Shibuya, once famous for its dizzying array of subcultures such as backstreet b-boys, super-tanned ganguro and gaudy gyaru and gyaruo, has been going through something of a face lift. Fast fashion giants H&M and Uniqlo, and sportswear brands such as Adidas are leading the way in a corporate smash-and-grab of sought-after retail space. Add to this the latest news that Nike has bought a local park (Miyashita Koen) from local authorities with the intention of turning it into a purpose built sports facility.
However, if you think Shibuya will become a faceless, homogeneous zone of brand commerciality then you’re mistaken. It is still the eccentric heartland of specialized fashion scenes, along with neighboring Harajuku, and long may it remain so.
Galaxxxy is the perfect Shibuya store. At first glance, the boutique (and brand of the same name) seems like a superficial riot of random colors and influences taking in styles from the 50s to 90s club culture. However, beneath the neon, humorous t-shirts and hedonistic party-head atmosphere is a creative and savvy collective who incorporate their hobbies and interests into fashion design, club nights, art events and runway shows.
Formed three years ago by Hiromi Kishii and later joined by brothers Jun Arai and loco2kit, galaxxxy is essentially a madcap world influenced by music, fine art, television and manga. These influences can be seen directly in the store and clothing. The team also collaborates with artists and illustrators such as Ayako Hishinuma who has a cute logo t-shirt series in store now.
The main galaxxxy boutique, which is within seconds of the Shibuya H&M, was joined last year by a menswear space – galaxxxy discotheque. According to Arai, the typical galaxxxy customer is between 16 and 30. The store mainly attracts twentysomethings who want to hear music from their younger days and teens that haven’t heard any old school tunes yet, but are looking for something new.
Galaxxxy can also be viewed as a lifestyle choice – with dedicated fans jumping head-first into its kaleidoscopic apparel, edgy gallery events, and DJ nights at cool venues such as Trump Room, which is located near Shibuya’s Tower Records.
Arai says that although the team have a diverse number of interests, they do share a love of websites such as dommune, Twitter (check out the galaxxxy page), 2channel and niconicodouga. They are also serious manga fans – with favorites being Gegege no Kitaro, Morning, Jump, Hunter x Hunter and One Piece. Cute animation Lucky Star is also a favorite, as well as Arai’s love of Latin freestyle music.
Not content with two successful boutiques and sporadic club nights, the galaxxxy team also recently curated an exhibition – “gugenka” at cool Setagaya art space Public/Image. “gugenka” contained original work from Arai, paintings and t-shirts by Tetsuya Goto, and sublime art work by Ruka Noguchi and Kasico.
The galaxxxy stores represent a part of Shibuya culture which will hopefully be around for generations to come. Stepping into galaxxxy gives you a glimpse into the collective mind of one of Tokyo’s most creative and kooky labels. As it says on some of the stores’ accessories – galaxxxy rocks!
How to find Galaxxxy in Tokyo:
- Main Shop: galaxxxy
- Address: 2-23-10 1F, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0043
- Tel/Fax: 03-3461-2033
- Boyz Shop: galaxxxy discotheque
- Address: 10-20, Sakurazawa Bldg 1F, Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0044
- Tel/Fax: 03-3770-7927
On the Internet: Galaxxxy Official Website
Article text by Paul McInnes and all photos by Will Robb.
About the author:
Paul McInnes is a fashion and arts journalist based in Tokyo. He is the fashion editor (menswear) and contributing arts editor of The Japan Times. He is also the Tokyo editor of Sportswear International and contributes to publications such as High Fashion, Dazed Digital, JC Report and Japanese Streets. He has also been interviewed for TV including NHK’s Tokyo Fashion Express and lifestyle magazines such as Metropolis and Kaleidoscope magazine.
About the photographer:
As long as he is behind his camera Will is a happy man. He has photographed everything from the slums of Bangkok to the catwalks of Tokyo. He is a contract photographer for Lonely Planet, his images and photo essays have appeared in Time Out, The Japan Times, Sportswear International and a variety of other newspapers, magazines and guidebooks around the world and his photo essays from Iraq for The Griffith Review even earned him a mention in the Australian book review of the year in 2006. In addition to his media related work, Will also shoots events, portraits, weddings and the occasional CD cover. Whatever he’s working on, he always writes about his jobs and how he goes about them at Will Robb Photography.