Fake Tokyo Is Japan’s Most Influential Fashion Collective – Vogue.com
There is a quiet back street in Shibuya, across from a battered jungle gym in a nondescript park. It faces the Yamanote line, between stations 19 and 20, a nine-minute walk from the looming shadow of 109âs corporate shopping tower. This obscure, unremarkable spot was deliberately picked to become a new base for Fake Tokyo, a local fashion collective that wants to resurrect wildly creative style by building a home for it here, off the beaten path.
You may have heard of Candy and Sister, two cult concept shops operated under the Fake Tokyo banner. In February, they came together on this solitary block. In the blinding white basement is Candy and racks of shredded 99%IS- denim and baroque Mikio Sakabe heels, spouting silk ribbon; on the ground floor is Fake Tokyo (the showroom lies elsewhere) and up a narrow staircase is label-less vintage shop Sister. It is there that I meet Shogo Yanagi, the groupâs chief director, in scoop-back chairs surrounded by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Kenneth Anger DVDs. Behind us is a rack of acid-color tees from Landlord, a rising Brooklyn-based label from a Japanese expat. âItâs good, isnât it?â Yanagi asks, smiling fondly, before launching into the groupâs origin story.
Back in 2008, he explains, the hot thing in Tokyo was London New Wave and club culture fashion. âIt was all about Londonânot Paris, not New York,â he says, recalling the moment when, as a Daikanyama shop intern, he found a dress from then-emerging designer Marios Schwab and was radicalized by its uncommon architecture. It was Londonâs underground spirit that drove him and his circle of drinking friends, like Mademoiselle Yuliaâthen a ragtag group of 20-somethings, stocking unconventional vintage at Candy in Shinjuku Ni-chome. When Yanagi joined, he spearheaded a shift toward stocking young Japanese designers, too, often grabbed straight out of school. âWe went more for artists,â he says. They were the first to carry Plastic Tokyo and Phenomenon, and have a knack for pinpointing the countryâs most promising talent (see: 2017 LVMH Prize finalists Ambush and Kozaburo). As a collective and showroom, Fake Tokyo was born to drive others to care more about originality.
It goes back to Shibuyaâs 109 department store, whose cheap, trend-driven pieces predated the rise of fast fashion hereâwhat many blame for the cityâs watered-down aesthetic, as locals now tend to dress in the same social mediaâderived basics. âBefore, Tokyo was the center of all these different, unique fashion culturesâHarajuku had gothic Lolita, Shibuya had gyaruâbut now, weâve lost those strong statements,â Yanagi says. âItâs not as creative anymore, not like it was before.â Fake Tokyoâs mission, then, is to bring individuality back by way of exciting design, packaged and introduced in a cool way; their name plays on those notions. âSociety might think our fashion is fake because itâs unknown,â Yanagi explains. âWe think that fast fashion and 109âthat is fake fashion, and what we are making is real.â
To do that, theyâve taken an experiential approach and now mix bold local and international labels, which might spark something like that Marios Schwab dress once did. A few years ago, they staged a mock design battle between avant-garde knitwear artist Craig Lawrence and the equally experimental Junya Suzuki, where they were given 10 minutes to construct clothes on the spot. They frequently hold pop-ups and freestyle exhibitions with friends, like Balmungâs Hachi, who have something to say. âHe has his own style and, more importantly, has kept that style for a long time,â Yanagi adds. âThatâs rare nowadays.â
What they have effectively done is build a fantasy around fashion, one that has city kids taking note. âWe want to make this place a cultural hubâa platform, where we can introduce people to our point of view,â he says. Yet it is living by example that has worked the most magicâthis crew of modern-day punks and carefree youths, staging raucous events and roaming around in disgustingly cool clothes. Theyâre doing what they love, simply, but with feeling. Thatâs exactly what Japanese fashion needs now.