Denny Renshaw is an American photographer born in Tennessee, one of the regions that saw the first steps of the rockabilly movement in the 1950s. On a trip to Japan he was naturally attracted by the local underground culture, the so called Roller-Zoku. In Tokyo, where the movement is particularly present, men and women of all ages are passionate about this universe.
While considering Japan’s many fashion tribes, Renshaw was drawn to Tokyo’s highly elusive collective of Roller-zoku gangs, Japan’s answer to rockabilly fashion. The photo series was created in Tokyo across five weeks in 2013 and 2015, it was shot in parks, parties, bars, and music venues around the city.
Armed with his camera, Denny Renshaw decided to take the portraits of these Japanese who are passionate about the rock of the 50s: impeccably waxed pompadours, leather jackets, bandanas, tattoos, the whole shebang.
“Among Japan’s many fashion tribes, one of the less explored is the Roller-zoku. For over 30 years the Roller-zoku have been borrowing greaser styles, gathering together for loud rock-and-roll music, and sporting leather, denim, and big greased up pompadours. Foreigners often associate them with the group of Roller-zoku seen in Yoyogi Park every Sunday, but this tribe can be found all over Tokyo. The Roller-zoku have grown from the roots of both 50’s and 60’s rock and roll and rockabilly because Japanese record labels did not differentiate between these musical categories at the time of their introduction.”
In an interview, Denny Renshaw explained that he first met members of the Roller-Zoku when he was a child: his parents took him to Harajuku, a very festive neighborhood where these rock fans came to.
These character-heavy images now live on to capture the essence of the attitude and eccentricity of the group. For more check out his Instagram.
All images by Danny Renshaw