When we think about style meccas, one city that immediately comes to mind is Tokyo. Whether ithigh-endend fashion houses, avant-garde experimental works, or the super accessible world of streetwear, what makes Tokyo such a fascinating world for fashion is the city’s innate urge to move to the beat of its own drum.
Even if they’re preparing for the next big international fashion week, Tokyo’s designers are still on the street, making music, skating, collaborating with new faces, and constantly breaking new ground.
From Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake, to Yohji Yamamoto and Nigo, the city’s scene has some serious major players, but it’s a crime to talk about Japanese fashion without mentioning musician, DJ, and designer Hiroshi Fujiwara, the godfather of streetwear.
After a trip to New York in the 1980s, Fujiwara discovered and fell in love with hip-hop and the New York street scene, which he bought back to his home city of Tokyo. It wasn’t long before he established himself as the country’s first serious hip-hop DJ and he’s long been credited with bringing the genre to Japan. Melding the skate scene, underground music, and fashion into one huge cultural bubble, it’s arguable that the sneaker-filled streets of Harajuku wouldn’t be what they are today if it were not for Fujiwara.
As a major player in the Harajuku street fashion scene, Fujiwara founded his legendary clothing label Goodenough in 1990, which ignited Tokyo’s radical fashion and culture transformation and inspired the likes of Nigo (Bape) and Jun Takahashi (Undercover). After mentoring both Nigo and Takahashi when they were just young up-and-coming fashion enthusiasts, Fujiwara laid the groundwork for what would become a massive fashion movement. Dropping super slick, street-ready apparel, the past decade has seen Bape and Undercover become some of the most sought after labels in the world.
While edgy high-end modernist influenced designers like Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto claim the international fashion world spotlight, Fujiwara has always been a little more grassroots in approach. The punk music-obsessived and talented musician cares less about conceptual artistic expression and more about encapsulating the creative energy of the country’s youth culture, and Fujiwara’s work reflects what’s happening on the streets of Shibuya.
Constantly moving and evolving with the streets of his home city, Fujiwara has managed to stay relevant in a world where trends come and go at a speed faster than a bullet train. Over recent years, under his own name and his Fragment Design label, he’s worked with not only the biggest names in the fashion world like Louis Vuitton, Nike, and Off-White, but he’s even collaborated with Starbucks and Disney!
Showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, the designer, musician, DJ, street wear godfather and cultural sponge is the epitome of Tokyo cool.