20+ Years of Harajuku Street Style!
Back in 1997 (and long before Harajuku was a hash tag or an adjective to describe fashion), photographer Shoichi Aoki launched FRUiTS magazine. The format was simple: every page was a single photo of one or two people in an amazing outfit on the streets of Harajuku. Text was minimal in FRUiTS. Usually it was just a few details about the subject of the photo and what they were wearing . Information included their age, occupation, and brands they were wearing, as well as their self-described style inspiration. In a world where social media barely existed (anyone remember Friendster?), FRUiTS was a window into the fashion experiments undertaken by the kids in Harajuku. Subcultures like Lolita fashion spread outside of Japan. And it was the beginning of "street style" as a legitimate source of fashion and trend inspiration.
While you were never likely to find a copy of FRUiTs at the grocery checkout line alongside Cosmo and Weekly World News, it was distributed via Tower Records and independent bookstores. Aoki had previous publishing experience that opened that door. This got FRUiTS into the hands of creative people all over the world! Soon Harajuku emerged as a destination for artists and designers. And I like to think that it planted a seed of fearless individuality and creative expression via style in every person that laid eyes on Aoki's Harajuku kids.
Why Harajuku? Not only was the neighborhood a magnet for creatives and young people, it was also the home of the world famous Bunka Fashion College, along with other well-known fashion and beauty schools. Over time, the coolest boutiques in the world opened flagship locations in the Harajuku, including Dog Harajuku, 6%DOKIDOKI, and the Laforet Harajuku department store (a collective of emerging designers and brands). Eventually more mass brands from both the high-end (Commes de Garcons) to the low-end (H+M) appeared there.
In 2017, Aoki officially ended the publication of the actual paper-and-ink version of FRUiTS, much to the despair of many fans. However, magazine sales continue to decline across the world, so it makes sense from a financial perspective. And the magazine lives on via social media. To commemorate the "end" of the magazine, Opening Ceremony released a small collection (I have the sweatshirt). I still get tons of inspiration from old issues of the magazine. You can find images all over the internet that were lovingly scanned hi-res by fans over the years.
Are you following FRUiTS on Instagram yet?