By Barry Crisp
May 15, 2006
|A young woman in fashion - wearing a randoseru and using a mobile phone.|
The idea in the UK is that anything Japanese is just instantly cool, even the Kawaii (cute) clothes. What puts everyday Japanese fashion on the forefront of the modern day market is that the Japanese are so willing to experiment with unconventional styles. Young women in the UK, and most commonly university students, have warmly embraced it. "The Japanese style is trashy and fabulous, trendy and funky", said Heather Simmons, an art student at a university in London.
Shops like MUJI and UNIQLO are very popular in the UK. Plenty of stylish Japanese can be found shopping at the JAPAN CENTRE - a small three-floored building consisting of a supermarket, restaurant, bookshop, Internet cafe, and travel agency - right in the heart of London, Piccadilly Circus. In addition to clothes shops and shopping centres, the Japanese magazine, FRUiTS, is a favorite amongst westerners, and can even be viewed online.
Evana Achato, a 24 year-old personal stylist for GAP, works at the Covent Garden, London. "I think the Japanese style is great! The Japanese tend to wear over-sized clothes, which is something I like. And definitely Japanese people and clothes influence me", she said. Her own style consisted of lots of layers, leggings, and a belt at the waist, which is noticeably a Japanese way of dressing.
Within the fashion world, Rei Kawakubo (the creator of COMME des GARCONS) and Yohji Yamamoto are said to have changed the society of Tokyo and Japan by diversifying fashion for consumers, (women in particular) and releasing them from the spider web of conformity. For around twenty years, COMME des GARCONS have hosted fashion shows twice a year exhibiting clothes and concepts that are new and intriguing to serve as inspiration to consumers and fashion stylists' worldwide. Yamamoto's shop YOHJI YAMAMOTO and Kawakubo's DOVER STREET MARKET in London are famous and frequented by Europeans.
Known as trendsetters, the British and the French pride themselves on being at the top of the fashion world list. Therefore, the UK has quietly embraced the Japanese style and merged it into a European way of dressing. The oriental influence has a subtle but constant presence in Europe as seen in the young wearing a Japanese style top with normal western jeans. In turn, magazines such as Numero and i-D and western brands, H&M, TOPSHOP and CHLOE (French), are very popular among Japanese people.
There are around fifty times more clothes shops in Japan compared to Britain because most of Japanese clothes shops are small. In Britain, clothes shops like MANGO, H&M, and TOPSHOP, model a small section of Japanese style tops and skirts.
Hiroyuki Kubo, a 29 year-old fashion stylist from Japan, has being living in London for two years. "Even though it is a minority, it is delightful that British women are influenced by the everyday Japanese style", he said. It appears that Girly Fashion (an imitation of celebrity fashion) is now the most popular, which is being highly represented by CHLOE. Like other fashion experts, Hiroyuki believes that a lot of fashion brands and magazines are an imitation of celebrity fashion. "Although fashion in Japan is of a high level, it is unfortunate to see that our fashion stems mainly from magazines, and in particular from celebrity magazines", he said. Hiroyuki tries to break away from this trend by inventing simple and edgy conceptual styles.
One fashion boom influenced from Japan is the wearing of a randoseru (a red school bag worn only by Japanese elementary school children). Wearing a randoseru in Europe is considered to be cute and fashionable for women. On the other side of the globe, it appears that toting western style school bags are fashionable for Japanese city children these days. "The city children in Japan adore western school bags, as they think it makes them look cool. But in the suburbs and countryside, it is very common for children to still wear a randoseru", said Mia Nakagawa, an international English student.
The future for dynamic fashion lies within the fusion and collaboration of experienced and/or amateur stylists from different cultures. In the UK, students from Japan and across Europe are coming together to learn and experiment with each other. A well-known partnership is the Anglo-Japanese label 'Eley Kishimoto', established in 1992 by Welshman Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto of Japan. Based in south London, together they have over 100 stores worldwide, including around 40 in Japan.
Other brands such as 'Hall Ohara' (Steven Hall and Yurika Ohara), and 'rubecksen yamanaka' (Hiide Rubecksen of Norway, and Tomoko Yamanaka), have high profiles within the fashion scene. The fascinating mix of cultures and concepts merging together in fashion creates fresh, original and exciting clothes. In today's fashion market, it is common for many companies in Europe to have and work with Japanese-English designers.
Many stylists are optimistic about the future for fashion trends as they see more collaboration in the world. Perhaps stylists from the UK, Europe and Japan will one day merge together with developing countries to create a truly new international style.
Online Fashion Links:
http://www.doverstreetmarket.com/ Dover Street Market (Rei Kawakubo)
http://www.yohjiyamamoto.co.jp/ Yohji Yamamoto
http://www.street-mg.com/xnew/e/index.html FRUiTS online magazine
http://sweet.girly.jp/Lula/Home.html TOPSHOP web shop
http://www.eleykishimoto.com/ Eley Kishimoto
http://www.rubecksenyamanaka.com/ rubecksen yamanaka
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