KALEIDOSCOPE's Fall/Winter 2023 issue launches with a set of six covers. Featuring Sampha, Alex Katz, Harmony Korine, a report into the metamorphosis of denim, a photo reportage by Dexter Navy, and a limited-edition cover by Isa Genzken.

Also featured in this issue: London-based band Bar Italia (photography by Jessica Madavo and interview by Conor McTernan), the archives of Hysteric Glamour (photography by Lorenzo Dalbosco and interview by Akio Kunisawa), Japanese underground illustrator Yoshitaka Amano (words by Alex Shulan), Marseille-based artist Sara Sadik (photography by Nicolas Poillot and interview by Daria Miricola), a survey about Japan’s new hip-hop scene starring Tohji (photography by Taito Itateyama and words by Ashley Ogawa Clarke), Richard Prince’s new book “The Entertainers” (words by Brad Phillips), “New Art: London” (featuring Adam Farah-Saad, Lenard Giller, Charlie Osborne, R.I.P. Germain, and Olukemi Ljiadu photographed by Bolade Banjo and interviewed by Ben Broome).

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KALEIDOSCOPE and GOAT are excited to announce that our annual arts and culture festival, MANIFESTO, will return to Paris from June 20 to June 22, coinciding with Men’s Fashion Week. Building on the success of the last two editions held at Espace Niemeyer, a landmark building designed by legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the festival will again bring together visionary artists and creators from different areas of culture across three days of art, fashion, and sound.



The most southernly city in the US, Miami exists in the tropical recesses of the American imagination: land of celebrity, thunderstorms, Tony Montana, and Art Deco architecture. Here, we meet the latest generation of Miamians—committed radicals in the fields of art, fashion, and music, who are dreaming up new narratives for the city they call home.


These five London-based emerging arts are making work against all odds—work that is difficult and costly to make, store, exhibit, move, and sell. Working across video, sound, installation, and sculpture, they march onwards, carving out their own niche—exhibiting in empty shop spaces one day and major institutions the next. For them, making is guided by urgency, and persistence is motivated by blind faith.


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From 15–21 April 2024, Capsule Plaza returned for its second edition, taking over Spazio Maiocchi and extending to a new satellite venue: iconic Milanese destination 10 Corso Como. A hybrid between a fair and a collective exhibition, Capsule Plaza brings together designers and companies from various creative fields, bridging industry and culture with a bold and multisensory curation that spans interiors and architecture, beauty and technology, innovation and craft.



On the occasion of the 2024 edition of Felix Art Fair, taking place February 28 to March 3 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, KALEIDOSCOPE has partnered with Dover Street Market Los Angeles to present a limited-edition zine. In celebration of the Oscar Tuazon installation, commissioned to host the DSM store inside the hotel's ballroom, KALEIDOSCOPE presents a free publication created in collaboration with the artist, available exclusively to Felix and DSMLA visitors.


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KALEIDOSCOPE hosted a solo exhibition by Marseille-based artist Sara Sadik (b. 1994, Bordeaux), in November 2023 at Spazio Maiocchi in Milan, with the support of Slam Jam. Inspired by videogames, anime, science fiction, and French rap, Sara Sadik’s work explores the reality and fantasies of France’s Maghrebi youth, addressing issues of adolescence, masculinity, and social mythologies. Her work across video, performance, and installation often centers on male characters, using computer-generated scenarios to transform their condition of marginalization into something optimistic and poetic.


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The hip-hop artists of the Reiwa era emerge from a tangled mesh of cultural references that Japan has imported, exported, and re-imported again, in an endless loop of cultural osmosis with the West. None exemplifies this more than Tohji, whose new-wave music and potently nostalgic Y2K asthetic seem to fulfill the broken promise of a futuristic utopia.

In Japan, cultural appropriation is an art form. Twisting, warping, and attempting to improve upon imported inventions is something Japan has an undeniable talent for, absorbing and ingesting foreign cultures before rebirthing them afresh.
Though the country may be seen as an arbiter of the futuristic— bullet trains, robot staff, electric toilets—most innovation to come out of Japan in the past century has largely been through alien (i.e. foreign) technology, culture, and fashion. If you want reliably good American-style selvedge denim in 2023, you don’t go to the US; you go to Japan. But in a globalized age in which the potential for fresh cultural exchange has largely been exhausted, what comes next?
Japan left the Heisei era and entered the Reiwa era in 2019, after Emperor Akihito abdicated the Chrysanthemum Throne, and his son, Naruhito, took his place—in addition to their identities of Gen Z, Millennials, and Boomers, Japan’s generations are perhaps more generally defined by the country’s calendar eras. Despite being decribed by the government as meaning “beautiful harmony,” Reiwa got off to a shaky start, mired by the COVID-19 pandemic and the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by a cultist with a homemade gun.
You might well interpret the changing of eras as a government- sanctioned vibe shift. Reiwa’s cultural landscape is yet to unfold, but a wave of new generation-defining voices are beginning to emerge in art, fashion, and music.


