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Relay Column: Everyday Revival (Takuto Izawa)

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Takuto Izawa
Takuto Izawa

Born in 1995. Currently enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, and works as a research assistant at the National Art Center, Tokyo. Additionally, he is part of the collective "pH7," which undertakes various activities in the fields of design and linguistic expression, including poetry and print design.

The reason why I am often late is not because I can't wake up in the morning. In fact, I don’t mind waking up early when needed, and I rarely miss appointments due to oversleeping. So why am I late then? It’s because, despite being awake, I can't leave the house. Various factors block my way out the door, be it the panic over not knowing what to take to work today, or the labor-intensive task of caring for my dry and sun-sensitive skin, but most of all, it’s the silent, eerie closet.
When I open the closet, despair always hits. The departure time is approaching, yet I am overwhelmed by the subdivided clothes, folded or hanging all over the place, not knowing how to select what to wear today. Each piece appears incoherent, showing mismatched faces, and extracting the one perfect outfit for the day feels like an immense labor. At such moments, I feel like shouting, "I have nothing to wear!"
There is plenty of clothing right in front of me. The issue is that each piece doesn't assert itself with any impact. It’s like a foreign language class where no one responds to the teacher; frustrating and unbearable. This makes me irritated, and I even feel like blaming the clothes for their lack of enthusiasm. But time won’t wait, so I must move my hands to get ready. I first choose bottoms with the dull reason, "I haven't worn these recently," then decide the rest while vaguely imagining the overall form. Among the socks drying around the house, I pick the pair with the most acceptable color that catches my eye, and it's a good day if I have time to put on accessories. After wiping my glasses and shouldering my bag, I finally start thinking about shoes......
I love looking at fashion enthusiast accounts on X just as much as I love clothes themselves. I often indulge in the sneaky habit of observing this cluster from the sidelines without committing myself. Among fashion lovers, there's always a complicated group that identifies themselves differently from "fashionistas" or "fashion lovers"; they call themselves "clothes lovers" (it's not good to place a "one group" without concrete references, but think of this as a personality that includes a lot of my imagination). They have a common cliché: "When a senior colleague at work tells you that you look stylish, it's over."
"Senior colleagues at work" can easily be substituted with "parents met at kindergarten," "university classmates," or anyone who clothes lovers find hard to acknowledge as one of their own. What comes to an end when such people call them "stylish"? It's not entirely clear (I'd be pretty happy if someone said that to me), but there's a portion of it that resonates. Clothes lovers must not be called stylish by non-clothes lovers. In other words, they should not give those without literacy the indication that "this outfit is stylish." The reason for this is their ideal of wearing good clothes without displaying any indication that their outfit is stylish. Only to themselves, or to those with the same level of literacy, does a seemingly ordinary outfit shine brightly, and that's where they find the nobility.
It's worth considering the opposite tendency as well. There are two tendencies in outfits that fashion lovers despise. The first is proclaiming the value of the clothes and brand through logos. The second is mimicking the seemingly stylish looks often seen on the street. Both cases fully accept the values recognized in existing systems, leaving little room for interpretation. The reason why clothes lovers find it "over" when general people call them "stylish" lies here. To them, careless compliments from the general public are like a merciless declaration that they fall into either of the two despised superficial categories.
When the ideal of clothes lovers is measured by the distance from "general stylishness" and negation, their practice can undoubtedly be called "fashion" (no matter how much they claim they are not "fashionistas"). This is because fashion = trends are always based on the movement of differentiation from what is not. As differentiation reaches its peak, "what is not" swells and approaches oneself like an impending wall. If we fully accept the contradictory expression "the cutting edge of trends," even yesterday’s self might slip from the cutting-edge today. It's an exaggeration, but clothes lovers might be compelled each day to part from what they wore. To avoid such self-alienation, fashion next attempts to incorporate elements as opposite to self as possible. By general standards, these are elements that might be seen as tacky. Thus, they start loving things like "expensive (but) UNIQLO (like inconspicuous clothes)" or the beauty of utility embodied in work clothes and shoes.
Indeed, entrusting one medium of communication, appearance, with expressing values not measurable by existing systems, values yet to be determined, is an attractive practice. However, what makes it hard for me to ride on is that it ultimately relies on "buying" (except for those who make their own clothes). The positions that keep a distance from general stylishness, like brands known only to the knowledgeable or manufacturers not generally seen as stylish, are determined by people's consumer behavior. Therefore, no matter how perfect a closet clothes lovers build using their knowledge and economic power, that value only functions as an allegory of the economic circulation surrounding clothes (even including those that are not stylish at all).
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