Don't laugh, but I am a big big lover of Hello Kitty and as such was delighted to get my hands on the launch issue of Hello Kitty Fashion magazine. As I expected it was mainly tailored towards young girls, but I was delighted to see several spreads and features on alternative fashion!
When I was much younger, ElleGirl magazine used to be the go-to mag for those of us who wanted something different, but by the time I was about fifteen, it, too, had become boring, bland, and filled with celebrity bubbleheads instead of the exciting, dramatic make-up tutorials and bizarre fashion it had previously featured. But even ElleGirl was aimed at a slightly older, teenage audience, so as far as I am aware HK has provided the first magazine introducing young girls to fashions other than what is, well, fashionable.
It begins on page eight with a mention of the Anime Expo in LA and the Japanese Arts Festival in London; anime, cosplay and general Japanese geekery will always have a place in the collective hearts of the Goth scene, especially we nerdy types.
We also have, on page 22, an interview with Yuko Yamaguchi, the head designer at HK HQ, who is pictured wearing Japanese alt fashion. In the 'Crazy About Kitty' section where we meet HK collectors, it's not at all surprising to see a young Gothic Lolita (Kari Rose from Scotland) with dark make-up and facial piercings.
Then, much to my extreme glee, there is an entire feature entitled Do You... Harajuku?, which gives a brief, simplified lowdown of what this Japanese style central is and why it means so much to the alt fashion world, "Fashion culture in Japan is mostly centred around the Harajuku district of Tokyo... Harajuku doesn't just describe one style though - it's also the general term for the many different sub-styles the area has spawned. Walk down the street in Tokyo and you'll see Punks, Goths, super-sweet girly types and even the odd Manga character - they take style very seriously in Harajuku."
The feature goes on to explain how to get a Harajuku look: "There are no labels, no status accessories... second hand clothing is key, as is do-it-yourself... Harajuku style is about creating a totally individual look, wearing what you like, what suits you, and making a statement!"
It then breaks down several sub-styles of Harajuku fashion, namely Kawaii, Visual Kei, and Cosplay. There are some really great pics, and I can't help but wish that this magazine had been available when I was in my pre-teens, desperate to be different but not really sure how. I know I would have loved the pictures and the descriptions of the different outlandish styles.
There is then a couple of pages on how to create Harajuku looks for yourself - it's very toned-down and simplified but for very young girls I feel this is probably more appropriate. There's even a headband tutorial!
In short, I'm really pleased that there's a magazine introducing youngsters to the crazy, fun, beautiful world of alternative fashion; even popstars nowadays aren't identikit Britney Spears cookie-cutter bimbos like they were back in my day - Gaga's bizarre outfits, Katy Perry's pink hair, Jessie J's decidedly Gothy personal aesthetic and Rihanna's often dark subject matter are hopefully showing young girls that there's more to fashion - and to life - than looking the same as everyone else, and I'm sure that a magazine like this can only be a positive thing, even if large parts of it are basically an ad for Hello Kitty.
Keeping with the Hello Kitty theme, I wore the following outfit to a fashion show that my friend Bronwyn was modelling in last week:
Ear thingy: £8.50, Freedom at Topshop
Necklace: Rock Love
T-shirt: gift from Dan
Jeans: Criminal Damage, £35
Boots: New Rock, £150 from Attitude Clothing
Bracelet: gift from Dan