It’s said that accessories can make or break an outfit, but we’re not quite sure what to make of the usamimi and marumegane that have been recently popping up on the streets of Tokyo. On the style spectrum they reside at opposite ends: Usamimi embody the flouncy, bouncy ethos of the kawaii crowd; marumegane are all about appearing interi (intellectual) yet slightly off kilter.
Usamimi (“rabbit ears”) are a surreal take on accessorizing that mixes “Alice in Wonderland” whimsy with haute couture eccentricity. While it’s hard to pin down their birthplace, perhaps they were first inspired by the large ribbons that appeared in Louis Vuitton’s 2009 Autumn/Winter collection. Their popularity clearly got a boost from all the celebrities and teen idols who’ve worn them on TV. Harajuku is the place so see them in the wild, worn as a kawaii akuse (cute accessory). Along with the maxi take one piece (ankle length dresses), kan kan bou (boating hats), and pastel floral prints, this fashion trend appeals to the teens and twentysomethings who aspire to a girly style.
Marumegane (“round glasses”) have a different pedigree. This unisex trend can be traced back to artists and intelligentsia in the 19th and 20th century, both Japanese and foreign, though perhaps we should give Lady Gaga props for bringing them into the mainstream. Marumegane, which tend to be nonprescription, are more about style than vision correction. Exaggerated in size, they’re an eye-catching, manga-esque twist on a classic look, and the epitome of nerd cool.
So far, we’ve yet to see these two looks on the same person . . . and maybe that’s for the better.