Fashion Magazine

On How Man Repeller Got Me Thinking About Streetstyle and Fashion in Japan

By Shugavery @ThinkIncognito
A few weeks ago, Leandra Medine, the hilarious lady behind Man Repeller wrote a very interesting piece about her impressions on the state of streetstyle and fashion in Japan. I sure speak a lot about South Korea on this blog but did you know that my love for Asia and fashion there began with Japan ? (to refresh your memory peruse the following link).  Reading her post was really educational because it was written by someone who has never been influenced by the culture and the fashion in Japan. I appreciate it even more that Leandra is cultured, a keen observer and always bring her readers to think and converse with her. And this is precisely what brought me to write this post, to start off an other conversation with you dear readers.Here are the words that resonate the most in my mind and made me want to share my opinion with you :

" One glance at the streestyle scape in Tokyo and I see innocence. These paladins of outlandish color and print and heel shape don't dress for the confirmation of a camera lens. Their style wreaks of individuality, curiosity, and that exciting moment of trial error [...] Is it possible the dedication to looking "unique" is a type of conformity ?"
On how Man Repeller got me thinking about streetstyle and fashion in Japan

Before revealing you my thoughts I must tell you that when reading such an interesting post where the author is in deep thougths, the first thing I do is to browse the comments below to see the readers' reactions. And here is one comment written by a certain Pattern Pulp that caught my attention : " While incredibly stylish, no doubt..the idea of individuality isn't something that's highly encouraged in Japan [...] if you look closely, you'll notice that there are style tribes that everyone fits into [...] The outrageous looks are mostly reserved for they age, the collars get rounder and the wardrobes have more coverage."  On how Man Repeller got me thinking about streetstyle and fashion in JapanBack in 2010, I made a trip to Japan for the first time of my life. It was a very emotional experience because I was visiting a country I was passionated about since 3 years. Another reason of my excitement was my being part of an atypical photographic project (which I will tell you about later). The trip and my modelling there got me absorbed into the japanese culture. At that time I was far from thinking about creating a blog nonetheless I brought with me a notebook in which I wrote my impressions of the country. Re-reading my notes I realized I wrote nothing about the fashion there nor how the people were dressed because I was too engrossed by the historical aspect of Japan, how modernity and tradition produced such a beautiful mix.Though I wasn't paying attention to fashion that much, as strange as it will sound I wasn't impressed by the "outlandish color and print and heel shape" these young people were sporting. Definitely not. Instead I couldn't take my eyes off of the young people showcasing the same style and walking together in Harajuku. Unconsciously I thought about these shoals of fishes in the sea or these migratory birds moving altogether because belonging to the same category. This point made me realize how much in Japan, more than in any other country I have ever visited, the way you dress tells to other people to which group you belong to. Hence my feeling that the innocence and individuality Medine have perceived was none other than the japanese youth certainly embracing fashion but above all, a lifestyle AND tradition.In my post about Japan, I pointed out about my experience of wearing a kimono and how much this piece of clothing was very representative of the social status and the culture people were immersed in. Hit back at me that in the occidental society it is the same too and I'd say to you that in the japanese culture clothing is much more symbolic than in the western culture. 

On how Man Repeller got me thinking about streetstyle and fashion in Japan

On the left me wearing a irotomesode, the kimono for married women and on the right one me wearing an furisode, the kimono worn by young noble women usually for their 20th birthday.

So why suddenly speaking about kimono while the post started with fashion and streetstyle in Japan ? Because this piece of clothing is, in my opinion, to be considered as one of the basis of the japanese society since even nowadays you can find people of every generation wearing it. It is a garment that defined the place of people and their role in the society and I think that unconsciously (or not) this aspect passed through the years even with the (relative) westernization of the country. Though Japanese youth seems to be years ahead of us fashionably speaking I can't agree more with Pattern Pulp about the existence of "style tribes that everyone fits into" and the lack of individuality in this country. At the same time I can't help but thinking that being part of a group in Japan is where people can find their own individuality since it is a society relying on social groups and the hierarchy in them. Hence the question by Medine very interesting to deal with but also oh so complicated : "Is it possible the dedication to looking "unique" is a type of conformity ?" What's your opinion ?

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