like CdG Homme Plus? Well here is a rack of x that may interest you!” etc. etc. Very well curated, with something for everyone, very much like the CdG universe. Of course, on top of the wave of new talent there are the consistent main engines that keep things moving. Head down a few floors to the CdG Pocket / Play area and you literally see the engine turning - so much sales! I remember reading an interview with Adrian Joffe where he mentions that Play accounts for around 10% of the company’s entire profit. That was a while ago, I wonder what the numbers are like now.
As usual the staff were looking godly, but the staff member occupying the Thom Browne space really stood out to me this time. He was an older gentleman who looked to be in his 60s. Short with white hair and wrinkles in a Thom Browne suit and green soled loafers. He was a small man but gave off an incredible, calm presence. Stephen Jones headpieces were really fun. Something like $2K for the rabbit mask.
After DSM I headed to Matsuya and Hankyu Men’s department stores to check out the rest of the Yohji. I have now been to 6 out of 7 YYPH retailers in Tokyo, and each of them have been pleasant experiences. Never did I think it was possible to look that fantastic in an all - white outfit. One memorable staff member at YYPH Matsuya was in an all white runway setup, with long, greying hair tyed into a thick braid thrown over one side of his head. On a somewhat related note, I wish I could grow mad facial hair like the Japanese.
The next day, I went to Harajuku again to check out a few stores. Previously, I had only really walked around the tree - lined main street, (Omotesando dori) so this time I wanted to explore the alleyways and smaller surrounding neighborhoods.
This was alot more fun than walking along a straight road for 10 - 15 minutes, surrounded by blocks and blocks of traditional luxury retailers. Although there are many amazingly dressed people on Omotensando street, the alleyways had more interesting boutiques and gems to see. Lots of vintage stores, independent designers, and subcultural, niche stores.
One store I visited was RADD LOUNGE (click and follow their tumblr!). The staff member (dude with buzzcut who models alot of their looks on their tumblr / blog) started to chat with my friend and I about where we were from. When I mentioned that I was traveling from Canada, he pointed to a Ryan Hemsworth album hanging on the wall and told me that he was from Canada. I’ve said this before but Japanese fashion retail is so pleasant because you can really sense the genuine interest these people working here have for the brands and whatever cultural scenes they represent. They are not just average people here to sell you clothes, but something more like “interesting people with interesting hobbies and tastes who happen to work at an interesting clothing store”.
Nearby was a Dr. Martens store - incredible store that really represents the movement it was associated with. See pic here. Dr. Martens have become so widespread that they are just another fashion shoe now, but it was really inspiring to see this store stay true to the original times and culture it was born in.
CdG Trading Museum again, took a look at Elena Dawson and tried on a few CdG drop crotch pants. Dear god is the boiled polyester uncomfortable, especially when bunched up between your legs like that. Still looking for a pair in a softer fabric. Everything this season is in thick wools, leathers, and polyester. The changing rooms there are crazy tall, they make you feel like a midget in wonderland or something lol
Next door at visvim were 3 cobblers / craftsmen (+ woman) in full visvim outfits and aprons at work, hand stitching and changing the soles of a few pair of visvim shoes and boots. Cannot express how nice it was to just stand there for 10 minutes and appreciate the work.
Visvim’s main store, Free International Laboratory, was 3 minutes away from the visvim we were just at so we decided to take a look. Same stock, but really beautiful architecture and space.
Walking around nearby I noticed a little store on the corner of a block that looked interesting, so decided to take a look. We were greeted by the kindest looking staff member to a stock of workwear brands. We had a nice conversation, and he told us that they had an in - house brand named Varde77. There may have been something lost in translation but from what I made of it, Varde was the name or a certain street in the US, and 77 stood for the year 1977. One of the nicest guys I’ve met, and on our way out he gave us business cards for the store (HOMEDICT) with lots of funny typos on it. He even stepped outside the store to wave us goodbye. Again, beautiful people with genuine passion for what they do. It makes me so happy.
Next was the Nemeth flagship store. Also in Harajuku, I did some research beforehand and found that the brand was started by Christopher Nemeth in the UK, originating from DIY projects he undertook out of necessity. He had studied fine arts in university but was so poor that he could not afford to buy new clothes. He began to make his own from scavenged materials including linen mailbags found on the streets. His clothing began to gain interest and popularity among friends, so he put them in a stall at London’s Kensington Market (which is quite fitting, his clothes are now stocked at Dover Street Market which Rei has said was inspired by the idea of London’s Kensington Market). Later he was discovered by photographer Mark Lebon, and his clothes featured in an i - D editorial. Just when he was becoming known in the UK, he moved to Japan in 1986, and has worked there since until his passing in 2010.
