Archives for the month of: January, 2011

Japanese street style is as much about the accessories and details as it is about the trends and statement pieces; bags & wallets, hair color & accessories, watches & jewelry, stockings & socks, music players & headphones, scarves and headwear are all chosen and co-ordinated each season with great care by the inner-city style leaders.

CA4LA, pronounced ka-shi-ra and translated as the head or top, is the place for hats, caps and other headwear, both classic and creative. The British bohemian ambience shared by the various CA4LA stores combines with the funky millinery on display – from boaters to bowlers and berets to baseball caps, cloches to chullos, trilbies to tuques – to create a charming shopping experience.

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While the name Sori Yanagi is little known outside design circles, his two iconic contributions to modern furniture design have become a part of the lexicon of seating. The ever modern form of the elephant stool and the graceful wood grain lines of the butterfly stool are not simply artifacts of excellent 20th Century design; they remain relevant to today’s modern design aesthetic, despite having been designed more than 60 years ago.

All original images : : Sori Yanagi Butterfly Stool – image copyright Tendo-mokko; Elephant Stool – image copyright vitra.

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Adidas have long been a brand of choice in cool street style around the world and talented graphic and apparel designer Kazuki Kuraishi, 倉石一樹, who is one of the hottest names in streetwear design both in Japan and abroad, has added his vision to the company’s Originals line, creating some seriously desirable collections.

ObyO KZK Campus 80s Felicity (blue+red/white) from fall/winter 2010 collection & adidas Trefoil wall picture frame installation – adidas shibuya store

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Shibuya brings to mind images of the world’s busiest scramble crossing; the folkloric canine statue that gave its name to the station’s Hachiko exit; the wildly fashioned teen gyaru girls who call this suburb a spiritual home; budget boutiques, fast food outlets and love hotels.

A little way up the hill in udagawa-cho the vibe is cooler; the area’s back streets are dotted with hip boutiques – CA4LA, RagTag, Nano-Universe, G-star; the Bunkamura center defines the area as a cultural hot spot; the PARCO complex of stores adding fashion cool.

PARCO is the fashion and lifestyle retailer who brings a boutique experience to the shopping complex. Shibuya houses the company’s flagship complex. The Shibuya PARCO center comprises cool Japanese and imported labels through its PART 1 and PART 3 stores, while Zero Gate is set to introduce the Bershka label to Tokyo’s urban cool kids early next year.

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Tokujin Yoshioka, 吉岡徳仁, is one of Japan’s most innovative designers, working in fields as varied as furniture and graphics to fashion and art. A protege of the design masters, Shiro Kuramata and Issey Miyake, he continues to collaborate with the latter and explores many of the same creative investigations as the former. Yoshioka’s works can be found in permanent collections among the world’s most prestigious museums: New York’s MoMA, Berlin’s Vitra Design Museum and the Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou in Paris, while he has held installations and exhibitions of his work at many others. Awards he’s received include Japan’s Mainichi Design Award (2001), Good Design Award (2008) and Artist of the Year at Tokyo Designers Week 2010. w Japan has also included Yoshioka in its list of the ‘100 Japanese respected by the world’.

All original images and works: ToFU light – 2000; Rainbow Church – 2010; Issey Miyake interior – 2001; Maison Hermès installation – 2009 : : copyright Tokujin Yoshioka design

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New Year. Sales. Crowds. The New Year holidays are of course a time for rest, families, shrines and traditions. They are also the time for the year’s great sales, when the depato and chain stores outdo each other with another tradition dating back to late Meiji era Japan, the fukubukuro 福袋 – lucky bags containing mystery goods whose value can be double or more the price paid for the bags; some bags are especially lucky as they also contain additional special gifts. The crowds at Tokyo’s shopping centers over the sale period are phenomenal and from early morning lines of people snake their way along streets, around corners, up and down stairs, as customers wait for access to their favorite stores and the discounts to be found inside. The bigger stores employ security staff to control the crowds and many stores have costumed staff amping up the excitement with loudspeakers. Overall, it’s a pretty intense experience.

For a more laid-back shopping experience, the riverside neighborhood of Nakameguro is an alternative destination with a hip, relaxed vibe. It’s a place of eclectic stores, undiscovered brands, quirky cafes and an atmosphere of discovery. It offers a refreshing human scale with rough edges that contrasts with the grand designs of the multi-level shopping palaces in Ginza, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Omotesando.

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As the sun rose for the first time today on the Year of the Rabbit, 兔, the night clubs are in recovery mode and office towers lie deserted in the frosty morning, while the shrines and temples are congested as locals make their first visit and seek out their fortune for the coming year. The stores, meanwhile, are gearing up for the frenetic New Year sale period with its fukubukuro, 福袋, lucky bags and the Postal Service is busy delivering the billions of nengajō, 年賀状, New Year cards people have sent.

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