Hi all, Rob here. I’m back from a long leave of absence which involved a month in Japan. This is the first in a short series of posts about things I saw while I was there.
Tucked away in an unassuming corner of Osaka’s America Mura is Chaoz (pronounced Kaos), one of the most unique stores I came across on my trip. It sits quietly on the fifth floor of a street lined with off-brand onii-kei shops, and I came across it by accident while looking for a place to sell off some old Naoto.
Like most shops in Japan, they don’t allow pictures inside, but the elevator opens onto what I can only describe as the batcave’s walk-in closet. There’s faux stone on the walls, accessories lying on rusticated pedestals, and the lighting is dim enough that you actually have to strain your eyes to examine the clothes racks. All this to a soundtrack of slow, droning post-rock.
What it is is a hybrid vintage/urban menswear shop, focused on dark styles, soft fabrics and loose sillhouettes. Like Grimoire, its owners focus on curation, not provenance, so I saw Rick Owens tops hanging right beside a brandless silk shirt which the shopkeeper told me was from 1950s Thailand. There were designer pieces by Margiela, Damir Doma and Lanvin, but most of the collection is second-hand, and a lot of it is simply impossible to place. Oversized women’s pants and blouses are sold as menswear coordinates, and it all comes together surprisingly well. Everything is in dark or earthy tones, and there’s lots of mixing of tailored pieces with more casual outers in wool or cashmere. A lot of their leather is heavily distressed by years of wear, and that worn-in feel is a big part of the Chaoz image. They also have a thing for hats. I saw a couple of dozen, mostly felt and wide-brimmed.
The changing room goes with the bare, raw aesthetic of the store. It’s all done in rough concrete, with a persistent drip of water which I was always afraid would get on the clothes (it doesn’t). A large mirror shard is all you have to go on for your fitting, but in the dim lighting there’s an element of trust involved anyway. I picked up a super-thin t-shirt and two loose pants, all of which have stood the test of open sunlight.
Takumi-san, the shopkeeper who was in at the time, is the nicest person in the world, even for Japanese shopkeeper standards. We talked about his love for vintage clothes, about history, Japanese fashion (he’s not so fond of it), and their decision not to advertise - he says Chaoz is something of an “open secret” in Osaka. They have a Rakuten page, and Takumi is happy to take international orders by phone at +81 06-6212-2550, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ahh, EGOIST. This brand has been growing on me continuously for the last couple seasons and this new collection is no exception. EGOIST calls it “Old European,” and by the looks of these photos, “old” translates to a definite ’60s and 70s influence. Combine that with dual masculine and feminine themes and you have a collection that’s both trendy and wearable no matter what your fashion persuasion.
In these shots, simple body-con dresses are complimented by groovy headscarves. For the EGOIST girl, it’s all about the chain print, à la Chanel. Coordinating shoe styles include lace-up ankle boots with thick heels, similar to the brand’s previous offerings this past spring.
Here cool cropped trousers in a houndstooth check are are paired with a sexy shoulder-baring top, for a look that straddles lines of both girl and guy style. Floppy felt hats work for a range of looks as well.
With this we get a good overview of the collection. How many trends can you spot? Let’s see…suspenders, retro colors (like burgundy and brown), ouji-pan, fur, knit ponchos, leopard, and thigh-high and ankle socks!
Another collection overview. Check out all the different silhouettes going on, including nipped-in waists, short hemlines, and wide, bellbottom pants. A motif unique to EGOIST this season, horse-bit detailing echos classic Gucci design.
Jewlery-wise, bold statement pendants are a big part of the collection, along with EGOIST’s usual cross and other vintage-look designs.
Which look is your favorite? Take your pick!
Even more trends spotted here, this time funky bell-sleeves and chic pleats. I like that the brand went in a different direction and did a pleated top rather than a skirt or pair of pants. The polka-dot patterned neckties are also a nice blend of menswear and retro print trends.
More masculine and feminine looks, namely suspenders and a mod, double-breasted trench coat.
EGOIST has also come up with a coordinating hair and makeup scheme for the new season. I really love it when consumer brands go the extra mile and add a beauty component to their collections, much like couture brands do for their runway shows. It’s so thoughtful! Hair-wise, it’s all about loose, deconstructed styles, as shown on the EGOIST website and press blog:
First up is a flirty, Brigette Bardot-esque half-updo:
Next are soft, ’70s inspired waves:
Finally, a mussed ponytail with mannish appeal:
As you can see, the last two styles work equally well with or without hats.
Makeup is relatively simple, too, consisting of a classic cat eye that compliments the masculine and feminine duality of the clothing. Here’s a breakdown:
The finished look, including lip makeup:
Are you in mood for EGOIST this season? Discuss with us on the forums!
Part of the HARAJUJU team will be in New York this week for New York Fashion Week! Let us know if any of you are interested in meeting up and having your photo taken for this blog! Thank you!
For the many of you that have to resort to ordering online the great makeup products of Anna Sui, you’ll be happy to know that Yesstyle and Ichibankao are now carrying the new Fall 2011 collection! The only things that are not up yet are the three Limited Edition Powder Foundation Cases.
I already bought for myself the Eyebrow Color Compact #02 and the Limited Edition Eye Liner Pencil #01. I also got one of the three limited edition foundation powder case; the elegant version. I plan on buying the Perfect Mascara and Lash Amplifying Mascara during my trip to NYC next week! Stay tuned for a special post about that and happy shopping!