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Retro makes a comeback, while subcultures seep into high fashion

by Misha Janette and Samuel Thomas

Phillip Lim’s new collection speeds ahead

When New York-based designer Phillip Lim showed up in Tokyo last week, it brought out major fashion players but raised eyebrows at the same time. What was the special occasion?

“Well, we are celebrating the fifth anniversary of our store here,” Lim said. “But on top of that, I’m going to film a video for my fall-winter collection.”

In fact, Lim’s FW collection was inspired by retro Japanese “Cafe-racer culture,” or motorheads, and is titled “Sono mama” or “Just like that” in English.

Lim continued, “I’m inspired by the past, but it has to be modern. This time we are going to be shooting a fashion film with a cast of about 20 people, and we’ve been researching pockets of subcultures at the same time.”

He revealed that model and actress Kiko Mizuhara will appear in the campaign. If his success can be measured by the size of his cast, then it’s sure to be big. (M.J.)

www.31philliplim.com

Illustrating retro-style

Retro is the new futurism, if fashion-forward brands and their limited-edition reissues are any indication.

Issey Miyake has revealed a mini collection for its Pleats Please line that features a series of delightfully funky illustrations by Japanese comic illustrator and leading graphic designer Terry Johnson. The drawings were first commissioned in 1972 and are making a comeback 40 years later, this time on Miyake’s patented pleated clothing line. The whole collection retains the art’s cartoonish spirit, and one of the characters even resembles Miyake himself, screaming or dancing in comedic style.

The items go on sale on May 16 at select Issey Miyake stores around the country, while the Ginza Elttob Tep shop will also hold a special exhibition titled “Terry’s Hole,” as well as offer other limited-edition items. (M.J.)

Ginza Elttob Tep, 4-4-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku; (03) 3566-5225. www.isseymiyake.co.jp

Osaka puts on a Grand Front

Grand Front, an ambitiously giant shopping complex, has just opened to much fanfare in Osaka’s Umekita district. The complex houses 266 clothing and lifestyle stores and restaurants, all within three large retail blocks covering 44,000 sq. meters of space. It is, in fact, the largest city-center complex of its kind in Japan.

Goods stores range from the recently launched Zara Home to RESTIR Digital, which takes the concept of high-fashion luxury and applies it to gadgets. There are also 18 flagships of the country’s most popular select stores, such as BEAMS, United Arrows, Tomorrowland and Ron Herman, with more to come in the summer.

Can such a mall attract shoppers in this economic downturn? It was reported that in the first five days since opening, nearly 1.7 million people visited the center, surely proving the Hollywood adage “If you build it, they will come.” (M.J.)

Grand Front: 3-1 Ofuka-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka; (06) 6485-7003. www.grandfront-osaka.jp

2pmworks takes anime-fashion online

Tokyo’s anime-meets-fashion movement has a fresh outlet, courtesy of the new e-commerce site 2pmworks, which launched in conjunction with a runway fashion show held at the Kawaii!! Matsuri festival last month. Highlights from the 500-item shop lineup include collaborations from Los Angeles streetwear brand X-Large with Neon Genesis Evangelion, and kawaii fashion favorite Galaxxxy, whose ’80s-influenced capsule collection takes inspiration from the cult anime series “Dirty Pair.”

The site is a new venture from Animate, currently the largest anime-goods retailer in Japan, and it aims to offer credible geek-chic fashion beyond the norm of using otaku motifs on conventional clothing. The fashion editorial-style branding of the site should appeal to those fans who have been put off anime-inspired clothing by the stigma of conventional otaku-goods sales channels. (S.T.)

www.2pm-works.com

Design Festa is more than art and crafts

The 37th Design Festa is throwing its doors open this weekend for a two-day celebration of art, performance and craft, spread across a staggering 3,400 booths. Now fast becoming a destination for fans of alternative fashion, too, the event includes runway shows from the likes of the experimental FAKKEN group, which works out of Kyoritsu Women’s University in Tokyo, and L 4 Fashion Models, the junior modeling agency behind many familiar faces in fashion today.

Beyond the performances there are more than 300 fashion booths, predominantly focusing on the fashion tribes that Harajuku is famous for. Given that this level of independent fashion has now been all but chased out of the area by sky-high property rates and fast-fashion chains, this may be your best chance for a taste of authentic Japanese subcultures. (S.T.)

Design Festa, Tokyo Big Sight West Halls, takes place on May 18-19; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. designfesta.com