Recently the fashion phenomenon has been taking high street style everywhere. Today all eyes are focused more on a street fashion than runaways.
Needless to say, Japanese streets has always been a Mecca for unique and outstanding street style. I’ve selected 5 most creative and coolest street fashion brands from Japan.
“They want to push boundaries through creation of jewelry”
Founder: Verbal and Yoon
Year established: 2008
Known for: Verbal and his band M-Flo, Business of Fashion’s Top 500 most influential in fashion industry
Worn by: ASAP Rocky, Sita Bellan, Bella Hadid, CL, G-Dragon,
Inspiration : Japanese manga
AMBUSH® began in 2008 as an experimental line of jewelry created by VERBAL & YOON, who are partners in life and work. They met in Boston while at college, but Verbal [who’s also a part of Japanese hip-hop band M-Flo] had to return to Japan. He fell so hard for Yoon that he set up a design company in order to bring her back to Japan. When his hip-hop career took off she became his personal stylist. Next, they embarked on a comic book influenced jewelry collection.
“We couldn’t find the sort of jewellery we wanted at that time, so we got together with a few friends and we started making it,” says Yoon.
Not surprising , the collection was a hit
“I was passionate about jewellery – every rapper wants a ring or a chain,” says Verbal. “People saw our designs and liked them and started ordering. It took off when Kanye started wearing our stuff. Pharrell noticed, [A Bathing Ape creator] Nigo noticed.”
The brand made its Paris debut in 2015 with VERBAL & YOON being named in Business of Fashion’s Top 500 People. For the moment, Yoon and Verbal are busy expanding their fashion empire. How did they turn a fun hobby into a thriving international business?
YOON ( designer of AMBUSH) :
“A lot of it started off as hobbies and became work, the events started off by us just throwing parties,” . “We’ve known each other for so long we know what the other is thinking. There are things that I’m not good at, and things that he’s not good at and we leave it up to each other. We know each other’s strengths.”
“Street taste and hip-hop style topped with British touch “
Founder: HIROAKI SUEYASU
Year established: 2014
Known for: former designer of MIHARA YASUHIRO
Worn by: Lil Uzi Vert and Double M
Inspiration :80′ and 90’s, skater-meets-punks spirit, everyday life, environment and books
Hiroaki Sueyasu has been designing for over 10 years. His first brand, HIRO, was popular amongst Harajuku fashionistas for almost a decade. Bored with Japan, he decided to move to England where he formed a new brand called KIDILL, which debuted in the 2004 Fall/Winter season of London Fashion Week. Three years later, he moved back to Tokyo, Japan, where he set up his flagship store “Honey’s Dead” in the electric Harajuku neighbourhood.
Kidill is young Japanese streetwear label most well known for their understated monochrome tones, subtle embellishments and eye-catching prints.
Kidill Designer: Hiroaki Sueyasu
“One of the most creative streetwear brand in Japan”
Founder: MASAYUKI INO
Year established: 2013
Known for: working with MIHARA YASUHIRO
Worn by: Lil Uzi Vert and Double M
Inspiration : 80′ and 90’s, punk and grunge era
The world ‘doublet’ comes from a word puzzle game invented by Lewis Carroll [the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland], in which you change one word to make another. The founder of Doublet [the fashion brand].
“It (the name ) portrays the concept behind my designs, in which I add and subtract in order to change my creations”- says Masayuki Ino.
No doubt, Doublet, is one of the most creative street wear brands in Japan. It’s because of freshness and a young distressed spirit in Doublet’s aesthetics. Masayuki started as an independent designer of belts and bags before working for the brand MIHARAYASUHIRO for seven years. After gaining enough experience he started his own label. His favorite designers and biggest inspirations are Jun Takahashi from Undercover, Shinichiro Arakawa, Mihara [of course], Martin Margiela, Walter Van Beirendonck, and Jeremy Scott.
Doublet designer Masayuki Ino
“A rebel with a soft spot for romance and a keen eye for evocative embroidery”
Founder: Masanori Morikawa
Year established: 2010
Known for: Subculture clash of punk and rock ’n’ roll, using visually heavy silhouettes, moody colours and rugged edges.
Worn by: Lady Gaga, K-pop stars like G-Dragon
Inspiration : his grandfather’s work as an embroiderer on the jackets of biker gang members.
Masanori Morikawa was born in Kagawa prefecture in rural Japan. There he became interested in fashion, thanks to his grandfather who ran an embroidery business for biker gangs. He admired his grandfather’s hardworking spirit who’s life motto was : “You should never feel satisfied with what you do”.
He mostly drew inspiration from the world of art, even the label’s name Dada is taken from the art movement Dadaism.
“Dadaism is all about questioning traditional meanings and breaking conventional styles to produce new values.” says Morikawa.
He was also influenced by European culture, so he mixed Japanese know-how and materials [like the authentic kimono] with Western fabrics and techniques.
