Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of super glammed out ketai a.k.a. mobile phones on the streets and trains of Tokyo — mobiles decorated with coloured crystals that make up faces, pets, wild patterns, or even the embellished faux-slice of cake topped with whipped cream and cherries! Deco-den, short for ‘decorated denwa’ (telephone), is THE total fashion trend right now which we simply cannot spare you. So today, PingMag visits the Glam Baby deco-den shop just around our corner in Harajuku and also talks to the folks at “Deco Style,” a special interest magazine, about how to glamourise your mobile.
Written by Ayana
Translated by Kevin Mcgue
Deco-den have been featured on Japanese TV shows and and magazines a lot recently. But when exactly did this trend start?
Comparatively simple but with a most gorgeous gradation!
We have been decorating mobile phones since 1998, says Mr. Watanabe at Glam Baby.
In 2003 and 2005, they became slightly popular, and this year there has been a wave of demand for decorated mobiles. People tend to associate decorated phones with trendy young women, but actually we have all sorts for customers. There is a deco-den shop in the 109 department store in Shibuya that creates flashy styles for girls, and those designs really stand out. Recently there has been an increase in the kinds of styles available, and you can see the whole range of possibilities.
We are curious! Let’s have a look at all of the deco-den styles available:
Wrapping decors are adhesive sheets with designs printed on one side that stick right onto the mobile. Compared to the popular style of gluing rhinestones onto the phone’s surface, this variation can achieve very detailed designs. That’s why this style has plenty of followers!
Designs using rhinestones are a deco-den basic. And even if you use only rhinestones, there is such a wide variety of possibilities. By the way, designs with clean, straight lines are said to be popular with Tokyoites.
Just as the name implies, three-dimensional decorations add some depth to the simple shape of a mobile. There are many kinds of designs, from simple ones with only one 3D decor, to complex ones completely encrusted in with flowers and charms in 3D. We heard that 3D designs are more popular in Kansai than in Tokyo, which was believable considering the city’s reputation for fashion gaudiness!
Lately, pastry decorations have been deliciously popular. And after fantasising about the sweet covered ketai, it will leave you shocked to find a real dial pad underneath. Using molds that appear to be realistic looking whipped cream, fruits and all sorts of other ingredients, you can have your mobiles transformed into your favorite sweets. How fabulous that toy maker Takaratomy just released DECOTTI, a do-it-yourself kit they developed with a famous pâtissier (!) With this kit, realistic sweets can beautify far more than just phones…
Either you hand your precious mobile over to the deco-den pros at specialty shops, or you gather together the necessary parts and do it yourself — which is so much fun! Recently, the prices of parts have gone down, so the do-it-yourself mentality lends itself easily here!
Earlier, we told you about Glam Baby, the deco-den specialty shop. They opened first in 2000, and by now they have ten branches around Japan and even run a decoden school in Tokyo, with classes of around 50 students.
We asked them to teach us the basics of deco-den:
The Steps to a Dazzling Phone
First, the staff consult with the customer and decide on a design. Then, an illustration of the completed design is printed on adhesive sheet, and stuck to the phone.
Next, a very fine stick is used to apply an adhesive especially made for metals. Working quickly so the adhesive doesn’t dry, the stones are added one by one. Different sized stones are used to fit the available space. Since it is such exacting work, it takes two hours to complete one phone!
This handcraft isn’t exactly cheap: The price for an order-made decorated phone averages around ¥18,000 ($170). Rather pricey, we might say. That’s also why many of the customers are married women, rather than the teens and twenty somethings we expected.
“Deco Style” — a magazine devoted entirely to deco-den.
The new magazine “Deco Style” offers help to deco-den beginners, with information on everything from how to apply rhinestones to where to find parts.
“Deco Style” is selling very well right now, says Mr. Nogami, an editor at the magazine specialised on all kinds of dazzling decoration. From early teens to readers in their 40s and 50s, our magazine is bought by a wide range of women.
Now we only wonder what will happen with the deco-den trend in the future?
I think the use of decorative phone straps and decorations have become a part of Japanese culture, says Mr. Watanabe at Glam Baby.
It would be interesting to see this trend spread from Japan to other countries. Recently, we have Chinese and Korean students at our deco-den school, so I think there is a good possibility that this will spread overseas.
Now folks, what do you think of this new hot thing in Harajuku?