Wednesday, 10 April 2013

there and back again

i've returned from my soul's motherland, and i will say i'm more than a bit sad about it.

i am truly apologetic for the delay (to the two of you who actually read this blog, haha). 
the landing back down to stone cold, so-called "real life" was a bit of a process.

but what tales i have! i was determined to make this trip as different as possible from my previous ones, and i daresay i was semi-successful! i wandered through many a backstreet, got to know a few new faces and hopefully, gained some new experiences that add dimension to old ones. of course, nostalgia will sometimes prevail and did lure me to more familiar spots.

the packing process was a meticulous, purposeful one. 

this is because 東京 is a fashion city in the extreme. Japan itself as a whole is a country whose aesthetics are integrated into every facet of living, and fashion is no exception. the stylish and fashionable far outweigh the ones who are not within the city of Tōkyō, and it drives me to pack (and therefore, dress) appropriately. 

the process that started at 2AM and did not end for two more hours. good life choices, obviously.

東京タワー「Tokyo Tower」at midnight. i'm pretty sure i teared up at the sight.

i arrived late at night, but before i promptly passed out after a quick shower in my hotel room's high-tech bathroom, i couldn't resist buying a bottle of water from the downstairs vending machine first. there's no real point to the anecdote, i was just overwhelmingly excited to be able to do so.

the next morning, 原宿「Harajuku」was singing its siren song, so there was the start of my epic week.

LAFORET is my Mecca. 

nowhere else in the world can compete with the bounding, positively thrumming levels of youthful, carefree creativity that this place emits to me. each brand that lives there do not only separate spaces. they create completely individual, unique little worlds through intensive visual merchandizing and branding with conviction that merrily wanders into the extreme end of the retail spectrum... with spectacular results.

in fact, this can be said of the standalone brick-and-mortar retail spaces in 原宿 altogether. 

it's positively fashion Disneyland!!

STUDIOUS is a relatively new fashion concept that effectively curates the very many local fashion brands who champion local manufacturing and craftsmanship, which i firmly believe is quite literally the best the world has to offer. the brands selected for the STUDIOUS umbrella are of course, impeccable, but commercial. 

by "sending out fashion items made in Tokyo or Japan to the world", did they mean it only had to be slim suits and remarkably petite womenswear? the accessories were wonderful, but i felt that the clothes did rather fall short of my expectations design-wise when i read about this store sometime late last year. 

LAD MUSICIAN: menswear stripped down to the barest minimum details, in both slim and billowing proportions that only really seem to look at home on painfully stylish Japanese men. i'd still wear it if i could.

one of the many unnamed storefronts in the hidden backstreets off 表参道「Omotesando」. i couldn't resist this one in particular not just because of the explosion of pastels and monochrome on the racks, which are abundant in this part of 原宿, but because two Spiderman toys were hanging out on their roof. also, きゃりぱみゅぱみゅ「Kyary Pamyu Pamyu」was blasting through the speakers. i can never resist.

i found the TOKYO BOPPER store, which proved to be most elusive in the past, was found by pure, wonderful accident this time around. i was really happy. TOKYOBOPPERは一番大好きの原宿ブランドから、私はめっちゃうれしんでした。ほんとうによかった。

not only did i manage to find and purchase my dream shoes, but the staff proved to be the coolest people i've met this trip. i even met the famous yama-san!! she was soft-spoken, remarkably polite and is practically the definition of effortless style for me. but in fact, i was overwhelmed by the simultaneous warmth and coolness in the store.  i left the store practically still shaking in disbelief. 

the TOKYO BOPPER staff: minami-san / shima-san / yama-san / nici-san

as if it weren't enough that my ultimate shopping goal had been met, in my wanderings i found some amazing second-hand/thrift stores that proved to be heavily reflective of the thriving vintage/second-hand shopping culture in 原宿。

this shop was highly curated and sold a lot of highly niche menswear brands; most notably WhiteMountaineering, visvim, NONNATIVE & PHENOMENON. street brands SUPREME & A BATHING APE were in abundant stock too.

RAGTAG is an immensely popular second-hand store whose size seems to reflect its success. where the previous store buys selectively, RAGTAG buys en masse. international and local brands mingle and are displayed with skill and an obvious knowledge of their customer base. they use a grading system that determines the price of each individual garment, but like most second-hand stores, RAGTAG does not do returns or refunds. 

i couldn't walk out without this perfect assymmetric Yohji Yamamoto knit!!

by this point, i was feeling pretty exhausted... off on a cafe search i went. i decided to explore the new Tokyu Plaza building that is now across LAFORET back on the main street along 表参道。i'm not even going to lie, the immense mirrored escalator-equipped entrance was a huge part of the reason why. 

how trippy and awesome is this???

girly snacks and girly magazines in a girly cafe is my kryptonite!!

needless to say, it was a ridiculously euphoric, cathartic first day in 東京。

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