Jun Takahashi and his merry band of Undercover-ists sure know how to create a frenzy. This particular and current frenzy of which I speak centers around a seemingly harmless and iconic bit of classic American food-stuff. The hamburger. Why Takahashi gave life, and teeth, to this standard item of good ol' USA cuisine will remain a mystery, unless the Takahashi-team decides to forgo their standard 'undercover' methods of silence and secrecy. But that's part of the charm. You and I are left to write the narrative.
Since I don't really require a deep existential explanation about their use of a grinning, sharp-toothed mascot in the form of a sandwich, and I'm sure you don't either, we can chalk this one up to a decades-long list of Japanese pop-culture co-opting random moments of idiosyncratic Western ideals. And therein lies the rub, because we Westerners cannot get enough of the outrageous spoof taken by our Eastern brothers and sisters, turning our very own icons ironically on their heads and serving it back to us for our own consumption. Assuming, of course, you are lucky enough to share in said frenzy in the first place.
Co-conspirator in many incredible fashion, art and (counter) culture frenzies is Dover Street Market, which just launched an exclusive and very quiet 'undercover' release of Takahashi's cult burger-goods, The Undercover Burger Shop. Hitting DSM NY's outpost on Friday, the new-ish home base for an amazing array of awesomely-good goods and those who are in constant search of, Undercover's burger-laden items were scooped up within minutes upon opening. I myself witnessed every last Undercover Hamburger lamp disappear from the shelves. Off they went to their new homes, ready to grin and glow for their undoubtedly excited owners. But if you missed the lamp, there is also a Hamburger plush toy and several styles of funky t-shirts and sweatshirts to choose from. Collectible, cult and extremely cute, even the vegans among us can appreciate the kitsch-factor of a smiling, fanged hamburger hailing straight from Tokyo.
By Juli Alvarez
Available at Dover Street Market