If you are at all immersed in the world of fashion, then it may come to no surprise to you to hear that Japan is the mecca of streetwear and skate fashion. Obviously, they’ve always had their “cool factor” that sets their style apart from the rest of the world, but this also spans into other areas including their art, design, and even technology, or otaku, culture. What makes the Japanese so unique in their fashion is their ability to take viral trends and put their own spin on it. We can especially see this in Tokyo’s Harajuku fashion district, which is known for being the center of Japan’s most eclectic, bizarre, and extreme fashion. As a result of this, Harajuku has drawn in worldwide attention, especially from the younger crowd and the skate scene. Thanks to Harajuku’s popularity, it has led them to produce a high number of luxury fashion brands that are leading the skate scene fashion today.
Japanese designers have given us dominating brands that we all know and love including BAPE, UNDERCOVER, NBHD, and even COMME des GARÇONS. They each play a vital role in the skate scene, and influence all avenues of streetwear trends by blending athleisurewear or casualwear with high end fashion brands. While these brands have made their mark on the Japanese fashion culture for years, the world is just starting to recognize the power and reputation that some of these brands have on our culture. By pushing the envelope just a bit, these Japanese fashion brands are bringing creativity, innovation, and high end materials into the world of streetwear and skate wear. While there are many high end brands dominating the world of skating, these are the best japan clothing brands making waves in the skate scene that you need to know about right now.
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Wacko Maria just may have the most ‘wacko’ history of any fashion house. The Wacko Maria fashion house was first started by Nobuhiro Mori and Keiji Ishizuka, two professional J-leagure football players in Japan. At first, the two started their joint venture in the bar scene. They opened up the bar Rock Steady in Tokyo which ended up being a huge success. The bar attracted quite the night life, and with it, the high end luxury fashion culture. Soon, Rock Steady took the two business partners down a path they weren’t totally expecting: luxury menswear. Inspired by the nightlife fashion, Rock Steady soon evolved into Wacko Maria, inspired and built on Nobuhiro Mori and Keiji Ishizuka’s passion for the punk rock subculture and Latin American influences. Quite the mix if you ask us, but one that soon caught fire.
Wacko Maria is known for their bold patterns, bright colors, and eclectic style. Their work features bizarre shirts and cuts, ornate jackets, and other off-duty leisure wear. The brand is heavily influences by Americana rock and roll that can be seen in large fur coats, leather pants, and heavy chains. The Latin American influence comes in with big floral patterns, vibrant arrays of colors, and traditional cuts and fits. Many of the brands work includes oversized religious icons, slogans, and unusual, but flattering cuts. Truly, they have created an addicting clothing brand that has taken over the street and skate fashion scene, and still heavily influences that culture today.
COMME des GARÇONS
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First started in 1969 by Rei Kawakubo, no list of hot Japanese fashion brands would be complete without the most influential brand on the scene – COMME des GARÇONS. The Japanese fashion house caught their stride by the early 1970’s with their loud fashion garb and heavy aesthetics. In 1981, COMME des GARÇONS officially debuted their line in Paris, France, and from there the brand took off. What makes this brand so intriguing and such a go-to in the world of high fashion skate culture, is its controversy. COMME des GARÇONS is known for their high end grunge style that rebels against all rules of fashion. In his earlier years, Kawakubo’s inspiring work received just as much praise as it did hate. Critics everywhere raved about the Japanese fashion house, giving their honest opinions and open reviews. But as we have seen before in the world of art, this kind of controversy means you’re on the verge of a breakthrough.
COMME des GARÇONS quickly became the world’s avant-garde streetwear clothing. What makes this brand so popular today is the same ingredient that’s always made it popular – Kawakubo’s unique and defiant ability to go against the clothing item. We can see a great example of this in her collaboration with Louis Vuitton in which she cut large holes into a tote bag, robbing it of its sole purpose. From their heavy, punk rock aesthetic to burnt rubber perfumes, COMME des GARÇONS continues to disrupt the fashion world by reimagining the definition of contemporary streetwear.
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First establish in 1994 by passionate designer, Shinsuke Takizawa, NEIGHBORHOOD, or NBHD, is one of Japan’s leading OG streetwear fashion houses that has been influencing the skate scene for years. In fact, it’s thanks to NBHD that streetwear was leaked into the Harajuku fashion district in Tokyo. In the early 90’s, NBHD took to the scene and immediately gained recognition for their unique street style. Because of this, streetwear culture soon began to find its place in the Harajuku fashion district. Thanks to this eclectic fashion brand, they have helped pioneer the way for brands like BAPE, UNDERCOVER, and GOODENOUGH to leave their mark on the streetwear, skate scene as well.
Designer, Takizawa is especially passionate about streetwear and Americana motorcycle subculture, which can be seen throughout NBHD designs. Garments including flannels, leather jackets, sweats, headwear, t-shirts, accessories, and more, all have a deep rooted biker aesthetic and a sort of clean-cut grunge feel to them. Through precision and intricate customizations, NBHD has found their place in the high fashion skate culture providing their customer base with distressed washes, denim fades, and of course, their iconic “Savage” series that includes dark wash denims.