I walked in without much thought. I had found the clothes to be quite unique but did not expect to discover one of my new favourite brands.
The atmosphere was dark, antique, but cozy. It felt like a house in a fairy tale, or children’s fantasy books. I was greeted by an older Japanese lady who at first glance looked very similar to Rei. She was in a black striped shirt and high waisted trousers, looking so experienced and giving off a mature, sophisticated aura. There was a sofa in the middle of the store, stripped bare down to its frame and springs.
I began to take a look at the clothes, and while definitely interesting and strange, I didn’t really notice anything I liked too much about them. I quickly passed over too many pieces just because I didn’t like the colour or the pattern, and it was too hard to even make out what alot of the clothes even looked like because of the strange tailoring. Curved arms, twisted legs.
I found a massive pair of pants that I wanted to try on and was led into the changing room, which I later found out was hand built by Christopher Nemeth himself. The walls were covered with framed paintings and illustrations, alot of which were Mr. Nemeth’s own work. The trousers were absolutely massive and I couldn’t even make out the silhouette inside the dimly lit and small changing room, so I stepped out and took a look at the mirror.
Boy was I in for a surprise. I was handed a belt to fasten the trousers as the waist was huge, and when worn with a belt they looked INSANE. I had never felt like this before. It was mad, but genius. They looked so confusing, so new, from all angles. It was a transformation. The pants were curved backwards, creating an incredible shape when placed on the body. The best part was that since they were so high waisted / had a long rise, they could be worn at many different lengths allowing for many different silhouettes. The lady demonstrated a method of wearing the belt in which the belt loops were not used, but the pants were instead gathered by hand around your midsection and the belt fastened over the excess fabric. (terrible explanation, I’m sorry) I had never fallen in love with a designer so quickly.
She showed me many different jackets which were like a god send. If you’ve read my previous posts you might have noticed the part where I mentioned that I loved Comme Comme and wished there was a male equivalent for that type of tailoring and cut, and this was it. (Btw something to note here is that most of Nemeth’s clothing is unisex) One of my favourites was a 4 buttoned, raglan sleeved jacket that had an A - lined shape from the sides, very much like Comme Comme. It was Olive, and as beautiful as the colour was I wanted a black variation to go well with the rest of my wardrobe.
I placed a special order for the black variation, and am planning on getting the pants as well. The entire time I was in the store (About 1 hour), the lady was very nice and we shared a nice conversation (Although my friend did most of the talking and translated everything) which I will stress again, completely elevates a retail experience to the next level. Individual to individual interaction, not a shallow salesperson to customer interaction. Feels like you are talking to a new friend.
Afterwards, I hit up some second hand stores in Shibuya / Jinnan again and went home right away because it started to rain heavily.
All night, I couldn’t stop thinking about Nemeth. I couldn’t stop the next day either. Even now as I type this I cannot stop thinking about it, and I want to go back soon to pick up my jacket.
I did some more research since, and found that the lady in the store was the late Christopher Nemeth’s wife, whom he had met in the UK many decades ago. She was the reason he decided to move to Japan. Beautiful. It’s a shame that he is no longer with us, but apparently he left behind an archive of many unreleased pieces that are coming into production after his passing. I found a particularly interesting piece of fashion history while researching his work which I will post about in the future. (Corey, if you’re reading this, you will love it!)
That’s all for now, I feel like there is not too much else left to see in Tokyo in regards to fashion, at least for me, right now. Too much fashion can be inspiring yet exhausting at the same time. Maybe I will get up to visiting those tourist destinations I was talking about. Maybe not.
I’ve been too tired and lazy to make daily updates, so here’s what I’ve been up to for the past 4-5 days.
On my third day, I went to DSM first thing in the morning. Took the elevator to the top floor and worked my way down. I’d read so much about how curated and creative the new DSMNY space was, so it was a bit of a let down in that aspect - Ginza didn’t have as many distinct sections or designer “universes” than I’d imagined. Regardless, there are alot of very cool installations - a pair of HUGE Ganryu drop crotch jeans (Google “DSM Ginza Ganryu” for an idea - at least 2x2m large), a wall of visvim (?) patchwork and tapestry, and a wooden cupboard hut that opens to reveal a fitting room, to name a few. SS14 was on sale up to 40% - found nothing that I liked in particular until I came across the Craig Green section on the second floor. All pieces had sold out with only 4 remaining on the rack, apparently he is extremely popular in Japan. I had been so inspired by the sheer creativeness of the Japanese fashion environment, tried them on, and bought them on a whim. It is definitely a really cool piece but I definitely don’t have the wardrobe or the creativity to really do it justice - yet. Regardless of what I decide to do with them, I guess it will just be another learning experience.
