Japan – Konichiwa Shibuya! 2013 Research Trip

Posted on 17th February, by Matt in Blog Posts. No Comments

Japan – Konichiwa Shibuya! 2013 Research Trip

If you would like to purchase this 2013 colour and materials package, any other package or wish to discuss commissioning a specific package, please feel free to contact me.

For several years I have wanted to go to Japan, it is a fantastic hub for fashion in clothing and footwear. I wanted to experience the culture, what makes this place breed such unique designers? Home to many iconic and amazing, forward thinking brands  such as catwalk Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Misake, Junya Watanabe and on the street level, A Bathing Ape, Asics/Onitsuka and Cause… This is but a mere snip’it of the fashion capital that Tokyo has become.  I was very fortunate and able to travel there this year for a research trip. First thing I noticed was that colour is everywhere and not such a seasonal thing for the majority of the Indie shops. One shop front full of brown, black, navy and cherry red shoes is starkly contrasted by the bright and funky eye catching coloured clothes in the same store! The ad-hoc look of the whole shop really works. I’m not saying it’s perfect and makes me want to buy it all, but it definitely draws me in and fascinates me.

I have never been to a city like Tokyo before, walking down the street looks like a slightly different… quieter Hong Kong, all the shops you see on street level have more shops, restaurants and coffee bars above them. It really does have a futuristic look and feel about it. High rise glass buildings with neon signs and giant posters hang off of every facade that can handle the weight. Every where you look there is some thing to take another glance at. Surrounded by steel framed buildings with glass, revealing the metal frame work of the interior structure, everywhere is so clean and tidy, almost immaculate. All the hard and coldness of the architecture is starkly offset by the screaming, bright and warm colours.

With a little bit of imagination you have not got to work hard to pull out some strong colour palette and materials ideas (as above!). Below is an image taken on the fly, which at the time – look good. But then on closer inspection they are really quite inspiring. The distressed wooden table sitting rather randomly between two shops makes for some great crackled leathers with the rough and flaky feel opposed by matt, non shiny neo prene rubbers and EVA’s. Coral and peach with an ocean blue highlight work well together on a porcelain background. Fushia, yellow and burnt orange create a stunning look, stopping the eye in its tracks when put against black and white cheque or stripes.

To get more of a “down to Earth feeling” you have not got to go far. Go for a little wander to the nearby Meiji shrine in Harajuku. Wide paths leading down giant wooden Japanese samurai styled gates, take you on to a winding running stream. Giant wooden lanterns and signs covered in calligraphy point you to the spiritual center of the Meiji Shrine. Here you can write your own prayer and leave your wishes hanging from the wooden slats. If you are lucky you might catch the odd official procession passing through in all their traditional garb and giant umbrellas to protect them from the sun. The architecture with its slanted roofs and the sound of paper whistling through the winds  has a real grounding effect, I left the Meiji Shrine feeling focussed and inspired.

There was an area in Shibuya that an old colleague had told me about that I had to see. On certain Sundays of the month (as I understand it) certain groups go out into the Shibuya park and just… indulge in being themselves. The first group I saw were the Rockers. Literally going to the centre of the park, putting down there amps and speakers and dancing for hours to hardcore rock’n’roll. Leather vests and biker patches satin stitched to the back and breast. Classic stone washed denim outfits, old school cowboy boots and slick back puffed up quiffs.

Also in the park on these odd Sundays are the Haruku girls. Inspired by the Manga theme, they congregate at the park and shop in certain boutiques like the one photo’d below. Very surreal feeling walking into a giant dolls house. To hear so much about this kind of phenomenon and then be in the thick of it was a real privilege and experience I enjoyed. For a lot of the Haruku girls, this is not just about a bit of fun, it’s a culture they whole heartedly buy into and really want to be a part of. There really isn’t a lot that is out of reach in a fashion sense. The boots are laced to just under the knee, lots of voluptuous soft suedes, crushed velvets, frilly lacing on collars and busting out of the cuffs of jackets. Doll like make up worn by the shop attendants and customers alike. Deep purples, bold pinks and powder blues are seen everywhere.

Wandering back to the shops I stumble across what can only be described as some real gems. Emerald coloured Doctor Martin styled brogues, sitting next to creepers of all sorts of varieties with the Underground styled chunky black outsoles. A little further down I came across this gorgeous sneaker collection of Adidas Star Wars Limited edition Death Star boots, black patent funky velcros, Supra Society blue and green high cuts and much more. Next shop along I am looking at a beautiful set of 3 Adidas sneakers. Each in a fascinating colourway, adorning a stunning animal print.

If you would like to purchase this 2013 colour and materials package, any other package or wish to discuss commissioning a specific package, please feel free to contact me.



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