Editor's note: This is the ninth in an occasional column "fun! fun! fashion!" by Rei Shito, a Tokyo street fashion photographer. The original column in Japanese can be read at (http://www.asahi.com/fashion/column/fun/).
Shito's bilingual website, "Style from Tokyo," is at (http://stylefromtokyo.blogspot.com).
Hi, this is Rei Shito. With the mercury all over the place, it's a tough season to be taking street snapshots. Not that I feel like taking a break. The streets are filled with stylish people, despite the cold weather.
Now let's focus on the recent Tokyo Collection and how the Tokyo fashion scene has undergone something of a change.
"Budget screening" was a hot topic in the political world. The fashion world was no exception. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry withdrew its financial support for Japan Fashion Week starting this season.
Granted, fashion belongs to the arena of fantasy and one cannot live on air. The ministry started to examine its finances closely this season. It found a couple of sponsor companies, including Mercedes-Benz, and made a new start under the name "Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo."
This season, people stood between dream and reality and mulled over how things ought to be.
I'd like to focus on "Versus Tokyo," an event held on the last day of the collection that attracted considerable attention.
"Versus Tokyo" was organized by Yuichi Yoshii, owner of a select-item shop in Tokyo's Aoyama called The Contemporary Fix. It was a fun-packed event consisting of shows by eight leading brands from Tokyo. It was held from morning until evening and included live interviews with designers right after the show as well as live performances by various artists.
A breakthrough idea was to sell tickets to the general public, making it an "open" event, not only for fashion insiders but also for fans like you and me who love fashion.
For a week I was running around the venue taking snapshots. The number of "catches" at "Versus Tokyo" topped the number of photos I had ever taken in one day.
A tremendous number of people gathered and each enjoyed his or her own style. The eyes of people who came hours ahead of show time were filled with anticipation and excitement. It was contagious.
Live interviews also drew a respectable crowd, including fans of brand and fashion people.
There, I felt in my bones the presence of a harbinger of "something" new that is not evident at collections held in New York, Paris and Milan.
For a month I held on to this elusive thought and managed to come up with this answer: 'Versus Tokyo' is the first step toward the dissolution of a 'framework.'
"Sister, we have a case on our hands!" was a set phrase of a bellboy character in a popular drama set in a hotel. I think a few years from now "Versus Tokyo" will be inserting a wedge in the history of Tokyo fashion as an epoch-making "case."
Now "fashion is for fashion people" is a somewhat sarcastic phrase used to describe collections held around the world. Wherever it is held, a fashion show tends to be no more than a closed party for fashion insiders. As for outsiders, the "flashy people's hoopla" has nothing to do with them.
Between them lies a wide "strait of fashion," and no one has any intention of bridging the gap. (Yet, this snobbish sense of entitlement could be a charm of fashion.)
But "Versus Tokyo" suddenly emerged as a bridge over this strait. It links those in the fashion industry with fans and customers. And once it opened, the bridge where anyone can cross with a traveling pass (ticket) became so jam-packed that traffic control was required.
This made it clear that the notion that "fashion is for everyone loving fashion" holds at least for Tokyo fashion.
This is an original way of presenting fashion that is unheard of overseas. You could say that a framework that is more fitting to today's Tokyo fashion scene was born here and now.
Just like the iPod revolutionized the way people listen to music, "Versus Tokyo" changed the system for people to view fashion. At this point it is unnecessary to discuss and decide which is good or bad, which you like or hate. (It's just like deciding which is good among records, CDs and the iPod. They are all different and have their own features.) I think now is the time to compare the two and closely study their potential.
Not only in fashion, a new framework stirs up hesitation and conflict before being accepted. Throw in the attachment to things of the past and the ohmic resistance will accelerate. Anyhow, be flexible and accepting first. Everything starts from there.
You only have to accept, study closely and choose for yourself. It is a shame if you refuse to accept in the first place.
Let's remove the clutter from your mind as well while you clean up your room. Perhaps it is the best season to clean up and become flexible.
Now that's it for today. This was Rei Shito.
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