Tokyo news: LV in Harajuku, genderless males, and antisocial Pokémon Go
Louis Vuitton x Fragment Design
On July 7, more than 4,000 people queued up at the Isetan Men’s store for the highly anticipated collaboration between luxury brand Louis Vuitton (LV), and Hiroshi Fujiwara's street brand Fragment Design. The collaboration included T-shirts, shoes, bags, and small accessories such as iPhone cases, and attracted a large number of limited-edition collectors and Chinese re-sellers, people you might see at a Supreme release in Harajuku.
This was LV’s first attempt in history to have a direct collaboration with another brand (often called ‘double-name’ in Japan), and was only possible because of LV’s artistic designer Kim Jones’s respect for Fujiwara, who is often referred to as the godfather of Harajuku street brands.
This move by LV seems to take a different direction than their recent exhibition Volez, Voguez, Voyagez, which focused on the brand’s heritage and craftsmanship, but succeeded to capture the attention of those interested in the ‘hype’ around interesting collaborations. The LV x FD collection created a buzz around the Internet for other fashion-forward youths, debating their personal takes and feelings towards the collection.
For those street-hounds who favour Hiroshi’s usual subtle and unique twist, the bold LV and FD logos on products can feel a bit overbearing. We’ll still have to see how the collaboration of two powerhouses affect specific audiences in the long run, but we’re also eager to see what kinds of collaborations we may see next.
Catch the entire collection of items here.
Genderless males like charismatic store-staff Ryu-cheru (see below) are the new type of ikemen (or ‘neo-ikemen’) becoming popular among young teenage girls. Their appearance is charactised by their skinny physique, light-coloured hair, colour contacts and pop make-up. They don’t feel restricted to gender-specific clothing, and choose to wear whatever they need to be true to themselves. Although they might be mistaken as gay or asexual, these genderless males are certainly attracted to women: they simply choose to enjoy fashion and beauty as they like.
As words like ‘feminine males’ (女子力男子), ‘beauty conscious males’ (美容男子) and other labels for men are created almost every year, it seems as though both physical and psychological lines between the genders are becoming less distinct every time. Interestingly, only men seem to be pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a man in Japan with few labels being formed to mark women (i.e. no news of “genderless women”). Will we see women in the future who enjoy a make-up free lifestyle and a strongly built physique? Will these genderless males disappear with age, just as yankee and gyaru did in the past?
Released on July 22, Pokémon Go has already become the number one download in the Japanese app market and a cultural phenomenon. From elementary school kids to mums pushing baby strollers, the game attracted a wide audience of players who walked around the city over the launch weekend. Some players tweeted that they’ve been walking in a park all day, and others travelled domestically to catch rare monsters that appear in specific areas (often within the Kanto area). Shinjuku Gyoen National Park staff noted that the park was populated with as many people as they see during the hanami cherry blossom season.
The nature of the game means that large groups of people are attracted to specific physical ‘hot spots’ called PokéStops. In places like the US and the UK, Pokémon Go has become a social game, where strangers openly exchange tips and tricks on how to become a better Pokémon hunter. Even a dating service based on Pokémon Go, PokéDates, has been created off the social aspect of the game. (The first Pokédate is free, but subsequent dates cost $20.)
It’s still up in the air whether or not we’ll see the same social exchanges happening here in Japan. Although I’ve seen Poké-wanderers in neighbourhood parks, no spontaneous communication seems to be happening among players catching the same Pokémon. It’s almost strange to see a group of people so close together, participating in the same activity, and not having any conversations. In the near future, Pokémon Go has announced plans to have an additional trade function, but in Japan this will probably be used only between friends.
- Article by Hideki Soejima and Nao Satoh