powereredby.tokyo partnered with German fashion imprint, MCM, and Hypebeast to create story-driven editorial featuring legendary dance choreographer Rie Hata & Brooklyn photographer Travis Gumbs. The piece touches on gender-fluid fashion and Rie’s lifelong fight against gender constructs and conservatism in Japan and dance and how their hometowns of Tokyo and New York inform and inspire one another.
Growing up in Japan, dancer and choreographer Rie Hata felt the rigidness of a culture deeply rooted in tradition and stringent gender roles. In response, she and her peers adopted style codes that challenged the pervasive conformity — an approach similar to MCM‘s AW19 ready-to-wear collection, which forgoes gendered garments for a fluid offering. For Hata, sprouting individuality and inclusivity against conservative values transcended Japan and caught the eyes of international fashion enthusiasts, including Street Etiquette’s Travis Gumbs.
Though Gumbs has visited Hata’s home in Tokyo in the past, she wanted to show him a side of Japan that reflects her path to finding her expression of self. From a young age, exploring her own identity led to confusion from peers as she challenged the status quo. Even when finding refuge in hip-hop dancing, the strict ideas of gender bled into the art form, subjugating her to a lesser-than status versus male counterparts. She wanted nothing more than to dance like and be respected by the men, so she dressed like one. Harajuku’s shopping district served not just as a place that cosigned her tomboy style, but it gave her confidence.
As her career evolved, so did her style. Her care for boyish dressing diminished in favor of androgyny, which, in turn, started manifesting within her industry. Hata’s tenacity to dismantle the structures of gender created more inclusivity in dance for men and women, forging a path for her pupils to continue to blur the lines of sex, just as MCM does with its genderless garments.
Harajuku is heaven for me.
I think Harajuku made Rie Hata fashion.
I found out that I can dress as a female but still can dance hip-hop
MCM clothes are amazing.
I feel free to wear anything. Usually, when we do a fitting, we have to separate ‘oh this is for girls, this is for boys’ but this time, I can have so many options and each outfit looks cool.
I’m still moving forward and I’m proud of myself that I try to change the dance community.
Produced by poweredby.tokyo
Director: Chace Fedor
Photographer: Kageaki Smith
DP / Editor: Tim Lambourne
B Cam: Nobu Arakawa
Sound: Steven LeFever
Words: Jamier Boatman-Harrell