I collaborated with fashion designer Olympia Le-Tan to create her designs in latex for the Harajuku Stars wrestlers. As you see, these ladies of the all-Japanese, all-female wrestling league, Sukeban, is attired in wildly colorful costumes, blending fashion, anime, and trad. Japanese women’s wrestling in a pop-tastic manner.
The squad just enjoyed its world premiere in New York City last month, engaging in a form of wrestling called “Joshi,” which is very popular in Japan. In the U.S., it is relatively unknown. But what happened in NYC down at the Capitale, a former bank on the Bowery where such well-known stars as The Rolling Stones once had a DVD party, indeed brought wider attention to the traditions, dress, and fun of this lady-led sport.
With vendors selling Sukeban merchandise (what’s a good wrestling squad without its merch?) and confectionary snacks like candy apples and the Japanese fish-shaped waffle called taiyaki, the proceeding were kept well to the nature of what Sukeban presents with its high physicality and anime nature. The names here come from Japanese girl gangs prevalent in the 60s and 70s, known as much to push gender norms as enacting petty crime; those gangs of old were defined as much by their actions as their dress. Wearing pleated skirts (that often hid razor blades) shirts with sailor collars, the seeming girly innocence of their wardrobe indeed belied their attitude.
Remember Gogo Yubari, the evil schoolgirl in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill? Then you get the picture.
The wrestler’s anime counterparts flashed on a screen as each took to the ring, with such female anthems like “I Want Candy” and “Bad Reputation” blasting. Consisting of four teams: the Harajuku Stars (again, which I helped dress), the Vandals, Dangerous Liaisons, and Cherry Bomb Girls, all brought their specific style to the proceedings with their styles. Specifically, I contributed to Countess Saori’s costume and the latex worn by Commander Nakajima (they occupy the middle of this page: https://sukeban.com/pages/liaisons)
Surprised though I was to contribute to this sport (just how well latex moves in a wrestling ring was something I had no idea about), I think the designs came off swimmingly and seemed to have moved perfectly with the high sense of fun and not a small amount of physicality the Sukeban athletes display.