Top Fashion Designers Coming out of Japan

The Top Fashion Designers Coming out of Japan

Japan was anything but immune to the widespread trend of streetwear that started in the early  90’s. While brands like Stussy and Supreme were making waves stateside amongst the skate  scene, streetwear was also taking flight in major cities all around the world including Tokyo. It  wasn’t long before the Japanese found their cool factor and not only dipped into the trend but  dominated it. Now, fashion enthusiasts, designers, and critics around the world, turn their  attention to Tokyo as they eagerly await the next big trend. But at the heart of Japanese  streetwear is a sense of individuality.

Japan wasn’t always the mecca of street fashion. In fact, only a few generations earlier, Japan  was under the strict mores of “kibishī kisoku,” that governed their people for thousands of  years prior. It took Japan a few years to break out of this norm and find their own identity and  in doing so, they didn’t settle for shallow trends. The streetwear transformation that hit Japan  in the early 90’s is not merely a carbon copy of the American culture.

While many of their styles and designs mimic a grungy, punk 90’s Americana aesthetic, it is  really much more complex than that. In fact, it is a representation of the modern nature of the  Japanese culture and their ever modernizing influences that can be seen around the world. But  more than that, it is also the discovery of an entirely new identity – one that has had a major  impact on the rest of the world.

So, who exactly are the mastermind designers responsible for the hottest streetwear brands in  the world? While this list is based on the most recognized streetwear designers coming out of  Tokyo, the disruption and lasting contributions they made to the Japanese streetwear culture  forever cannot be disputed.

Rei Kawakubo


If you are familiar with the fashion world, the name Rei Kawakubo is probably a familiar one to  you. Rei Kawakubo is founder and designer of the famous brand, COMME des GARÇONS which  was first established in 1969. The brand caught fire in Japan throughout the 70’s before  officially debuting in Paris in 1981. COMME des GARÇONS is a unique brand in that they use  heavy fabrics, dark colors, metals, studs, rips and tears, and many other punk, underground  aesthetics to achieve their unique look. As one can imagine, this brand was extremely sought  after back then as much as it is now.

What makes Rei Kawakubo such a pioneer in fashion is her ability to not only deconstruct  fashion, but deliberately turn it on its head altogether. In fact, it was her first runway show in  Paris in 1981 where she debuted her first COMME des GARÇONS line. The heavy use of black  and distressed fabrics were highly criticized by French fashion critics. But the negativity only  fueled Kawakubo’s creativity.

Fast forward a few years and you’ll see Rei Kawakubo cutting holes into a brand new Louis  Vuitton handbag to deliberately remove its primary function for a collaboration project  between COMME des GARÇONS and Louis Vuitton. While Kawakubo’s work has always been  controversial, she is now highly praised for her innovation and originality.

Shinsuke “Shin” Takizawa


Amongst one of the most recognizable OG Japanese street wear brands is NEIGHBORHOOD by  designer mastermind, Shin Takizawa. NEIGHBORHOOD first earned their street cred when they  opened their doors in 1994. The brand draws from Shin Takizawa’s deep passion for American

motorcycle and rock subcultures creating what some would consider timeless apparel. Shin  Takizawa uses lots of leather, flannel, and distressed fabrics to put his own distinct twist on  “biker gang” aesthetic.

But the Americana motorcycle subculture was only the beginner. Shin Takizawa expanded the  brand into military prep, Native American, and even early 20th century industrial workwear  styles that have launched the brand into a unique and incomparable style to other brands.  While they produce many timeless pieces, NEIGHBORHOOD is best known for their authentic  denim, particularly from their “Savage” series.

Jun Takahashi and Nigo


Jun Takahashi and Nigo are the brilliant designers behind the brand UNDERCOVER. Influenced  by Takahashi’s deep passion for the punk rock music scene, and of course his favorite band the  Sex Pistols, UNDERCOVER fully embraces the anti-social, in your face apparel aesthetic. The  aggressive, heavy metal fashion has actually been the epitome of the Japanese streetwear  scene for some time. In fact, it is some of Takahashi’s earliest work that is most loved and  sought after by fashion enthusiasts and collectors around the world.

No one sums up the brand better than Jun Takahashi when he said, “We make noise, not  clothes”. The brilliant designer has been heavily influencing modern fashion and pushing the  standards of normal every day wear through distinctive perspective and passionate creativity.  He has played such an important role in the world of fashion and pushing street wear to where  it is today. Perfectly combining a blend of professional and punk, grunge, his work stands out  amongst the rest as one of the leading streetwear brands in Japan.

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