Teddy Bear Picnic: A look at Teddy Bears Through JFashion [Part 2 – Pink House]
This was originally presented as an educational companion piece to a craft panel at Katsucon 2020. Because it was originally in lecture / power point format, some aspects may not translate as smoothly to written text.
Pink House actually predates Olive magazine, and while Pink House is said to be a cornerstone of one of the 3 Olive Girl styles, there is surprisingly little pink house in the pages of the Olive issues I own from ‘96-’99.
Pink House was started by designer Kaneko Isao in 1973, but it wasn’t it’s own company until 1982.
Because Kaneko-san started multiple fashion lines that were similar…basically he made his own competition, the style is also sometimes called Kaneko style, which encompass not just Pink House, but also his other brands like Wonderful World and Isao Kaneko. It can also be stretched to encompass pieces from other designers designed in the same prairie revival style.
Much like Gunny Saxe in the United States, Pink House was part of the prairie revival fashion movement, which focused on life in the American countryside in the late 1800s, and was heavily influenced by the1974 American TV series, little house on the prairie, as well as traditional European fashion
The quintessential pinkhouse look is a layered look using dresses, skirts, blouses, vests and talbards (which are like aprons or sleeveless tunics).
Usually, at least one of the skirt layers has a button open front, or can be pinned up to reveal another layer underneath. It’s common to see two or more patterns in the same outfit.
Heriloom details, like pintucks, patchwork, and open work lace are common, and fabrics are usually custom made for pinkhouse. Common motifs include fruits, especially berries and pineapples, hats, baskets, flowers, and of course…. bears!
Black and White Bears on a Gingham Check
The first bear print from Pink House was released in Winter 1984 and it was called black and white bears on a gingham check. In the advertisement, the model carried Kaneko’s personal teddy bear.
There was a seven year gap before the bears came back in fall 1992 with a print called “Bear face”. Surprisingly, they sold 8 million yen’s worth of pieces from this series on the first day it was available at the Shinjuku store. That’s just shy of 74 thousand USD.
Due to the success of that print, in an interview the designer said that he tried to do a full body print the next season. At first, he tried a protype with an antique bear, but when he printed it onto fabric and made the sample clothing, he realized it looked really creepy up close. So he re-imagined it as a cartoon with a rounder face. He put it on a poloshirt first and planned on making it into frill clothing as well. He joked about even making a wedding dress. In the same interview he mentioned how he had rejected the idea of a collaboration with Barbie, but then ended up doing bears, and hinted at wanting to make clothes for bears to wear as well.
The 2002 series, Preppy Teddy, which featured Letterman jacket wearing bears, also included a bear wearing pink house clothing, just like the designer promised!
And the bear motifs have continued on. In 2019, Pink House did a collaboration with the popular fashion model Misako Aoki which featured sweet little teddy bears both as a textile motif and as physical pins.
Misako billed the series as being for the “grown up” or “adult” lolita, though, of course, many adult women wear lolita fashion and don’t necessarily “graduate” to other styles as they age as she seemed to imply, so this statement has been a little controversial.
Next week we will finish up the series with Part 3: Lolita Fashion
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