“Everytime I come around your city bling bling; Pinky ring worth about 50 bling bling; Everytime I buy a new ride bling bling; Lorenzos on Yokahama tires bling bling.” **Lil’ Wayne
Alisa Ueno needed a cigarette and like a tough New Yorker she braved the frigid winds outside Lincoln Center following her runway presentation Thursday afternoon. Ueno is the designer for Fig & Viper, a brand that represents current Tokyo street style. Showing her line for the first time in New York Ueno said was exciting. “It’s the world!”
That was the idea of the organizers of “Tokyo Runway meets New York” in bringing seven contemporary Japanese brands to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. “Choosing to show at New York Fashion Week rather than other fashion capitals was a natural choice as New York City is celebrated for its diversity and a kindred spirit with Tokyo’s energy, eclectic tastes, and excitement,” said Shinji Hirato, producer of the show.
Tokyo Runway, founded in 2002, is a business to consumer fashion event that attracted over 30,000 attendees last year at its bi-annual runway shows in Japan. “We are confident showing in New York City will revitalize interest in the Japanese market from a global audience,” Hirato said. Nunoya Chiharu, who had traveled to New York from Tokyo just for the show, felt it was not just about business. “It’s a celebration,” she insisted.
There is no doubt that Japanese fashion has been creating street styles that have influenced Millennials worldwide and influenced pop culture in almost every aspect. “It’s electric. They have a little more innovation and cutting edge street wear,”Debra Bass of The St. Louis Post Dispatch . “Maybe because their culture is so strict and buttoned up, they love hip-hop — so they express themselves in street style.”
Fig & Viper was the first brand down the runway. “This season’s concept referenced “bling-bling” and reflection,” Ueno, 25, explained. But her “bling-bling” went way back featuring lots of fake fur. She popped off her collection with a purple fake fur coat and satin bell bottoms and later followed up with fur trimmed knit bell bottoms that were pure 70’s. “I was using my Mom’s real furs for inspiration,” she confessed. “Japanese love vintage.” One standout was a gold high-school jock jacket paired with a gold see-through one-piece dress with gold mini shorts underneath. A sheer kimono sleeve glitter cardigan gave a cultural nod, while several black faux leather mini-skirts featured pink ribbon bows down the side — edgy and girly simultaneously.
Ueno, got into the fashion game as a 17-year-old model of Japan’s Ranzuki magazine and kept modeling for other magazines, until she received her college degree in English Literature. She started “Fig &Viper” in 2011 and has since collaborated with brands like Australia’s MINKPINK and artists like Japanese-American Steve Aoki, a high-grossing electro house musician.
Fig & Viper has six retail stores and has pop-up shops every year. But that’s not enough for Ueno. “This is the on-line generation,” she said. ” I want to expand into shipping internationally.”
The other Japanese brands in the show were Aula, Double Standard Clothing, Han Ahn Soon, Dresscamp, and Mastermind. An interesting addition to the show was Riccimie New York which presented “Nicole Miller for Riccimie New York” which also showcased “Laplume Samantha Thavasa” bags made only by a limited number of craftsmen in Japan.