Style & Design

Tokyo’s trendsetters look to dad’s closet for tips

by Misha Cade

Contributing Writer

As my family got ready to go out for a fancy sushi dinner one night years ago, my dad came down the stairs wearing a T-shirt, knee-high socks, sandals and — the piece de resistance — a worn-out black fanny pack. My mom couldn’t hide the disapproval on her face and urged him to change. She never could’ve guessed that Mr. Cade was actually just ahead of his time when it came to style.

Dads have never been trendy. Lame jokes, ugly sneakers, baggy cargo shorts — whatever they sport is 20 seasons behind and met with groans; loving groans, but groans nonetheless. Fanny packs in particular have always been the mark of fatherly fashion because of how well they accentuate a dad bod. After all, what’s one more curve?

Enter Kendall Jenner, the 22-year-old fashionista who, armed with an Instagram account and impeccable style, came to the rescue of dads everywhere by popularizing chunky sneakers from the likes of Reebok and Skechers, as well as fanny packs. Ever since, brands such as Gucci, Balenciaga and Givenchy have been pushing out their own high-class interpretations of our dads’ closets.

It took some time, but now it appears as though the dad fashion trend has taken hold on the streets of Tokyo, too.

Two months ago, @TokyoFashion posted four photos of hipsters in Harajuku rocking different takes of fanny packs for its Instagram account. Rather than the plain ones our dads used to wear, they completely reinvented the look with transparent designs and visible labels. One young model even improvised by taking her purse and tightening the straps around her waist.

Now Vogue Japan is calling the fanny pack the must-have item of the summer, while ZozoTown has compiled a list of different styles to choose from to help stay on trend. Popular teenage streetwear brands such as Wego and Spinns are also on board, stocking shelves with affordable multicolored versions.

Speaking of the name, which likely has our British readers cringing at every mention (the word “fanny” is a bit cruder in Blighty), the Japanese are calling the item uepo, short for uesuto pochi (waist pouch).

With Summer Sonic this weekend and Ultra Japan next month, the uepo will likely be ubiquitous at music festivals. Fans at Fuji Rock could stow away rain gear in one hand, fold up chairs in the other and still not have to worry about their wallets getting stolen or, more likely, soaked and muddy. They’re super-easy to style and go with almost any outfit: Pair a Champion uepo with an MA-1 for the ultimate in streetwear, or you can channel your inner dad vibes by pairing one with a baggy Pearl Jam T-shirt and some Adidas slides.

So think twice before making fun of Dad’s Gap cargo shorts. You never know what Kendall Jenner will be into next.