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A Look Into Japan's Hidden Pin-up Subculture With Kasumi Yoshino

Pin-up style clothing was first popularized in the US throughout the '40s and '60s. Women first started rebelling against societies very strick standers for woman's fashion in the '20s - Women started wearing shortening their hemlines and wearing much bolder makeup. It really took off in the '40s during WW2, when women like Marylin Monroe and Rita Hayworth starred in movies with their alluring figures and bold choices of clothing for the time. Rita's famous for her blood red cat nails that she dawned in a movie she starred in - Which made thousands of women ditch their boring clear or plain nails for something that was considered too daring at the time. Soldiers would often sneak off to see them in movies and have their pictures pinned up on a wall in their room. Hence the term: "Pin-up girl." The style still lives on to this day and is now celebrated all over the world.

I spoke to Kasumi Yoshino - A designer who owns a shop called Psycho Apparel that's based in Japan. I wanted to know what inspired her to open her shop and what her experience was like being a pin-up girl in Japan.

A Look Into Japan's Hidden Pin-up Subculture With Kasumi Yoshino
Q: Can you tell me about your life and how it lead you to open up your shop?
A: "I opened my shop in Shimokitazawa Tokyo. The town has lots of Vintage shops, live house, and Izakaya. I was born and grew up close to the town. So Shimokitazawa was my family town. My old shop had Pinup style clothes from all over the world. As time went by, I thought that I wanted to create my own Pinup Collection - Four and half years later, my shop moved to Saitama (next to Tokyo, a little countryside) working together with my love. My love is a Car Detailer. He paints and makes Upholstery. My shops are all made by my love. I decided to move my shop because we need to express American Pinup Culture and American Car culture more."

Q: When did you first get into pin-up fashion and culture?
A: “When I was 19 years old. I was obsessed with Bettie page and Amy Winehouse back then. I wore Bold cat eyeliner and Bettie Page style bangs. I Mixed the two together and made my own style!”

Q: How do people in Japan react to the way you dress?
A: “When I visited LA, some people who were walking on the street stopped and said to me "Love your dress! Great hair! Cute shoes!" and so on. I love the feedback I get in other countries. I like hearing from anyone, but in Japan, the same thing will seldom happen. Almost all Japanese people are shy, so they will look me head to toe, and never say anything. (Sometimes they whisper to each other but I don't care! haha)”

Psycho Apparel's Kasumi Yoshino Talks About Pinup Culture In Japan
Q: I love your shop's name; how did you come up with it?
A: The word of "Psycho" is including funny and crazy meaning. I love Psychobilly music but my store's name is not inspired by that.”

Q: What’s it like being a pin-up girl in Japan?
A: “There’s lots of fashion culture in Tokyo. So I think it's not too hard being a pinup girl.”


Q: There are some very large pinup communities here in the US, how is it in Japan? Are there a lot of communities with women who dress in pinup fashion?
A: “We have many fancy ladies in Japan. However, the Pinup Community is still pretty small. This Culture is not as popular here yet. But I think that more women are starting to join it.”

Psycho Apparel's Kasumi Yoshino Talks About Pinup Culture In Japan
Q: Is Pin-up fashion well-known where you are in Japan? And when women come into your shop do you find yourself explaining what pinup fashion is and where it comes from?
A: “Everybody can learn from SNS currently. But I think seeing is believing. So when I visit LA and experience the Pinup Culture. I'll share my experiences with the women who come to my shop. I always get tons of inspiration from overseas Pinup ladies.”
Q: What’s your advice for women of Japanese descent who would like to try pinup fashion?
A: “Don't be afraid of looking different. Almost all Japanese people think that "Skinny is better." I think it's a boring idea, there are Pinup girls of all sizes all over the world. I want to show women that they're beautiful at any size and you can enjoy Pinup Fashion. I make clothing for every size from XS to 3L.”
Q: What do you think is the hardest part of being a pin-up girl of Japanese descent?
A:  “It's not hard I think. We have our own beauty points.”

Psycho Apparel's Kasumi Yoshino Talks About Pinup Culture In Japan
Q: Do you wear your designs yourself?
A: “I do! I'm wearing my designs every single day, with my friends brand's accessories.”

Q: Any up and coming designs or events we can look forward to?
A: “I'll launch my summer collection in early June. The photos will be taken by a special photographer from the US. It will be great. Stay tuned Ladies!”

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