Marching to the beat of their own Watusi warrior drums, designers Mao and Juno of handcrafted leather goods brand Kitayama Studio create bags that combine uniqueness and versatility. With a revolutionary angle.
Persistent but abstinent, principled but unsophisticated, superior but interesting: The Kitayama Studio personality. 有追求但又节制,有原则且不圆滑,独⽴⽽不⽆聊,这是我们赋予⼀只包的个性。
Fashion and Revolution时尚与⾰革命
Revolution: “A forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system.” The Oxford Dictionary. The body of work that is China Fashion has hit puberty — in a positive way — and with that a revolution has dawned. Fashion has the power to reflect the ongoings in any society at any given time — give or take that remark with some slinky wiggle room — what you put on, becomes part of your identity. Before we look at a future accessorized with the sultry seasoning a Kitayama Studio bag has to offer, we briefly look at a bold past: Fashion, ever the rebel rebel…
Think 18th century French leftist sans-culottes who stood for pro-labor and pro-equality ideals. Writes French historian Albert Soboul: “The sans-culottes often estimated a person’s worth by external appearance, deducing character from costume and political convictions from character.” Quite the revolutionary comeback from Marie-Antoinette’s wiggy style; a style which had become aristocratEEK for the masses. A revolutionary fashion statement — you may take that to la luciferous lettre.
18世纪的法国⾰革命时期曾出现过“⻓裤汉”(sans-culottes) (当时法国贵族男子盛⾏穿紧身短套裤,平 ⺠则穿⻓裤,故⽤“⻓裤汉”代指法国⾰命时期的左派激进分子)。法国历史学家艾伯特·索布尔(Albert Soboul)写到:这些“⻓裤汉”党经常以貌取人,仅以一个人的外观来断定其价值、性格和政治倾向。与“长裤汉”的⾰命时尚宣⾔相似的另⼀个极端是法王路易⼗六的王后玛丽·安托瓦内特(Marie- Antoinette),其极度奢华的时尚⻛格本身代表的就是其贵族阶级。
Think the racial and class implications of the Zoot Suit Riots. In the midst of the tumultuous woes WWII was causing, young Mexican men in the LA areas dressed in the definition of an “oversized suit” called the Zoot suit, were in this fashion — you make take that literally — able to jeer authority. The sent a message to a government they didn’t feel invested in them. Writes Refinery29, with a little help from Parsons Fashion Archive Curator Beth Dincuff, “The Zoot suit used a lot of fabric, which was expensive during wartime, and is a super exaggerated fit. Sometimes the jacket goes down to the knee, which was a sign of wealth — and a lack of patriotism — when rationing was such a serious issue.” A revolution in racial protest.
另⼀个通过时尚宣言搞⾰命的例子是阻特装暴动 (Zoot Suit Riots)。在动荡的⼆战时期,一些居住在洛杉矶的年轻墨西哥⼈会穿上⼀种叫阻特装(Zoot Suit)的大号服装来嘲笑掌权政府:墨西哥⼈有钱就是不想投资政府。帕森斯时尚档案馆(Parsons Fashion Archive)馆⻓Beth Dincuff解释到:布料在当时的战争时期是⼗分昂贵的材料,⽽制作这些超⼤号的阻特装却需要很多布料。在量配给的年代,为了抗议有时⼀件组特装上衣甚至会做到及膝大衣的长度。
Think Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist protest punk rock group based in Moscow. Founded in August 2011, the group staged unauthorized provocative “guerrilla performances” in unusual public places, which were made into music videos and posted on the Internet. The collective’s lyrical themes included feminism, LGBT rights, and opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom the group considered to be a dictator. Pussy Rioters Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina were sentenced to two years in a labor camp for singing their “Punk Prayer” in a Moscow church. Looks-wise, the band’s brightly coloured balaclavas became a widely-recognised symbol. In sum, whether it be solid-colored dresses and balaclavas or a handkerchief and a hoodie at the G8 riots, protest culture helps unify youth by showing a sort of “anti-establishment” uniform. “The most dangerous censorship is self-censorship,” Alyokhina on 11 March, 2017, told audiences when visiting San Francisco for the premiere of “Revolution”, a Pussy Riot theater piece. From suffragettes to Pussies (or ponies) whose words can never be silenced… Revolution never ends.
