The final exhibition from the "Tokyo Hometown" themed collection took place in Koenji, Tokyo, featuring vintage, reworked clothing from the mid 00's, and parallel photoshoots from both middle America and inner urban Tokyo.
The collection gave us an insight on a brand new Lactose Intoler-Art visual aesthetic, linked to an inner exploration of present meets past
"I really wanted to think about the pain and joys, and the awkward of adolescence-This time more particularly comparing my high school days, to the dream I had to live and pursue my brand in Japan."
Nostalgia has always been a theme for Lactose Intoler-Art, but more recent collections used nostalgia as an inward focus from uncomfortable past times, and making something new of them.
"The collection before this, as far as a timeline goes, was more late 90's/Y2K inspired.
You know, the Lizzie McGuire fluff. The black plastic PVC, etc.
The overall idea of that particular collection though, was the "Allergy Delivery Boy" one.
I mixed those Millennial materials to express the idea of "allergy" ( in it's ever-so-swelled-up forms through voluminous fabrics, jumbo-oversized puffer coats) to express two sides of the coin.
The collection was slightly dark and itchy, but it was also fun.
..Not being truly able to 'escape' from the allergy when growing up, I wanted to work with something I had experienced being uncomfortable.
Something I couldn't change, but could make fun out of, and make something new."
This correlation of trauma into new creation was all the more evident with the next "Tokyo Hometown" collection.
"High school was just awkward. I grew up with the same kids my whole life. I wasn't an outcast, but I also didn't fit in. The trends in particular at that time were so body conscious.
I was chunky then.
Preppy, tight fitting brands with collars popped were all the rage for the 34 students in my graduating class.
I was the only guy that didn't play American football in my class as well-
I was basically living on myspace, mixing vintage clothing with still Hollister, and detaching from small town reality, through making friends on the internet and checking Japanese Street Fashion Web Sites."
Though one could assume that the collection solely focuses on the "awkwardness of adolescence", as well asa trends from not-so-long ago, this collection also paralleled feelings the designer felt after living in Japan, and also reflecting back on home.
"I had to become a big boy in Japan, you know?
Living in Tokyo was a mix of all my dreams coming true, but also being an adult on my own-By myself, on the other side of the planet.
I first lived in a 9 X 9 foot apartment when I got there.
It was exciting and tough.
This vintage toy hoarder of a man moved in on two suitcases, and had to figure out a lot on his own.
Especially past times living in rural America, and how that affected me even today.
A lot of the collection very honestly explored the ideas of masculinity as well.
I wanted to create a conversation about what we tend to teach our young boys in America, and how that affects the men they later become."
Hayatochiri exhibition-goers for the final installment of the show, featuring photography from Oklahoma native Justice Smithers, and Tokyo based half American/half Japanese model Ulysses Aoki noticed a much darker side of Lactose Intoler-Art.
Pieces such as an 'effeminately' shoulder padded "linebacker preppy polo" for example, compared the idea of how the shape of one garment can register as hyper masculine sports-like padding, or ultra feminine 80's office lady, depending on the viewer.
"I really felt the need to compare the idea of gender neutrality through clothing, of course-But I was more concerned with exploring the idea of extreme masculine and feminine association's with certain pieces of clothing.
The collection was a result of my confused and also somehow liberated brain on a platter."
Although cues were initially subtle, discussion from exhibition goers proved that the direction of the collection asked for a new interpretation.
"Connecting with my followers has always been important to me. Especially after the Tokyo Fashion mini documentary. I think sometimes people may see me a bit 2D, so I'm always intentional in creating not only something new, but something different than I did before, challenging myself.
For the Japanese version of the "Tokyo Hometown" exhibition, mixing the vintage, the photography, the new collection pieces, all of it, even the installation, was cohesive to me, but in a way my followers didn't expect, I think.
The "theme" of embracing the freedom of fashion through personal expression was as usual, clear as ever.
Yet this time, that transition from dark to light also included figuring out imbedded inward struggles.
Grasping a bit of adult reality "later in the game' can also be an acceptable, and even an empowering childlike experience.