He draws on his traditional Japanese spirit in business as well. For example, he is against online shopping and is focused on fabric quality, which you can’t gauge by viewing a product online.
” I feel that I have to have the statement of my brand portrayed in real life, so that people will fall in love and come back again. I am Japanese and we focus a lot on fabric and quality. If you go online, you can’t feel the texture of the fabric, you can’t try on the clothes to see how it fits you.” – says Morikawa.
A fashion brand “with layers of no-concept, no-rule innovation, distinctively reflecting Tokyo’s modern age.
Founder: Keisuke Imazaki
Year established: 2013
Known for: Amped-up colour and graphics straight from the Tokyo streets
Worn by: Kids who shop at edgy designer store Candy
Inspiration : themes and line-ups that express the attractions of Tokyo and Japan, concept of freedom without any rules
Keisuke Imazai was born in Kyoto. A young graduate of Bunka Fahsion College, he started selling his custom made pieces at the CANDY store, before getting a job at a clothing company. 4 years later he launched his own brand, PLASTIC TOKYO. He took the name from a song of the 70’s band The Plastics. He creates 80% of the graphics himself, which is a characteristic of his brand.
Recently he asked YOSHI ROTTEN – one of the most active graphic artists in Tokyo – to be in charge of the visuals of the next fashion show.
“I’m thinking of collaborating with all sorts of people to seek new ways of expression” – says Keisuke.
Plastic Tokyo’s debut runway show was a greatest hits of summer festival wardrobes from Woodstock, Burning Man, and everything in between. If you will be planning to go to those festivals now you know where you can get accesories from.
Plastic Tokyo designer Keisuke Imazaki
“We make noise, not clothes.”
#UNDERCOVER と #Supreme がコラボレートしたコレクションのアイテム写真がsupremenewyork.comにて公開となりました。 9月22日(木)より、Supreme New York、Los Angels、London、Paris及び、supremenewyork.comにて、9月24日(土)より、オンラインストア(http://zozo.jp/undercover-supreme/) 、仙台、金沢、Dover Street Market Ginza(アンダーカバーエリア内)、Supreme原宿、渋谷、代官山、名古屋、大阪、福岡、オンラインストアにて発売です。 ＊上記以外のアンダーカバーの店舗での販売はございませんのでご注意ください。 The UNDERCOVER and Supreme collaboration item visuals are now available to view on supremenewyork.com. From 9/22 (Thu), the collection will be available from the following stores; Supreme New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and supremenewyork.com. From 9/24 (Sat) will be available in Japan from; Online store (zozo.jp/undercover-supreme), UNDERCOVER Sendai, Kanazawa and Dover Street Market Ginza (at the Undercover area), as well as Supreme Harajuku, Shibuya, Daikanyama, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and online store. ＊Please note this collection is only available at the stores listed above.
Founder: Jun Takahashi
Year established: 1993
Known for: known for its punk-infused, American-influenced streetwear styles
Worn by: celebrities
Inspiration: punk elegant and rebellion, finding beauty in imperfection
Jun Takahashi was born in Kiryu, Gunma prefecture, Japan, in September 1969. He studied Fashion Design at the Bunka Academy of Fashion. During his study period, he founded the ‘Undercover’ brand with his friend and classmate, Nigo [the designer, record producer and entrepreneur who went on to found A Bathing Ape in 1993]. One of the main inspirations that influenced him was the punk rock scene.
He used to play in a punk rock band in Tokyo, and at that time his role model was Vivien Westwood. He always wanted to interpret culture through fashion. You can see various punk influences throughout his designs, which uses lots of tattered, frayed, and shabby-chic elements. The punk and street-style look have propelled Takahashi in the fashion world and he continues to see success with his Undercover brand today.
“In the last few years we have put more effort into streetwear,” Takahashi explains. “We wanted a new approach to young people and we began to produce more accessible products to be able to reach them. In Japan and the rest of Asia, we put more effort into that, while in Europe we haven’t done that.”
Takahashi has had an ongoing collaboration with Nike since 2010, which is the longest in Nike’s history. In addition, he is friendly with iconic figures like Hiroshi Fujiwara, a hero of Tokyo street wear, with whom Undercover also collaborates with on a clothing line. Most recently, Undercover collaborated on a capsule collection with Supreme.
“What all the collaborations have in common is that they make it possible to do something that we cannot do as Undercover. It’s more like friendships and shared interests, and taking advantage of each other’s resources,” said Takahashi.
He admits that there is something more behind making money and getting wealthy:
“We’re still a relatively small company and struggle with financial issues. I am not really interested in making a lot of money. I am only interested in making money insofar as it allows me to be free to pursue my creative projects.”
Where does he draw his inspiration from …?
“There are no shortage of ideas, he says, only challenges to realise them. “I am interested in everything. If it makes sense to me, whether it’s a doll, or art, or furniture, I will do it. But I still make mistakes — and it’s fine, because they make me improve.”