Needless to say the shop staff were splendid, and while they were usually dressed to fit the section / floor they were representing, a good majority of them were in Comme. You feel this ecstasy just being around them - knowing that you are amongst people who are really devoted to the same things you are. One thing I’ve noticed so far is that most of the female staff members at CdG and its branches are dressed in the general style of Comme Comme, and it really made me realize how good Comme Comme looks. I’m telling you Rei - Men need an equivalent line! Black, Shirt, and Homme Deux just don’t do it for me. If I was a girl, Comme Comme is all I would wear my entire life.
The first floor was the Black CdG section, and all these experiences I had so far of seeing staff looking absolutely breathtaking really made me want to go full Comme. I have an extremely small wardrobe, and expanding it was one of my main reasons for coming to Tokyo. It mainly consists of Yohji with 1 CdG piece so far because I’ve found Yohji alot easier to wear, but I really want to start investing in more Comme now - especially Black. The female staff member on the floor was wearing a black Comme blouse with a frilly pink Comme skirt and green Adidas Stan Smiths. Seriously, who even thinks of outfit coordinations like that? Well the Japanese do. And she looked absolutely fantastic, I fell in love.
Went back to DSM a few days later only to find that their biannual “tachiagari”, or full store revamp, had not happened yet - and the SS14 sale was still on with only a few FW14 Comme lines that had arrived. The same girl was in an ivory Comme Knit, black frilly Junya (not sure) multi - layered skirt, and the same sneakers. Marvelous. Half my time on this visit was spent looking at the staff.
Onto Jinnan - a very cool neighborhood in Shibuya. Quite a concentration of second hand stores here, something like 4 or 5.
The good thing about second hand shopping is that it’s extremely fun going through the racks, they are full of surprises. Being able to try them on is a really big advantage too - you learn the most from actually trying on things in real life. No matter how much you think you have good taste and know what looks good, it’s a completely different ball park actually being able to execute that in real life.
The bad thing is though that the stock is usually quite limited from store to store, and unless you live in Tokyo and check these stores very often, you’re probably better off checking Rakuten and Yahoo Japan regularly as shops will have their stock from multiple locations online, whereas irl you might have some more luck at some branches than others.
Prices are cheap, there are gems to be found, and it’s hella fun. What else is there to say?
Visited the Kapital flagship in Ebisu the day after, I think the Kapital Legs and Kapital Duffle stores were nearby, but I didn’t look for them. In retrospect I really wish I would have, but oh well, I can always go back.
I don’t really know much about workwear / heritage / americana brands, but Kapital kind of feels like Visvim’s older brother. Both brands are great and I love the materials and colours - but while Visvim kind of feels like an “evolution” of workwear elements, Kapital really seems to stay true to the classic spirit. Lots of antiques on display here, as well as their amazing boro fabrics which I was told were not actually vintage, but patched with new fabric, handstitched, and hand distressed.
If I was not a Yohji / CdG guy or a Comme Comme girl, I would definitely (want to) be a workwear dude. Maybe these forms of me exist in alternative universes. These things are not mutually exclusive, and I am not saying that one must pick and stick to one “style”. My point is that right now I like alot of different things and I’d like to build a good foundation of what I like the most right now before exploring other elements that I have found to be interesting.
Fast forward to today - I was notified of a Yohji SS14 clearance sale starting (which is really weird timing, their AW14 started already), so went to check it out at the Aoyama main store. Before that though, I hit up CdG Aoyama again as they are on the same street, minutes away from each other.
Considerably lower number of staff this time as I guess the new season excitement has died down a bit. One of the main ladies I talked about last time was there again, this time in the look 1 monster sized blazer + knit piece (inner knit and outer jacket are attached). She was not model height so of course the piece came down to her ankles, but holy smokes did she look great. I am running out of adjectives to describe these people - seriously, buy a plane ticket and come see for yourself. Anyways I had a short but pleasant conversation with her - alot of the staff are quite fluent in English. I asked how the sleeves were “used”, and she demonstrated by rolling it up multiple times. Also tried on a shorter, cropped variation of the jacket but it looked pretty silly on me. Would definitely like to wear mainline women’s pieces in the future. The look 1 Jacket ran around $2100, and I was tempted to spend my entire remaining budget on it - it looked SO. GOOD.
