Mikio Sakabe

A/W ‘24 | Tokyo

March 29, 2024
By Jee Young Park

“Which one?”

A situation was brewing at SHEEP.

I stared down the wall of sneakers from Mikio Sakabe’s footwear brand, grounds. The sheer number of options was a sight to behold, and I had to choose just one to fly home with.

In the end, I settled on a furry pair. As I stared at them, perched on the counter and waiting to be packed, they morphed into bunnies, hopping along a field of giant bubbles.


I was not high.

I had entered the world of MIKIOSAKABE. A world we had visited a few days earlier at Yoyogi National Stadium. It was a very different encounter then--a bit more eerie, very meta, and very 1800s.

Let me explain.

The show started with confusion. There were far too many people than usual in the queue. Crowds were mixed up: For a brief moment, a regular front-row guest was asked to wait behind us (*awkward*) before he sorted things out and was allowed inside.

Once we were ushered in, we sat down in--get a load of this--chairs! A rare reprieve given to non-VIPs. In front of us, we could see the stadium’s field of play, where front-row guests dotted what would become the runway. Noticeably absent were folding chairs or benches for them to sit on.

Across the stadium, the multitude filled into seats on that side, too. In the end, four thousand of us had come to see Sakabe’s work, many in a pair of grounds sneakers.

Moments after everyone was seated, the stadium went dark. A white-hot screen gripped our attention before the first model appeared, and once the smoke machines got going, everything else faded into oblivion.

Suddenly, you were alone with the image.

You know the one--the fashion image you pore over on your phone or laptop, maybe playing on the TV. That night, it was enlarged and of singular focus.

Another rare reprieve washed over me then, my consciousness took flight and my body faded.

Maybe I was high. But anyway, this is not about me--or is it?

Despite the theme, “The Day Today,” the collection did not feel like a Thursday. It had the distinct feeling of a Wednesday, neither here nor there. Sort of like being stuck in LA gridlock but in a horror film (or, you know, LA) so a dense fog rolls in, a UFO touches down, and out comes an infantry of aliens.

Their assignment is to blend in so they’ve studied us, prepared the ‘fits,’ and coordinated the wigs. In the end, Mikio Sakabe’s collection is what they’ve come up with.

It’s an aggregate of only the most popular women’s styles, so, obviously, there’s a dash of dresses from the 1800s, a canvas of white polyester jersey, Karen O bangs, star motifs that remind you of those stickers you used to get in grade school for a job well done, rhinestone and glitter fabric shoes on thick bubble soles.

MIKIOSAKABE’s fashion image seeks to find utility in our lives as a fantasy and as an extension of the everyday. More often than not, the fantasy that fashion wants to sell us is that ‘we’re rich and beautiful’ but Sakabe’s proposition is different.

And no, it’s not to dress like aliens posing as humans.

It’s to re-root levity and imagination into the mundane, into the multitude, the four thousand of us, the anonymous.

To create an effective entryway into fantasy, Sakabe uses subtlety (in his clothing, not in presentation). Pockets that are a bit too big, a jacket with sleeves that pool at the cuffs, a pant waist belt as a coat belt (hehe), a redundant button here and there. Except we know they’re not redundant, they’re sort of magical.

Many designers in Tokyo were offering up the most mundane of their lived experiences and the beauty it holds. Sort of like finding an empty seat when you expected to stand.

Only a designer who has come to grips with the world and his industry can put on a show like Sakabe. More than the clothes, Sakabe’s indomitable creative spirit was on display. It was his fashion image, his point of view reaching all of us that took precedence and it was a call to find cloud nine in the quotidian.

Photo credit: Courtesy of MIKIOSAKABE

We recommend viewing the runway show on FASHIONSNAP.COM’s YouTube page.