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Fringe Factor: Tokyo’s Subcultures Hit The Runway


Looks from Jenny Fax, Alice Auaa, and Candy

No matter how hard the establishment tries to find the next Yohji or Rei on a big catwalk, the most exciting fashion comes from Tokyo’s fringe cultures. By coincidence or not, the final day of Tokyo fashion week, which wrapped last weekend, showcased four of the most unique street brands the city has to offer.

Harajuku’s landmark Laforet mall hosted the Fleamadonna show. The Korean brand turned out enough quirky kawaii elements—like cartoonish prints, exaggerated hip-hop-style proportions, and chunky street-snap-ready accessories—to make it a favorite among the colorful Harajuku kids.

Representing neighboring Shibuya was legendary shop Candy, which put on a styling show featuring its favorite street brands from Tokyo and beyond (above, right). Local labels like Christian Dada and Balmung were paired with underground British and American brands—and everyone offered over-the-top ensembles that scream for attention.

Otaku (geek) culture has become a force to reckon with in the industry, spawning a generation of designers who turn their obsessions with anime and comics into high-fashion fodder. Jenny Fax is at the forefront of this movement—and her Cabbage Patch doll-inspired Spring collection (above, left) did not disappoint. The designer used the toy’s visage on a number of daring looks, like an apron with a real karaoke mike. There are also some seriously subversive themes in her designs that harken to the Lolita trend of yore.

It wouldn’t be Tokyo fashion week without a nod to gothic styles, and Alice Auaa closed the shows with a dramatic presentation of dark looks (above, center). His wares told the story of a drowning girl—perhaps weighed down by her alloy crinoline or miles of ruffles. After this showing, Tokyo’s extreme stylistas will no doubt make street-style photographers swoon come spring.

Photos: Misha Janette; Getty images