Not a huge fan of Homme Plus this season - a bit too simple for me to buy at full retail price. But if you look back at older H+ collections, they have always been quite “normal” in comparison to what was going on with Women’s mainline at the time. So while there have been quite a few memorable, ambitious H+ collections in the past decade, I wouldn’t really say that AW14 is “out of character” or unusual or anything. Maybe even Rei needs time away from constant thoughts of pure creation.
Tried on what I thought to be the best piece from the collection - the wide pants. And holy shit were they wide. I am around 5’11, and an XS came down to the floor and completely swamped my feet. I was told that you were supposed to have them tailored afterwards to the length of your preference. Each pant leg must have been around the waist size of regular pants.
There was this one other female staff member I saw last time, with a short, wavy bowlcut, thin round glasses, and dressed in the very “cutesy” Tricot / Comme Comme style. They all have so much individual character and charm - I really fell in love with them. Some other memorable staff members were older ladies and gentlemen who looked to be at least 50 - 60. When I am old I am still going to be wearing my Yohji and Comme just like them. Truly inspiring.
Off to the Yohji sale!
Oh man, I wish I’d gotten there earlier. Huge slashes on alot of things, with a decent amount of stock. As low as the prices were, did not find anything that I was really in love with so held off for now. Spent some time looking around at the staff and other customers then headed to the alley behind the store where the Undercover flagship was.
Undercover - I had expected a cooler retail space from a brand with (literally) an alternate universe going on (Jun’s Graces and GILA), so overall was kind of a let down - collections were pretty meh as well. I really liked JohnUndercover though, lots of bright colours and oversized tees. I like oversized.
I like the fun aspect of Undercover as well - upstairs were all these foam clutches in different shapes and prints - one that was shaped and printed to look like a dictionary, one shaped like an apple, a glass bottle, a wrapped candy, and a bunch of other cute things. I bought a BIC lighter printed with the words “NO IMAGE / Undercover” for 500 yen / $5. I don’t even smoke but I just had to - such a fun little toy. Really like this concept of designer toys or objects that can be bought lightly.
Walking back to Harajuku Station via Omotesando Street I visited some of the stores I went to on my first day - CdG Good Design Shop, MMM, and CdG Trading Museum.
After a few days in Tokyo and seeing so many well dressed people, you kind of get used to it. I’m not as blown away as I was when I first arrived, the culture shock, or excitement rather, has died down a bit. Regardless it is fantastic that there is so much fashion energy here.
GDS - Reinforcing the idea of permanent collections and designer toys / objects that I like. CdG Towels, sweaters, rain jackets, and other things that are consistent items that do not cost an arm and a leg. Most tempting was a clear plastic CdG branded tote for about $10.
MMM - did not notice this last time but every wall of the store is lined with fake white doors that open to reveal glass walls in which clothes can be hung to be seen from outside the store. Still a strong impression of atmosphere even though it was my second visit.
Trading Museum - same stuff as last time with new Homme Plus AW14. This is probably the store next to DSM with the best dressed CdG staff. All of them were in new AW14 pieces, and I didn’t want to leave - let me stare at these people forever!
Hit up Isetan Men’s afterwards because I was told at Yohji Aoyama that the sale was ongoing at all of their locations.
Arrived to find hundreds of people, and realized that today was the SS14 clearance sale. It felt like boxing day - only checked out Yohji and CdG. Yohji unfortunately all sold out of the good stuff - I got there about 8 hours after opening and 1 hour before closing, so I am a bit devastated by that :( CdG on the other hand I was not too interested in this season and I had seen plenty of it at many other stores, but still the prices were ridiculously low. $1500 jackets reduced to $400. CdG had the most customers, and clothes were sprawled out everywhere. Kind of made me sad to see that.
Headed home afterwards and am typing this up now. Travel has been great so far but I also just want to go home soon, there’s no place like home.
2 Weeks left in Japan and I’m not sure what else I’ll be up to. Not really interested in the typical tourist locations but might give it a try. Who knows?
2 things I forgot to include in yesterday’s post :
1. Dropped by Visvim, the colours / dyes are incredible and I can see why it continues to be so popular even with the continuously rising pricepoint. With all the blue we’ve seen last month during Paris Men’s SS15, Visvim really made me consider getting some blues included in my wardrobe.
