I recently met up with a friend of mine who had just returned from a trip to Japan, but after a night of listening to his tales of sensory overload, meticulous storefronts, and inexplicable addresses I was left with the feeling that I’d been to young to ever appreciate Japan. When I visited that gloriously overstuffed country, I was only in middle school and while I could somewhat understand what was around me, so much of Japan’s beauty fell on my deaf ears, or really my blind eyes. I only wish I could visit Japan now, armed with a much keener eye for the multifaceted landscape of Japanese design. Every time I hear my friends stories, or unearth a new brand from that island on the other side of the globe, I yearn for crooked streets and murky udon all over again. So, this past week when my friend Mitch passed along the Okura web store with the simple message, “check this out,” I dove headfirst down an indigo dyed rabbit hole only to resurface hours later with a newfound infatuation for Okura’s house brand Blue Blue and their technicolor (well, if you consider a hundred different shades of blue “technicolor”) dreamcoats.
From the site’s rough English translation, I was able to discern that Okura opened in 1993 as Blue Blue Japan’s flagship store in Tokyo. Prior to that, Sellin & Co., the brand behind Blue Blue, had owned and operated Hollywood Ranch Market (a name you might recognize from Unionmade’s webstore), which opened in 1972 and was, according to their site at least, Japan’s first ever vintage store. With the creation of Blue Blue’s Okura store, the company set their sights on developing their house brand, which has now evolved into a smattering of different designs, some of which allude to the company’s Japanese heritage, while others reflect a clear foreign influence, mainly that of Americana or the mid-century trad look. The common theme of Blue Blue though, as the name not so subtly implies, is that almost everything is either blue, or at least has a slightly blue cast to it.
Recently the American obsession with the Japanese indigo look seems to mirror Japan’s past (and let’s face it lingering) obsession with all these American, but never have I seen the possibilites of blue handled so deftly as on Okura’s site. I often find myself saying that I would be content wearing nothing but shades of blue for the rest of my life, and why not? I can’t think of a single color that’s simultaneously as complex and as versatile as blue – one shade up or down, and the effect of that color is changed entirely. This is an ideology that I probably share with Blue Blue’s designers who conjure up images of weathered farmers, midtown businessmen, mod rockers, even medieval samurai all through a blue filter. Blue Blue recognizes blue as the constant, no matter what you’re style may be, leaving me with one conclusion: it’s time I start saving up my yen.