Kitakore Koenji: Dog, ilil, Garter

One of THE hippest conglomeration of Tokyo designer’s dens is the Kitakore Building in Koenji, housing Dog, ilil, Garter, Southpaw (ex-Nincompoop Capacity) and more.

Not the flashy, extravagant, “I’m so money” kind of fashion stores you see lining Omotesando; oh no.  This is cutting edge punk, futuristic, amazingly quirky fashion, as sought out by the likes of Lady Gaga, and worn by the hipsters gracing the pages of street fashion bibles Fashion Snap, Tokyo Street Fashion, Japanese Streets etc.

Though not far from Koenji Station, you could easily walk past Kitakore. There is no advertising campaign about the venue and it is not well known by the average shopper.  In fact, a few years ago when I asked my Japanese goth friends to take me there, they didn’t  know of it!  Mind you, fashionistas and fashion bloggers do; there are more and more posts (like this one) extolling the virtues of the place, so it can no longer really be called “secret”. But mainstream it is not.

Even armed with a map this time around, I had to wander a bit before finding it. On the way I saw some wonderful buildings like this old style house:

Traditional Japanese house in Koenji

If you know to look for a puffer-jacketed mannequin out the front, and if you know the heavily-spiked punk jackets Dog is known for, then you will know Kitakore when you see this:

studded punk jackets in Kitakore Dog shopfront

Walk down the block a little and you can see the signs of the stores:

Kitakore, Garter, Dog, ili

The Garter entrance (below left) is one entrance, or on the main drag next to the stairwell to Southpaw (below right) is the more hidden entrance into the bowels of the building itself:

Garter Kitakore Koenji Kitakore building, stairs to Nincompoop Capacity

From the hidden entrance you walk downstairs, not even sure you should be going there, due to lack of signage. But keep going and you will stumble onto Dog and ilil, much whiter and lighter on the inside than you expect from the outside. (For a FANTASTIC 360 degree view check this site out)

DOG secret store Koenji Dog Kitakore Koenji

LOVE the bright blue leather heavily-studded jacket you can just see hanging on the door in the middle of this pic:

Dog store  Kitakore Koenji

Before even setting eyes on the fashion, the fantastical interiors grab your attention, especially in the case of the store ilil. I found myself very at home with the quirky eyeballs, strange anatomical/taxidermy items and general zaniness.

ilil in Kitakore Koenji

ilil kitakore mannequin 

ili koenji anatomical model

ili koenji kitakore

There ARE actually great jackets & other items to buy; it’s just hard to focus when so much else is going on visually ;)

ilil fashion Koenji Kitakore

I chatted to ilil owner Rachel while I walked around, who remembered Nadia & Cami of Di$count fondly, with whom the Kitakore designers did a collaboration a while back. See “Kita-kore Magik!” for more on that. Rachel, like the other Kitakore peeps, actually designs/creates/repurposes the fashion in a tiny little workspace at the back of the store. I love how Cami of Di$count put it:

It’s a whole experience seeing how the designers make so much from so little. The term ‘hole in the wall’ is pretty much spot on. Even in such a tiny space, the character and passion is overflowing – it’s such an electrifying little building!

Rachel and I chatted upcoming Halloween parties/clubs, but Rachel confided she was being alcohol and late night-free at the mo’, due to training for an upcoming marathon. How refreshingly non-rock n roll!  Ya see kids You can still be at the forefront of sub-cultural fashion and still have a healthy lifestyle :) Anyways, a few more photies before we head off; don’tcha just love the helmet adorned in “gold leaf” from Moet cork wrappers?? Totally inventive.

 Moet helmet, ilil Koenji

Looking out the window just above the jackets rail, I could see that sadly, the gelato coloured lounge setting was no longer present n the rooftop :(  See my post “Cool places in Shimokita and Koenji” for pics and more from my July 2010 visit.

No visit is complete without a troop upstairs to Southpaw, formerly known as Nicompoop Capacity. Honestly, the fashion isn’t my style at all, and it seems ever so slightly daggy secondhand stuff – but my aesthetic isn’t the same as that of japanese vintage-hipster-kids, so what do i know? Frankly, the stairwell going up to the store is more interesting than the interior IMO.

Southpaw Southpaw Kitakore

There are many other really interesting stores in Koenji, and some of these I will feature in an upcoming post. Likewise I’ll post on when I headed to Harajuku to see the other Dog store (amazing!).

For more inspiration/info on Kitakore and it’s occupants, see the links below.

Koenji’s Kitakore Building article from Nippon.com
Style Bubble post Kitakore Kicks 

Garter website
Ilil online shop
ilil tumblr
Kitakore building blog
Kitakore tumblr 

Fernopaa at Studio Alta Shinjuku, Amihamu, Spiked collar & cuffs

Last November when in Tokyo, I visited Fernopaa for the first time in Studio Alta Shinjuku – see my post “New Rock Gyaru store FERNOPAA

Well, returning this time, I found the gorgeous Amihamu there, seen here with me, and the store layout much as it was…but with a BIG Halloween theme (as seen everywhere in Tokyo)

me with Amihamu from Fernopaa, Shinjuku

And even better is the photo of both the beautiful shopstaff:

Fernopaa girls Amihamu

On my first visit this time I saw a great black spiked bra that’d be fab for clubbing, but when I went back, it was sold out! I grabbed a spiked black satin collar instead:

spiked collar from Fernopaa

If the tag and lettering remind you of tutuHA, aparently the designer of  tutuHA is now the Fernopaa designer, and hence the name change to Glavil by tutuHA. (And btw, there is now a pre-order Glavil by tutuHA page on Facebook – go check it out!)

