Following on from our coverage of the Akiba Noise 2.0 exhibition on the main site, we thought it deserved a closer look here as well from a less general fashion perspective. One of the most important changes in Akihabara culture at large has without a doubt been the advent of the internet and how an area that used to require you to actually be there to partake in it, has now seen its identity disseminated not only online, but also worldwide. Undeniably this has been key in attracting different people to the culture of the digital space, whether as contributors, or as users who would normally be put off by the occasionally intimidating reality, and it would also be fair to say that this phenomena has in turn probably brought a more diverse crowd to the physical space over time. As someone with observer status this is rarely an issue for me personally, and indeed, the act of observing is all the more easier to do when things are actually changing.
However, for both the digital user who feels they should have a say on what Akihabara culture “is”, or those on the street actually defining it, this does create an element of friction, particularly in the case of fashion. There are those who have an attitude that one should not exhibit the culture so publicly, even as the Yanki’s drive by in their ita-sha, or else those who scorn it as they falsely accuse the majority of women involved of lacking agency, but that is a whole other topic entirely. In short this friction comes down to the difference between those actively involved in this culture in reality and those whose virtual voyeurism keeps them at a distance that ironically develops its own codes and culture. For example, you cannot compare idol fans who spend the majority of their time participating in the culture on the ground with those who only venture out occasionally, the act of actually “being there” tends to change how you interact with a culture and the palpable difference between the atmosphere at a hand-shaking event or the energy of a concert is evidence of that.
I think this is topic increasingly relevant to fashion these days as well, the forums and tumblrs of the fashion internet have created people who experience fashion in an entirely digital space, venturing out only rarely actually wearing the clothes they collect. Likewise their relationship with fashion is fundamentally different from those who live it, and once again as an observer I have no stake in either camp.
The tipping point comes when these two worlds start to collide, and once again Tokyo in general has proved a front-runner for that, with Akihabara fashion in particular being the front-line. The mix of internet fashion culture with real/urban fashion culture is the zeitgeist of the moment, a mixing pot to spit out a new aesthetic and code from the complete saturation. Join me now as we get closer and closer to the work at the Akiba Noise 2.0 exhibition until all you can see is a blur of an idea, but there is definitely something concrete to come:
Stand by for 3.0 next season and rest assured that we have a whole host of Akihabara Fashion for you to enjoy soon.