Did internet kill the photography star? Or did the photographers do it?
FRUiTS says it has published its final issue after 20 years of covering Japanese Street Photography.
Founder, editor and chief photographer Shoichi Aoki has spent 2 decades capturing photos of Japanese teens and young adults in Harujuku and surrounding areas with a focus on their fashion and various trends over the years.
Aoki has been respected for his legitimate photography of real public subjects as opposed to other fashion sources that photograph models pretending to be found on the street.
FRUiTS has published stand-alone books loaded with street photography and has been a successful street fashion magazine in Japan for a long time, even making it's way overseas.
I myself first heard of FRUiTS in 2006 when I was introduced to one of their compilation books at a Hot Topic here in Sacramento, California.
But all of that is coming to an end. In an interview with Fashionsnap, Aoki claimed that after 233 issues over 20 years FRUiTS would be shutting down due to running out of fashionable kids to photograph. Wait...what? That doesn't sound like Japan to me, or Harajuku nonetheless.
Aoki mentioned he has seen a decline of kids that meets the standards of FRUiTS, and that over the years it has been becoming more apparent to him. Aoki claim that these changes has greatly intensified over the past year. Hmm.
The publishing company behind FRUiTS plan to continue putting "STREET" out on store shelves, however their other magazine, "TUNE" has been put on hiatus, with sources claiming it has disappeared completely and long before FRUiTS was cancelled.
Very intriguing, commenter Alan Yamamoto wrote this lengthy comment on spoon-tamago.com, a site that covers Japanese art, design, and culture who also covered the news of FRUiTS's end and Aoki's interview:
"Interesting.. But TUNE actually disappeared from shelves in Tokyo WAY before FRUiTS did, and anyone living in Tokyo involved in the scene knows FRUiTS didn’t just die because of “lack of cool kids.” FRUiTS became a popularity contest, often taking pics of the same kids 3/4 times per issue. Especially from about 2014-2016. There are tons of people that would seem incredibly stylish/edgy/loud on the streets of Tokyo, especially on the back streets of Harajuku and moreso in other areas. What actually happened to FRUiTS was sales rapidly declining after the rise of “Instagram kids”, and honestly even before, when most Street snap culture went online.. Aoki is to be respected, but the sole reason is not simply “lack of cool kids.” You have a metro area of over 30 Million people l, where majority walk. There’s so much fashion on the streets it’s unbelievable . Yes, the youth (even Bunka students) buy more fast fashion than ever before, but there is still an incredibly strong street fashion culture in Tokyo. I know for a fact one of the photographers that took pictures of several of the same “it kids” didn’t do the magazine justice in my opinion. (“It kids”, although everyone outside of FRUiTS new there were other underground creatives doing things outside of Harajuku, also with VERY strong, unique visual aesthetics ), but he chose not to photograph them. And honestly, a lot of old school Harajuku creative people were turned off by Harajuku becoming a bit snooty, mixed with fast fashion, and let’s also not forget how much of that part of Tokyo has been bought out by Asobi Systems… There are still experimental kids, but when it becomes an “it kid” contest, it kills the originally “freestyle” scene. In my opinion, FRUiTS can thank their own photographers for killing their scene. They got super selective, and as soon as that last photographer left, Aoki took over again, and although his history is extremely admirable, he was a little too far removed from the scene after returning-Whether it be unwarare of why the repetitive “it kids” were photographed constantly, or the fact that underground fashion peoooe studying at schools like CoCo No Gakkou were making amazing things very under the radar. (And not online so much.) Sad day, but if there is any doom and gloom in Tokyo, it’s the fact that SO much of the fashion culture there is status related now. Students are much pickier about brand association as well. This “fashion as personal expression movement” was very late 90’s japan, not as much now…"
Wow. I think its safe to say there's a good possibility there is more going on behind the scenes than we probably know.
Mr.Yamamoto's comment does make a lot of sense in the fact that it's obvious that Tokyo has no shortage of creativity. As for the claims of FRUiTS photographers ushering it's own demise is heresay as far as we know, however I think I'd believe that before I'd believe Aoki's semi-depressing outlook on the supposed "cool-kid apocalypse" when there are plenty of other people who spend time in the same scenes and can vouch for the enormous world of street fashion, whether it be online or offline.
Personally to me I feel I have seen a worldwide shift (not so much a change) in expressive fashion. It feels like those who're really serious about their styles and trends have exist deep in their scenes, some being off the radar, some not, but separated naturally from those who aren't as serious about it or grown out of it.
Uniqlo has reported numbers indicating a drop in fashion sales, but that should be taken with a grain of salt when we live in a time where elaborate cosplays are made out of people's garages and homes, just for example.
Does the evolving world of Social Media and the Internet Age really impact these trends of street fashion if it does indeed actually exist offline as well?
I see what Aoki is saying about Instagram, but to me it feels like an excuse.
Maybe Aoki just isn't seeing what he wants anymore for FRUiTS, maybe there's more to it. It is his magazine after all, but so far the FRUiTS Instagram is still posting.
What do you think? FRUiTS will be missed.
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