Japanese? Yes Please!

The best of Tokyo Autumn/Winter 2013/14 Fashion Week

Tokyo Fashion Week took place the same week as our fashion week here in Toronto (TWINSIES) last month. Here in Canada, the weather was still appropriately chilly enough to keep us in the spirit of the Fall/Winter collections that were being shown, though the story in Tokyo was a bit different with the sakura trees in full, pink bloom.

Tokyo fashion is known for a lot of things, most notably for not being boring, and I have to say, in this regard the collections did not disappoint. Streetwear tends to reign supreme, and you can always expect to see a lot of playing with pattern, colour, and proportion. Most importantly, Japanese designs are always fun.


First of all, how could you not like this collection based on the name alone? Japanese brands always have the most delightful names (there is a store in Shibuya called Nude Trump, which is probably my favourite). MR. GENTLEMAN is the brainchild of two Tokyo veteran designers, Takeshi Osumi from menswear brand PHENOMENON and Yuichi Yoshii, who is known for organizing the VERSUS TOKYO shows.

The look at MR. GENTLEMAN is classic English prep with a twist. The preppy look is pretty popular in Asia, but because it doesn’t have the same cultural connotations as it does in the West, Asian designers tend to have a lot more fun with it. In this collection the tweed shorts are paired with matching boutonnieres on the jackets, and dress shirts have boxy, high collars.
You’ll find the full collection here.


Pronounced “Facet-asm,” Facetasm has become one of the more well known Tokyo fashion brands since its debut in 2007. Facetasm is classic Japanese streetwear through and through. The A/W 2013 collection is pretty futuristic looking, but some of the skirts almost look like pleated kimono. This kind of haphazard layering is very Japanese. I’m pretty sure I could never pull it off, but here it looks amazing.

Leather and shearling manskirts make up the menswear side—this is not the only collection that seemed to have them. I officially call a trend! Facetasm’s certainly look like they’ll keep your junk warm and cozy (feel free to use this in your marketing copy, Facetasm).
The full collection can be viewed on Style.com.

Gut’s Dynamite Cabarets

See what I mean about the names? I don’t think I would want to go to a gut’s dynamite cabaret though. Sounds messy. Gut’s Dynamite Cabarets is notorious for its drag queen following. It’s definitely a fun, edgy show, and A/W does not disappoint: love all the fur and patterns. I think some of those coats might even be warm enough to survive a Canadian winter. I am also in lusting for the tights in this show (LEOPARD PRINT!). Japan has the best patterned tights ever, and this will not be the only show in which you see them. I even know where to buy them, but unfortunately I am neither short nor thin. Someone please buy some and make me insanely jealous.
See the full collection at Women’s Wear Daily.


Dresscamp really played with pattern and structure, and this collection has some really amazing detailing that only becomes apparent up close (this dress, for example, whose skirt is actually made up of small, laser cut and edged pieces of fabric). Leopard print is also heavily featured. For women, flower inspiration is evident (a bit weird for a winter collection, but I guess that’s probably the time of year when you need to look like a plant the most). In menswear, the military, both past and present, seems to be heavy influences.
See the full collection at Fashioninsing.


Mercibeaucoup’s fall 2013 collection is for the free spirit in all of us who doesn’t believe in tight pants, or tops, or really feeling constrained by their clothing at all. This free spirit is also obsessed with soccer. This is an extremely Japanese collection, with a typically Japanese sensibility towards both prep and streetwear. And while it’s not really my personal style, I definitely want this graphic, oversized sweater in my closet.

See the full collection at Style.com.


Anrealage definitely falls under the spectrum of classic and pretty, but regardless I absolutely love this collection (especially the dresses that are inspired by kimono). Also love? The wigs made out of paper. This is also one of the few collections where the models are wearing a heel. It’s a very low heel too. I’m not sure why (maybe it’s because everyone has to walk and commute so much), but flats or platforms rule the Tokyo streets more than heels do, and that’s been reflected in pretty much all the fall collections. See the full collection at Fashionising.

Jotaro Saito

Jotaro Saito is one of Japan’s youngest kimono designers (he launched his first collection at 27), and he comes from a long line of traditional Japanese fashion artists. His grandfather was a dye artist, and his father is also a kimono designer. Jotaro Saito takes a different, more modern approach to kimono design, however. Saito aims to design “kimono as fashion matched with modern space.” His kimono definitely are cut and patterned in a much sleeker, more modern style (and definitely with a bit more leg showing). I particularly love the patchwork look on the women’s kimono, and the braided belts on the men’s.

See the full collection here.