让我们再来看造反猫咪乐队(Pussy Riot),⼀支来⾃于俄罗斯的⼥权主义朋克乐队。组建于2011年8⽉,在未经批准的情况下在特殊的公共场所进⾏煽动性地“游击演出”,这些演出被做成音乐剪辑发布在网络上。因其歌词涵盖⼥权主义、非异性恋者权利(LGBT rights)、抗议独裁总统普京等内容.造反猫咪乐队成员娜迪亚·托洛科尼科娃(Nadya Tolokonnikova)与玛莎·阿约⾦娜(Masha Alyokhina) 因在莫斯科救世主⼤教堂演唱亵渎宗教的歌曲“朋克祷告”(Punk Prayer)而被判处两年徒刑。从造反猫咪乐队的着装上看,颜色艳丽的遮面头套成为这⽀乐队识别性很强的标志.无论是像造反猫咪 乐队的单色服装和遮⾯头套,或是像反八国集团峰会暴动成员(G8 riot)的遮手帕和连帽衫,这些 “反对权威”的制服有效地团结了抗议的年轻人。“最危险的审查制度是⾃我审查”,玛莎·阿约金娜 (Masha Alyokhina) 2017年3⽉11日在旧金山的“⾰命”(Revolution)⾸演时说道。从妇女参政到造反猫咪乐队,抗议的声⾳不会消失… ⾰命永不停⽌。
Circling back to China, then: Kitayama Studio and one Adolescence Revolution.
China’s 20-somethings, aka the post-95ers, are slowly stripping away the burdens of (self-) censorship and in doing so are creating some trailblazing momentum in their creation of a new identity. 中国的⼆十⼏岁的年轻人,又叫“95后”,这代人正在慢慢摆脱制度的束缚,引领塑⾃我的新势头。
China, too, has seen its fair share of revolution. For now, we shall simply stick to the fashionable one in recent times, as opposed to delving into the qualms of the nation’s not-so brightly colored past. (One more on the military green side of the shady spectrum, one might say.) If history has taught us anything, it is that sex and thinking about sexuality have had a strong impact on trends, fashion and our overall street scenery. China is now entering such an age of adolescence, in which the younger generations are exploring these themes on different levels. They are slowly stripping away the burdens of (self-) censorship and in doing so are creating some trailblazing innovative momentum in their creation of a new identity; the new “Made in China”.
Think sexuality; two examples:
Two days ahead of the Qixi Festival or Chinese Valentine’s day, on 8 August 2016, Unicef created a network of Chinese youth to call for China’s younger generations to make using condoms “cool” and protect themselves against HIV and other STIs. Writes Unicef, “Adolescents face a multitude of challenges in sexual and reproductive health, including sexual exploitation and abuse, unprotected sex and the subsequent STIs, unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions.” There you go. Ignorance can pose a serious threat to these youngsters’ rights to develop themselves, protect themselves and, most importantly, live long and healthy lives. In creating such a network, Unicef took another step forward in stripping the taboos surrounding sex and encouraging China’s 21st century sexual reformation — if I may call it that.
2016年8月8日,中国七夕节(中国的情人节)的前两天,联合国⼉童基金会(Unicef)为防⽌HIV和 STIs等病毒的传播,在中国的年轻人中间发起了一场“戴套”运动。联合国⼉童基金会指出:“处在⻘春期的年轻人面临着许多像性虐待、不安全性行为、意外怀孕、不安全流产等性健康问题。” 正是对性问题的忽视才产生了这些威胁年轻人健康的严的问题。联合国⼉童基金会打破禁忌围绕性问题采取了进⼀步的行动并鼓励中国在二⼗一世纪进⾏有关性问题的新认识——用我的话说。
On another sexually revolutionizing note, China social trend site What’s On Weibo reports on 6 March, 2017, how one “illustrated Chinese elementary school textbook has sparked debate on Sina Weibo [China’s Twitter] because of its open way of approaching sexual education.[…] The concept of homosexuality is introduced at the highest levels; teaching children that homosexuality is a natural thing.”Amen to that, another step forward and a kiss from the teacher — a rather “befitting” Flemish idiom to express praise. Moving on!
