partying in tokyo, talking raf simons and the american dream

We went for the good times and stayed for the Tokyo insider tips.

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Aug 10 2017, 3:43pm

A version of this article was originally published by i-D Japan.

From the moment Raf Simons was unveiled as Calvin Klein's chief creative officer -- the first since the brand's founder left his eponymous brand, we all wondered, "What will Raf do?" Ever since his debut show back in February, his answer has been a reimagined, reconfigured and relaunched American Dream. Despite the Michel Gaubert mixed show soundtrack sampling David Bowie's This Is Not America, the collection's Wall Street tailoring, sheriff uniforms, denim and cowboy boots and supporting campaigns, which have celebrated iconic American artworks and landscapes alike, Raf's Calvin is All-American, albeit through the lens of a beloved Belgian. "I've always been thinking of America," Raf explained after his debut show. "Now is the moment to focus on it. Energy and youth! You have to think about youth now, they are the future." At a time of Trump's post-truth and dangerous hyperbole, Raf's American daydreams are softly seductive and his focus on Generation Z and beyond offer hope for tomorrow.

Fresh from taking us on a trip through the Californian desert with the launch of the Calvin Klein 205W39NYC campaign, Raf Simons transported his American Dream to three underground nightclubs in Aoyama -- Bar Oath, Bar Hachi and Aoyama Tunnel. During the night, soundtracked by DJ sets from James Murphy, Jamie xx, Nina Kraviz, Hito, Know Wave and Eric Duncan and Sk8thing, we asked its Aoyama club kids how Raf's refreshing stars and stripes vision translates to the youth of Tokyo.

Tappei, 23, tattooist and graphic artist

Do you think Calvin Klein has changed since Raf Simons joined the brand?
Yes, it's evolved a lot already.

What's your best Tokyo tip for visitors?
Go to Nakano Broadway and enjoy some Japanese hardcore.

Shinoda, 25, musician

What do you think about Raf Simons taking the helm at Calvin Klein?
It's exciting. It was such a strong brand in the 90s but dropped off in the 00s. With Raf Simons it feels back on track.

What's your best Tokyo tip for visitors?
Go to Jinbōchō for good books and rice curry.

Himawari, 24

What's your American culture addiction?
Miley Cyrus. A friend was a fan and got me hooked.

Where does every visitor have to go in Tokyo?
It has to be Harajuku, doesn't it.

Poggy, fashion director

What do you think about Raf Simmons at Calvin Klein?
It was amazing when he showed in Chinatown. He's really connecting with culture right now.

How has American culture impacted you?
I've been influenced by Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy, The Great Gatsby and costume designer Milena Canonero's work on The GodFather: Part III and Oceans 12.

James Murphy

Chiharu, 25, model

How has American culture impacted you?
Not much really.

Where does every visitor have to go in Tokyo?
Harajuku and Shibuya.

Yuya Nara, hairdresser and make-up artist

What do you think about Calvin Klein with Raf Simmons at the helm?
It's great, he's kept the brand identity but has added more pop.

Who is the ultimate American icon?
Madonna!

Where should every visitor to Tokyo go?
Definitively Golden Street in Shinjuku. There are lots of exiting small bars around there.

Akimoto Yu, 34, restaurateur

Where should every visitor to Tokyo go?
To Ryogkoku to watch sumo wrestlers!

Zuk, works at Know Wave and teaches Judo

What does the American dream mean to you?
It's about the possibility of total unknowns becoming world famous celebrities.

Who is the ultimate American icon?
Andy Warhol.

What's your best Tokyo tip?
Go to Nakano Broadway.

Nina Kraviz

Kohei, 25, Yotaro, 25, Nobuaki, 24, all musicians

What does the American dream mean to you?
Nobuaki: It doesn't matter where you come from, you can make your dreams come true.

What parts of American culture have influenced you?
Nobuaki: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Kohei: Pizza.

Who is the ultimate American icon?
Nobuaki: Michel Jakson.

Where should every visitor to Tokyo go?
Yotaro: Take a bus and watch Shibuya's scramble crossing. It feels like you're in a zombie film (lol).

Kiwami, 20, musician

What do you think about Raf Simons at Calvin Klein?
Raf Simons made me like fashion, he always create new things, so I expect he will do the same at Calvin Klein.

Who is the ultimate American icon?
A$AP Rocky.

What's your best Tokyo tip?
Go to Spa World in Osaka, You can swim 24-hours.

Credits


Photography Takao Iwasawa
Text Hiroaki Nagahata