Fashion has always had to adapt to our changing lifestyles and desires. But now, with easier access to global influences, and changing demographics, it has become more eclectic than ever. From casual looks to match lifestyle choices to fanciful contemporary art collaborations, Japan aims to please all.
Adieu, Jun Ashida
Japanese fashion designer Jun Ashida died on Oct. 20 due to complications from pneumonia. He was 88. Born in 1930 to, Ashida rose quickly to become one of the most prominent figures in Japanese fashion just as pret-a-porter (“ready to wear” manufactured clothing) was becoming mainstream. In 1963, together with his wife, Tomoko, he established his company Jun Ashida, co. Ltd., which, earlier this year, celebrated its 55th anniversary.
Ashida was linked to the Imperial family, designing suits and dresses for them and completing a 10-year stint as personal designer to Empress Michiko. In 1993, he also designed the crescendo of an evening gown for Crown Princess Masako to wear during the festivities of her wedding to Crown Prince Naruhito.
Ashida was known for propelling the modern mix of Japanese traditional clothing construction with Western styles. Many of his designs honored long robes, waist ties, pleats, jacquard fabrics inspired by traditional kimono and more. Although his brand was in the pret-a-porter scene, his collections seemed more akin to haute couture shows, in that the clothing was created for his clientele, rather than for the buzz and fanfare of trends.
Wealthy customers would be invited into his private theater in Daikanyama, sipping from Champagne flutes, while models paraded the clothes holding numbered cards that the audience would take note of to order from. This traditional kind of presentation — used by the first fashion houses — is rare in the 21st century and demonstrated his passion for intimate, timeless design.
On Dec. 7, a ceremony was held to welcome his friends and colleagues at the Imperial Hotel, one of Ashida’s favorite hotels. More than 1,200 were in attendance, including members of the Imperial family, ministers of the Japanese government, ambassadors of foreign countries (for which he dressed many dignitaries), celebrities, fashion journalists and longtime clients.
He is survived by his daughter, Tae Ashida, who is a renowned designer in her own right, and will be carrying the legacy of the family name onward.
The exclusive outdoors
Of course there is no shortage of shopping options in Tokyo, but it is certainly harder to find unique concept stores in the forest of the large brand-name boutiques. The Par_k Store is one such gem, set in the Saigoyama Park area of Tokyo’s Daikanyama neighborhood.
It has a decor that brings the outside in — a park bench and greenery to welcome visitors to the cozy but bright interiors — and is lined with racks of locally designed and underground import labels for men and women.
What is so special about its selection? Choosing items from brands that don’t get picked up for sale in other boutiques, The Par_k Store opts for unique pieces that best represent the aesthetics of the designers. Because such pieces are often made in extremely limited quantities, there is an exclusive “only one” feel to many of the items, so don’t hesitate if something catches your eye.
B1F 1-15-2 Aobadai, Meguro-ku the-park-store.com
Collaborating for kicks
We can honor fashion’s past while still getting excited about the future, a future that is now in the hands of street culture.
For sneaker aficionados, designer Yasuhiro Mihara is top in the circle. He is no stranger to collaborations, breaking to stardom with a previous partnership with Puma.
This year he was tapped to design a capsule collection for DC Shoes, the American skate brand big since the ’90s. He “remixed” its classic Court Graffik model, giving it quilted leather and an exaggerated logo in three shades. Built for both men and women, the eye-catching unisex design went on sale in select stores and online Dec 15.