2. Walked past the Ambush crew in Harajuku yesterday. They exuded so much swagger, and the sound of all their chains / necklaces clashing together with every step was very memorable.
Moving onto today :
Checked out this underground gothic boutique called Bedrock that was hidden within a cafe. Alot of creepy and sinister props and objects, with the most impressive being a giant botanical garden within glass walls, like an amphibian zoo habitat. It was quite early in the morning but they were blasting scary, deathly music. They had an impressive collection of Rick Owens footwear : Plinth boots, Spiral zips, Pony hair (?) Wedges, and much more. I love the sheer mass and heavy proportions of his boots. Not a big fan of the sneakers.
Next was Yohji, to pick up my pants and check out the new collection. All the sales staff were in brand new FW14 outfits, and dear lord they looked incredible, and styled the patterned pieces so well. The first delivery only included about 20 ~ 25 pieces, none of which interested me in particular. The prints are just not for me. Ozawa, the sales staff who helped me out yesterday, told me that the Yasuto Sasada collaboration pieces are all hand painted individually, with every piece being made to order for around $40000. “Order, onegaishimas” he joked afterwards, and we all had a good laugh. Still really awkward with my Japanese but managed to thank the staff before I headed up to the main floor where the Women’s collection was. By this time I don’t think I need to even bother with talking about how sales staff look because they all look so good that I am actually so touched and awestruck in every store. There were a few older female customers in Yohji trying things on, but for the most part Yohji was very empty.
Comme des Garçons. Oh boy.
There are alot of shop staff here, I think I saw around 10. At least one per every big line - Comme des Garçons, Comme Comme, Homme Plus, Homme Deux, Junya Watanabe MAN, Junya CdG. Did not see any Tricot, Ganryu, Noir Kei Nonomiya, or Black. There was a section for Harnden and other non - CdG designers, though. The coolest thing is that the sales staff all represent the respective lines so excellently. The Homme Plus guy is in Homme Plus, the Junya guy in Junya, the Comme Comme girls in Comme Comme, the Junya girls in Junya, etc. etc. most notable were the two ladies in Women’s mainline, whom I have seen before in photos. I am guessing they are the managers, or some position of authority. Dear lord I just cannot talk about them as words do not do them justice. Buy yourself a ticket to Japan to see these lovely ladies. The craziest of crazy runway pieces look so natural on them and so heart wrenchingly twisted and beatiful. I could not take my eyes off them. I did also notice that most of the runway pieces seem to be scaled down or alot smaller than they appear on the runway, with alot of more commercial and “wearable” iterations of the same concept / idea. But fuck “wearability”, throw that idea out the window. Once you walk into the store you feel removed from reality - like you have entered the Comme des Garçons alternate universe. Common sense does not apply here, and you are surrounded by sheer creative genius design as well as a team of passionate individuals who manifest that spirit. There are many customers too - alot of whom were obvious Comme devotees. One of the most memorable customers was an old Japanese lady with a dyed bobcut, round glasses, SS14 dress and shoe covers. Also saw a young boy trying on Junya CdG. Comme is truly ageless, genderless, and timeless. The stock was not too great because I am not a fan of Homme Plus this season, but the low Japanese retail prices are very tempting. Will definitely come back often, even just to see what the sales staff were wearing. By far the most impressive team.
Back in Harajuku, I sat down along the sidewalk railing in and was watching people pass by when I saw Chinese supermodel Sui He walk out of the convenience store in front of me and sit down a few meters beside me on the railing. I told my friend, “Hey, that girl is a famous international model”, but just as we were about to ask her for a photo, a few other people including a photographer gathered around to which her male friends responded by shooing everyone away and leaving. She was absolutely gorgeous.
What happened afterwards is somewhat of a blur - a combination of being tired, not being familiar with the streets and directions, and there being just so much to see around resulted in me not being able to focus on any one thing. Hit up around 5 second hand stores, all of them with so much CdG. Again treasure hunting is super fun and prices are very cheap.
Did some more walking around then headed home. Tokyo is super expensive, I’ve been here a little over 48 hours and I have already spent $180 on miscellaneous things like food and transportation. Don’t know if I can last another 3 weeks without becoming completely broke lol
Here is a quote from Amy Spindler from the book “Japan Fashion Now” I believe, where she talks about Tokyo being the international capital of fashion.
