The book that captured pre-Sartorialist street style
The Photobook III praises the Japanese streetwear anthology Fruits that captured Tokyo styles at their wildest
Of all the Japanese street cults of the nineties, from the Gothic Lolitas to the clean-living all-natural-fibre wearing 'Mori' or Mountain girls, the acid-bright, mix-and-match styles of the kids of Harajuku, as captured in the magazine and photobook, Fruits, remains the most striking.
This overly cute style of dress appeared to spring fully formed, sui generis on to the streets of the Harajuku district Japanese capital in the mid 1990s.
Tokyo photographer and founder of Fruits magazine Shoichi Aoki, believes the look initially began as a self-made amalgam of native fashions and foreign imports. “Traditional Japanese items such as kimono obi belts, kanzashi hair pins or geta sandals combined with Western clothes,” he writes in the foreword to his book, “Even old second-hand kimonos were transformed into more modern-looking skirts.”
However it formed, this style of youthful street fashion certainly makes for an incredible collection of images, as Aoki’s magazine and subsequent photobook anthologies make plain.
Fruits is featured in the Looking at Ourselves lifestyle section of Martin Parr and Gerry Badger's Photobook vol III. Badger and Parr obviously admire the style of dress Aoki captures, though the authors caution, “one really should not try it over the age of twenty one.”
The co-authors also admire Fruits’ lightness of touch. “Aoki employs a simple, functional snaphot style, perfect for the Facebook era.”
Interestingly, Fruits was founded in 1997, seven years before Facebook registration, and a couple of years prior to the widespread adoption of blogging. Perhaps these kids prove that the teenage solipsism that selfies and social networking have supposedly brought about were already thriving long before online status updates.
To learn more about Fruits’ place within the wider context of photographic publishing, pick up a copy of The Photobook: A History Volume III, and if you’d like to own a copy of Fruits or its follow up, Fresh Fruits, then you can still buy the edition directly from the people who made it, here. And don't forget to check out our recent interview with the authors, Martin Parr and Gerry Badger here.