The most interesting fashion you’ll find in Tokyo is not in a luxury brand store on Omotesando or in Ginza, but rather, in the streets and alleys of Harajuku and Shibuya, where eclectic and experimental street styles are often on parade. Some might even call these looks over the top or garish. Other than the themed costumes, these streets are frequented by fashion enthusiasts who are known for mixing unlikely combinations of styles in a single outfit–pairing effortless French tees from Kitsuné with vintage raw denim with club kid platform boots. Not to mention the accessories.
These areas are also known for the cray to the cray lines of youthful fanatics who queue up for the latest snack craze (think lighter-than-air pancakes, crepes, caramel popcorn, macarons, and other sweets). So, it is no wonder that avant-garde designers and creatives are taking root and inspiration in these ‘hoods that breathe life into their work. And it is also no surprise the inevitable confluence of fashion and snacks…
Located on the second floor of La Foret department store in the heart of Harajuku is the delectable jewelry and accessories line Rotari Parker. From a distance, you may just mistake it for a snacks stand, but upon closer inspection, you will be awe-struck by the glossy handmade creations, made out of popular snack foods. The pieces of the RP line have a touch of whimsy, irony, and playful boldness that will, undoubtedly, elicit audible expressions of amazement from walkers-by. You know that the girl who’s rocking these whimsical pieces is just oozing that “I don’t give a f**k I’m wearing pretzels and pearls around my neck, I know I look hot” attitude.
Much unlike the fake plastic food replicas, called sampuru, commonly seen on display in windows of sushi and ramen restaurants in Tokyo, the Rotari Parker pieces each begins with the actual snack item. And each snack is carefully selected by RP’s owner and designer Rie Hirota, a creative wunderkind, who picks out the most perfect specimen of that snack to be used in her creations. Hirota, with a background in fashion, was first inspired by a beautiful plate of cookies that one of her best friends had made for her. Thinking they were too pretty to eat, she decided “to change them into jewelry.” Since those first initial creations, she has been continually inspired by snack aisle finds such as pretzels, popcorn, biscuits, corn flakes, jelly beans, donuts, and much much more. Once satisfied with the look of the ingredients, she covers the snacks with a special solvent that hardens to a clear, glossy coating. And for her larger necklace creations, featuring as many as 7-8 different kinds of snacks layered together, she must first carefully assemble the different components like a sculpture before adding the gloss.
On my first meeting with Hirota at her store, very much inspired by her self-made success and very obvious shared obsession with snack foods, I asked to come back again to take some pictures of her creations. Having the shoot first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, was a terrible idea, as only halfway through, I was already planning on which crepe to eat next door at the crepe stand…
By the way, when asked about the name of her line, Rotari Parker, Hirota explained that Rotari is a partial anagram of her name, Rie Hirota. And Parker is the name of her pet. This girl is awesome.
And in case you were wondering, Hirota’s favorite snack is warabi mochi, a sticky sweet snack that is made with bracken starch (extracted from the roots of bracken fern plants), rather than using glutinous rice flour for your typical mochi. Once formed and cut into pieces, the warabi mochi are rolled or dipped in kinako (sweet toasted soybean flour) to keep from clumping together. Apparently, these mochi are a popular summertime snack, especially in the Kansai region and in Okinawa.
Below are my top 10 picks from the current Rotari Parker line, in no particular order. There are new snack pieces, immortalized under glossy coating, constantly making their debut on RP’s displays. So please go see for yourself her handmade, one-of-a-kind creations.
1. Pretzel with Yellow Mustard Pin
Freshly dipped in yellow mustard? Don’t mistake this pretzel brooch for the real thing.
2. Palmier Biscuit Pin
Palmier, Elephant Ear… whatever you call this buttery, flaky cookie, it’s not just for snacking anymore. Pin it on to make an elegant yet quirky statement.
3. Popcorn Drop Earring
Humorous on the front, edgy on the back. The lengthy chain is balanced out by an extended wire hook.
4. “eat me” Frosted Biscuit Earrings
These pretty pastel studs are too dainty and precious to suggest anything other than sweetness. *Wink.
5. Eggs on Toast Earrings
Appropriate for brunching, lunching, and late night snacking. Knife not included.
6. Candy Capsule Pill Earrings
These bright, colorful capsules are delicate yet make a bold statement on the lobes.
7. Popcorn Earring with Ball Back
Interesting from the back, but the front is pop-sitively whimsical. Yea, I went there.
8. Candy Cane Pretzel Necklace
Though candy canes are holiday candies, wear this necklace any time of the year to make a sweet (and salty) statement about your festive attitude.
9. Toast and Frosted Flakes Bangle
Every kid’s go-to breakfast, white bread and frosted corn flakes cereal. Carbs on top of carbs–nothin’ wrong with that.
10. Letter Biscuit Pins
Rather than saying it, spell out how you really feel using these alphabet biscuits. UGH…MEH….LOL…you get the point.
Rotari Parker, 1-11-6 Jingumae (La Foret Department Store, 2/F), Shibuya-ku, Tokyo