Being the capital of fashion isn’t about who has the boutiques or the runway shows or the fashion magazines, although Tokyo has plenty of those. To be the true capital of fashion, fashion must dominate everything. It must be the passion of the masses and the connoisseurs. It must be the primary mode of expression beyond art, film, music. It must be a place where fashion is treated like a necessity, not a luxury… It’s the only city in the world where creating fashion is treated as an intellectual pastime. Ask who is the greatest living artist in Tokyo and a surprising number of people won’t name a writer or painter; they’ll name Rei Kawakubo. Or Junya Watanabe.
This is so true in every aspect. There is a high regard for fashion in Japanese culture as a legitimate craft and form of expression - while in many other cultures, it is just seen as “extremely overpriced and mindless consumerism and pretentious elitism blah blah blah”.
Should be off now to get washed and ready to hit up Dover Street Market Ginza, who is currently having their SS14 sale in preparation for their bi - annual complete rehaul of the store for the new season.
After a terribly boring month in Korea, I finally flew into Tokyo yesterday evening.
The last 24 hours have been THE most inspiring day of my entire life.
Japan is very aesthetic in alot of ways - everything is very neat, tidy, and “mature” if that makes any sense - nothing feels uncomfortably forced. You can definitely feel the distinct Japanese sensibilities assimilated into everything.
Moving onto what I came for - the fashion. Oh my god, the fashion.
First thing in the morning I went and sat in on my friend’s International Relations class at Waseda University.
Afterwards we took a bus to Harajuku and started walking down the main street.
Dear lord, I have never been filled with so much joy and amazement in my life.
There were so, SO many well dressed people just hanging around and lining the streets. And I am not just talking about “over - 1000 - tumblr - notes - worthy” well dressed. These people are on the next fucking level, nothing I have ever seen can even compare to this. You literally just cannot help but shake your head in disbelief at how amazing they look and how creative their styling is. I could not take it all in at once and had to walk a bit slower just to really appreciate everyone’s style. The best part is no two people look the same, and everyone really has that aura of confidence around them - they really rock their clothes with such sureness and commitment. I will go as far as to even say that you won’t have experienced fashion culture in its fullest until you visit Japan. Here, fashion is not just a hobby, it is not just “looking good” - it is a powerful passion that is truly integrated into their lifestyle and culture. Just being in that environment and seeing so many people so uncompromising and dedicated to fashion really had an impact on me.
Next were the retail spaces.
So much of the retail experience is influenced by the presence of the shop staff, and in Japan it’s truly inspiring to see all the staff members so passionate about and representative of their respective brands so well. Their style is also off the fucking CHARTS and seeing their outfits really sells the brand to you more effectively than any other retail method I’ve seen so far.
First visited the CdG Trading Museum - space filled with special displays, alot of which is not for sale. The 99%IS x CdG 1977 DIY Limited Edition Leather Jacket collection looked fantastic, and the first time I’ve felt that Korean elements in clothing was cool (There were some old school punk phrases / quotes written in Hangul). Really interesting experience and it really just felt like a Museum as the name suggests, where you can take your time just appreciating the design of the garment instead of feeling like you are obliged to make a purchase.
Next was the CdG Good Design Shop, also a pleasing experience which made me strongly realize that clothing that seems mundane can really come to life when you see it in person. Not much on display to see here but a really solid and consistent store. I like the idea of a “permanent collection” that they demonstrate there, with pieces that are available all the time instead of just being seasonal. As someone who prefers having a concise, uniform wardrobe, this concept is really appealing to me. iirc Saint Laurent has a “permanent collection” too.
Maison Martin Margiela happened to be on the same floor, and I am really glad I read through an MMM book at a bookstore in Korea beforehand and learned a bit about the context of the brand. The atmosphere was extremely beautiful, like I had walked into some dreamland hospital. Piano music interrupted by subtle periods of static noise was playing the entire time, while the ceiling was lined with mirrors and a grid of perfectly round lightbulbs. Accessories were displayed in hollowed out Grand Pianos while the clothes sat on plain white racks. The sales staff were all in their lab coats - and good god did they look heavenly. MMM has really defined their “cult” well and the invisible sense of community still lives on after Martin’s departure. Almost felt like crying, it was truly an extraordinary experience that felt out of this world.
CdG was next on the list but we visited Ragtag along the way. Tokyo truly is the fashion Mecca of the world, there is just so much availability. Didn’t find anything I liked but just looking through the racks as if I was treasure hunting was really fun.
