Something strange was afoot in Tokyo. Something different in the air from the last time I visited. Like a subtle change in colour temperature, or shift in metaphysical vibrations. Or like when your favourite pasta joint quietly replaces pancetta with turkey bacon. For a while, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then, while gazing out the window onto a busy pavement from a coffee house happy to serve up gin and tonics at 11am, I realised the answer was written on the faces of the Japanese people darting by. More specifically, on the mugs of the men.
Could it be? Their eyebrows were growing back.
A new range of linen apparel, from tops and jackets to knitwear and dresses, for the sticky hot months ahead.
Yes, there was a distinct lack of crazy — and, as a big fan of kitsch and fruit loops, I mean that in the best possible way — on the streets of Tokyo. Sure, there was the occasional person of indistinguishable gender dressed as an animal of some sort, and several fellas sporting the old tweezed-eyebrows-and-raised-hairline combo, but, as a whole, the volume of Japanese streetwear had been turned down.
Perhaps it is a response to a string of sobering events, or an innate understanding that what goes up (and that includes the kawaii level) must come down, or maybe even a reaction to how the Koreans now seem to have a stranglehold on all things OTT, but hair colours were evidently less alien, make-up less alarmingly doll-like and hoodies markedly lacking in ears.
If Uniqlo design director Naoki Takizawa is right, it all comes down to a global shift in gears — a shift back to basics.
Consumers are craving more “natural” options, moving away from the artificial, said the former Creative Director of Issey Miyake at the Uniqlo Spring/Summer 2014 preview held last month at Belle Salle Shibuya Garden. Natural fabrics, he predicted, will grow in popularity. For instance, not only is linen a breathable fabric perfect for the sticky, sweltering months ahead, but it is also an environmentally-friendly, renewable material, growing quickly enough to be harvested twice a year. “It is the mood of today.”