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Interview: Patrick Macias and Izumi Evers - Page 3

Japanese pop culture experts, authors and co-owners of jaPRESS

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Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno by Izumi Evers and Patrick Macias, published by Chronicle Books

Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno

© Chronicle Books

JAPANESE SCHOOLGIRL INFERNO AND TOKYO STYLE TRIBES

Q: I've read your blog, An Eternal Thought in the Mind of Godzilla and it's a fun and fascinating glimpse into the world of host club men's fashion, female street style, TV game shows, old costume superhero shows like Ultraman and Kamen Rider, plus odd bits of Japanese news. How do you decide what to feature in your blog?

Patrick Macias: There's no real decision-making process behind what goes up on the blog. I just put up whatever feels right. It's really a stream of consciousness snapshot of my obsessions at any given moment.

I didn't know what kind of reception all the fashion stuff was going to get when I started going in that direction about a year ago, but I'm happy to say that it's probably brought in a lot of attention from people who normally might not be into the old superheroes and macho manga. I guess the blog did start off as mainly an otaku thing, but nowadays, I like to think of it as a wild party where everyone gets to mingle in the same spot while I mix the drinks and spin the tunes.

Q: Several of your recent projects revolve around teen fashion. Why Japanese fashion? What fascinates you about these fashion tribes?

Patrick Macias: I think it would be a big mistake to try and over-think anything relating to fashion. But there clearly is some deep mystery and fascination people have with youth culture in Japan. Why do they do it? What's the point of spending all that time and money dressing up? I get asked those kinds of questions a lot. But I'm not really that interested in finding the answers. I think fashion is meant to be enjoyed, even just as a spectator, rather than put under a microscope.

Having said all that, fashion really is the glue that binds together multiple strands of pop culture like music, film, television, and a large segment of publishing. If you like any of those things, sooner or later, I think it makes sense to pay attention to what people are wearing and who is making and selling the clothes.

Q: I LOVED Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno and your commentary on evolution of the different style subcultures. What inspired you and Izumi to write this book?

Patrick Macias: It was really Tomohiro Machiyama's idea. He's a legendary writer/editor from Japan who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area now and he helped me a lot with my first Japanese book, Otaku in USA.

We were sitting around brainstorming with Steve Mockus, one of the editors from Chronicle Books, and Tomo said, out of the blue, "You should do a book about crazy Japanese girls. And it should be like a dinosaur book." That was the best idea we heard that day.

Q: How did it come together?

Patrick Macias: Izumi contacted people in Japan, mostly magazine editors and they gave interviews and helped us make more connections. But sometimes Izumi and I just stumbled around Harajuku looking for girls to take pictures like everyone else does. Everyone was really nice to us, even the gals and gal-o in the Shibuya clubs.

Q: How has the reaction to the book been so far? Has it been published in Japan?

Patrick Macias: There have been several offers for a Japanese version, and several reasons why we're not committed to the idea. But we have no problem with Brazil, and we like the Portuguese edition very much. It's called Tokyo Girls over there.

Q: I notice that you feature a lot of pics from Men's Knuckle and Men's Egg magazines. What's your take on men's fashion in Japan? Would it translate to America well?

Patrick Macias: I think Izumi and I are just magazine junkies. She started out as a graphic designer at a magazine publishing house in Japan, and I grew up voraciously reading things like Famous Monsters, Rolling Stone, Starlog, and Spin magazine until they literally fell apart in my hands. We buy Japanese magazines by the handful and try to absorb as much as we can from them.

Men's Egg and Men's Knuckle are really just amazing publications in terms of design and editorial. It's such a flimsy concept done so well: "Bad taste is actually glamorous." I love to just flip through those magazines and share all the crazy stuff inside of them.

I have no idea of it would ever work in America or not. On one hand, the look is very ahead of the curve. On the other, people love getting drunk and stupid here too, so anything is possible.

Q: How do young men in Japan view fashion compared to American men? Will you be doing a guy's version of Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno?

Patrick Macias: I don't know too many guys here in the US who go shopping together and or put make up on or wear women's pants. But it happens all the time in Japan. I'd LOVE to do a Japanese Schoolboy Inferno, and it's definitely on the short list of things to do.

Q: You've also mentioned that you're working as a consultant with Marui Department Stores, to bring Japanese street fashion to the U.S. Can you elaborate a bit on that project?

Patrick Macias: jaPRESS is working closely with Marui on their maruione.jp e-commerce site, providing content and consultation however we can. Marui is a major corporation in Japan, and working with them is a heck of an introduction to the fashion industry for jaPRESS. We're now regularly meeting good folks from brands like h.NAOTO and Black Peace Now and we're all excited about the future.

I had no idea I'd ever wind up in the fashion industry, but this has come to pass. Izumi on the other hand, almost went into the fashion industry way back in the day, but opted to study graphic design instead. So we both kind of snuck in the back door and are thinking of ways to maximize our time here.

Q: At one time the tag line on your blog read "Is it really possible to make a living as a Japanese pop culture expert?" So what's your answer to that rhetorical question nowadays?

Patrick Macias: Yeah, I changed it late last year to simply read "by Patrick Macias" so I guess some sort of milestone was finally reached. But no matter what, I'm always going to feel like some nerdy otaku looking over to Japan for fun and excitement.

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