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Image making, image watching in Ginza / 9 September 2014


Image Makers set me thinking...
Is it true that you are what you wear? That your appearance is who you aspire to be?
We try to express our personality and individuality by presenting ourselves in clothes we make choices and conscious decisions about; following fashion, following brands and following celebrities - 'I shop, therefore I am'

I personally find that my clothes level me out. They cut off those 'Grace Jones' dramatic moments and blurr over the black dog days by reflecting someone more together and less damaged; someone quieter and not at all outrageous.

In England I often wonder who buys the clothes on offer and where they wear them. Here in Ginza the shops are full of stripy clothes, but hardly a soul on the streets wears stripes.
I do notice more Japanese men on the streets in daytime in less formal, to the point of casual clothes - either the dress code has been dramatically relaxed (power saving with the atomic meltdown it was) or there are more men without jobs. And in previous years there were increasing numbers of young men in traditional Japanese costume. This year I have not seen one, but have noticed many in various takes on interpretations of manga style.

For young women the doll costume is still popular, the kimono too; I suspect the elegance of the kimono is having an effect on the way the doll costume develops. This year it looks a little less western, as if Japanese designers and wearers of western-style clothes are interpreting them with degrees of sophistication; looking at how foreigners have interpreted Japanese style and taken it back for consideration: refining and reinterpreting.

Like the traditional Danish wooden-soled clog, the Japanese Geta has also been modernised with a flexi sole, changing the way the wearer moves in traditional clothes, making the person less easy to spot on a crowded street, although wearing a kimono still means some restricted leg movement.

In previous years I've noticed whole sections on department shop floors devoted to Japanese women's formal wear. A black dress and buttoned-up jacket ensemble that I never saw worn. This year I have seen many small groups of women wearing the black dress alone, with pearls or with a colourful jacket, or maybe the unbuttoned jacket. Has it migrated from private to street usage? Yet the space it occupies on the Ginza department shop floor has shrunk dramatically.
Is shopping one step ahead or steps behind? Who are the image makers, us or them? And what is it we are all trying to say?







I have a friend called Jane and Jane
Is spotable in a crowd. Her
hip-short jacket in navy print
lapel-less linen, or beige, has
a gentle lived-in look always
with the toning scarf and trousers.
And the expression on her face
is Jane. Jane the optimistic.
Jane the positive; Jane who lives
a life that's not quite real, as if
her choices were removed at some
defining stage in younger life.
I come to recognise with time
the Japanese Jane swathed in beige,
in hat, gloves and trousers, often
on a bicycle, or scurrying,
and like a dam bursting full
of words, full of Jane intensity,
with bird-sharp gaze and short, softly
permed Japanese hair. Jane is a
mothering, people-pleasing person
who will, disconcertingly,
never mirror your body language;
never quite escaping the solitude
behind the artwork that is Jane.