For seven years now, I’ve been puzzled over the way folks here in Japan wear Playboy likeitaintnothang. They, the elderly, middle aged, and school kids (anywhere from age 4 to 17) wear The Bunny like it’s The Gap or L.L. Bean.
I gawk when I pass them on my bike, my little wondering commentary trailing like leaky fuel. I gawk at the checkout counter when I’m buying milk. I daily gawk at my kids’ preschool–a classmate’s mom sports a giant black duffel-purse with PLAYBOY in all white caps, set-off like gun smoke. I just want to ask her…do you know what it is? Are you okay with supporting the brand when you have two young daughters?
Some things don’t mean the same things here. This culture has their own demons, their own love-affair with visuals. I’m just not convinced that Playboy carries the same weight here. Perhaps it is just another cute bunny, another fashion-brand. The tuxed bunny does look fetching on those knee-high socks, but it also makes a young girl look…odd. It is kind of misplaced-smut.
I had a friend in high school who smoked alongside his mom. They earned so many Marlboro points, that company probably bought their couch, if even, their roof. If they had such niceties as cloth napkins, that little Marlboro Man would have been embroidered in each linen corner. They just accrued so many points! His favorite, everyday hoodie was a red…Marlboro sweatshirt. Everywhere he went, there was the cowboy, like a loan-shark uncle lookin’ out for his godson. A little creepy and mysterious.
Maybe that’s my problem with The Bunny on kids clothes here. Did the dad win it for upkeep of his twenty-year magazine subscription? Do they know, really know what it conveys, at least to the foreigner?
At one point, I was snapping my camera at each inappropriate Playboy sighting. It got old and I can’t locate the shots on my camera. Suffice it to say, The Bunny is a fixture here in Japan.
Jezebel says in this brief article, that Playboy has depended on Japan as a launch-pad for their new vintage-cool-flashback-apparel. It’s supposed to be class meets the iconic retro bunny ears. It’s soft cotton, good design, ranging from ten bucks to a thousand, per item. Think American Apparel and vintage-sex appeal. Think Jason Priestly, in the thick of 90210, with his cigarette box cuffed in his white v-neck sleeve. Or Ponyboy.
Look– your friendly neighbor walking his Chihuahua or Akita inu may be wearing this.
Your student may wear this backpack.
It’s all cool. Not weird, at all. Just a bunny. Repeat this phrase like a mantra when you see the 73-year old lady wearing her Hefner-jumpsuit while watering her plant or shaking out her futon. It.is.just.a.bunny. You will smile at that mom dashing in at pickup time with her hot pink sweatshirt, those same letters asking you into your prude heart. It’s clothing. It’s just some bunny-love.
I know, Hugh. I’m a long way from home.