Sunday, November 14, 2010
Streetwear and the Japanese
Streetwear began in the US in the 80s. Shaun Stussy a surfboard shaper from California used his signature as a logo on the boards he created. As his popularity grew he decided to transfer this logo onto tees. Skaters in his local area started wearing these tees and before he knew it these t-shirts became popular worldwide. Streetwear was very much and still is to a certain extent an underground fashion. Hip Hop culture soon got involved in this trend as a way at self expression at a time when black consumers were still largely ignored by the world of mainstream media. Streetwear is used as a form of art that encourages self expression and is a way to communicate with the world.
Japan came onto the streetwear scene in the mid 80s at a time when the Japanese were heavily into US trends and fashion. But being the innovators that they are they soon added their own style to the trend. BAPE was and still is one of the brands that accomplished this very successfully. They have a large number of stores in Japan and stores in London as well as various other worldwide cities. They blended streetwear with popular culture influences such as anime/manga characters an computer games. The surf/skater look has been replaced with a hip/hop anime fusion. Western designers were soon taking inspiration from Japan and Stussy himself began and still does collaborate with Japanese designers.
Soon other designers were following Stussy's lead a new streetwear look emerged in the US. This look fused hip hop culture with the creativeness of anime/manga. It was a perfect fit as anime was growing in the western world and had some really innovative looks.
This way of designing streetwear hasn't been limited to tees, it has grown to include the world of trainers. Many of the large sporting goods brands have collaborated with Japanese designers to create truly original trainers often sold as limited editions. These have created a massive amount of demand which has often resulted in these trainers selling out very quickly. These are sometimes only sold in small quantities with some consumers queuing up overnight for the chance to grab a pair.
I expect collaborations between western designers to grow rapidly as the West looks to Japan more and more for fashion inspiration. This will not be limited to streetwear though as the collaborations between Japanese designers and high end mainstream brands is on the rise.