6 Reasons Why I Love Tokyo
Meet The Street Style Maven Who Calls Tokyo Home
I wear many hats: Editor-in-Chief, Creative Director, Photographer, Stylist, Hacker of my own website (but that’s a story for another day). I’ve done a lot and continue to do a lot because of Tokyo. I love the city for so many reasons, it’s kind of hard to get them all down but here are a few.
1. My campus is a fashion capital
I finished my undergraduate degree in 2017 and I was mid-way through a working holiday. I was living the life doing English teacher jobs but I knew that I wanted to do something more. I applied for the Global Fashion Concentration degree at Bunka Gakuen University—and I got in! It shares a campus with the world-renowned Bunka Fashion College whose alumni include Yohji Yamamoto and Kenzo Takada (founder of the fashion brand Kenzo). It’s teeming with creativity and well-dressed students!
Every day feels like a runway and I always feel so underdressed. But, every day is also super exciting because I’m surrounded by future designers, buyers, and top fashion creatives so it’s a great place to network and get inspiration. I also, occasionally, get to model some outrageous (and nine times out of ten, super heavy!) designs for runway shows.
2. My fashion magazine is based in Tokyo
I grew up looking at (not reading, that would come later) Japanese fashion magazines like Fruits and Kera. One look at Hirari Ikeda, and boom! I was in love. I knew I wanted to create something just as important.
The Comm is an idea that came to me when I was on my year abroad at Waseda University. Japanese street fashion is so liberating and fun, but a lot of things get lost in translation and they end up becoming dogma. I wanted to open up the lines of communication (we have a super fancy word for it: cultural mediation) so I started the magazine with the aim of providing a resource that was accessible and jam-packed with shoots and articles from the heart of Japanese street fashion.
We started out publishing in English and Japanese but it soon became so much more. Now, each issue is published in English, Japanese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. I want everyone to be able to and learn about Japanese street fashion and pop culture. The Comm has been running for two years from Tokyo and we’ve interviewed and shot prominent Japanese street fashion icons like Haruka Kurebayashi, Femm, and Minori.
3. Tokyo has the best shoot locations
While each issue of The Comm has a specific theme, it’s always interpreted within the context of styles that were popularised during the 90s in Tokyo. Fruits, in particular, made the streets of Tokyo a major part of street style so I made the decision early on that I would always incorporate the streets in our shoots. I’m always on the lookout for cool places to shoot. Shibuya and Shinjuku are great places to shoot but they are also really obvious. I like to switch it up! Tokyo is a big city with amazing architecture, but it’s also really dense; you can go to the same place every week and find something or someone new to inspire you.
One of my favorite locations to shoot was Nishi Rokugo tire park. It was full of giant climbable sculptures made out of tires constructed in the shape of robots and dinosaurs. We used it for a post-apocalyptic themed shoot with Sakuran and it was a lot of fun, but also super stressful because kids kept running into our shot.
4. Getting connected: Tokyo takes me offline
It’s kind of ironic because our Instagram handle is @thecomm.online. Most of us are social in a very “online” kind of way, but Tokyo makes you actually want to go out. I’m a product of my generation and the online world is like a second home for me (or maybe a third in my case). But Tokyo is really interesting because it’s like FOMO all the time. The city is always buzzing, always active. It’s also really important for me to connect with other creatives—the best collaborations come out of a night of jerk chicken and sake.
Events like Tokyo LoveHotels give me the chance to meet new people while listening to great music. We’ve even had a pop-up at the event selling our zines and postcards. My secret (well I guess it’s not a secret anymore!) is meeting people while shopping. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been shopping and casually struck up a conversation with shop staff that’s led to discovering a new stylist or brand to feature.
5. Thrift shops: I love the smell of old clothes
I’m always on the lookout for pieces I can use for shoots—but I’m also not rich. The Comm is a small independent business and we have a budget. A really tight budget. So, I either use my own wardrobe, borrow or thrift for styling.The most unique pieces are found in the most unexpected places. My top tip is to travel, move away from the city center and wander down as many back alleys as possible. I guarantee you’ll find a really cool independent shop with amazing pieces at lower prices. My go-to shops are Mode Off and 2nd Street, and my favorite area would definitely be Shimokitazawa.
6. I get to work on my Blue Steel
I know it’s cheesy but it’s also kind of true. I’ve been modeling since 2015 and it’s a big part of my life. Moving to Tokyo has made me a medium-sized fish in a small pond. Tokyo is a place where you can get scouted for a major brand while on your way to the konbini. It’s happened to me a few times! I’ve done hair modeling, graduate fashion shows, music videos, and street fashion photoshoots. No two experiences have been the same. I never would have thought I’d model for brands like Beams and Kobinai, but I’m so grateful for it. Modeling has given me a great platform to express myself on and I’ve gained so many opportunities that have built up my creative portfolio.