Japanese fashion in the 00s
A series of events took place in the early 1900s that led to momentous changes in the lives of people around the world.
Averted the danger of the Millennium Bug, we were confronted with the "mad cow disease". The collapse of the Twin Towers in 2001 and the entry into war of the US and Great Britain against Iraq put an end to the West's idea of well-being and security. In 2004 Mark Zuckemberg designed Facebook and in 2007 Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone.
Starting from 2006, the worst economic crisis in history (after the Great Depression of the twentieth century) bent world markets (China and India were exempt): it was the "Great Recession" triggered by the bursting of the housing bubble in the US.
In 2011, the Fukushima nuclear power plant was hit by a violent tsunami that resulted in the largest radioactive tragedy since Chernobyl.
For the first time in human history the world was globalized thanks to technology and in particular to the internet, which allowed people to be connected anywhere and in real time.
Japan of the new millennium continued to suffer from the Asian Crisis of 1997 (I remember that the Japanese economy had already been marked by the bursting of the speculative bubble at the end of the 1980s), aggravated by the slowdown in the US economy (the USA was the first partner commercial) that affected exports: the Rising Sun from second world power became the third, giving priority to China.
The population harbored a great distrust of the ruling political class, complicit in real estate and financial scandals. The birth rate was at an all-time low and employment opportunities were scarce.
Young people used the internet in an increasingly massive way to get information about the West, opening up culturally: many students asked to be able to go to study abroad and the Japanese government understood that tourism could be the solution to the many problems that the country continued. to cross.
In 2003, the slogan "Yokoso! Japan" was launched together with the JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization) foundation with the aim of raising awareness of tourism possibilities. Thanks to the geographical diversity and the efficient railway network (which was also enhanced with the Japan Rail Pass, as well as the air one with international flights) Japan offered diversified tourism. Furthermore, thanks to the 1972 "Nature Conservation Law", he leveraged the idea of traditional Japan linked to nature, today more than ever deeply rooted in the collective imagination - and in profound contradiction with the technological developments of the last decades.
The "Visit Japan" campaign aimed to increase the number of foreign tourists to 10 million to rebalance the national economy.
In 2006 the "Tourism Nation Promotion Basic Law" was ratified with the aim of promoting tourism as one of the bases of politics: the need to bring foreign tourists also arose from the further effort to redefine one's image after the war with pacifist ideals. and to gain international credibility after the disputes with China and Korea.
If until the 90s tourism towards the Rising Sun was characterized by otaku who organized seichi junrei ("pilgrimages" to the places of their idols manga, anime and videogames) to buy action figures and cosplay, and were passionate about Japanese culture, in the early '00s it was clear that the main target for attracting tourists was another. From the statistical data collected, it was discovered that one of the main interests was food. For this reason, in their advertising campaigns, tourism organizations put traditional cuisine in the first place, washoku (whose popularity grew to reach the status of UNESCO Intangible Heritage in 2013), praising cult foods (such as ramen, wagyu and sushi) making them even more fascinating and inviting. Thanks also to YouTube, foreigners residing in Japan used the internet to make their compatriots discover this distant country, showing food first and naturalistic sites. These became the first and main reasons for going to Japan.
All this was combined with the desire to push the Japanese themselves to spend their holidays in their homeland and not go straight (most of the Japanese population was made up of elderly people who received very high pensions), as well as to redefine the image of Japan as an expensive destination.
The 2010 "Japan, Endless Discovery" slogan was yet another proof of this successful marketing strategy.
On the part of the citizens, however, all this was experienced in an ambivalent way: on the one hand there was (and is) a great willingness to help and extreme kindness, on the other there was (and is) the will to exclude gaijin (foreigners) from many social practices, in addition to the unwillingness to learn English correctly. But despite this, the primary commitment was and is to transform Japan into one of the largest tourist nations in the world, especially in conjunction with the 2020 Olympics, which are still postponed to date.
Japan thus saw for the first time an incredible multitude of foreigners moving on its territory. From the groups of wealthy Japanese who went abroad to discover the cities of art moving with umbrellas and flags, now it was they who had to manage mass tourism.
From the point of view of fashion, subject here in analysis, this change resulted in the direct comparison of the Japanese with the gaijin, who they were used to seeing in magazines or in films.
Street-style places such as Shibuya and Harajuku became a source of interest for foreigners, who began to talk about it in blogs and YouTube profiles: for the Japanese, adopting the rules of the road was the strongest and most obvious way to rebel against social and traditional, the same ones that the society formed for the most part of elderly people continued to want to pass on to the new generations. For the gaijin the trends in those neighborhoods were seen as interesting material for their audience.
