Most brands in Japan have remained significant in the streetwear fashion industry since they first hit the streets of Harajuku in 1990’s. Hiroshi Fujiwara, the Godfather of Streetwear in Japan and owner of Goodenough, the first street brand in Japan, played a key role in shaping the fashion trends of the 21st century. This was through mentorship of the current bigwigs in Japan streetwear fashion industry such as NIGO and Jun Takahashi, owners of BAPE and Undercover brands respectively. The likes of avant-garde designers also helped shape the Japanese streetwear industry by combining East and West fashion trends with modern and classic styles.
The Japanese streetwear fashion does not concentrate on the style and popularity of a brand but relies heavily on a combination of radical designs and attention to detail. The brands also draw their inspirations from the military wear, hip-hop music and the skaters among other things. This has helped increase the brand’s popularity in the United States and other continents across the globe. Below are some of the leading brands in the Japan:
A Bathing Ape (BAPE)
BAPE by Tomoaki Nagao (Nigo) remains one of the leading brands in Japan and one of the popular ones in U.S. and other countries. It produces shoes, t-shirts, jackets, jeans, and hats among other items. The BAPE pieces are a bit expensive than most other brands, but their quality surpasses any other streetwear brand in the market. Nigo founded the label in 1993, but it did not become popular until 2000’s when artists like Pharrell began rocking it to their shows and events. The release of their full zip camo hoodies and the Bapesta sneakers brought back the popularity of the brand that was slowly fading out of the market.
BAPE stores in New York, London, and Paris have made it one of the leading streetwear brands in the world. Nigo has also made numerous collaborations with various celebrities such as Kanye West, Pharrell, ASAP Rocky, and UNKLE.
This streetwear brand by Jun Takahashi has managed to maintain its relevance in the streetwear fashion since the early ’90s. The brand was renowned for its tendency to leave raw, tattered, and frayed hems on their clothing. Currently, the designs have changed into boldly patterned tees, hoodies, and utility jackets with political statement graphics. The brand has also succeeded in adding a stylish appeal by combining classic trends with present-day apparel giving a contemporary outcome. For example, a tweed and leather combination on a bomber jacket will always stand out wherever you go.
Comme des Garcons
Via Comme des Garcon
Adrian Joffe and his wife Rei Kawabuko launched this Tokyo-based label in 1969. The Paris-inspired brand is one of the first brands that earned Japan, a place among the leading streetwear producers in the world. The excellent color, form, and design used in the Comme des Garcons have attracted fashion enthusiast from New York, Seoul, London, and Hong Kong. The brand uses a love heart logo in the production of the contemporary menswear and streetwear while some of its items have become popular in the formal workplace.
Beams+ is one of the few labels that deviates from the Japanese traditional fashion and draws its inspirations from the traditional American styles comprising of work wear, sports, and the military wear. The brand started as a small shop in Harajuku in 1976 before launching a line in 1995. Beams+ has now more than 100 stores in the country providing jackets and unstructured blazers to their customers.
This high-end streetwear brand is a favorite for most Tokyo residents. Shinsuke Takizawa launched the brand in 1994 with the goal of providing items that allowed motorcycle enthusiasts to express their lifestyles stylishly. Other than drawing its inspirations from the bike clothing, Neighborhood also relies on the traditional American clothing such as sweats, flannels, t-shirts, and leather as well as military wear during production. The brand has also been developing its signature style consisting of boro-style patchwork jeans. Neighborhood has not attracted a large following outside of Japan, but it is one of the favorite brands for most residents.
Head Porter is one of the most popular streetwear accessories brand across the world following their broad range of colors, patterns, and designs on their items. Head Porter items contain a signature woven label located on its lower right corner. Hiroshi Fujiwara created the brand in 1998 providing matte black, waterproof, and lightweight bags with an orange lining. The brand has now expanded their item coverage to wallets and handbags as well as their newly founded line comprising of Oxford shirts and graphic t-shirts. Head Porter has held previous collaborations with numerous brands including Supreme, BAPE, and COMME des GARCONs in the production of streetwear items.
Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream
Pharrell Williams and Nigo collaborated in the launch of the two brands in Tokyo in 2005 with the aim of giving back to the community. They feature bright and lose fitting streetwear items such as jeans, t-shirts, and jackets.
Yosuke Aizawa launched the brand in 2006 after leaving Comme des Garcons as an assistant to Junya Watanabe. Aizawa passion for mountain climbing and snowboarding in addition to other in streetwear influences such as geometric patterns contributed to the formation of the brand. They have collaborated with big companies like Adidas, Barbour and Saucony sneakers in providing their services. The exquisite designing and functionality of the brand give a stylish appeal to anyone wearing any of their pieces.
It is therefore evident that streetwear fashion is doing well in Japan with more brands and designers coming up every day. More companies are collaborating with the trendsetters in the fashion industry hence the increase in the number of brands developing every year. This means that the streetwear might be the next major fashion trend in Japan and other cities in the country.