另⼀个有关性革命的例子,中国的社评⽹站What’s On Weibo在2017年3⽉6⽇的新闻中报道了因《⼩学生性健康教育读本》过于开放的性教育方式引发的新浪微博评论,书中深度地介绍了同性恋问题, 并教育儿童同性恋是正常⾏为。做得不错,继续努⼒!
Such revolutions in Chinese thinking anno 2017 — whether they take place in terms of sexual awareness, gender issues or social change at large — manifest themselves in the realm of visibility, i.e. the ways people dress and start to think about beauty, clothing and accessories. Street style. Designers such as Mao and Juno of Kitayama Studio are prime examples of those 20-somethings. Always on the lookout for new and unbeaten paths to traverse; always in search of that ultimate marriage between comfort and style, fashion and tradition; always combining fashion and functionality. From the SS15 White Itoshioshi Collection to the SS16 Yakuza Moon and their leading-edge AW16 Adolescence Revolution Collections, these young creators of a new and revolutionary “Made in China” label have locked hands with highly-experienced craftsmen in order to make genuine premium-quality leather bags.
The art of accessorizing as presented within those wicked designer minds among Kitayama’s wild bunch has thus far produced some serious saucy minxery. With the lending hand from the brand’s Antwero-based Market(ing) Director Dan Li, Temper Magazine had the opportunity to bond with Juno and ask her all about the radly radical adolescent that is China Fashion and the revolution Kitayama Studio has in store!
Chinese people nowadays are starting to favor smaller brands which carry their own unique design rather than the big name brands. China is trying its very best to change the perception of that ‘Made in China’ label. Juno of Kitayama Studio. 中国⼈越来越多的追求个性与小众,而不是单纯的大牌。中国⼈正在很努力地改变以前的那个“中国 制造”给人们留留下的印象. 裘诺 北山制包所
Temper: Juno and Kitayama: Who are you?
Juno: “I am a true born and raised Beijinger. My choice to become a designer sprouted from the idea that, to me at least, design is an interesting field; one full of fresh ideas. I first studied Fashion Design and in fact became an accessories designer by chance — random, I know! I’d also like to have a go at graphic design, to be honest.”
Temper: What is Kitayama? What’s the jest behind it? 北山是什么样的品牌？其背景与品牌哲学是什么？
Juno: “Kitayama Studio is a handcrafted leather goods brand established by Mao and myself in Beijing, China. We are young designers who work with highly experienced craftsmen and utilise genuine premium-quality leather to create one-of-a-kind designer leather goods. The Kitayama design emphasises the beauty of simple form and clean line. In pursuit of functionality, our bags aim to mix comfort with looks, fashion with tradition, uniqueness with versatility. Persistent but abstinent, principled but unsophisticated, superior but interesting: We endow a bag with personality — preferably that of its owner.”
Temper: Tapping into that bag design… Clutch or handles? Long or short handles? Across the chest or straight down? 你个人喜欢可再生可回收的环保材料吗？你有特别喜欢的服装样式吗？你喜欢设计应季的系列吗？你喜欢手拿包还是手拎包？长包带还是短包带？斜挎还是单肩？
Juno: “In terms of dressing/style, I hold a strong preference for simple and ‘deconstructed’ fashions. I do also very much like finely crafted and luxurious feminine clothes. My take on the Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections tends to be quite different, which reflects itself in my selection of colors and materials, as well as the size of the bags. ‘Baggy’ style wise, then… I like handbags, short handles and worn straight down.There you go!”
