Catch the last day of Harajuku Kawaii!!

Today’s the last day of the annual Harajuku Kawaii!! festival, which, now in its sixth iteration, has long outgrown its original venues and spread across event spaces, shops and side-streets to take over the whole Harajuku area of Tokyo.

Groups of style hunters are roaming the streets to capture the fashion pulse of the moment, while performances by artists influential in the scene; guerrilla fashion shows featuring models from fashion magazines HR, Kera, Soup and Mer; plus special offers and sales can help initiate you into the culture.

Key among the planned events is a competition to discover and officially crown a new ambassador of Harajuku kawaii (cute) culture, and with entrants from all over the world, the winner might well represent the fact that instead of being confined to the streets where it all began, kawaii is now a global phenomenon to be reckoned with.

Harajuku Kawaii!! Week 2015 takes place May 9-10 at various locations. hkw15.asbs.jp

Undercover is going mad

Never one to fall behind the times, Jun Takahashi’s rebellious brand Undercover is reinventing itself once again with Mad, a new unisex line hitting stores.

The brand lives up to the name with plenty of surreal imagery, but it seems remarkably sane when it comes to the pricing, with T-shirts starting at ¥6,000 and even the jackets under-cutting the vast majority of the Tokyo menswear mainstream at ¥13,000.

Following on from Takahashi’s UU collaboration with apparel behemoth Uniqlo, some might accuse the designer of losing touch with his transgressive roots. But with less and less money in young Tokyoites’ pockets these days, it is tough to stay relevant if you price them out of the market.

Mad is being sold exclusively at Shibuya Parco Part 1. It was joined at launch by Spanish headwear brand Buff, which has contributed a number of designs to the lineup that, befitting the image of the rebel on a budget, start at prices of ¥5,000.

Madstore Undercover: 1F Parco Part 1, Shibuya, 15-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku; 03-3477-5777. www.tokyo-solamachi.jp/shop/367

Ultraman for the everyman

The endlessly enduring Ultraman superhero TV show from tokusatsu (special effects) maestro Eiji Tsuburaya is breaking a chain of rolling out its own merchandise by encouraging others to offer their takes on its iconic figure.

This is no ordinary shareholder-sanctioned collaboration, but an open offer to anyone interested in interpreting what Ultraman means to them through fashion, jewelry or pretty much anything that takes their fancy. All you need to do is register via the A Man of Ultra website in advance, take advantage of the available logos and motifs and don’t use any graphics or prints directly from the TV show.

So far, big hitters — such as select shop Guild Prime and accessory line Jam Home Made — have taken the lead, but with the potential for anyone to take part and get their wares stocked online through the portal website, things could get interesting.

Above and beyond promoting Ultraman, this project looks to open the floodgates to new ways for Japanese creative types to channel pop-culture in fashion. It not only allows their imaginations to run wild, but helps free them from the copyright and licensing issues that currently plague the industry.


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