Pretty much all of the jackets in this collection are perfect and I want all of them on me right now, but especially the blazer-y one. No wait, especially this sheer, cape-y one. And the flower peplums! So much good tailoring at Araisara. I mean…great? Too busy coveting to care.

See the full collection at Fashionising.

motonari ono

Motonari ono’s fall/winter collection is also completely killing it on the coat and blazer front. While it is largely warmer in Japan than in North America in the winter, but I’m still not sure why we’re seeing so many tailored shorts with bare legs looks across a lot of the collections. At motonari ono, they’re small and floral, and wouldn’t look out of place on a Mori Girl (albeit a very high fashion one).

See the full collection here.

Christian Dada

It’s like The Crow decided to give up revenging and became a fashion designer. This is a compliment, because there are GIANT BLACK WINGS ON THE SHOES. HOW IS THAT NOT THE BEST THING EVER? This collection does not give a fuck about looking pretty, and you’ve got to love that.

See the full collection at Fashionising.

Lady Snowblood: Queen of Kimono (and Death)

There's a whole lot of pretty hiding under all the blood

Lady Snowblood is a Japanese grindhouse flick from the ’70s, and is probably best known as being “that movie that inspired Kill Bill.” It’s based on the manga series Shurayukihime by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Kazuo Kamimura, and it follows the story of a young woman named Yuki, who is conceived and born for the sole purpose of avenging the rape of her mother and the murder of her mother’s husband and son. It takes place in the Meiji era (1868-1912), right after Japan reopens itself to trade with the West, and the fall of the 250 year old Tokugawa Shogunate. The government was pretty much completely overhauled, the previously defunct emperor given back the reigns of power, and a parliament created. Needless to say, this was a period of unrest in Japan’s history, and what happens to Yuki’s mother is a result of that unrest.

Yuki performs her revenge in a dazzling array of gorgeous kimonos, but first I just want to lay out what that means exactly. There are technically two types of Japanese robes for women: the yukata and the kimono. The yukata is typically made of cotton, and meant for the hot, humid summer months. The yukata is also considered more casual. Kimonos, on the other hand, tend to be made of silk and have two visible collars (called eri). The second collar is usually detachable and attaches to the juban, or under robe. Kimonos are typically worn in the winter, or on more formal occasions. The obi is the topmost silk sash that is usually tied in an elaborate bow at the back. It has more layers than you can see, but I won’t really be talking about them. If you want to know more about kimono terminology, here is a pretty good resource.


This is one of the first kimonos we see Yuki in, which is white with a blue flower motif along the bottom. The cerulean obi with gold detailing is probably one of the most beautiful ones she wears in the whole film. Kimono patterns are very seasonal, and the flowers on this one help to reinforce that this scene takes place in the spring/summer. Yuki wears a lot of white, which I think is to represent her innocence and youth, but often when she is wearing this colour, a whole lot of carnage goes down. However, white also ties her to her mother’s dead husband, who is essentially killed for wearing this colour, and white was the colour worn by samurai when committing ritual suicide, which she essentially is. Yuki knows she could die at any time committing her vengeance, and she dresses accordingly.


This blue striped kimono with red obi is one of the most graphic costumes Yuki wears in the films. The colours and the stripes are quite nautical, aren’t they? And very appropriate for assassinating someone on the seashore. You’ll notice that there’s not a lot of white showing here, and this hit is probably the most bloodless. It should also be noted that her juban here (and pretty much in all the scenes where Yuki is out for murder), is red. You can catch flashes of it throughout the film, and I think it’s there to represent both her true murderous intent underneath her innocent beauty, as well as for a hint of sexyness, as red is also considered a very sexy colour in kimono patterns.


As you can tell from the sword, Yuki is out to avenge her mother’s murderers. But the minimal amount of white here means no battle scene is about to go down, and, as it turns out, this target happens to be dead. Yuki also tends to wear purple during calm scenes, either on the kimono or her obi.

There is a lot of white going on in this outfit, and as you can see, the blood spatter gets pretty intense. Her juban during this fight scene is also red, and you catch flashes of it every time she slashes her sword.


Again Yuki is in purple, and again no fighting happens in the scenes where she is wearing this headcovering. My theory is that main purpose of this headcovering is to help emphasize the shock on Yuki’s face when a certain ally reveals who his father truly is (film studies students, eat your heart out).

This is the “final countdown” kimono, and you can see here that her juban is again red, and this kimono is predominantly white. The butterflies also symbolize the souls of the living and the dead, which is why she’s wearing what might be considered a spring motif in the winter. If she was going to go down, she would go down fighting – while making a sartorial impact.