Enter Tohji. After first putting his catchy, ethereal music out on SoundCloud in 2017, the London-born Japanese rapper has become something of a phenomenon over the last few years. Collaborating with a litany of Western artists, including Mura Masa, Bladee, and Mechatok, he has quickly become a prominent voice in the J-hip-hop scene. Like the music of other stars, such as JP the Wavy, LEX, Awich, and kZm, Tohji’s raps speak to Japanese identity in 2023, defined by an increasingly globalized sensibility. His sound, defined by a trap baseline and ambient beats that support slack-jawed, auto-tuned vocals that swing seamlessly between Japanese and English, is inspired by suburban life in Japan. Lyrics talk about driving around Tokyo Bay, going to the mall, and hanging out at the beach: everyday, banal, real-life, teenager stuff.
Tohji’s new-wave music comes with a well-curated and idiosyncratic look. With chronically unkept hair, wraparound sunglasses, and tracksuits that are not so much worn as half-shrugged-on, the 27-year-old’s Y2K look is both potently nostalgic and cutting-edge. Recalling the vaporwave and mallsoft aesthetics of the early 2010s with its softly cyberpunkish flavour, it’s a look that is obscurely futuristic but also rooted in retro references: simultaneously familiar and hard to define. In the music video for “Super Ocean Man,” for instance, he has his hair tied up into a rough ponytail and wears a pearl choker, white arm covers, a vintage women’s Dior tank top emblazoned with “dior surf chick,” and blue sunglasses, as he zips around the ocean on a hydroflight device like a seapunk superhero. In his more recent video for “Do u remember me,” he wears a tight cropped T-shirt with an abstract pair of blue breasts printed on it and cat-eye eyeliner while dancing next to a cobalt blue car. The overall effect is lackadaisical androgyny meets suburban boyracer. “If [something] represents a new wave of masculinity, that’s swag,” he has said before.


This is Tohji’s own particular aesthetic, but it’s also consistent with a much larger ecosystem of Y2K references and imagery pervasive in Japan’s current hip-hop milieu. Awich, another leading artist in the scene, uses her punchy tough-girl rap to speak to female em- powerment, as well as pride in her Okinawan heritage. Using old-world Japanese references mixed with nods to 2000s fashion, the rapper wields a samurai sword in a tatami room in one music video scene, motorbikes through the city Britney-Spears-“Toxic”-style in another. On the track “RASEN in OKINAWA,” one of Awich’s biggest hits from this summer, the featured rapper Chico Carlito spits: “The ocean in Zamami looks like a Christian Lassen,” referencing Lassen’s fantasy underwater seascapes, again nodding to the vaporwave- esque aesthetics that thread through the contemporary Japanese music scene.
When analyzing these references, the cultural dialogue between J-hip-hop and the rest of the world gets complicated. The streetwear legend Hiroshi Fujiwara is largely credited with bringing American hip-hop to Japan and sparking the Japanese hip-hop movement there in the 1980s, but the new wave of J-hip-hop is not so cleanly traced back to a single place or person. Influences on Tohji’s music, for instance, come from the early 2000s music of Ayumi Hamasaki (perhaps the definitive artist of the Heisei era) but also from the Swedish collective Drain Gang and the rapper Yung Lean. This is where things get messy, because these international artists themselves took inspiration from Japanese culture (albeit at large, rather than purely musically). Yung Lean’s seminal cloud rap song “Kyoto” contains raps about Mario Kart over a vaguely Eastern-sounding pentatonic backbeat.


