The History of Japanese streetwear - PART II

Japanese streetwear people in harajuku, Tokyo.

The Pinnacle Of Japanese Street Culture

People started to stack up these brands clothes and accessories which are still coveted nowadays such as legendary Hero down-filled leather jacket made famous by actor/pop singer Kimura Takuya.


But why such a massive and undeniable fame started?


One of the first reason, is that this movement was carrying pride of being able to make locally a product inspired by the foreign countries, and so turning their back to previous movement called Shibukaji, which consisted in t preaching only western brands, whatever the brand is.

Yet, more than that, this new generation of Japanese designer understood how to communicate what was happening in London, New York, in a way that young Japanese could understand. Adding to that a strong appetite for consumerism, and a cult of these designers, and you can understand how a kid could turn a small t-shirt collection into a massive fashion corporation.


This generation of talented designers was carried by the desire to create. Take GOODENOUGH, and its founder Hiroshi Fujiwara, called the Godfather of Streetwear. The game changer was ‘style’. Back then in the early 1990s, Japan’s industries were still focusing on efficiency, and putting at the end of the list the importance of style in design and production. There was a room in fashion to bring more focus on flow and aesthetic instead of efficiency and sterility. And while this mainly pertained to their technology it transferred over to their fashion as well, with only a few design cues crossing over from traditional garments like kimonos and periodic wear.

Hiroshi Fujiwara, founder of GOODENOUGH

Hiroshi Fujiwara, the Godfather of Japanese Streetwear


A New Era

Economic growth catched up and what was a pedestrian neighboorhood filled with culture quickly left the room for a business center with no more space to walk. All the stores closing, such as A Bathing Ape empire being sold to Hong Kong fashion conglomerate I.T. The movement transformed into something more global with a market that now spans around the globe rather than around the block, with stores that were once only found on Cat Street popping up in NY and London’s Soho, Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay, Paris’s Rue Saint Honore, etc.

With even more followers nowadays, Japanese streetwear continue to amaze in its paradoxical approach to complexity and simplicity in order to captivate your audience to purchase. It’s no wonder that most stylists and designers still turn to Japan when in need for a truly great material or motif – Okayama-sourced denim is only one example of the global market’s insatiable hunger for a great product that comes only from Japan.


Today, quality over quantity is still an ongoing battle. We often see fast-fashion being blamed, while for a lot of the world’s disinterest in design-heavy fashion alongside a trend towards normcore, with labels such as UNIQLO offering a slice of fashion for remarkably low prices. It is arguable that this gradual shift was natural and is now embraced rather than viewed as destructive. Collaborations between the originators is an example of support, as Jey Perie -Creative Director for Kinfolk- admits. “With the example of NIGO and Jun Takahashi working and collaborating with UNIQLO, we can see that the pioneers of Harajuku have embraced these changes and benefited from them. It’s now up to the new generation to create their own movement and take over a new district as their playground.”