Wild in the Streets

American designer Liz Collins tries to make sense of Japanese street style.

The most compelling thing I experienced touring around and living in Japan for two months was the Japanese female youth culture ; these girls were across the board crazy and sexy and wild and silly and obsessed and strange in so many ways. Yet I think I was the same as a teenager, but in a different culture with different rules. I found my self preoccupied with finding out what made them do what they did and wear what they were. Why did they wear elephant-like jumbo sweat-sock legwarmers with their school uniform mini-skirts, which were sooooo short, by the way? And for that matter- why were their uniform skirts that short? Even in the depths of winter they wore them with no stockings while the boys were all comfy in their wool suits! Did they put on their wacky gothic, Lolita-esque, Holly Hobbie, Clockwork Orange, raver, Leigh Bowery-ish, bloody nurse, surgeon and patient outfits and makeup on the train on the way to Tokyo and then change back on the way home, as to not upset their parents? Did they wear that stuff all weekend and sleep in the streets of Tokyo after wild parties? Did they care about boys, drugs and drinks, or were they all so preoccupied with all the details of their looks that they got high on being seen and that was enough? Did they know where all their fashion references really came from or did they just pick cool things randomly from Western music, film and wherever else? What music were they into anyway?

Text: Liz Collins
Photography: ND Chow

Published in Issue 4 GenerAsian, 2002