Temper: Bags and shoes are probably among the most revered (and at times rejected) accessories of the 20th/21st Century. How can one bag make or break an outfit? 二十和二十一世纪在配饰设计中皮具和鞋子可以说是最受推崇的（但就风格来说有时又是不受欢迎的）。如何通过包包的搭配来突出自己的造型？哪些是女人衣橱中的必备包包？有关如何搭配包包你有什么诀窍？
Juno: “Any woman needs to have at least one delicate clutch in her closet; you know, one easy to go with most of her outfits. Furthermore, she needs a comfortable and functional bag for going to work, as well as a convenient small shoulder bag for going out casually. In my opinion, shoes as well as bags, make for the most important finishing touch when ‘styling’ yourself. Aside from your basic bags, one bag that’s brightly colored or features some type of special material can highlight and vivify any outfit.”
Temper: What’s your position on the concept of “sustainability” — and sustainability within the current China Design Scene? Is it alive? What does Kitayama (aim to) contribute in this respect? 在当下的中国设计中，有关“可持续性”的概念是真的有在实施吗？还是大家只是嘴上说一说？你是如何看待“可持续性”的？对此你是如何定位北山的？北山是如何对此做出回应的？
Juno: “Truth be told, I have heard about this concept, yet it remains rather weak in our own design practice. In fact, the Chinese government at the moment [e.g. the National V standard] is now getting very strict about various issues related to environmental protection. It is possible that they will at some point in the near future set much stricter criteria for material production. Nevertheless, and from my personal point of view, I think producing leather goods can hardly be linked to environmental protection, even though water and air pollution could be reduced, using animal skin in itself has nothing to do with being environment-friendly. In our studio we use quality leather which adheres to all required environmental criteria. However, in order to be truly sustainable, I think we should avoid the usage of real leather and fur. This will depend on a multitude of factors, i.e. finding good quality artificial leather, getting the artificial leather to look genuine leather, and so on. We’ll try our very best!”
Temper: Bags and the Chinese, then. How popular does the brand bag remain– and how about its “Made In China” knock-off? 中国制包：品牌包包在中国的受欢迎程度如何？“中国制造”的印象是否会因此而改变？在中国搭配艺术（穿搭术）是如何被理解的？
Juno: “In the past twenty years, famous brand bags proved extremely popular in China. However, their popularity has dwindled. Chinese people increasingly favor (and opt to buy) smaller brands which have their own unique design to them — rather than purchasing the big brands. In the meantime, China is trying its very best to change the connotation and impression of that formerly-pesky “Made in China” label. The Chinese are starting to appreciate their domestic brands. Plus, the quality and price balance of these domestic brands is at times better than that of the foreign brands. On a related style-note, then, when it comes to the art of accessorizing in China, I must say that Euro-American, Japanese and Korean fashion are currently wielding much influence with the younger generations of Chinese. Many tend to closely follow these fashion trends abroad.”
Temper: Chinese designers: Any favorites? Plus, how do you see Kitayama evolve within the overall China Fashion scene? 中国时尚正在发芽成长，你是如何看待整个中国时尚将来的发展走向的？在整个世界的时尚浪潮中，你是如何看待北山将来的发展的？
Juno: “There are several foreign designer brands I like, but I do hold a special place for Chinese designer brands such as SANKUANZ and Angel Chen, shoe brands such as PURLICUE and KIM, and so on. I think Chinese design will garner more and more global attention in the future and in gaining that momentum, will continue to forge its own style-path. I hope Kitayama Studio will have the chance to create and provide a platform, as well as offer opportunities, for more designers to create and realize their designer views — rather than just having the focus on me, myself and I!”
国外设计师有不少，我可以说几个中国设计师，比如上官喆的SANKUANZ,陈安琪Angel Chen等都是不错的中国服装设计师,苏五口 PURLICUE和KIM是中国不错的鞋履设计师。我觉得中国时尚的发展慢慢会在世界中占据越来越多的位置，也会像韩国一样逐渐形成自己的设计风格与审美。我希望北山慢慢可以称为一个众多设计师共同为其设计产品的平台，而非我一人施展才艺的舞台，我们希望给越来越多的新锐设计师提供他们想做出自己产品的机会。
Virginia Woolf once wrote, “Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.” When it comes to the art of dressing and accessorizing, don’t choke and cloak, if you will, but challenge the status quo. Besides, nothing screams fashion more than throwing a good old Temper tantrum. Adolescent or adult.