The Internet circle of photos and videos of Shibuya and Harajuku in the first decade of the 00s inspired many American and European teenagers who adopted some codes, as in the case of visual kei and lolita - in Paris the Angelic Pretty shop still exists today.
In this regard, the case of Dakota Koti is interesting, an American girl initially active on MySpace as a scene queen and then moved to YouTube where she offered make-up tutorials often speaking in Japanese. Although her features were clearly manipulated by special effects, the girl's videos went viral on the Japanese platform Niconico and she rose to the status of a "living doll". In 2012 she signed a contract with an agency and moved to Japan where she embarked on a modeling career, posing for Popteen magazine, Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and Alice and the Pirates.
All this shows how the web contacts with Japanese street-style culture have interested the new Western generations who began to wear t-shirts with anime and manga characters and, above all, collected Hello Kitty merchandise.
Just as Japan was changing, so was the West: designers were inspired by street culture, putting an end to the concept of social class as a mass of people. In the '00s anyone could transgress the stereotype of the social class to which they belonged, mixing clothes from different designers and channeling themselves in different styles.
Due to the rise of outlets and fast fashion, buying many cheap clothes was easier and this led to the possibility of buying some luxury items such as it bag with logo (John Galliano for Dior was one of the greatest masters in this, among others. other very linked to Japaneseism) or technological objects (such as the iPod) used on clothes as fashion accessories.
The transition to the new millennium in Harajuku was punctuated by a series of apparently identical styles.
After cyber, decora was the most successful. Young people took up the childhood kawaii of the 80s by reinterpreting it in an even richer and more colorful way.
Taking a cue from singer Tomoe Shinohara (famous for her personality and her rich sense of pop fashion), the decora style (from "decoration", in fact), was based on blue and pink color schemes and massive amounts of decorations on everything. the body. The clothes weren't important, but accessories: Hello Kitty, Strawberry Shortcake, The Smurfs and Pokémon.
The main brand and reference store was 6%DOKIDOKI.
The popularity of the decora was due in particular to the photographs taken by Shoichi Aoki for the magazine Fruits but, above all, to the singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: already famous before her debut in music in the Harajuku scene as a model for the magazine Kera! a true celebrity to the point of being referred to as the "Lady Gaga of Japan".
Questo stile verrà ripreso nel 2018 da Comme des Garçons.
In Japan, the union between music and fashion was characterized by technology. At the beginning of the '00 the Vocaloid, voice synthesizer software, had a huge media response. The most famous case was that of Hatsune Miku, mascot and first application of VOCALOID2 designed by a sixteen year old girl, who became popular among cosplayers all over the world.
The link between fashion and music was a constant present also in the new millennium: in the United States the Californian look depopulated thanks to the pop hits (Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera) and punk rock (Blink 182, Offspring, Rancid, Green Day), in Europe the techno rhythm and the use of drugs profiled an entire generation devoted to hardcore (musical genre born in Rotterdam in 1990): Raf Simons in 1999 presented the collection inspired by gabbers, tracing the codes of hooligans combined with rave culture and all 'sportswear. Later it was the turn, again in the West, of the indie and emo subcultures.
It also took shape what in the following years was referred to as the "cultural appropriation" of the West towards the Japanese subcultures. The most striking case was that of Gwen Stefani who in 2004 released the album Love. Angel. Music. Baby, a title that incorporated the nicknames given to the four Japanese girls in her corps de ballet, the "Harajuku girls" (this is to underline how much Harajuku was a hotbed of interesting styles).
Stefani was accused of having exploited a subversive Japanese subculture for marketing purposes: the girls were used as objects to the point of becoming commercial fragrances.
Just in Harajuku, Spank! store, opened in 2004, was the center of two other styles that had a great following and that attracted many tourists over the years.
Originally born as a second-hand shop, the style of Spank! it was curated by Sebastian Masuda (created by the famous Kawaii Monster Cafè) and Sayuri Tabuchi (a real it-girl), who drew on the kawaii aesthetics in pastel tones of the 80s to outline the fairy kei.
Fairy kei translated into light colors (lavender, mint, baby blue, pink, light yellow), skirts with crinolines, sweatshirts, stars, polka dots, unicorns and hearts.
This kawaii (but not sexy) trend was the basis of the evolution of fairy kei (and Spank's style!) Into pop kei, based on references to Care Bares, My Little Pony, and Sailor Moon.
The most naturalistic mood was represented by the mori girl style (or "girl of the forest"), simple and with a relaxed attitude.