Yung Lean and his contemporaries’ cloud rap itself takes cues from more obscure vaporwave artists like Macintosh Plus, who in their turn incorporated seventies and eighties Japanese city pop elements into their work, from singers such as Tatsuro Yamashita and Mariya Takeuchi. City pop itself was, of course, inspired by the Western soft rock and AOR. Bring that back to J-hip-hop today, and you have a tangled mesh of cultural references that Japan has imported, exported, and re-imported over again in an endless phantasmic loop, in another typically Japanese example of successful appropriation.
The inclusion of these tropes seems to be nothing deeper than “Japanese stuff is cool.” This is perhaps understandable—for the generation of Westerners that grew up in the 90s and 2000s on the cusp of the internet takeover (i.e. Drain Gang’s generation), Japan’s influence was near-unavoidable. The country may have been going through its “Lost Decade” of post-bubble economic turmoil, but this decade was also when Japan became a true cultural superpower: its artistic exports dominated the world with soft power that particularly appealed to young boys, in the form of Pokémon, Tekken, and Dragonball Z, and then courted these boys in the form of streetwear, such as A Bathing Ape and underground brands like Number (N)ine, as they grew into hypebeast teenagers or fashion elitists.
A trip to the mall should make things at least a little clearer. Like the ocean, the mall is big in the Tohji extended universe. He is part of the duo Mall Boyz alongside Gummyboy: “Eat so much in the food court that I throw up,” he sings in “mallin’.” In another tune called “Twilight Zone,” this time in collaboration with Drain Gang’s Bladee, a sample from the American sitcom Daria can be heard trilling at the intro: “It’s not a mall; it’s a super mall!
Another example of a capitalist American creation that was gladly appropriated, Japan’s malls are temples of consumerism that surpass anything in US suburbia, and are day-out destinations in a way that has since died out in the West. As William Gibson wrote on the paradox of Japan’s consumerist culture: “Japan entered the postwar world as though it were two creatures constrained within the same skin. The sheer cumulative trauma, these ongoing, unimaginable and violent time shifts, had produced a mutant culture. The Japan that emerged in the latter half of the century to out-manufacture, out-market and out-sell the Americans was in large part the inadvertent creation of America.”
Take the recently opened Ariake Garden, a truly gargantuan shopping complex overlooking Tokyo Bay, forever bustling with couples enjoying ice cream at the food courts, schoolgirls hanging out outside clothes stores, or families relaxing at the 24-hour in-mall spa. Nearby is the equally large Lalaport, a glassy, palm-tree-filled retail paradise that contains some 450 stores, while to the west is Harajuku’s LaForet, a teeny-bopper mini-mall that has long been a lodestar for Tokyo’s young street style pioneers.


Understand Japan’s shopping complexes, and Tohji’s recurring mall references start to feel hopeful and utopian—a craving for something that isn’t really there. Because, despite access to magic malls, the current mood among creatives in Tokyo is dystopian, largely defined by apathy and pessimism. Depression, burnout, cost of living crisis, karoshi (death by overwork)—it’s all here. “I feel like Japanese people and people living in Japan don't have any hope, and I'm one of them,” the designer Yohei Ohno told me at the end of his runway show at Tokyo Fashion Week in September. Like Tohji’s hip-hop, Ohno’s SS24 collection riffed on suburban life in Japan. Referencing the millennials and Gen Zs of his customer base coming of age in the Heisi era, Ohno made automobile dresses that looked like a mix between his memories of his dad’s old car and his own conception of a Tesla. It was a reference not only to the nostalgia of the past but also to the cyborg tech of the future.
In another nostalgia-meets-futurism collection, the Chinese designer Yueqi Qi (who has been showing in Tokyo in recent seasons), referenced the ocean (a classic Y2K touchstone), with jellyfish-esque silicone dresses and headpieces that were created with the help of AI compositions and printed with visualized soundwaves. She sent her models down the evening rush hour streets in Shibuya, so that they appeared like seapunk mermaids in an ocean of the besuited salarymen on their way home from work. “I wanted to explore the ideas of what we see in real life and combine it with something virtual,” she said. The mix of virtual and reality—and the tension between them—is clearly on a lot of Tokyo designers’ minds at the moment, and speaks to the struggle for an authentic future. “I don't really feel that the latest technology and AI in the world are the future, but rather that the future and the past are the same,” Ohno explained. “I think that the future that Japanese people should aim for is what lies within them on a per- sonal level.”
In Tohji’s music, that personal level is hyper-simplistic, intuitive rather than intentional, with jejune ideas like “riding around the world on my skateboard,” or, in “seagull,” imagining soaring over the roofs of Tesco and Yokado (supermarkets in Britain and Japan respectively). Indeed, you might interpret Tohji—and by extension a lot of other artists and designers making waves in Japan at the moment—as fulfilling a broken promise made by the early 2000s of a futuristic utopia that never quite materialized. If Japan is still living in the future as Gibson wrote it was, then it’s not the one its artists hoped for. But for any future to become reality, imagining it must surely be the first step.

Tohji is a key artist within Japanese alternative music, whose sonic and suburban sound intertwines euro-beat, trance, and dance-pop. Since his Soundcloud debut 2017, he has collaborated with artists like Mechatok, Bladee, yeule, and Mura Masa.
Ashley Ogawa Clarke is a British journalist and consultant living and working in Tokyo.