It’s hard to find a new clothing line or a Fashion Week show that isn’t labeled “street wear” or “Asian-inspired.” Today’s designers, trendsetters and even pop stars/fashion divas like Gwen Stefani have embraced these trends, rendering them “cutting edge.” Japanese street culture, with its robust and innovative mix of Eastern and Western cultures, is a primary inspiration for the fashion community and those that follow it. Columbia College’s new exhibit aims to wrangle some of the contradictions inherent in this fashion and lifestyle movement, which integrates the sumptuous with the simple. “Everyday Runway: Asian Street Fashion and Beyond” features photos and exhibits that use clothing, trinkets, videos, personal essays and magazines to illustrate the “Asian urban aesthetic and youth identity.” The show offers a unique view of what was once a counterculture but has now entered the mainstream.
Having been heavily influenced by Western (namely American) fashion, the examples of Asian street styles shown incorporate unique cultural and individual twists, giving the show street cred while being refreshingly avant-garde. Blending punk, rap, hip-hop, sneaker culture, kawaii (cuteness), bodikon (body-conscious), Otaku (animate/manga obsession), goth-Lolita and other exotic or futuristic examinations, Asian street fashion is practically impossible to define, as is this exhibit.
Showcasing the work of a wide array of artists, photographers, designers and street artists, as well as collaborations with local collectors and boutiques, the show captures the urban, cosmopolitan and multicultural spirit of contemporary style in Japan and Korea, while examining the trends and influences of street fashion in American pop culture. A section of the exhibit is also devoted to works by Asian-American artists using street fashion as a medium for further artistic and conceptual exploration. (Beth Dugan)
“Everyday Runway” runs through April 25 at Columbia College’s C33 Gallery, 33 East Congress, (312)344-6650.