CdG Aoyama was closed early today ; _ ; … BUT IN PREPARATION FOR THE FW14 COLLECTION DROPPING TOMORROW!!! I’d already seen enough of SS14 in Korea (CdG Seoul, 10 Corso Como) so I didn’t really care. When I got there the shop staff were setting up the new displays and mannequins with the new collections displayed on them. Cannot wait to go tomorrow, and hopefully there will be lots of other customers there so I can see how they are dressed as well.
Yohji… Oh man, Yohji… Travelled halfway across the world for this. While not very spectacular in interior design, it oddly reflected Yohji’s spirit well and felt very homely, mature, and timeless. THE MEN’S SHOP STAFF HERE ARE GODS. THEY ARE JUST GODS. I COULD NOT TAKE MY EYES OFF THEM. I did not even realize how straight up COOL AS HELL it was possible for human beings to be before I saw them. On this note I cannot wait to see the CdG staff tomorrow. Anyways, I took a brief look around the limited stock (Today was the last day of SS14. Yohji, like CdG, will re - open tomorrow with their FW14 release) to find that they had reissued the most popular pants from SS12 and SS13 - Hakamas & “Balloon” pants. Balloon pants in rayon was 46000 JPY, about 50% of international retail price. Needless to say I fell in love with them, but had my purchase held off until tomorrow because I’d forgotten my passport for the foreigner tax discount. While I was trying them on, the staff member helping me gave me styling tips about how I could play with the silhouette in relation to different shirt lengths. I really wish I’d not been such a lazy fuck and picked up some basic conversational Japanese before I came on my trip, it would have been really pleasant to talk to the staff without coming off as a baka gaijin lol I was too nervous to even thank him as I was leaving. On the way out I took a brief stroll around the Womenswear and I can’t help but feel that Yohji’s business decisions are not the best, there is just too much incoherence going on with the introduction of random sub - lines imo. Extremely excited to go back tomorrow for FW14.
Last on the list was Rick Owens. Not much to say, Rick is Rick and does Rick really. fucking. well. His materials are really nice, the tshirts are soft as hell. I can see why people always talk about how it feels to slide into one of them. Cool environment too, just wish the techno music had been playing a bit louder. Oh, Passport, Blood (?), and Ivory (?) are beautiful colours.
It’s 1:30 AM and I am tired as hell. I feel like writing alot more but I should probably head to sleep.
Summary : Japanese people are the undisputed gods of cool. Yes it’s exactly how you would imagine it, and more. Shop staff have a big influence on your retail experience, and the Japanese have really gotten it right. Take note, rest of the world.
Will report back tomorrow with my FW14 experience.
Very rare footage of ”6.1 THE MEN”, the joint presentation of Yohji Yamamoto Pour Homme and Comme des Garçons Homme Plus F/W 1991 in Tokyo on June 1st, 1991.
This was the first time that both designers had presented their menswear in Japan. The shows were modeled by musicians, actors, and various other creatives - even some members of Yohji’s company, if I am not mistaken.
The two men being interviewed in the video are (in order) Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi of the legendary electronic trio Yellow Magic Orchestra, with the famed Ryuichi Sakamoto being the third member.
Below is a more thorough explanation of the show’s theme and significance, followed by an extremely valuable and hilarious first hand account of the show and a certain happening backstage, told by German guitarist Ottmar Liebert who was invited to model for the show - Courtesy of Asobu from Styleforum.
A/W 1991, as far as I know, showed in Paris at the end of January 1991 and then showed again together with CdG in Tokyo on June 1st and called “6.1 THE MEN”. Still one of the most talked about and coveted collections by Yohji fans in Japan from what I can tell, many of the pieces still catch quite large sums on the second hand market. The theme was “war”, several musicians including Charles Lloyd and John Cale (who also modeled in A/W04 btw) modeled the show and apparently sang some antiwar song together at the final part of the show (the collection was created and shown during the gulf war). Some of the signature pieces was the leather jacket with women prints on the back (he referenced this in “my dear bomb” as well, when he talked about nose art of american fighter planes being pictures of “girlfriends and sexy ladies” when heading into battle), zipper jackets and Joan Miró inspired blazers.
This is a great story from Ottmar Liebert about his experience when he walked the show, well worth the read.
