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 109’s 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 group’s 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. “It’s good, isn’t it?” Yanagi asks, smiling fondly, before launching into the group’s origin story.

Back in 2008, he explains, the hot thing in Tokyo was London New Wave and club culture fashion. “It was all about London—not Paris, not New York,” 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 London’s underground spirit that drove him and his circle of drinking friends, like Mademoiselle Yulia—then 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. “We went more for artists,” he says. They were the first to carry Plastic Tokyo and Phenomenon, and have a knack for pinpointing the country’s 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 Shibuya’s 109 department store, whose cheap, trend-driven pieces predated the rise of fast fashion here—what many blame for the city’s watered-down aesthetic, as locals now tend to dress in the same social media–derived basics. “Before, Tokyo was the center of all these different, unique fashion cultures—Harajuku had gothic Lolita, Shibuya had gyaru—but now, we’ve lost those strong statements,” Yanagi says. “It’s not as creative anymore, not like it was before.” Fake Tokyo’s 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. “Society might think our fashion is fake because it’s unknown,” Yanagi explains. “We think that fast fashion and 109—that is fake fashion, and what we are making is real.”

To do that, they’ve 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 Balmung’s Hachi, who have something to say. “He has his own style and, more importantly, has kept that style for a long time,” Yanagi adds. “That’s rare nowadays.”

What they have effectively done is build a fantasy around fashion, one that has city kids taking note. “We want to make this place a cultural hub—a platform, where we can introduce people to our point of view,” he says. Yet it is living by example that has worked the most magic—this crew of modern-day punks and carefree youths, staging raucous events and roaming around in disgustingly cool clothes. They’re doing what they love, simply, but with feeling. That’s exactly what Japanese fashion needs now.

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