There are many benefits to living in a big, at best influential, city but one thing clearly stands out: Inspriation. In a time where nearly anything seems always available via the mighty internet one should think that these little impulses for our taste and brain could be solely experienced through digital media. But it’s different. Exactly as different as finding the perfect piece of garment for your skin in a small shop in the suburbs or buying that new manga ,which just looks plain awesome and you never heard about, in a real manga store in Japan. It’s about the whole experience which gives you inspiration not just the object itself.
When I first started Japanese Tease I wanted it to be much more about fashion and arts and architecture. But what I didn’t want to do was just reblogging things from bigger blogs, rehashing news from other sites and just talking about the same shit in the same manner as everybody else. I sometimes did that and maybe will do that again but it should never be the one thing that defines this website.
But again. I still like fashion, very much so, especially some Japanese brands which always manage to amaze me with their originality and craftsmanship.
White Mountaneering for example. I love their style, I love the different patterns and materials they tend to mix up in their designs. But when the appeal from a piece of clothing derives solely from its feel and quality it’s impossible to experience the true nature of the product by just from looking at a picture. You have to try it on, have it in your hands and only then you can understand why this special piece is or even isn’t worth its money. Good quality has its price and we all know how expensive Japanese craftsmanship can be.
Speaking about value in clothing the first brand that pops into my mind is Visvim. I actually do like some of their stuff, the majority I’d would say. But their prices are steep and even if the quality and ethic behind the product is undisputed, I always ask myself the question: How much has a fair, solid product to be? What would be a fair price for everyone in the business to make a solid product. With no outsourcing, fair wages for everyone and fair-trade materials.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to discuss Japanese fashion brands and why I think they are something special and manage to inspire in a very unique way. We all know Nigo’s brand which started out in Harajuku in a small store selling self-printed T-Shirts. A Bathing Ape used to make quality clothes made in Japan and took most of its magic from its distinctive camo-print and the “planet of the apes” inspired graphics by Sk8ting. Nigo sold the company two years ago to the industry giant I.T. but remained artistically in charge of the brand for another two years. To be honest, I doubt that Nigo had much to do with the development of new products and much rather looked at the finished designs and gave his ok.
Bape is known and loved for their distinctive prints and is somewhat quite different from all the other Japanese high-end fashion brands like Neighborhood, White Mountaneering, Visvim and all the others. In the West A Bathing Ape is known for being a Hip Hop brand. With large cuts and baggy pants. But just one piece of Bape, the right one of course, combined with a casual outfit can look stunning and can add this certain Japanese “mystery” to an outfit. It’s the details that count and Bape always delivered in that sense which again, makes it a very Japanese brand.
When I think about Japanese fashion in general there are three things that stand out for me the most: A huge market for men’s fashion, high quality products and this certain love for details which I haven’t found much anywhere else and really defines Japanese fashion for me. I love that certain understatement. Even Bape that isn’t shy with its big, easily recognizable prints, did produce some wonderful items full off originality. Small details can even make a seemingly bland hoodie a whole new experience. I’m talking about the feeling when you find something new on a piece of clothing that you really love. A custom made button with a funny message on it or some hidden messages inside the clothing.
This is the true reason why I’m still buying Bape even if the “great years” are gone for a long time. I was never that keen on the “loud pieces” but I love just a basic quality T-Shirt with a small Bape-camo-printed pocket. Some of the new offerings by the Bape sub-line “Mr. Bathing Ape” deliver exactly what I like. A small hint of street-wear in an otherwise very formal piece of clothing.
Ok, I think this topic will need more space & time then I anticipated and because I’m a lazy guy, I just decided to split it up in a couple of posts. Watch out for the second one with more pictures and thoughts about Japanese fashion.