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Photography Shoichi Aoki

Harajuku’s FRUiTS mag might return, thanks to Demna and Virgil

Speaking to Dazed, the publication’s founder said that contemporary streetwear designers have breathed new life into the streets of Harajuku

Many were left saddened by the news that the influential street style magazine, FRUiTS, would no longer be publishing after its discontinuation in 2017. Founded by Shoichi Aoki, the photographer spent two decades documenting Harajuku’s cool kids, until revealing there were “no more fashionable kids to photograph”. 

Three years on, however, and we may be about to witness a relaunch of the seminal magazine. Speaking in an interview with Dazed, Aoki explained that is largely thanks to Virgil Abloh and Demna Gvasalia, who he said have breathed new life into the “exhausted Harajuku fashion”. 

“About a year ago, we started to see signs of new style growth in Harajuku when designers Demna Gvasalia and Virgil Abloh broke the deadlock (of) street fashion,” he explained. Arguing that this style has evolved into something which “would suitably fit into FRUiTS”, Aoki said, “This year I have decided to focus on a FRUiTS magazine relaunch. Thank you Demna and Virgil!”

Although Aoki once believed that the tourists who flocked to Harajuku (partly due to his documentation of the area) were responsible for its decline in style, he now thinks its tourists are having the opposite effect.

“For around two years, half the visitors to the streets of Harajuku were tourists who brought down the level of style,” he says. “But with the influence of new designers, those same tourists are raising the level again. When the Balenciaga Triple-S sneaker burst onto the scene, it was embraced by both Tokyo’s ‘fashion freak boy’ and ‘tourist fashion freaks.’” 

With an Instagram archive account already dedicated to sharing the pages of FRUiTS with a new generation, and an account of its own, Aoki is, however, aware of how different the fashion landscape looks now compared to 1997.

“Today, the fashion scene of Harajuku is similar to those days when I started FRUiTS magazine; no big fashion boom, fluid changes, and spending money in pursuit of fashion enjoyment,” he says. “But today’s fashion media is quite different. It’s no longer enough to publish a print magazine in the digital media age, as much as would like to, so I need to think deeply about how to adapt. Of course, Instagram is important, but it isn’t enough to tell the story.”