Friday 25 May 2018

Meet Bon and Pon: The Japanese retirees making coordinated outfits cool

Couple have more than 700,000 Instagram followers and are launching their own line in a Japanese department store 

Whether they’re standing next to a work of art, against an ocean backdrop or in front of their home, the location doesn’t seem to matter. The hundreds of thousands of fans who have turned an ordinary Japanese couple into online megastars are really interested in only one thing: what they are wearing.

Bonpon511 – otherwise known as Tsuyoshi and Tomi Seki – have attracted a huge following since they started posting Instagram photos of themselves decked out in coordinated clothes in late 2016. But they are not your average Instagram stars.

‘Bon’ (Tsuyoshi Seki, left) and ‘Pon’ (Tomi Seki, right), pose in coordinated outfits. Photograph: 'May' Seki
The couple, who are in their 60s, appear almost daily in an array of outfits incorporating similar styles and colours. The simplicity of their sartorial choices has earned them praise from fashion commentators and adoration among their almost 720,000 followers.

The playful images, taken with an iPhone mounted on a tripod, also communicate the obvious pleasure they derive from each other’s company, 38 years after the college sweethearts married.

A year on from the Yahoo! Japan article that helped their Instagram images go viral, the couple have published two books celebrating married life and have been the subject of numerous articles in Japanese newspapers and magazines.

Next month they will launch their own range of clothes and accessories, in collaboration with a designer, at the Japanese department store Isetan Mitsukoshi.

They have their daughter to thank for their unlikely celebrity, Tomi told the Guardian from their home in the north-eastern city of Sendai. “She took photos of us and posted them on her own Instagram account. She received lots of comments so suggested that we start our own account.”

Their Instagram handle combines their nicknames as children with their wedding anniversary on 11 May, which they marked this year by appearing in Gingham check, accompanied by the familiar hash tags #over60 and #greyhair.

They have always had similar tastes in clothes, but it was Instagram fame that prompted them to coordinate more closely, even during lazy days at home and trips to the supermarket.

“But it’s not just about coordinating our clothes,” said Tsuyoshi. “We try to choose outfits that complement our surroundings.”

Much of their wardrobe comes from Uniqlo and other high street chains – a no-frills approach they believe has contributed to their popularity. “Of course we’re happy to be described as style icons in the media, but that’s not really how we see ourselves. We wear simple, inexpensive clothes that anyone can buy,” said Tomi.

Outfits aside, they hope to convince other older couples that retirement should mark the start of a second life – the title of one of their books.

“Now we’re on our own and finally have the time to do all the things we didn’t have the time to do when we were raising a family and working,” Tomi said. “We want to show that retirement can be a lot of fun, especially if you find something you enjoy doing together.”

 We want to show that retirement can be a lot of fun
The couple met at a festival when they were both students at an art school in Tokyo. Tsuyoshi went on to work in design and marketing, while Tomi chose to stay home with their daughter.

Each of their photos attracts tens of thousands of likes and universally upbeat comments in Japanese, English and other languages.

“We’re overwhelmed by the number of comments, although we’re unable to understand all of them,” said Tsuyoshi “But we’re extremely grateful to everyone who takes the time to post.”

(Source: The Guardian)

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