|PM 20:16 – 22:09
8th March 2021 at Tokyo
5 cups of Americano
2 box of Marlboro gold soft pack
|English Translation Akiko Watanabe & Rei Matsuoka|
It’s been over a year since the Corona storm began wreaking havoc around the world. While our everyday lives have changed in an unimaginable scale, I think one of the industries that has suffered the most is fashion. There’s nothing but bad news: brands shutting down due to bad performances, stores folding, cancelled shoots due to advertising cost reduction, or the lack of budget, period. People whispering that print media, including this magazine I am writing for now, may not survive unless something fundamentally changes; but why aren’t clothes selling? Of course, it’s clear that the absolute amount of clothes needed has decreased significantly under the current state of emergency—we are confined to our homes with no office or school as they switched to remote work and learning—heck, we can’t even go out to eat or drink at night. It’s understandable that there are some who haven’t bought a single piece of apparel in over a year, be it work attire or a party outfit. I can also understand why comfy sweatpants for chilling at home and practical clothes worn for trekking or camping are selling like hotcakes. But there’s a limit to that—it’s rather boring that only clothes like UNIQLO sell in times like this.
Yes, they’re cheap and efficient, but if you look, there are plenty of other options at the same price point—second-hand clothes, for instance. The bottom line: people are just following trend and buying cheap, decent quality clothes without doing much research or spending time on them. Perhaps people’s devotion to fashion has become something of the past. But I don’t want to wear whatever others are wearing, like some national suit in some country. What’s even worse is combining luxury brands with ZARA—like some influencers do—and calling it ‘real’. I refuse to dress like that. The word ‘fashion’ implies trend. Thanks to the pandemic, however, I think that the meaning or value of the word has been diminished greatly. What were the trends in the past several months besides antibacterial? People now feel that fashion is non-essential, even though it offers a nice change of pace and vitality to our daily lives. Given today’s global situation, however, I fully get why most of us don’t care to wear fashion trends that were presented to us half a year ago—unless you have a ton of money to spend, of course. How will the shows take place in the future? I’m curious, but I doubt it will be the same as before.
The current climate made me think a lot about clothes. I like clothes and have my own obsessions, but I think this past year reaffirmed the fact that I don’t like fashion after all. Trends and new collections never excited me, but now it’s become extremely obvious. Do I only like clothes only with heritage? It’s not that I ignore all trends, but I realized again that what I like is not fashion, but the style factor. I like the Japanese word osharé (stylish), because it has the word sharé (puns) in it. While the word osharé means to be stylish or to wear something chic, if you remove the ‘o’ from it and focus on its root word, sharé, suddenly the definition changes to ‘witty phrases’, including meanings like ‘jokes’ and ‘playfulness’. I find that pretty cool: what one thinks is stylish is also a bit comical and humorous, which in turn leads to a refined style. The more I think about it, the more I realize that what we referred to as ‘fashion’ in the pre-COVID days were purely fads and not at all stylish—like, buying and rocking the hottest new drop or splurging on pricey rare collaboration item may be considered ‘fashion’, but it’s definitely not osharé. It’s also missing sharé, because wearing or looking at them doesn’t bring any laughter. Maybe clothes became somehow too serious—overly concerned about how others may evaluate them. These are clothes lacking in humor and wit.
Please forgive me for talking about myself ad nauseum, since that’s all I can write, but when I was younger, I followed trends much more. In other words, I liked fashion. I enjoyed finding future trends first and quietly gloated as I mistakenly took others praising me for that as being accepted and acknowledged as some genius. However, after spending my twenties surrounded by folks wearing traditional ethnic wear who could care less about trends—some being borderline naked tribesmen—and working hard through my thirties wearing whatever I wanted, by the time I entered my forties, clothes were no longer a target to me. My reason for selecting clothes nowadays are simply because I like the piece or so I can support my friends’ businesses by wearing their products. Other than that, I started wearing hand-me-downs again with about an ounce of sustainability in mind, and a small rebellious spirit that I don’t want to be a part of someone else’s marketing campaign.
I bought some used clothes, but I’ve also been pulling my old clothes that haven’t seen the light of day in many years out of boxes and wearing them. I’m like, “Wow, I kept this tee from that crappy one-hit wonder band? LOL!” But they bring back memories. Whether it’s an old parody souvenir t-shirt, a band tee, or a movie tee—things that used to cost just a few bucks back then that might come with a hefty price tag today—they’re all basically a bit silly and often make you laugh. It was never my intention to wear these things as a means of communication; but as a result, some people came up to me because of them and we ended up drinking together. What was originally my sharé statement turned into my osharé statement. This is good enough for me, now that I’m older. There’s no point in trying hard to look cool—what’s important is that I’m having a good time, regardless of what others may think—that’s the spirit of sharé.
Speaking of sharé (puns)—I have a group of friends I DJ together with at parties, and when we were coming up with the name for our party, we decided on the ‘Mild Bunch’. Back in the day, there was a sound system and DJ group from Bristol called The Wild Bunch, later known as Massive Attack, and of course they sounded insanely cool. Their name was taken from a gang of outlaws in the American Old West that later was made into a movie, and this image perfectly matched their sound. Now that we’re older, our motto is: apologize immediately if something goes wrong; pretend to know nothing when mistakes were made; and keep smiling! Our sound is also not as professional as theirs, so we called it ‘mild’. Fortunately, the head of the group liked my goofiness and approved the name. People really liked the pun. I felt good and as a thank you for the DJs playing for free, I started to make original souvenir sweatshirts. I just printed on cheap sweats that are sold for a couple of bucks in the US, but before I knew it, even foreign DJs were offering to play for free in order to get it. I became kind of a ‘Straw Millionaire’, a poor man in a Japanese folk tale who became wealthy through a series of trades, starting with a single straw.
I made original sweats for the end-of-year party I threw with Virgil Abloh one year. During the party, an Asian guy came up to me and asked if he could buy it for a million yen (around $10k), and I said no. Then he asked, “Does it cost more?” I said, “No, no, no. I made them just for fun, and I only have a limited number to give to DJs. Plus, I have no intention to sell them.” He looked bewildered; then disappeared into the dance floor. These days, you can buy just about anything. If you have the money, you can find the rarest thing and get a price tag. It’s better to have things that can’t be bought in this world—higher prices don’t mean anything. Whether it’s good or bad is for you to decide. The world has become a boring place since COVID-19: you can’t go where you want when you want; you can’t drink with your buddies until you puke; nor can you go dancing until the sun comes up. And the most depressing part of it all is that no one knows when this will end. In order to stay sane and happy, we need to at least do something that brings joy to ourselves. Who cares about what others think or what the trend of the season is? Let’s become masters at sharé—keep on giggling and become osharé. Know this: osharé people are the trailblazers of trend, not the followers of trend.
Born in 1973. Kunichi Nomura is an editor, writer, and an organizer of the interior design group called Tripster, and has been a host on J-WAVEʼs “Traveling Without Moving” for seven years. He works in a variety of roles from creative direction for companies to casting director for films.