[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Jan 2004
Issue 044

KS Classifieds combined with Kansai Scene this issue!

Vintage Fashion Edge

Anyone who has touched down in Japan long enough to venture beyond the Arrivals lounge will be familiar with the mismatch shape of fashion that big designer names have to negotiate before taking their bows in fashion luvvie circles. This winter is no exception with European fashion houses, Luis Vuitton, Burberry and Gucci being wheeled out in circuitous style for winter with classics like the three quarter belted coat and equine padded jacket making up the chequered, leather melee.

A trend that allows for the wearing of designer labels in combination with more affordable garb is what fashionistas refer to as Vintage and it’s bigger than ever: a look that Japan's youth carry off with enviable ease and one that has put Harajuku in Tokyo and American Village in Osaka firmly on the map.

Meno in Harajuku helped us put together one of this Winter's key looks for little more than 25,000 yen. It includes all the main staples for winter which was somewhat less than a similar outfit that was priced in a well-known department store. Inspired by this winters catwalk shows in Europe but tempered by Tokyo's unimitable street cool, Meno tells us that its out with pointed heels for pretty ladies, and in with rounded flats, calve-length, and fabric in 60's monochrome prints.

To cut to the quick-stich and without the frill fram of Marketing terminology, this is quality clothing and big designer names at affordable prices from a shop near you, thanks to the latter day tendency towards clustering. Vintage or used clothing is big business in Japan, generating millions in revenue each month thanks in part to periodical contributions from some of the hottest Industry insiders.

Established designer Kohshin Satoh recently admitted to taking his Inspiration from the streets of Harajuku but support from International quarters provides the further assurance that Tokyo's style conscious crave.

Jean-Paul Gaultier launched a do-it-yourself version of one of his latest designs last February and made it available on-line for a fraction of its retail price. The project, which bears many semblances to the spirit of used clothing, has delighted those in possession of a bobbin, a set of nimble fingers and a special love of fashion to compel them.

Keeping the flag-flying for Japan, Shinjuku's Salvation Army used clothing outlet was recently the location for some serious rummaging by Dutch designer Harry Putts. Early next year he will launch a more affordable clothes line stitched together with cast-offs donated by the shop that was famously frequented by Vivien Westward in the early 90’s.

Increasingly regarded as a veritable hunting ground for desirable one-offs, global shoppers like Chris Sumner makes regular visits to Japan on behalf of rich clients for the dubious pleasure of being able to demand a "non-negotiable fee including all expenses."

So big is the used clothing trend here that its many off-shoots require some effort to untangle and re-classify. Firstly there are the clear, for-profit shops wherein a veiled armoury of cynicism should be worn to protect the rummager from impulsive buys of what is effectively dime-a-dozen American surplus. Old yes, antiquated it is not.

Then there are the Consignment shops. The individual can sell unwanted clothes to the shop after agreeing to a price tag that is returnable when and if the clothes are bought. Everybody, a shop in affluent Azabu-jyuban is a veritable treasure trove overflowing with Paul Smiths, Sonia Rykiels and Chanel numbers so evidently it pays to hunt on rich but not necessarily fashionable ground too.

While high street retailers continue to sacrifice quality in their haste to get the next product out, Used clothing can be relied on for the very thing that delivers its aged but unmarked goods into the hands of the wearer. A reputation for dying young ensures that vintage denim remains high on the wish list of some notable celebs such as Winona Ryder and Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chilli Peppers fame.

The exchange of a few thousand dollars for a pair of denims, previous owners unknown, is not uncommon in the glitzy world.
A clue as to why the longevity of perish-able things is prized so highly in certain circles is to be found in the apparently flippant way it is regarded in others.

Take Japanese gomi for instance. An untrained eye beholds a collection of still viable goods but to the majority of Japanese its simply a necessary part of renewal. Vintage fashion didn't puncture the Japanese consciousness here until the 1980s but it had been wearing its kitschy crown in America since the 1970s. Weary of formulaic designs churned out by mass producers, style-makers began to assemble looks that the past threw out, in sequined, leather, or worn denim separates. Choosing a bag to match your shoes became gradually superceded by the notion that it should match your mood instead.

US Retro Secretary Anson Williams (Potsie from the US Sitcom Happy Days) however, has got some well-founded worries about our latter day love affair for all that's sepia and pearl, warning that it will lead to what he terms "retro-burnout." In effect time will catch up with itself which means that we will literally run out of the old stuff and be left to purloin our more recent effects with a much finer pearl-toothed comb than before.

There's some disagree-ment too, about how far back we have to go before we can judge a garment as vintage, with most authorities agreeing the mid-eighties as the finishing point. Kansai, however, seems to be in agreement with its neighbouring region Kanto in letting colour fight it out, which makes the 60s, 80s clear favourites on an otherwise dull winters day.

Osaka Outlets

2-18-6, 4F Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-Ku, Osaka
Z 06-6211-4472
2-18-33, 4F Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-Ku, Osaka
Z 06-6484-3680

Tokyo Outlet

3-21-22 Jingumae, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo
Z 03-3401-3378

Text & Photos: Aimee Foy


Up to date cinema listings guide so you always know what's on, where and when!


Festivals, performances, shows, gallery openings...your guide to what's coming up in the next few weeks.


Women On Top
Japanese Women doing it their way.


Kate Crockett explores the virgin forests and ancient cedars of this Unesco World Heritage listed island.


Vintage Fashion Edge
Used clothes and designer labels: the Vintage look is in.


Hidden Sports Oasis in Kobe
Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club.


Busy as a Bee
Busy Bee Cafe, Nishinomiya-City.

Bars that Rock
Bar Ing, Kyoto + Rock Rock, Shinsaibashi


Some of the news you won't see printed elsewhere, plus the best of the rest.

:: ART

Gutai, Samurai, Meditation & more... plus our round up of other art events in January.


Stevie Wonder, The Mars Volta, Evanescence & more incoming live acts...


Exclusive John digweed interview, Electraglide 2003 review and all the usual hot picks...


The Recruit, Once Upon a Time in Mexico and many more reel reviews...


Chikada Yamada Life in the Bus Lane.