All Japanese Fashion Blogs Lie. The Fake News of Japanese Fashion.

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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.

Including mine.

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.

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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.

 

 

 

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10 Comments

  1. Jade
    October 6, 2017 / 7:07 am

    its great to read another one of your blogs! I’ve being missing them :) lots of love from Australia! ❤❤❤

    • Mitsu
      October 6, 2017 / 10:57 am

      Thank you missing it! I’ll try to get back to it!

  2. October 6, 2017 / 7:49 am

    Japanese fashion snap websites definitely give people a skewed view of what fashion there is actually like and what is popular.

    I work for a couple travel and culture type websites writing about Tokyo and if they’re not making click bait they’re selling dreams about what people want Japan to be like, instead of what it is actually like. The fact is, most of the people clicking are never going to see Japan and will never call them out on their crap.

    I think people who do go are usually pretty shocked the first time to see that Tokyo is actually a sea of business suits and modestly dressed women :catno: it’s still such an amazing place, it’s just not what people are being sold.

    • Mitsu
      October 6, 2017 / 10:59 am

      Yes! So much yes!

      And in turn it’s oddly feeding the culture of Harajuku and Shibuya in odd ways. Tourism is sort of forcing some wild and kawaii that feels manufactured. I think with the upcoming Olympics it will only get worse.

      My man always says sea of black suits when he describes a lot of how Tokyo is. And a lot of women in knee length skirts and basic handbags. Not that it’s better or worse, it just IS.

  3. October 6, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    Happy to have you back and blogging (with whatever frequency)! I found myself nodding along with most of this. I feel like the people who are whining about the death of this-or-that type of Jfashion are taking some things just too much at face value/have never been to Japan (which is perfectly fine ofc but like understand that your view might be a little tunnel-visioned??) and not understanding why some of these things are happening or realizing that not all change is bad.
    Also maybe it’s just because I think the (western) complaints and unhelpful, uninformed and annoying but like ???

    • Mitsu
      October 11, 2017 / 3:09 pm

      Awwwe thank you! It was your kept blogging spirit that was one of the voices in my head.

      Yes I think it’s very easy to take the arguement of fashion blogs present this, therefore as our source of information we make these judgements. And it affects their perception of Japan and how they treat those who have been or lived there and contradicting knowledge from it.

  4. Mira
    October 8, 2017 / 9:32 am

    That’s a great post! I really enjoyed reading it and it’s so 100% true!
    When I went to Tokyo (back in 2009) I had seen FRUITS and read about Harajuku being the “must see” place for this kind of fashion. To make it short, it totally wasn’t.
    Harajuku is so much more and so is Tokyo. I thinks that’s the same for every major “fashion” city. Paris – not every woman wear striped tops, red lipstick and messy hair, New York – I’ve hardly seen those ladys in high heels and designer mini dresses, London – not everyone wears a trenchcoat or punk rock.

    • Mitsu
      October 11, 2017 / 3:07 pm

      That is a great comment! Exactly how Paris and New York and London get these monikers. I think what compounds Japan in my personal experience is people see someone who stands out fashion wise and makes assumptions on their personality and the personality of the city.

  5. Jackalope
    October 11, 2017 / 11:28 pm

    Interesting post! I think it’d definitely be good to be more upfront. You can be covering a certain type of street fashion, and still be a magazine! Having a focus or a style isn’t a bad thing.
    Foreigners have more access to publications now, but it’s still not a ton, and people naturally are drawn to the outlandish and “exotic” so those magazines are the ones more widely seen and sold. It’s so easy to see something in a magazine or show and think it represents a wider group than it does. Americans do it to Japan, Japanese do it to America…. more communication and sharing of cultures is always helpful to stop stereotypes (fashion ones included)!
    15 years ago, takeshitadoori was a lot more colorful and more like what magazines showed, in my own personal opinion. It’s so, so different and ghostly now… but hey, it’s not like fashion died, as you said. It just moved and evolved!

  6. October 14, 2017 / 4:57 pm

    Hi! I’m a fairly recent reader of yours (I found you this past August and basically binge-read a significant amount of your entries) but can I say I’m glad you are back to blogging? I was so happy to find your blog when I did, specially since you find so little about gyaru fashion on the internet nowadays…
    I think this post of yours is great. It is true that most magazines and blogs have a biased view, but many times we don’t realise because they don’t clarify that to us… You being sincere is really a plus!~ and it makes me wanna continue reading your blog

    Keep up the great work! (and sorry if I misspelled of wrote something in a weird way, English is not my first language)

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