Archives for posts with tag: fashion

ginza dori

Tokyo’s Ginza district has the distinction of being Tokyo’s original upmarket shopping destination, some of the most expensive real estate in the world, the first to feature electric street lighting, the first with modern department stores, the first with stores that allowed customers to wear shoes inside the premises, the first to host luxury European brands. During Japan’s golden ’bubble’ years Ginza was the city’s glitzy playground, its stores raking in phenomenal earnings from cashed up citizens.

Times, though, have changed.

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Mika Ninagawa’s images are a kaleidoscopic explosion of color and shape that bring to mind early 20th Century art movements and Tokyo’s more excessive neon-lit cityscapes. The photographer/filmmaker is a media savvy, post-modern Matisse; she seamlessly traverses, in the style of Japanese creatives, the worlds of high art, pop culture and commerce to create striking works for photo exhibitions, magazine editorials, advertising campaigns, books and movie theaters. Her online presence extends to e-commerce, a blog and a dedicated mobile website.

Whatever the purpose of her images, she brings an auteur’s eye to her favorite motifs: flowers, exotic fish, cultural iconography and edgy, highly stylized pop portraits that borrow imagery and themes from – and inform – manga, the fashion industry, pop music and traditional theater.

All original images : : copyright Mika Ninagawa.

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Issey Miyake is one of the holy trinity of Japanese fashion design. Along with Rei Kawakubo, founder of COMME des GARÇONS, and Yohji Yamamoto, Miyake was instrumental in reinvigorating the global fashion scene in the 1980s with clothing that helped to create an avant-garde fashion identity that was uniquely Japanese. Miyake, however, is no ordinary fashion designer. Business considerations aside, he approached clothing as a sculptor, shaping fabric through traditional techniques and employing methods that are technologically innovative to create clothing that is as much art as fashion.


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Tokyo is home to some of the great fashion innovators: Kawakubo, Yamamoto, Miyake, Watanabe, Takahashi, Osumi to name a few. It’s the home of some of the world’s greatest fashion shopping, with meccas such as Isetan, Parco, OIOI and Laforet. It’s also a city whose citizens are, on the whole, quite fashion savvy and the city’s trendsetters and fashionistas are some of the most innovative fashion stylists in the world. It’s no surprise that the streets of Tokyo are one of the great inspirations for the fashion industry at home and abroad. Photographers and bloggers also find rich material in the city.

Street style in Shibuya, Yurakucho and Nakameguro.

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The +J label was only introduced in the fall of 2009, but with the release of each collection it has increasingly grabbed the world’s fashion headlines and consumers’ imagination. The fashion line created by German designer Jil Sander for Fast Retailing’s Uniqlo empire won the Brit Insurance Fashion Award this year with its Autumn/Winter 2010 collection. In an era of fashion collaborations – some more than a little cynical – the +J concept is a perfect fashion fit.

All original images copyright Uniqlo Co Ltd : : Spring/SUmmer 2011: Women’s : double-collared shirt jacket, stand collar l/s dress shirt, V-neck 3/4 sleeve short cardigan; men’s : knit jacket, full zip hoodie, slim fit dobby l/s shirt.

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Shibuya 109, or marukyu to the young gyaru fashion tribes who gravitate to the cylindrical tower with its ever changing mega-posters like moths to the proverbial flame, is a Tokyo landmark. It is an intense Japanese retail space where cutting edge global youth fashion trends for women are born. The tower, marked and its gyaru-kei fashions generate more than 25 billion yen in sales each year.

egg magazine cover march 2010 edition : : copyright 大洋図書 (taiyo tosho)

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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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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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Shopping in Tokyo is an almost surreal experience, where shopping centers and stores in the major commercial hubs merge above and below street level in maze-like configurations. This landscape is also packed with wonderful department stores, and Isetan is one of the biggest and best. The company’s flagship store is a fashion-lover’s paradise that comprises two vast buildings – one for her, one for him – that help define the character of the bustling east side of Shinjuku station. All the enticing department store trimmings are there: the spotless showrooms, the luxurious washrooms and the decadent basement food hall; the immaculately groomed information booth and elevator girls, the courtesy buses and courteous parking attendants; the flawless service – something you would expect of staff who ritually bow to the showroom, their workplace, when entering or exiting at the start or end of their workday shift; and above all, the hip brands and beautiful fashions and accessories that make Isetan an essential stop on any visit to Shinjuku.

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The Japan retail landscape is a rich mix of depato, brand stores, specialty stores, variety and lifestyle stores, shopping malls and ‘select shops’ that select and mix coordinated collections of local or imported labels to create a store’s brand identity.

BEAMS, the self-styled culture store, epitomizes the Japanese select shop concept, stocking a range of fashionable local and imported labels. BEAMS, however, is also a successful brand store and adds to the mix a number of BEAMS labels under which home wares, music, art and food are sold, either in dedicated BEAMS brand boutiques or as part of the merchandise in the BEAMS select stores. The company’s emphasis, though, is on men’s and women’s fashion and the various labels’ collections range from sophisticated classic styles to edgy avant-garde designs. The Shinjuku based BEAMS, which is made up of three separate companies, began in Harajuku as a single label and store in 1976. Today, the company is an established part of the Japanese retail scene and has dozens of stores scattered throughout the country, with the greatest concentration of BEAMS shops in Tokyo’s Harajuku and Shibuya areas, and a number of outlets in Hong Kong.

All original images from the BEAMS 2010 A/W CATALOG for iPad : : copyright BEAMS

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