Before the current street style scene (as we know it) caught on in the recent years, the very definition of “streetwear” was established by big players in the industry, notably brands from Japan such as Bape and Undercover. The aesthetic of this cult-like fashion community is distinctive and rather singular. You can always find a deluge of camo prints, deconstructed denim, caps (always caps), and jackets ranging from utilitarian to oversized parkas.
But streetwear, like everything else that is trend-driven, evolves along with the generation it is catered for. So if you want to jump along this trend-wagon as you’re reading this, here are 8 brands to know of that you can ShopandBox from Japan:
It is impossible to talk about Japanese streetwear without referring to one of the pioneering brands from the early ’90s, Undercover. Founded by Jun Takahashi who cut his teeth in Nike, this often-described-as “elegant punk” label is noted for feminine silhouettes that come with raw, tattered and at-times frayed hems for a “shabby-chic” aesthetic. As of late, Takahashi’s designs are more wearable with graphic tees, hoodies, and utility jackets that are perfect for everyday.
Cav Empt is the brainchild of streetwear masterminds Sk8thing and Toby Feltwell—the dynamic duo who are also behind the aesthetics and production of streetwear brands including Bape and BIllionaire Boys Club. Cav Empt is a creative endeavour that aims to re-introduce the old-school streetwear culture to the youth of today. You’ll find a range of tees, varsity jackets, crewnecks, tailored shirts, all sporting glitch style graphics that are a signature of the brand exclusively designed by Sk8thing.
Exclusive and hard-to-find are perhaps two best words to describe Sophnet, one of the more sophisticated streetwear labels launched in 1998 by Hirofumi Kiyonaga. The aim was to elevate streetwear essentials with an “Issey Miyake touch”, although as of late, Sophnet has inclined more towards American technicality with anoraks, camo prints and plaid shirts. Sophnet is also known for its collabs with other popular brands i.e. Vans and Stussy.
For a more affordable range of street-worthy essentials include blouson jackets, puffer jackets and joggers, RageBlue is one to consider for its urban Japanese style incorporated with American and European casualwear influences. Think of it as Uniqlo but more trendy and street-inspired—a perfect choice for beginners in the streetwear scene.
With roots in Harujuku, Japan, Neighborhood was conceptualised by Shinsuke Takizawa to cater for diehard motorcycle enthusiasts in 1994. The initial idea was to design ‘basic clothing’ inspired by elements from motorcycles, military and outdoor activities, but has established major street cred in the recent years for its innovative denim and edgy jackets.
Denimheads would know Kapital for its high-quality garments and heritage production techniques influenced from vintage American workwear. Founded in Kojima, Okayama aka the “Denim Capital” of Japan, Kapital has been featured on Mr. Porter for its nostalgic aesthetic centred around essentials that you can’t possibly live without. From denim shirts to twill coats and trenches, there’s a certain refinement found in each Kapital piece, and rest assured that every article you buy was meticulously designed and sewn.
You might have heard of streetwear heavyweight Bape for its numerous collaborations with brands, including the recent sold-out range from Adidas and (if you wanna go way back in time) the 2009 collab with fellow streetwear brand Undercover. Bape’s founder is none other than Nigo—the streetwear maestro of Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream Footwear, and the creative director for Uniqlo’s UT line. A dead giveaway of this brand has gotta be its camo prints emblazoned on everything from parkas and tees to sneakers and fannypacks.
You can’t say you know of Japanese streetwear accessories if you haven’t heard of Head Porter—practically Japan’s most popular accessories brand established in 1998 that’s recognised for its matte black, lightweight and waterproof bags. Head Porter isn’t know for trend-blazing designs, but is prized for its functionality and high quality that has resulted in fan bases across the world. Recently the brand has branched out to apparel with Head Porter Plus, a full line offering everything from graphic tees to oxford shirts.
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