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July 27, 2017 Tokyo FRUiTS – 20 years of Street Fashion

If you’re a fan of Japanese street fashion, then FRUiTs magazine is your bible.

The influential fashion publication began in 1997, and has spent the following 20 years documenting the colourful fashion trends on the streets of Tokyo. Over the years, photographer and founder Shoichi Aoki captured thousands of characters whose innovative, experimental and fun street style has been immortalised in print.

Next Friday August 4, The Japan Foundation in Sydney opens Tokyo FRUiTS – 20 years of Street Fashion, a photography exhibition.

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It’ll be like taking a walk through Harajuku… in Chippendale. The exhibition will trace two decades worth of fashion trends and Tokyo style movements, including Decora girl gangs, Lolita, and Urahara kei, through to the more recent trends of Neo Gyaru, Nu Goth, and the Simple Boom.

For those not well versed in Tokyo street fashion, the Decora movement was actually started by the cover model of the first issue of FRUiTS, Aki Kobayashi. She wrote a column about how she made her own accessories, and soon her disciples followed suit.

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Lolita is one of the most popular Japanese subcultures, and in fashion there are many offshoots of this look. For instance, there’s Gothic Lolita, which involves primarily black frilled clothing. The there’s Sweet Lolita, which is all about lace, pastels and bows. Then, there’s punk Lolita, which incorporates plaid with chains and frills.

The newer trends like Neo Gyaru are more westernised, where Japan and America meet to create ‘Neo Gals.’ Think bleached and/or pink hair, bling, and ripped jeans.

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Interestingly, Aoki has always cited Harajuku’s former Hokoten ‘pedestrian paradise’ environment as the reason the city became such a street fashion mecca. Until 1997, vehicles were restricted access on Sundays, leaving the streets wide open for young people to hang out and express themselves.

Though FRUiTS began the year the restriction was lifted, Aoki says Harajuku had already established itself as a haven for self-expression. FRUiTS ceased publishing in February this year, with Aoki reportedly explaining, “There are no more cool kids to photograph”. Which means they’re all in this exhibition. See you there!

Tokyo FRUiTS opens on Friday, August 4 at 6:30pm. Central Park, 28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008.

The Exhibition runs till September 16, 2017. Info: https://jpf.org.au/events/tokyo-fruits/

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Erin Bromhead
is a contributor for A•STAR