Last year I bought a pair of exquisite cuffs that are modelled on the human spine, that I failed to post before now:

spine jewellery from Fernopaa

So you can see from the pics that Fernopaa is very much a rock gyaru store, with a lot of gothic crossover. Although there remain certain elements I wouldn’t wear in the store (like the babydoll dresses, hotpants etc), there are a lot of items I would buy and wear. The accessories especially, are right up my goth-rock alley!

For more info and inspiration, see the following links:

Fernopaa Official Shop Blog

Fernopaa Snaap (pics of shopstaff & customers)

Ami’s Blog

Fernopaa Tumblr

There are a lot of tumblrs dedicated to gyaru fashion, shopstaff style and Amihamu in particular, that could keep you browsing for hours! Let me know what your faves are, along with shop staff blogs you like the most.

Next Tokyo visit, next week!

I take off for Tokyo next Friday…and am getting excited!

It has been 11 months since I was last there, unlike when I used to go 2 to 3 times a year. Last November I spent 9 or 10 days there and here’s a little recap of the highlights.

Shopping!

I bought this now favourite jacket of mine, a teal feather jacket from gal brand Sly - seen here with Issey Miyake Pleats Please lurex top and multi cross necklace from Black Peace Now.  I’ll be wearing another Pleats Please top I bought in an upcoming outfit post, but in bright aqua.

Sly Japan, Issey Miyake, pleats please

[Read more...]

New site Alt Scene Asia

Hellooo lovelies! I know I’ve been off in the ethernet once again….but I have been making way for a new website that will better integrate some of my interests, provide a better service and be more informative, leaving this one for my personal blogging. I’ve had so many people ask me, “where’s good to go for alternative music & culture in Japan/Singapore/Malaysia/India/Cambodia?”etc and usually I cobble together a facebook reply with lists, and point them towards my blog and certain tags.

I had a lightbulb moment a few weeks ago (drinking beer and watching something like Nat Geo or or TLC on foxtel), that there ought to be a website that alternative type people can check out, to look up where’s cool to go in each city. Now, there certainly exist numerous websites that cover their own city or country and in great depth, along with other sites that do all of Asia but with only glancing references to the alternative scenes there (like Lonely Planet or certain parts of CNN).

There are also those wesbites dedicated to their music style, such as Punk or Dark Alternative, and they cover off artists, gigs and scenes all over the world – but only in their genre. But how to bring these into the one place? While necessarily sacrificing the detail and depth of a genre-specific website, I believe there is value in putting together on one site, posts that link people to the sorts of places they’d like to visit when travelling in Asia, of course providing links to those more detailed sites for those who want to read more.

Anyway, that’s the vision, and that’s where Alt Scene Asia comes in. I’d like to cover alternative music scenes such as punk, post-punk, goth, deathrock, rockabilly, psychobilly, maybe industrial and just weird shit, as well as fashion, food, art & culture. In some places, just finding a place that plays *rock* is a battle, where everywhere you go you hear mainstream pop, R&B, urban, and artists like Rihanna blaring at you from every shop or bar. I do not want to cover off that stuff, or mainstream asian genres like K-pop and J-pop. There are enough sites serving them already ;)

So, AltSceneAsia. I’m gathering together a team from various cities and countries to write, because local knowledge is key, and also hoping to have a lot of guest writers. So if you know about a certain city, or know people who do, please drop me a line.

So that’s the place where I’ll do more informational posts, not that there won’t still be some here, but this blog will more be my personal experiences while travelling (as it always has been), alternative events etc here in Sydney, and my fashion and style inspirations.

In other exciting news, I’m off to Japan again! I haven’t been there since last November, and really need an update to stay current. Plus, I just can’t wait to go back ;) It also looks like I’ll have a quick mini-vacay to Myanmar with hubby the month after…so will hopefully get some local knowledge of the punk scene there, as well as just holidaying.

And now back to the website, to get it passable before promoting it. I’m no code monkey, and the tweaking is taking aaaaages!

Alternative Vintage Hair & Mexican Boy Beaters

I haven’t posted many pics of myself in recent months, but thought it might be fun to show some of my semi-vintage hair looks. I say semi, as I think the blue  coloured hair and weird lenses give the looks an alternative edge. In one, I have victory rolls, in another, a rolled fringe (which I achieved by rolling around a synthetic hair dreadlock).  These are both cab-cam pics, as often I only have time to snatch snaps on the way to events:

Vintage hair look, victory rolls in blue hair rolled fringe on blue hair

I’m the first to admit the fringes are a bit messy, not least because it’s often so hot and steamy in Sydney (and I’m often running late)!  But I will be trying these techniques again when I have more time. I did buy a hair rat when I was in japan once, but have mislaid it, so it’s definitely time to buy a few more to enable me to do all manner of vintage hairdo’s more successfully.

As it was so hot on Saturday night and I was seeing legendary German psychobilly band “Mad Sin”, I just wore a psychobilly tank top, my beloved bones necklace and some bone hairclips (oh, with the odd eyeball thrown in there).  Blue leopard lenses, eyeshadow from Maybelline’s new “Hyper Diamonds” pallette and big Japanese fake lashes completed the look.

The fab tank you can’t see very well here is from Hellwear in Camden Markets, and it is the Darkside Mexican Boy beater (as they call it) that I chose:

Darkside mexican tank

See more of the goth, monster and horrorpunk ‘beaters at Hellwear’s site, or at Darkside’s site.  And do try an alternative vintage look in your hair some time!