Another of Harajuku’s iconic youth fashion brands has shuttered. Earlier this year, we reported on the sudden closure of Bananafish. Now comes the news of the fall of the Japanese fashion brand Sexy Dynamite London. Affectionally called “SekuDai” by its fans in Japan, the brand was known for its 70s-punk-inspired clothing, sometimes with gothic touches, and often featuring Sex Pistols-like graphics, metal studs, safety pins, and distressed British flags.
The sudden and unexpected announcement of SDL’s demise was made on September 22, 2010 via the brand’s website in Japanese. It reads, in part:
We are sorry for the sudden notice, but due to various circumstances, Sexy Dynamite London Inc. will halt its business activities as of September 20.
We have had to make a tough decision despite your warm support from the company’s founding until today, and to have come to these circumstances was completely unforeseen. We lack the words to say what we should express.
From our hearts, we appreciate our valued customers for your favor during these long years, while we also now offer our deepest apologies. We beg your forbearance.
Also, as we close, we deeply apologize for the great trouble we cause for our trading partners, our staff, and our associates. We are very sorry.
We offer our heartfelt appreciation to our customers for your long years of loyalty.
Thank you very much.
There is a bit more to the announcement, but most of the rest relates to the issue of product returns, privacy of customer data, et cetera. There is really nothing more specific about why the brand shut down so suddenly, but some Japanese blogs have mentioned possible financial problems and/or a possible bankruptcy of the parent company.
Not covered in the official announcement is the fate of the Sexy Dynamite fashion sub-brands Stigmata and Choice by Sexy Dynamite London. We can’t be 100% sure, but it seems very likely that those brands are also closed. As of now, the websites for both are also down.
At its peak, Sexy Dynamite London had at least eighteen of their own shops in Japan (including their famous “Vivienne Westwood Museum in Harajuku) and employed over sixty people, as well as having its clothing carried in over thirty other stores across Japan. Their collaborations with various VK musicians, and their participation in several LaForet fashion events in Japan and abroad, made the brand’s name and styles well-known overseas to Western fans of visual kei, j-rock, and Japanese culture.
To help you remember Sexy Dynamite London in better days, we’ve translated the history of brand – as told by the founder – into English. This brand history was originally posted in Japanese on February 17, 2010 on the official Sexy Dynamite London blog (now offline):
I majored in dressmaking and design, and mainly studied couture at a vocational school in Hiroshima. When I was 22, I hosted a large-scale fashion show at a disco in Hiroshima. The fashion show was filled with brands from Tokyo, and music was selected by the disco. Yes, yes, this is when I first heard the music by Sex Pistols. This experience made me cancel my study-abroad plan in Paris, and decide to work for a fashion company in Tokyo.
Later in 1992, I founded my independent brand, “SEXY DYNAMITE LONDON”.
The brand name pays homage to Vivienne Westwood, who designed costumes for Sex Pistols, and the “SEXY DYNAMITE” image represented by Marilyn Monroe at that time in the US. So, the brand name “SEXY DYNAMITE LONDON” includes the meaning “beautiful and cool” women.
The company started off as an individually-owned UK select shop in Kokubunji. It may be hard to imagine from the current SEXY DYNAMITE LONDON, but the store was just 53 sq. m. (569 sq. ft) with a staff of three. With a sewing machine, we remade denim jeans and sold Mods suits and biker fashions. Of the old and vintage clothes, Lewis Leathers and UK biker fashion was very popular then. Many of the brands had yet to reach Japan, making it harder to have them in stock. I made regular visits to London, and brought home 400 biker fashion outfits each time. They were so heavy it wouldn’t be counted in kilos, but tons.
The reason for starting an original brand: I had the chance to create a fitted costume with an UK taste for an artist who could use my help on what to wear on stage. Word spread quickly, I started making costumes for various artists, and all of them were made at the store.
Later, I had an offer to open a store in the Harajuku Tent Village, and started sales in Harajuku Free Park in 1995. At that time, everyone wanted the Nike Air Jordan in Harajuku, and the place was filled with Hip Hop-loving youngsters and black people. SEXY DYNAMITE LONDON had a strong UK taste, so it also served in introducing the punk rock style which had yet to spread over Japan.
Initially, the style was not easily accepted. But after being introduced in a magazine, musician stylists started visiting the store. Hyde and Kiyoharu themselves both visited the store. The brand was acknowledged by top-level artists such as SMAP and GLAY. Then, the fans of the bands gradually came to the store. Suddenly, the place was filled with customers.
Sales hit record high, and I was able to open a Vivienne Westwood-exclusive store on the streets of Harajuku the next year. SEXY DYNAMITE LONDON Corp. was founded in 1995. In the same year, the company expanded by opening a ROCK SHOP in March, a PUNK SHOP in April, and Shibuya Quattro store in May.
Sexy Dynamite London as a brand is now gone. But, with nearly twenty years of bringing a U.K. punk-inspired aesthetic to Japan’s youth, its influence will still be seen on the streets of Tokyo, in the Japanese music scene, and on other Japanese fashion brands that came later. With that being said, we can’t help but feel sad about the demise of two of Harajuku’s quirky fashion brands in a period of only a few months. Let’s all hope that the economy recovers soon so that we don’t see more of this type of news in the future!