Tokion is in a category all of its own. For a start, it’s been around for a long time, is a survivor, which is no mean feat for something that effectively started as a counter-cultural organ. And it’s not necessarily a magazine that one associates with fashion. In fact, this ongoing exercise in East-West dialogue is something that one more commonly associates with a rather faddish Japanese approach to all aspects of life; a lifestyle magazine that, quite rightly, has turned its attention to everything from technology and gadgets to music and social trends.
But, as any smart rag trade person would tell you, you’d miss a lot of opportunities if you underestimate just how far fashion in all of its forms penetrates Japanese society. So, it’s no real shock that this internationalised magazine with strong connections to Japan often proves that it knows what it’s doing when it comes to fashion, even if its ratio of fashion to other content is less than most traditional ‘fashion magazines’
The ‘Bird of Paradise’ story in the Spring 2010 – with photos by Juco and styling by Jak- is a good example. Bright and saturated, the aesthetic is one that is all bubble-gum agitprop theatre; snapped in an instant in found garish surroundings. The whole affair feels somewhat like an upmarket version of the phenomenon of Japanese teenage girls dressing up in their best, cutest, newest clothes and then snapping posed pics of each other in the cool hangouts of Tokyo’s youth. And in many ways, that’s exactly what this delightful fashion story is.
Doing its own thing, it’s interesting to see a different vision of fashion, especially if one thinks of how other magazines may have approached exactly the same clothes. The fresh directness of the story only underscores why Tokion is a magazine that can attract readers who, though interested in fashion, are not interested in it being something so inaccessible that it moves beyond grasp.