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Tokyo Look Book, Brazil Fashion Now, etc.

by Paul Mcinnes and Misha Janette

You get the look

The success of Shoichi Aoki’s magazine Fruits has inspired a plethora of publications about Japanese fashion and style culture. But, Philomena Keet, author of the new “Tokyo Look Book,” explained to the JT that she “wanted to get away from the Fruits format. I didn’t want to step on their toes.”

This is understandable as Keet, a Ph.D student at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, has spent the last few years of research working with the Fruits team and infiltrating the Tokyo fashion scene. After securing a deal with publishing giant Kodansha, she pounded the streets with photographer Yuri Manabe, trying to find cultural snapshots of the protean world of Japanese style.

Full of quirky facts and stunning photography, the book contains great interviews with a range of designers, from the ultra-cool Theatre Products and street brand Team Message to ladies’ favorite Garcia Marquez and edgy Gothic label h. NAOTO.

Not only concerned with subcultures, “Tokyo Look Book” offers other mainstream styles, such as office-lady and salaryman fashion as well as construction-worker chic. Anyone with the slightest interest in fashion will love this kooky and fascinating peek inside the churning whirlwind of Japanese design. (Paul McInnes)

“Tokyo Look Book,” ¥3,000; tokyolookbook.com

Wrapping the bulge

With 60 percent of pregnant women in the Tokyo area being over 30 years old, it’s surprising that until now there has been a conspicuous absence of quality maternity-wear for brand-loving expecting mothers.

Discarding the traditional cloth-sack image of maternity, new label OptiMummy has taken up the challenge of creating everyday wear for affluent expecting mothers. The triumvirate behind the brand — Yayoi Moriyama, Mayuko Gardahaut and Tomi Takahashi — are delighted but unsurprised that after only a few weeks the company has soared to the top of the Internet rankings for maternity clothing in Japan.

With its only serious competition coming from a handful of U.K. and U.S. online firms, there’s a possibility that OptiMummy could grow into a household name in no time.

What makes it unique in this market is its “universal design” philosophy. Featuring high-quality, stretchable fabric, washable silk and classy silhouettes, the garments maintain the natural shapes and contours of mature women even when worn after having given birth.

Web site at www.optimummy.com displays the diversity of the label, and the office-wear and occasion lines have some real gems, such as the Wrap Dress and the Silk Race Skirt, which look elegant whether you’re expecting or not. (Paul McInnes)

Also available from Royal Party 4-19-9 Shiroganedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5791-3450

The Copacabana in Omote-sando

All the colors, music and carnival atmosphere of South America came to Omote-sando Hills in August for Brazil Fashion Now, an exhibition and catwalk show of the country’s top apparel and accessories designers. Sponsored by promotion agency APEX-Brasil, the event hyped Brazil’s fashion industry and trade relationships with Japan.

The highlight was a double-catwalk show by leading designers Isabela Capeto and Ronaldo Fraga. A gaggle of Tokyo’s socialites and discerning fashion posse measured up the best that they had to offer. Capeto’s Naturalness collection of raw fibers, lovely floral patterns, rainbow stripes and myriad colors pleased the champagne-quaffing fashionistas, who whooped with delight.

But it was Fraga’s collection that brought the sights and sounds of Rio and San Paulo to Tokyo. Live vocals by pop legend Fernanda Takai seemed a deft touch, and with retro minidresses, blue bikini briefs and other outfits in oceanic colors, we could almost believe we were sitting on the Copacabana beach.

The favela and cityscape prints were sensational, and, although currently without distribution in Japan, it should only be a short wait until we can get our hands on our own piece of Fraga’s Brazil. (Paul McInnes)

Isabella Capeto available at Compose, 3-7-10 Kita Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo; (03) 3409-0627

Laurel for modern mods

Back in the 1950s, stylish mods demanded color versions of the white polo shirts made by the Fred Perry label, cementing it as a go-to brand for hipsters.

Back on a cool streak after all these years, the label is opening a Fred Perry Laurel concept shop for its young and fashionable fans. At the store’s entrance, a display of Fender guitars draped in velvet and accented with skulls alerts shoppers that these select items are a bit of a distance from the clothes typically found in their main line.

“We had young designers contacting us saying, ‘I love your clothing, but it would be even better if you changed this little part, or added something like that.’ ” says John Flynn, managing director of Fred Perry England. “So we gave them free rein and the Laurel concept shop was born.”

Turning the collar of a shirt inside out or adding metallic details to a polo are a few of the ways the clothes have been reworked for an edgy touch. The Laurel line also features a series of collaborations, such as with indie designer Jessica Ogden. Ogden’s pieces include feminine capes and jerseys that echo the sportswear spirit of the label. Future collaborations are rumored to be coming from local designers and stylists as well. (Misha Janette)

The Tokyo Fred Perry Laurel stores is at 5-12-14 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku Tokyo; there are also Laurel stores in Fujisawa and Osaka; www.fredperry.jp; (03) 5468-5605

Provocateur in charge

Launched in 1998, New York-based label United Bamboo has expanded into a cultural project as founders Miho Aoki of Japan and Thuy Pham of Vietnam oversee collaborations that bring designers, downtown artists, curators, musicians and more together.

UBTV is one such venture, which sees New York City curators choosing designs by up-and-coming artists for graphic tees. Twenty-seven year-old Tim Barber, an artist and photographer, as well as former Vice magazine editor and constant provocateur with his Web site, www.tinyvices.com, has selected designers for UBTV’s Series 10.

Barber contributes a photograph of a forlorn, wet dog and another of a man racing up stairs. Funkier works come from artists Barber selected such as Mark Delong, Nicola Pecoraro, Jeff Ladouceur and Shayne Ehmans, who pokes fun at pop culture with phrases like “Thug Life” illustrated by cute squids playing the ukulele. (Misha Janette)

2 Daikanyama 20-14, Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 6415-776