To say I haven’t blogged in a while is an understatement. I always tell myself I will, but to be honest I just spend a lot of time fighting to myself about it.
Me: Blogging is dead.
Also me: But information is needed and instagram is neither searchable or a place for words.
Me: But less people read and it takes so much effort.
Also me: If you’re doing it for the likes you’re wrong to begin with.
But I discovered a lot of other activities to do with my free time. OR to be honest I could either write this article or refresh twitter 20 times.
I had convinced myself reporting about fashion on twitter is good. You get instant feedback and there hasn’t been a lot to talk about. I love twitter.
So it took a lot to convince me to get out of my hibernation and write this. And my statement is: ALL FASHION BLOGS LIE. ALL JAPANESE FASHION BLOGS LIE.
I spent a lot of breath twisting the facts about the death of gyaru when it happened just the same. Whether my points or the other points people made. Whichever news or fake news, it happened. Sure some aspects of gyaru are still around. Oneegyaru is popping. Rady sells well. Aizawa Emiri is doing well with her brand. Time goes by and yet hostesses and kyaba still want to look cute on their off days. This won’t change.
So there’s me. Mea culpa.
The blandness of Meiji-dori
But something that has gotten under my craw for years after living in Japan off and on for years is that we’ve been fed lies. Five kids sitting on a street that is known in Japan more for its Kiddy Land, wide lanes and expensive cars parking for Chanel and lunch doesn’t equal fashion. It equals what a photographer or that KID wants to be fashion. So many fashion styles happen around it, but our view has been narrowed.
So many of us grew up with FRUiTS magazine and its somewhat death. But was Harajuku ever FRUiTS? The answer is yes but mostly no. Harajuku is a lot of highschoolers in their uniforms buying small accessories at Claires and other cheap shops. And Harajuku is 20 hairdresser shops and 20 nail salons. Harajuku is as much the Starbucks as it is the famous crepe shops. Harajuku is 50% tourists buying into the hype or what Harajuku was and somewhat is.
AND HARAJUKU IS NOT TOKYO. AND TOKYO ISN’T ALL OF JAPAN. It’s a tiny peephole into a room that barely shows any of what drives fashion in Japan.
AND HARAJUKU IS NOT EVEN HARAJUKU ANYMORE.
As Harajuku has gained in popularity its driven a lot of fashion towards Shimokitazawa and Koenji. This is not a new phenomenon in Japan. 10 years ago it happened with otaku culture and many Akihabara fans moving to Nakano and Akihabara getting oddly commercialized.
And yet again Harajuku was not ever Harajuku. A lot of fashionable people who went to Harajuku did it for the early instagram. To get in FRUiTS. Which the founder of FRUiTS, Shichi Aoki, has admitted that he only took photos of what inspired him. Is that all of Harajuku or even 10% or much less 2%? No.
FRUiTS missed out on gyaru fashion. It cared occasionally for ganguro but that was it. Not because it wasn’t in Harajuku. Gyaru have always been in Harajuku. Shibuya and Harajuku are bound together by one street and it takes only a 15 minute walk (maybe 20 minute in gyaru heels) to get there. There’s nothing in between except for some sports stores and hair salons. Harajuku and Shibuya fashions appear in each other naturally. But it wasn’t what FRUiTS wanted, so it was mostly ignored. One of the largest original Japanese fashion booms that lasted.
And currently many fashion snaps are ignoring Larme fashion despite it being popular in Japan. I would argue that Larme comes off as more Japanese than some other popular fashions because of its roots.
Broad Harajuku shops are made up of five types:
- LaForet mall which holds a variety of clothing from Joyrich to Larme to Lolita
- The row of shops down Takeshita that holds knockoffs, accessories, resale shops, Liz Lisa, and a few outlandish shops
- UraHara and Cat Street that has spawned Bape and contains Jackrose and other former GyaruO brands along with LilLilly and Honey mi Honey type brands.
- The big box shops of H&M, Monki and Forever21 wanting prestige in a place that was not meant for them.
- Slightly past that there is Omotesando which is its own culture and has high brand stores and overseas brands like Acne Studios and Alexander Wang
There’s a lot of styles smushed together in Harajuku. If you’re not photographing them all, you’re not discussing the region.
And this isn’t just a FRUiTS problem. It’s a reporter problem.
Let’s make it akin to a museum. A museum curator decides what’s inside those walls. But does that determine what is art? NO! But for fashion especially Japanese fashion that’s happened.
Many of the other fashion snap blogs have used mostly hired models. I think it’s mostly lazy. But to be honest a lot of seasons in Japan are not very bearable and waiting hours and days for something to appear isn’t easy or fun.
Or magazines have calls out to where they will be shooting. That’s more organic, but they get to edit and choose. On the spectrum of offenders most magazines are lower.
The reason I shout out FRUiTS a lot is because they have been the blueprint of street fashion in Japan, for better or for worse. BUT all Japanese fashion blogs lie. But why do they lie? What’s their goal? What agenda? What are they trying to sell or curate?
Maybe the better question is why are they ignoring what they do when they shoot or talk about something else?
My interest is gyaru fashion and broader Larme, seiso and otona kawaii brands. If you walk into a big mall like Shinjuku Lumine EST or Shibuya 109 or Shinsaibashi OPA chances are I’ll talk about those brands because that’s what I choose to do. You won’t see me talk about lolita or many adult brands not because it doesn’t exist or there aren’t shops selling. It’s just not my interest.
So there are my biases. Laid out.
But what about other blogs biases? If they call themselves something like Japanese Streets or Fashion Snap or Tokyo Fashion are they showing it?
All Japanese Fashion blogs lie, but are they telling you? Are they trying to force their vision on you? The answer increasingly has been YES. And it’s lies and fake news.