Apologies for the long hiatus! I was in Japan (again) doing a project on the evolution of luxury followed by erm…cultural research (read: having fun) in Bangkok. Posts on that to follow! Anyway, where to begin? This time around I met the creators of the Tokyo Dandy blog, Dan and Joe, who were not only super cool (to be expected), but super nice and down to earth (unexpected). Dan is English and Joe is Japanese — and together they run one of the most buzzed about bilingual fashion/nightlife blogs in Japan. I was luckily in town for the site’s first anniversary party at the Trump Room in Shibuya, a crazy space decked out in mirrors and red velvet that is hidden inside a random old office building. The place was so glam-packed that I was feeling incredibly out of place in my super-casual A.P.C. dress until bizarrely enough, a slim-suited frenchman came up and thanked me for wearing the brand. Turns out he was head of promotions for A.P.C. in Japan. Only in Tokyo!
So the party was insanely fun and later in the week I met up with Dan to pick his brain about what he saw happening in the Tokyo luxury scene as it pertains to the super-fashionable (but not necessarily super-wealthy) kids he’s friends with and throws events for. Perhaps the word luxury is a bit confusing here, but it seems to me that in a country where pretty much everyone owns something from LV, lifestyle aspirations for the younger generation have shifted away from brand-affliliated status to something more knowledge and community-based. The inferiority complex vis-à-vis the West that I used to see growing up has totally faded and has been replaced by cultural confidence and a greater desire to play a more integral role in the rest of the world. As Dan put it, “The (Japanese) kids today know that they’re considered cool. They see pictures of themselves in foreign magazines.” This generation doesn’t ooh and aah over some impenetrable ‘scene’ populated only by tall Western models — they not only feel included, they feel like they’re creating it themselves.
Furthermore, unlike their parents who worked non-stop in pursuit of the middle-class ideal of being just like everybody else, the people who populate Tokyo Dandy’s world would much rather work a crappy job at a convenience store if it meant they could maintain the freedom to pursue their interests. Dan knew of a number of people who successfully started shops and brands out of the money they scraped together from years of working odd jobs. It seems that in today’s Japan, the ability to take risks and have the balls to choose freedom over security is turning out to be the ultimate luxury. It’s also worth noting that the shift from being intimidated by gaijin (foreigners) to being friends with them regardless of what level your english is has done wonders for this growing class of New Cosmopolitans. A good TOEFL score may get you a higher paying job, but having a network of friends from around the world is way cooler and will probably end up benefiting you more in the end!