Fashion, Travel

ERO-KAWAII > TOKYO

Ero, an abbreviation of erotic
Kawaii, Japanese for cute

October in Tokyo, before the chill of November breezes in, a time when mosquitoes become thin on the ground as leaves on trees change colour within a melancholic palette.

October, a time when students from Shinjuku’s Bunka Fashion College stir up the queues driving cameras crazy during Amazon Fashion Week. Despite the fact that Bunka ranks eighth in global fashion school ranking, few photographers gain access. Too much effort? Can’t be bothered? Happy enough to merely stalk the sidewalk for a pretty face to blog, with absolutely zero sartorial or subcultural assessment? Oh, fuck off.

October, when Halloween turns Shibuya into a giant three-night street party, all about the selfie moment, the focus is more upon the dressing-up box, rather than a truly-disturbing zombie attack.

The tradition of Tokyo’s colourful characters, who frequent the fashion eco-system of the Harajuku district, spans from the early 80s when the styling was bubblegum 50s rock ‘n’ roll. All very much Popeye, Olive, Brutus, An-An, the teen magazines of that era, within which street style was major.

The basic approach was and remains to be, burokko; a term that means fake children. Hugely influenced by the syrupy style of Manga and Hello Kitty, Sundays are still hilarious mayhem in Harajuku, as teens play with all concepts; cartoony, fluffy, frilly and panto Goth. Above average levels of urban voyeurism, exhibitionism.

Documenting street style in Tokyo, which most certainly includes scratching below the surface within key educational establishments as well as subcultural hotspots away from the grot spots simply overwhelms me, as one subject after another appears to wish to return to the almost dreamlike state of the world of childhood.

Not wishing to piss on Tokyo’s parade, the city feels somewhat tired and tatty at the moment, with a focus on what is affordable by the tsunami of teens, strutting high-street merchandise. There’s little evidence of a DIY aesthetic; rare innovation in terms of originators working something resourceful, unexpected. No, it’s all about conformity. Then you die.

Bobbleheads, uh-huh. Big dolly eyes on big brain-washed heads with big dolly hairdos. Invariably infantile, anything but ero-kawaii.

Photographs and words by PP Hartnett

schoolboysoul and none of god’s business (Autopsy) by PP Hartnett

Two spoken word downloads, due out via Amazon, 01.01.2018.

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