>> I'm thoroughly convinced that if everybody on this planet watched the video above, depicting a world record number of dancing mascots in Japan, that we would achieve something akin to world peace. Or something like that. There can only be pure positivity begotten from watching bulbous bears, turnips, and hamburger moving in-step with each other – am I right?
Wait for it wait for it. There IS a way of connecting this YouTube wonder to fash-on. I picked up the video above from a a Guardian article, which talked about cartoon mascots in Japan serving a socio political purpose. Mascots can exist in a different context and so the vid neatly coincided with a meeting I had on Saturday with Sunhee Oh, the in-house stylist of Korean brand Lucky Chouette, which I wrote about back in January. Sunhee was visiting London and wanted to drop off some Lucky Chouette lookbooks, press materials and a few bits of clothing. I had already been swayed by its cartoonish sensibility married up with sass-filled streetwear and an accurate reading of TRENDZ, without it being banal. We are all well-versed in the language of bomber jackets, leather bikers, backpacks sweatshirts, caps, flared-out skirts, Breton stripes and trainers – and the sports/streetwear hybrid crossover into fashion doesn't seem to want to cease just yet.
Lucky Chouette though add their own flava (yes, I spelt it Craig David style…) by creating a cast of characters that centre around their very own mascot – the chouette, French for owl. Remember when in the words of Portlandia, everyone on Etsy had a tendency to "put a bird on it" and the owl became THE reliable creature to put on everything from tea towels to necklace pendants? Well, Lucky Chouette have taken out the twee and has street-wised up their owl into different incarnations to serve different purposes.
There's Angry Chouette – a more refined version of the Angry Bird. There's ICY Chouette whizzing down a snowboard on the slopes and looking extra cool on would-be Korean teenaged skater girls. There are the cutesy Bebe Chouette, Heart Chouette and Apple Chouette. There's a Popeye Chouette, who looks mighty cute on all the stripy Breton tops and Lucky Chouette's signature biker jackets and sailor tops. There's a pixelised set of Galaga Chouettes, which work well as a graphic print if you're not into wearing birds on your chest.
There isn't much room for the cutesy mascot in fashion. Kawaii kitschness and high fashion doesn't necessarily go hand in hand. Existing cartoon characters though have popped up time and time again as instantly recognisable themes and motifs, which anchor collections. Think of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac of Bambi's latest appearance in Givenchy's A/W 13-4 collection. Referring back to my exploration of logo-mania, i find it striking that Lucky Chouette, in addition to developing their text logo-ed pieces have also gone all out with their mascot and have convincingly integrated it into the the clothes. The result is anything but childish though. Sunhee's styling in the lookbooks and the in-house magazine really portrays an aesthetic, which girls and women can get onboard with in this newfound culture for style genre mixing and the popular marriages of high-low and casual-dressy. It could also be something that specifically targets a culture in Asia, where the tolerance level for the cute and the cartoon tends to last beyond childhood years but at the same time, I can also see girls all over the world getting onboard with Lucky Chouette.
Sunhee and I are hopefully cooking up a plan to gets me to Seoul this October. I'll be trying to find out as much as I can about the potential of Korean brands opening up their doors beyond their own country. It's a process that has already begun but take Lucky Chouette as an example – their e-commerce site is still Korea-only. Maybe I'll use the video above as a plea to their head honchos. I'll say "See? I'm telling you, the fashion world needs more mascots!"