Finding a Voice of Our Own- How to Wear Anything
The 2000s and the 10s

At the turn of the new millennium, while massively popular styles like Victorian-inspired Lolita and cartoon-and-anime-inspired Decora fashions fragmented into further subcategories, and the cultish American vintage/casual-inspired and Ivy-inspired styles blended into a mosaic of uncategorized hybrid styles, the rest of the world discovered Tokyo street fashion through mass media. In the late 90s, Tokyo fashion spread abroad via the textbook-style inventories and magazines like FRUiTS. Those magazines were, in some cases, used as store props to inspire customers in boutiques and secondhand stores. As more people came to use the internet, grassroots communities began to share their innovations on forums and blogs. Those spaces went beyond magazines, with people sharing their first-hand experiences and even their own photos. Later, in the 2010s, social media like Instagram created influencers whose massive followings and unique aesthetics influenced the commerce of fashion in much the same way 90s “charisma clerks” had.

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Around the turn of the decade, Japan faced back-to-back crises: the 2008 financial crisis (known in Japan as Lehman Shock) and the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. The ensuing recession helped to popularize fast fashion, in contrast to the earlier preference for authentic processes and quality, leading to consumers settling for “passable” products. Celeb-kei, for instance, achieves the looks of domestic and international celebrities, but with fast-fashion substitutes for the pricey name-brand items of the stars. The uncertainty left by the earthquake and tsunami led people to consider the value of life. Fashion then became more of a reflection of their lifestyles and choices. City Boy, retro revival, Mori-kei, urban outdoor, and others expressed this change.

With a variety of stores selling both old and new styles of clothing in Tokyo, the lines between specific ‘tribes/zoku’ or ‘types/kei’ of street fashion styles have all but disappeared in recent years, and mixed style has taken over the streets. Even within specific ‘types’ of styles over the last decade, such as mori-kei or City Boy, roots of previous decades’ fashion could be seen in the de- and reconstructions. Coined by ACROSS magazine, ‘super mix’ style is not its own ‘type’ or ‘tribe’ like previous street fashions, but rather describes the phenomenon of trends and fashion items blurring together to become a style that is difficult to categorize but is nonetheless fashionable. Individuals who express themselves through ‘super mix’ style likely draw inspiration from a variety of shopping options ranging from secondhand vintage stores and fast-fashion superstores to small select shops and name-brand boutiques, and they take cues from both popular magazines and social media influencers. Some might even add their own handmade pieces as a final touch of flair to their outfits.

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In retrospect, the Big Bang that set the recent history of Tokyo fashion in motion was likely the Japanese athletes attending the 1964 Olympic opening ceremony in those stunning red blazers. From then on, Tokyo absorbed trends and styles from abroad to add vocabulary to their language of fashion. Tokyo ultimately transformed itself to be a trendsetter on the world stage. Along the way (parallelling the last century of their country’s history) Tokyoites developed unique ways to market and deploy their innovations.

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