Koenji stores, part 3

A while back I posted about my visit to Koenji, where I dropped by the Kitakore Building as well as Nude n’ Rude.

Well, for the first time by myself I strolled around just enjoying the atmosphere (back in ’09 and ’10 I’d been led around by friends: see pics from my day out in Nakano & Koenji) .

It’s a funky little town with lots of cobbled streets in which to lose yourself, many pedestrian-only, so you don’t need to dodge traffic.  My japanese friends told me it has been home to punks for many years, and there is a plethora of vintage stores to rival Harajuku, so leave a few hours to dawdle and explore.  There is also a covered mall area near the railway station with a load of groovy stores, such as these:

Tatouage

This is an upmarket vintage fashion store, part of the Zool chain – see the Zool shoplist here for a complete rundown of what is becoming a massive empire – this store is called Tatouage by Zool (Purple).  A lot of late 60′s and 70′s stuff is here, along with more modern styles, and helpfully arranged in colour coded sections. Know you like blues? Head to that rack.

Tatouage by Zool, Vintage store Koenji

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Nude n’ Rude Koenji, 2012

Back in 2010 I first wrote about Nude n’ Rude – a goth/punk/fetish/alternative fashion store in Koenji, Tokyo.

I always try to visit Nude n’ Rude as I just love so many of the labels they carry, known to us in the west – like Iron Fist, Kreepsville 666, Lip Service, Demonia etc…as well as other Japanese labels and now their own Nude n’ Rude Couture 2012 line.

Since I was in Koenji recently for Secret Dog, ilil etc, I decided to combine them in the one afternoon shopping trip (along with a few other stores, still to come in future posts).

I wondered what had changed since my last visit a year ago. Peering in the shop windows, I was heartened to see the same kinky, kooky, retina-searing flavour throughout:

Nude n Rude store window [Read more...]

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 

New Japanese alternative fashion mag: Underground Clothed’s

Awaking from my self-imposed exile  I see lots of exciting things happening in the alternative fashion world, one of which is the new magazine being launched by D’s ValentineArtism creator and Alamode Magazine publisher. I’ve carefully hung onto my issues of Alamode Magazine,  being snapshots in time of the current japanese underground gothic/alternative music scene.

Now D’s gone one step further and is about to release a new magazine featuring the FASHION of the japanese alternative gothic/lolita/cyber/fetish/akiba-kei scenes: Underground Clothed’s.

Note the sexy back of Kiki on the cover :) While Kikirara Shoten of Dangerous Nude is well known to lovers of Japanese gothic fashion, along with Takuya Angel and Kenzo-A of Rituals (largely thanks to Kera magazine), there are a lot of emerging labels that are barely known outside of Nippon. PureOne Corset Works and Pay *des* Fees I’m acquainted with, due to their ongoing presence in the goth clubs.  Strange Artifact, a steampunk band with an accessories line, I learned of during my last trip in November.  But so many are new to me : la Reinette, A closet of Alice, marchenmerry, Rouge, fake-fantasy…the list goes on.

Underground Clothed’s will be available at Takuya Angel, Dangerous Nude and Closet Child.  It is also available to order online at ARTiSM, or at Closet Child’s online webstore. I imagine in time it will be available at the various stores throughout Japan that stock Alamode Magazine.

Some pics to whet your appetite:

Japanese goth fashion, cybergoth, harajuku fashion

dangerous nude

(Doesn’t Kikirara look like blogger Cheesie here? Or is it just me?)

While I wasn’t going to return to japan for a while…I’m now considering a flying visit in March. If I manage it, I’ll definitely be bringing back copies of the mag, as well as more info about the various labels and stores in it.  (I also have an interview that I did with Kiki at her home last year, that will make its way to these pages).  Watch this space.

January, looking forward, looking back

So how was your New Years Eve?  We just managed to catch the midnight fireworks then dashed back to Black Cherry Club, where we had fun hanging with friends…but failed to get any really good pics of our outfits :(

I was going to do a retrospective collage of last year…but failed to even get past January.  Looking back at last January – boy, did I have an exciting time!  (And boy, was MY hair RED!)

Starting off with my New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Sydney,

I high-tailed it to the airport on the morning of January 1 to fly to Tokyo. I wanted to be there for the January sales and fukubukuro bags, dontchaknow? I managed to do a lot of outfit posts on the blog (many in black, grey, leopard and fake fur)…quite a record for me.

I also caught up with a bunch of friends in Tokyo, hit a lot of stores including Marui One, Studio Alta, Shibuya 109 and Grimoire, took a few street snaps, and did a HEAP of shopping.

At the end of the month I celebrated my 6th wedding anniversary at the Big Day Out, with a cute hairdo with 2 top-knots.

And I headed out to a goth club in crimped 80′s style hair and danced for the first time in my spine-heeled d squared shoes, as well as my floral hair clip and jet beaded collar from Grimoire.

                                

Hopefully I’ll have just as action packed a January this year, even if I’m not heading to Tokyo any time soon. There are a lot of gigs lined up, from The Damned, to Soundgarden, to Voltaire, to Sisters of Mercy, to Bad Manners, to Arctic Monkeys, and to the awesomeness of Big Day Out and Soundwave soon.

I also have 29th Jan to 7th Feb off, and am contemplating going somewhere new and relatively close for a week..Indonesia? Hit a beach resort, or over-the-water lake retreat in Java a la Anthony Bourdain?  Would love to head to Aceh with an armful of punk cd’s to distribute to the punk kids there who are being oppressed…but travelling on my own not perhaps the best idea. Or Bali – avoid Kuta and head to Ubud, where I’ve never been?

Or there’s always Malaysia, go somewhere I haven’t been before there…which leaves quite a lot. Anywhere in Asia would suit me fine. Hmm…any recommendations?