"In 1991 the Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, together with Comme des Garçons, was putting on the first men’s fashion show in Japan and asked me to be one of his runway models. At the time Yohji prefered to use actors and musicians over models and he has also used athletes in the past. I flew to Tokyo from Los Angeles and was picked up at the airport and taken to a very nice hotel in Tokyo, which Frank Lloyd Wright had designed in the sixties. The show took place in the Olympic swim stadium of Tokyo, where the pool had been covered by a runway stage. On each end of the runway a huge wall was erected. Behind one wall Yamamoto was set up and behind the other wall Comme des Garçons.
Comme des Garçons : Dennis Hopper, Trumpet player Don Cherry and his son Eagle-Eye Cherry (a TV presenter in the UK and not yet the pop star), British actor Julian something or other, Keyboardist Morgan Fisher (who later produced the wonderful CD “Miniatures” to which I contributed a piece)…
Yohji Yamamoto : Charles Lloyd, Edgar Winter, a member of YMO (one of Japan’s most famous bands, which also featured Ryuichi Sakamoto)… Yohji and his people treated everyone wonderfully. And then he made a mistake on the day of the show.
Thinking we were all men instead of the stars some felt they were, he offered as part of the refreshments Japanese cans of beer. In Japan cans are tiny, they are cute and many of the guys probably thought that one couldn’t possibly get drunk from drinking tiny cans of beer….well, if you drink a dozen of them you do get drunk, you know! And then a British pop singer asked a French rapper to turn down the crap on his boom-box and the French guy responded with his fist, which fractured the pop guy’s jaw. While he was rushed to the hospital Yohji’s people frantically searched for somebody who could wear his clothes…. In the end one of Yohji’s French employees took his place and wore the clothes well. I felt terribly embarassed. Here we were in one of the great cities of the world, guests of a real artist, and these men had to get into a fight. What a way to repay Yohji’s kindness! But fame is fleeting and karma instant.. I never heard from the British pop star and the French rapper again…
I remember how amazed we were at the Japanese audience. Some had waited since the early morning hours and yet, when the doors opened the first in line went to the last seat instead of claiming the best seat in the house. It was almost biblical…
One thing I remember about the show itself is that Yohji, who is a guitarist himself and also produced the soundtrack, had installed sound triggers along the runway. We were invited to step on those triggers, each of which controlled a different sound that would blast over the music. Car crashes, industrial sounds, drum breaks, glass breaking, guitar riffs etc…I also remember that the Brit who was walking ahead of me was drunk or high or both and thought that the crowd’s enthusiasm was directed at him instead of the clothing…I remember three or four people helping me change into the next outfit, grabbing shirts, pulling on shoes…I remember the late Don Cherry walking around on the runway like a court jester and greeting the other Comme des Garçons walkers…”
Times when Fashion really seemed to be about the passion and love for the beautiful creative work of these designers. Inspiring.
Actually it should be WIWE / what I wear everyday because this is literally the only outfit I wear these days but I’m in trouble because I have no summer clothing for my trip to Korea and Japan in a month and I hate buying things that I don’t absolutely love and wear out 100%
Comme des Garçons runway staff uniforms from various seasons during the 1980s. These pieces were produced for Comme des Garçons staff members to wear backstage during collection presentations, somewhat like Margiela’s white lab coats.
I had the SS86 satin bomber robe with lining sleeves but sold it to my friend Corey, the one and only person I know who loves Comme des Garçons as much as I do.
I have the SS87 Homme Plus piece as shown, but in an attempt to loosen up the creases that gave it an extremely boxy shape, I created a rather large tear in the armpit area. It cannot be sewn or anything because of its PVC composition, and the sleeves / front panel being 1 pattern piece. I will definitely repair it but I am heartbroken that I have disrespected and damaged an invaluable piece of Comme des Garçons history ; - ;
LS: Your menswear always feels a little bit tongue in cheek, there’s always a wink. Is that intentional?
YY: Yes. In the world, in life, 90 per cent of people are spending a so - called ordinary life. Have a family, have a child, and get educated: ordinary. Grow up: ordinary, and get married: ordinary. And getting a job: ordinary and getting old: ordinary, and getting sick: ordinary, and going to the grave: ordinary. More than 90 per cent. This is not my customer. The people who choose freedom, these are special people, or these are the sad people, you can say. Freedom carries a strong responsibility. If you deny the way of ordinary families, you have to find how you make people sad, how you are hurting people. What you are creating or what you are saying is not understood, so you will always feel isolation. It’s always walking on the edge of life, every day. I call this ‘outsider of life’. So let’s say my men’s line is ‘outsider’ look, ‘outsider’ fashion.