The Archives that Rei Shito Wants to Keep Cherishing (Part 2 of 2)

Rei Shito

Rei Shito is a photographer and journalist who takes photos of off-runway fashion not only in Tokyo, but all over the world. Also supported as a fashion icon, she is good at wearing not only the latest fashion but also archives in her own refreshing way. This time she will show us some of her best garments that has survived inside her closet through the years to give us insight into the charm of gems loved by all generations. This interview links the past with the present by looking back at the early 00's, which has particular significance to Rei Shito as it was right after she had started out with street photography overseas, she says. In this latter part of the interview, she showed us rare items by UNDERCOVER which are also popular among men.

--- I assume that as a street photographer you quickly catch first-hand accounts from the front lines.

“Yes. Nowadays I often hear people looking for UNDERCOVER items from the 00’s. I suppose one influence for that might be that we’ve moved from the saturated 90’s onto the mood of the early 00’s. Back in the day I used to wear tight T-shirts and trapezoidal skirts to break free from the Big Silhouette trend. My guess is that the next fad will be of more simple taste. That’s why I brought my personal belongings from that era with me today.”

--- Tell us about UNDERCOVER back then.

“This was before Paris Fashion Week was announced, so I think street culture was even more prominent than now. Womenswear was like an extension of menswear, and there were many universal items such as denimwear and sweatwear that were arranged in a feminine way.”

My personal UNDERCOVER denimwear and knitwear
My personal UNDERCOVER denimwear and knitwear

--- Is there any design that is unique for that era?

“There used to be lots of details in the patchwork. If you take a closer look at this denimwear I’ve brought with me, you’ll see that the section around the knee switches over to another texture, and that it has damage added to it. The silhouette is flared around the hems, and it’s low-rise. Back in the day I used to wear it in a mix with used clothing. Recently I’ve put it away since I haven’t really been in the mood for denim, but I’d like to match it together with some tank top for spring and summer. The tight silhouette of the knitwear makes me remember the atmosphere of this era. UNDERCOVER clothes usually have the season theme printed on their tags, and you can clearly see the remaining letters on this zip-up sweatshirt.”

The tag spells the theme for the spring/summer 2002: THE ILLUSION OF HAZE
The tag spells the theme for the spring/summer 2002: THE ILLUSION OF HAZE

--- Tell us about the zip-up sweatshirt as well.

“The coloring may be masculine, but the sleeves have a fluffy form because of the gathered shoulders, making it feminine when worn. The letters “HAZE”, formed by the jewels on the backside, is taken from the season theme “THE ILLUSION OF HAZE”.”

--- They’re really in good condition.

”I take good care of things. I buy clothes with the mindset of welcoming a pet into my home, haha. I first consider whether I can properly look after it and in what ways I can wear it before deciding on whether to buy it or not. I used to hesitate even more when I was young, so the older the items I’ve bought the more precious they are to me.”

Rei Shito
Rei Shito

--- Has there been any change in your coordination?

“I want to surpass myself every day, so I consider myself a loser if I keep going for the same coordination. If you try something in your work which ends in failure, you might cause trouble for the people around you, but not when it comes to fashion. It’s something you wear every day, so it’s easy to know what the result will be. You don’t remember what your friend wore yesterday, right? So you don’t need to fret over tiny failures. I think everyone has forgotten by tomorrow anyway, haha. When you go overseas, you stop worrying about what people around you think. It’s almost as if you can’t find the reason why you were worried to begin with.”

--- I think there are some items for women which are limited to a certain age. Let’s say, for instance, that you by chance found an archival miniskirt that you used to want back in the day, but which you give up on because your body has changed since then.

”My younger sister also works in the fashion industry, and she says that leggings and tights are a must for miniskirts because she’s conscious of her age. But the way I see it, it’s such a waste to confine yourself. You want what looks good on you. Don’t think that “your body is different from 10 years ago” and just go for it. I believe that adults have the power to make the clothes that they want to look good on them. The amount of clothes I know how to wear have increased compared to before. That’s because I have different sorts of experiences under my belt, both good and bad, haha.”

Rei Shito

Street style photographer representing Japan. She introduces street photos that she has taken all around the world on her blog "STYLE from TOKYO".

Photography_ OKABE TOKYO
Interview &Text_ AYANA TAKEUCHI