MarionGirl Gaze Tokyo
26 December 2018
Having lived in Taipei, Paris, and now Tokyo, blogger Marion Fann opens up about life abroad and its impact on culture and fashion design.
Tell us something about yourself.
Marion: I’m Marion Fann. I was born in Taiwan and raised in a sweet family with a big heart. I studied fashion design in Paris for seven years but decided to come back to Asia to seek some fashion inspiration here.
How long have you lived in Tokyo? What brought you here?
Marion: I’ve been living in Japan for almost five years. I decided to come to Tokyo so I could feel some authentic vibes regarding Japanese fashion since it’s leading within Asian culture.
What were you up to before you came to Tokyo?
Marion: Before Japan, I was based in Paris. My little sister and I had started this blog named ‘Who Cares if Life Sux,’ based on fashion-related explorations around the world. We first created the blog to show our individual lives to our parents who were far away from us. Later on, the blog seemed to attract quite a number of readers, so we uploaded some posts and videos that reflected our ways of thinking. From there, we started making some products and also created activities for our readers.
Did you struggle to adjust to new environments?
Marion: Maybe because I left my home and family at a young age, I am quite adaptable to new places. This helped form my independent personality. Of course, throughout that process I always encountered obstacles, but solving problems has made me grow and learn so much. That’s how life is supposed to be. Personally, the biggest problem of moving to a totally different place is to merge your own lifestyle with cultures opposite to yours.
Generally speaking, how does Paris differ from Tokyo?
Marion: For me, French people are prone to reserve historical and vintage things. They would rather treasure their historical moments than to live in the future. They are also very true to themselves, and they do not like to pretend. For example, a shop staff would yell at customers if they are not in the mood.
However, in Tokyo, people here follow the rules and everyone respects what they are doing. Whether it is good or bad, they keep it professional. Sometimes it can get quite strict, but that’s what they are accustomed to. I respect them for it.
As mentioned, you first left your hometown of Taiwan for Paris, and then you came to Tokyo. How did your experience vary in each place as a woman of colour?
Marion: To be honest, being an Asian girl in this society isn’t easy, and sometimes it’s really hard to stand up for ourselves. Fortunately, I grew up in a family which consists of mostly women, except my dad, who is very supportive of female empowerment. As the older daughter, I guess I’m quite feminist somehow.
Is Japan more inclusive for foreigners?
Marion: Even though we (Taiwanese people) could be mistaken for Japanese because of our skin tone, the language, the culture, and the background are very distinct from each other. We perceive things differently. I think for the Japanese, no matter how I act, they still see me as a foreigner. Throughout these cultural exchanges, I get to see what’s different and how to learn from another culture. That’s the most interesting part of living in different countries. I think ‘respect’ is the best word to represent the culture difference.
After working in Tokyo’s fashion industry, how did your experience affect your style and overall perspective towards Japanese fashion?
Marion: I’m the kind of girl that just really follows her own style. Most of the time my outfit is based on my feelings. I don’t really change myself no matter where I am. I just dress the way I want. I will say my outfit is a visual definition of one’s self. How you dress up represents who you are. I am very into the concept of “self” lately.
There was a time when I was working for a Japanese designer brand, and the company’s rule is to ask every employee to dress according to the brand’s image. At that time, I had to, little by little, forcefully convert myself into someone my company wanted. Honestly, that might be helpful to the company’s image, but eventually, you become someone without your own personality.
What do you think of Paris and Tokyo fashion, respectively? Do they share any similarities?
Marion: Parisian fashion focuses much more on ‘daily lifestyle.’ They greatly respect the moments they are living in, and don’t want to waste any treasurable moments. As a result, they redefine lifestyle and fashion (in Paris) based on their passion for nature and sincerity. Thus, fashion is not solely a style for them, it is more a way of living.
Meanwhile, Tokyo fashion is much more about the looks. They want to show their true selves through their looks. That’s probably why we can easily identify so many extraordinary styles in Tokyo.