Sweet Streets: Art Inspired by Tokyo Street Fashion
Last week, Caro (of the great Polaroid blog hihicaro) announced that she's curating a second installment of Sweet Streets, Gallery Nucleus' group show of work inspired by Tokyo street fashion. Though the show isn't set to open until September, Caro has already launched the Sweet Streets blog, featuring artists who will be appearing the in the show. Every day, she posts about Sweet Streets-affiliated artists like Eimi, Junko Mizuno, Fawn Fruits and Esther Kim. We asked her a few questions about the project.
Your getting ready for your second Sweet Streets show. What prompted you to do the first one?
I was prompted to curate a show like Sweet Streets for a number of reasons. A lot of artists credit modern Tokyo as a huge source of inspiration for their work, and I saw an opportunity to get my favorite artists in a room and draw from this. When I began this project two years ago, I did some research and couldn't really find a group exhibition of artwork inspired by Japanese street fashion. To me, it's an interesting idea because Japanese street fashion celebrates in many ways self-expression and artistic themes. It's a very conceptual subject and lends well to an art gallery environment.
What was your introduction to Tokyo street fashion?
Like others, my first introduction to Tokyo street fashion was Shoichi Aoki's photographs in his FRUiTS books and magazine. As an artist, all of the colors and fashion aesthetics in those photos are so visually stimulating. I constantly look to them for inspiration. Last year, I was fortunate to meet some of the teenagers featured in FRUiTS magazine when I was scouting DJs for the Sweet Streets compilation. I guess you can consider that my formal introduction.
What's your favorite Tokyo street fashion style?
I don't think there is a label for my favorite street fashion styles, so instead I'll namedrop a few people that inspire me. I'm a big fan of Mademoiselle Yulia and her Giza accessories brand, which has a great Egyptian-inspired hip hop look. Also, my friend Kodai Fujisawa has impeccable style which is apparent in his new SKANK collection. Overall, there are so many fashion subcultures to choose from and I find them equally interesting.
I noticed some L.A. artists on the roster for Sweet Streets. Is Japanese fashion becoming more influential in Los Angeles?
I think Japanese fashion has a growing fan base in Los Angeles who find these styles influentional. In Los Angeles, we have pockets of fans who wear Gothic and sweet lolita, cyberpunk, and stores like Joyrich on Melrose are beginning to carry new brands like Mademoiselle Yulia's Giza. Regarding the exhibition, this year I also chose to feature LA-based designers who draw a lot of influence from these looks, like Chubby Bunny and Shrinkle by Amy Doan. I'm really looking forward to seeing their work next to other exhibiting Japanese brands such as 6%DokiDoki.
Do you think it would ever be possible for LA to have a street fashion scene that could rival Harajuku?
Well, when you say "rival", I think what you mean is LA street fashion going to see a repetition or level of creativity of what's happening in Harajuku? I would say the answer to that is no. I don't pretend to be an expert on fashion, more like a fan and observer, but some elements of Tokyo street fashion are culturally oriented. In the 1990s, it became clear that something was happening in Tokyo, commonly Harajuku, where kids were mixing traditional dress with new designers and customized clothing. Right now, for example, we're starting to see more vintage clothing incorporated into street style, and shops like Grimoire or the '80s-inspired SPANK!. Some say this may be because the current Japanese economy is affecting less expensive fashion choices. So, a part of what drives street fashion in Japan can also be pointed to what is happening there. Fashion in general is very personal and self expressive, so I don't consider the LA and Japanese fashion cultures as competitive- just different.
For updates on Sweet Streets II, check out Gallery Nucleus' site.
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