The “Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion” exhibition first showed at the Barbican Art Gallery in London in 2010 and traveled to the Haus der Kunst in Munich in 2011. Highly acclaimed by art critics and fashion fans, the show is finally making a pit stop in Japan, at Tokyo’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MoT), starting at the end of this month.

“Future Beauty” is a comprehensive review of Japanese design, covering about 35 Japanese designers beginning with Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons and Issey Miyake in the 1980s to some of the more obscure young designers of today. What you can expect to see is a history that starts with the three aforementioned brands who began a revolution by refusing to conform to the then-popular European silhouette, and instead presented experimental and outrageous designs.

Fast-forward to today and the young brands chosen to be featured showcase a far more lighthearted, playful, and pop-like sentiment to their works, a reflection of how much fashion has changed. Mikio Sakabe, for example, gets his inspiration from the “cosplayers” (costume role-players) of Akihabara, while 10-year-old brand Mintdesigns is famous for their highly whimsical prints.

The exhibition is split into five sections that begin in the 1980s and move into conjectures about the future of Japanese fashion and avant gardism. This Tokyo showing also promises to include more brands and exhibits than its original lineup. (Misha Janette)

“Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion” runs from July 28 till Oct. 8 at Tokyo’s Museum of Contemporary Art; 4-4-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku. (03) 5245-4111 Closed Mon. www.mot-art-museum.jp.

BAPE aims for a younger and less affluent menswear market with a new affordable diffusion line

Japanese urban-wear brand A Bathing Ape (known colloquially as BAPE) has launched a youth diffusion line called Aape By A Bathing Ape and feted the launch by opening its own Tokyo boutique on June 29.

While the main BAPE line is well known for its pricey, exclusive clothing for the luxury hip-hop crowd, the Aape line is a downright steal. The lineup reflects the original casual BAPE fare for men, but here an Aape-logo T-shirt costs only ¥3,570, while polo shirts the color of Lego bricks go for ¥5,250. Even jeans in dark denim with a billboard-sized logo are just under ¥10,000. Those prices are around a third of the main line’s counterparts, which is a turning point for BAPE, whose entire premise was built on exclusivity with many items being expensive and made in limited quantities.

The designs for Aape are nothing revolutionary, which may be attributed to the fact that BAPE designer NIGO is said to have not taken part in this new line. The target is young men in their teens and 20s and the market they are reaching for is decidedly Asian. It’s an obvious strategy for the brand which sold a 90 percent stake to Chinese apparel conglomerate I.T. Ltd. last year in a move that shocked and rocked the local industry.

There are currently Aape stores underway in Hong Kong with more to follow in Beijing and Macao. At the Aape opening in Tokyo, NIGO made an appearance to greet fans and media and even posed for photographs with Masaaki Homma, a fellow designer who heads Japanese luxe streetwear brand Mastermind. (M.J.)

Aape: 4-28-22 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5772-2511; www.bape.com.

Shibuya “gals” look up to high fashion for styling inspiration

Touch Me is a major fashion event thrown twice yearly by apparel company Mark Styler for its stable of highly influential Shibuya-style brands. Immaculate high-production shows — with a futuristic LED-lit runway, high-end models and some imaginative catwalk-only designs — Touch Me not only turns gal fashion on its head, it virtually gives Tokyo Fashion Week a run for its money

It took three shows and two days in mid June to get through all of the popular gal brands, which included EMODA, Mercury Duo and Laguna Moon. One brand, MURUA, hired Kate Lanphear, fashion editor of ELLE U.S., to style its show — a move that got it a standalone production.

For a gal brand, landing a style icon like Lanphear is an incredible feat, and it’s part of a trend we are seeing as gals themselves start to look toward high-fashion for inspiration. Just last year Laguna Moon hired top supermodel Kate Moss to star in its catalog, while the new magazine Ruby has been snapping high-fashion-styled gals on the streets of Tokyo.

MURUA helped spur this emerging trend, and along with EMODA even created a new category of Shibuya fashion for it — “mode gal.” Mode gals usually sport a mix of New York sportswear and Parisian chic a la sleek, dark and minimal pieces, all presented with a healthy dose of attitude.

This doesn’t mean gals are suddenly doling out major yen for high-fashion items, though; the prices are the usual for 109-mall clothing, averaging at ¥5,000-¥10,000. (M.J.)

109 Mall 2-29-1 Dogenzaka Shibuya-ku, Tokyo(03) 3477-5111 touch-me.com.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu takes ‘Blue Ink’ fashion to Paris

Pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu — whose debut album “Pamyu Pamyu Revolution” recently topped charts in Japan — led the “Harajuku Kawaii!!” fashion show that headlined the four-day Japan Expo in Paris last week. Now in its 13th year, the phenomenally popular event that attracts as many as 200,000 visitors each year has traditionally focused on the pop-culture staples of anime, manga and video-games. Recently, it has incorporated fashion into the mix, starting with the works of designer h.Naoto in 2011.

Joining Kyary, who has become synonymous with whacky Japanese fashion, were fellow popular models from magazines such as Zipper and Kera, including Fumiko Aoyagi, Apochi, Ayumi Seto and Una — all showcasing fashion from popular youth brands such as Innocent World, Spinns, Hellcatpunks and Sebastian Masuda’s 6%Dokidoki.

Kyary is the figurehead of a Harajuku fashion style dubbed Aomoji-kei or Blue Ink Type, a reaction to the mainstream and conservative Akamoji-Kei or Red Ink Type, which is arguably representative of what the majority of young Japanese women wear. This focus on marketing a niche sub-cultural fashion that compliments the already popularized anime and manga has also been promoted by the government’s Cool Japan program. However some are starting to question whether this kind of style best represents the Japanese fashion industry.

How the French fashion capital is responding to the show is yet to be fully seen, but the public outcry that accompanied Takeshi Murakami’s pop-culture infused art exhibition at the Palace of Versailles two years ago, suggests the city will not be easily swayed. (Samuel Thomas)

Harajuku Kawaii!! FES: www.h-kawaii.jp.

Made in Japan, sold in Harajuku

Against the relentless rise of fast fashion and an influx of soulless knockoffs now flooding the Harajuku fashion market, it is hard to see a future for the individual creative brands that used to personify the area. Taking a stand against this tide is Acryl Bones, a new concept shop from the design guild Go South, founded in 2009 and helmed by Daisuke Ichikawa.

Speaking on the eve of a private fashion show held for fans of the guild’s brands, Ichikawa said, “I want to unite rock- and street-fashion creators who are passionate about making everything within Japan and doing it, as much as possible, by hand. After all, we need to work together to keep our culture alive.”

Inside the shop, the splattered paint, artfully distressed textiles and vandalized T-shirts may not seem particularly innovative, but it is their authenticity that Ichikawa is hoping will appeal to fashion fans who still long for the quality Japan is renowned for as well as a genuine engagement with Harajuku culture. At the very least, the shop, which has been built, painted and graffitied by the design guild, is a reminder of the creative spirit that first brought Harajuku such acclaim, not to mention a warning of the folly it would be to let this spirit fade. (S.T.)

Acryl Bones: 2F Yasuda Building, Jingumae 1-13-18, Shibuya, Tokyo; go-south.info/main.

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