Streetwear is not to be explained but to be admired in a dreamy sense of euphoria. For as ineffable as streetwear gets, it is as instantly recognised when looked at. There is a sense of bold colors, art and vision that is representative of streetwear, with the effortless suave it brings along. Streetwear can be traced back to the late seventies, with New York hip hop culture meeting the likes of the west coast surfing culture. With a ‘to the face but subtle’ aesthetics, streetwear incorporated heavy metal, punk and Japanese street fashion to broaden but specify the realms of streetwear.
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Talking about Japanese street fashion, Japan has been and most likely will be synonymous with streetwear. With an ever rising flurry of streetwear, Japan has a rich and extensive history of streetwear. Going back to the early 1970s and flourishing in the nineties and onwards, Japan has had one of the best, if not the best streetwear to them. If you are one looking to welcome premium streetwear into your wardrobe, here are 6 Japanese streetwear brands to look out for.
Comme des Garçons
Being only the second living designer to be featured at the Met Gala, after Yves Saint Laurent in 1983, Rei Kawakubo produces art for clothing like nothing seen before and since. Very few published interviews with the 74-year-old designer exist, and the ones that she has conceded to taking part in are hardly revealing of her process, her inspirations, even her personality. Extending the limits of creativity with her designs, what Kawakubo brings is nothing short of breathtaking, in its own way. This giant in streetwear is to be seen as the father of Japanese street fashion.
A Bathing Ape (BAPE)
Referring to the Japanese idiom ‘A bathing ape in lukewarm water,’ it is used to describe somebody who overindulges. It is like lying in a bath that doesn’t even have warm water anymore, so was the very cheeky reference to the overindulgent hype-fueld youth, who would go on to be the bedrock for the brand.
BAPE as it is widely recognised as, A Bathing Ape is a streetwear clothing line conceived in Ura-Harajuku, Tokyo, by Tomoaki Nagao. It has grown to be one of the most coveted and sought after streetwear brands ever. With its designer being
a notorious fan of the 1968 film ”Planet of the Apes”, the love is evident in the name and iconic BAPE logo.
This Japanese streetwear stalwart is being fetched in the farthest reaches of the furthest nations from Japan. With its roots dating back to 1994, Shinsuke Takizawa has brought along a pop culture giant. Neighborhood brings culture to its forefront and goes through and away with it. Its themes are based on capturing pop culture moments like the 1969 Altamont Music Festival or Hunter S.Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
There is something about an “I couldn’t care any less” attitude that remains ineffable but ever present. That’s what one feels while witnessing a Wacko Maria, let alone putting it one for once. Initiated in 2005 by ex-Japan and J-League football players Messrs Keiji Ishizuka and Atsuhiko Mori, their products of streetwear stand out from others on the lines of stylish, minimal cuts and graphics and slogans that can only be described as pretty controversial. The duo’s shared interests in music, drinks and anything that may come by is what is reflected through the work on their clothes. Probably nothing tops the cake better than the words “Satan’s Soul” that was immortalised by Wacko(very literally) Maria.
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