So with Lilla on Holiday, I’ve volunteered to take over for one of her blog posts.
I’ve never done a blog before, so when it dawned on me I was going to have to write something about fashion, beauty or lifestyle, I naturally put off writing it for as long as I could. This was working quite well until Lilla reassured me I could write pretty much anything; she suggested perhaps an event I attended, a recipe, or a costume idea.
It will probably be no surprise to any of you, that I don’t know anything about any of these subjects. Or at least thats what I thought until earlier this week. It turns out I know a lot more about fashion and style than I thought. Which my previous two drafts of this piece totaling ten pages of total clueless drivel are a testament too. Theres a good reason for such effort though. I am in fact a sort of god like fashion guru…In Taiwan, and when I say sort of, I mean very sort of. So, with that in mind, I’m going to tell you this now fabled far eastern tale, of street fashion gone wrong.
Last September, I moved to Taiwan. The move was only temporary. I’d gone out there to see family, research business opportunities; and work as a temp for a European finance company. When I first arrived my career wasn’t going too well. I had been living in abject poverty back in the UK, and, I mean, abject. I had no regular income; or any kind of state benefits. I was as close to penniless as a person ever wants to be. It had been over two years since I’d been able to buy any new clothes. My last pair of trainers had fallen apart a few weeks before I left the country. The only shoes I had left were bought eight years previously. They were a pair of bright orangey blonde walking boots from some school trip in my late teens. They were pretty beaten up and scruffy, but still functional.
The first full day after the flight, I wandered around the capital Taipei. I was amazed at how green and tropical the city was. As far as capital cities go, I’ve never seen one with so many trees, and so few skyscrapers. It was a charming, vibrant place; with the smell of a hundred different cuisines floating from the countless restaurants and street vendors. Much of Taipei is styled after Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and many of the youth walk around with improbable hair shapes, sizes and colors, like something you only see in Hong Kong gangster flicks or Japanese Anime’s. You have to give them credit, I still have no idea how some of those kids kept their haircuts from flopping about when they walked. It wasn’t any kind of hair product I’d seen in Europe. Possibly some kind of sadistic hair glue?..Perhaps.
So on my first full day in the city I took the Taipei metro to Minguan West Road Station. It’s located fairly centrally in the city, on an intersection between one of their main lines and an auxiliary. Going up the main escalator from the platform was a surprise. Shorter than most shopping mall escalators. I realized despite the stations location, it was pretty small by London standards. I noticed it was impeccably clean and pretty quiet too. As I walked through the large open air entrance, I noticed a few well dressed Asian men and woman, politely waiting for whoever, a respectful distance from each other. Behind me to my left were two street cleaners (or perhaps station cleaners), chatting jokingly at the side of the entrance. All stared at me, for a longer time than I was used to as I milled around the entrance, trying to figure out which way was which. This didn’t bother me as I had been told that there were few westerners in Taipei, and many of the local population still hadn’t got used to seeing us around.
I was however acutely aware I was wearing these bleach bright orangey cream boots, black jeans that were falling to pieces and a black t-shirt. Admittedly, I don’t know much about color coordination; but a lack of available clothing had made this unavoidable, and I knew I looked ridiculous. However being one of my first days in the city, I didn’t much care, as I was mesmerized by my surroundings and the locals.
I became aware of a group of seven or eight teenage hipsters outside the station. I knew they were hipsters because they were loitering, and, like every teenage hipster the world over, they were wearing converse, baggy jeans and hoodies (as well as the aforementioned improbable hairdo’s). I got a much more forceful brash stare from these young upstarts, naturally (I looked like an Emo-Clown! They knew it, I knew it) and their stares followed me as I left the station grounds. I didn’t think much to it, and went about my day.
The very next day I was walking out of the same station around the same time, and yes still in black jeans that were falling to pieces and bleach blonde boots. This same group of young hipster upstarts saw me, and I was greeted by teenage ‘nods of acknowledgment” and smiles from this same group. Which was much more preferable to the menacing bolshy stares the previous day. I nodded back confidently, and as I did I noticed their footwear. They were all wearing bright beige/blonde orangey boots, with raggedy black jeans! The boots even had the weird brown cushion around the ankle like mine! Certainly not a popular western look, and not one I’m proud to have rocked. As I once again left the station I chuckled to myself, and carried on with my day.
As the weeks passed, I noticed a significant amount of late teens and early twenty somethings suddenly wearing ragged or ripped black jeans with beige blonde orangey boots in the Minguan West Road area. The younger generations in Taiwan seem to be pretty fashion conscious, and to say it was a surprise to see so many young people wearing orangey cream boots with black jeans, is a massive understatement! It was absurd!
Looking back It hardly seems fair, if I’m honest. In the most recent cultural and fashion exchanges, the far east has given us Psy-Gangnam Style and we (my bad) gave them orangey cream boots with ripped black jeans.
So to balance this out, I thought it was only fair to share with you all a song that was ridiculously popular in Taiwan when I was there. You will hate it, but then you won’t be able to get it out of your head. Once the lyrics are bouncing off the walls of your brain, and you realize what some of the english lyrics are, you’ll either be mildly disturbed or in hysterics. South Korea’s Girls Generation doing a Japanese version of Mr Taxi Taxi…..Yes the song is about a taxi driver….