I’ve been hearing about it for quite some time now, but in person, it was inescapable. Even when I was here a year ago, it was dead obvious, and compared to all the years I’ve been coming here since 2000, glaringly so. Streetwear is most certainly dying in Japan. And I don’t mean “dying” as American streetsnobs like to reference streetwear’s death by its mainstream success and explosion. I mean “dying” as in DYING.
Long gone are Japan’s glory days of ’99. Yes, Neighborhood, Visvim, Wtaps, are strong and steady, and Bape is in a category all its own. But aside from that, American streetwear is all but a rarity and alternative domestic brands are equally scarce. Most of the streetwear retailers I talked to this past week echoed these sentiments, shaking their heads and emitting sighs. There were even several prominent stores which had boarded up their windows. A distant memory of Tokyo’s streetwear boom at the turn of the millenium.
But that just means a door’s closed, and another window is bound to open. And as is notorious from within Japanese culture, they’re just waiting on the next big thing to be flipped and enhanced. They’ll patiently watch us, and then once more, we’ll end up watching them do what we did, …but better. So give it some time folks, because it won’t be long ’til you’re nipping at their heels again.