In 2006, the Mori Girl community was created on the Japanese social network Mixi: her name was chosen by the admin Choco after a friend of hers had commented on a photo of her telling her that she looked like a girl from the forest. Since then this style has been so successful that in 2009 the community reached 35,000 people, consequently encouraging the publication of magazines and the creation of specialized brands such as Wonder Rocket, opened in Harajuku (closed in 2017 following the decline of this style).
The mori girl was characterized by the use of natural fabrics for capes, headdresses, scarves, neutral colors (white, beige and brown), natural make-up and long wavy or braided hair.
There are two sub-categories: dark mori (born abroad and not in Japan thanks to the Tumblr account called shortcuttothestars, often confused with the western style "witch") and mori boy (male counterpart).
Staying on the subject of styles mixed with the West, we must mention the return of the otome style.
This style resulted in vintage 1950s dresses, crinolines and mary jane shoes.
In Omotesando, a few steps from Harajuku, the salon kei, typical of men's hairdressers, emerged.
Often considered as a sub-style of the gyaruo (the male version of the gyaru), it was interpreted with a mix of high fashion and second hand garments to create an exclusive look, made of skinny jeans, t-shirts, cardigans, jackets, bags, scarves, belts and sunglasses. All this was completed with a glamorous touch of foundation.
The gyaru style also had another big evolution. With the end of the era of ganguro, that of the hime gyaru ("princess gal") began.
It was an extremely expensive and sweet, cute and innocent style, which harked back to Rococo and was represented in soft colors (pink and white), extremely eye-catching nail art, big hair with big waves, giant hair accessories, lace dresses and bows, super decorated mobile phones.
Among the girls who have popularized this trend, Himena Osaki stands out.
The most provocative version was that of the agejo gyaru style: from skimpy, self-standing dresses and babydolls.
Reference brand: MA * RS
Ane gyaru, a more mature version, with the massive use of black, leather garments, animal prints and studs.
In the Shinjuku area a sub-culture linked to nightlife was being defined, thanks to the numerous red-light clubs in Kabukichō. Right here the clubs where the Japanese (or Japanese) could go to talk and pay a person to spend the evening became very popular. It wasn't about sex-oriented encounters - hosts just had to chat with customers, serving them as good. The hope for many of them was to find a woman who would support them as long as possible, as most of the clients were wives of wealthy entrepreneurs.
Host clubs were the places where women paid boys between 18 and 20 in exchange for company (the younger and inexperienced ones were looking for customers on the street).
The first Host club opened in 1966 and many others have opened since then, peaking in popularity in 2010.
The young people who worked there followed the host kei, represented by satin shirts left open to show the chest, extravagant belts and ties, expensive jewelry, tanned body, dark clothes, but above all the hair had to be long, backcombed and thick bleached. This style is believed to be an evolution of onii kei (more adult version of gyarou, which was followed by high school students, onii kei by 20-year-olds).
Among the hosts, the most famous was Roland, who became a real celebrity as a model, TV personality and entrepreneur.
The expression mizu-shōbai indicated Kabukichō's nighttime entertainment in Tokyo, as well as the more explicit clubs of Fuzoku, the Japanese sex industry characterized by soaplands (clubs where customers were technically only washed by girls, but on the other hand facts had sexual intercourse with them), pink salon (oral sex), health ("call girl" or escort service) and image club (where girls dressed according to customers' fantasies).
Among all these places were the hostess clubs, where the hostesses entertained customers by chatting and drinking with them. Here the encounters did not end in sexual intercourse but rather the premises were vetted by the Public Safety Commission and classified in the Food and Entertainment Industry.
The girls' clothing was a combination of hime gyaru and agejo: the kyabajō style, well documented by the monthly magazine Koakuma Ageha ("little devil"), which targeted girls in their twenties and used real hostesses as models called "Age-mo". (s) ".
Koakuma Ageha was first released in 2005 featuring then 27-year-old Hisako Nakajo. Inside the magazine there were not only style advice but also the dark sides of work and the past life of girls were treated, such as crime, escape from home, suicide attempts, childhood abuse, loneliness, alcoholism, bullying, sexuality and hikikomori.
The girls who have made a career include Rina Sakurai (of whom a film was also made), Eri Momoka ("Momoeri"), Arisa Ishikawa ("Sumire") who launched her brand Divas and Shizuka Mutoh who founded in 2008 its brand Rady.
Koakuma Ageha was so successful that over time sisters magazines were also published: Ane Ageha (first issue released in 2010 as a special edition, then independent from 2011), Kimono Ageha (specialized in kimonos, since 2010 as a special edition) and I Love Mama (since 2008 for gyaru mama, that is women who have had children but who do not give up wearing the gyaru style).