For many young fashionistas in their early twenties, the concept of fashion would usually go somewhere along the lines of an expensive and obsessive hobby that never really ceases. The constant fear of being seen in any attire that has exceeded it’s shelf life in retail stores hangs heavy and large over minds slowly shaped by media personalities and peers alike over numerous mediums. However, for such a consumer centric industry, it is a tragedy that few have aspirations to make something they can truly call their own.
Enter Judgement. : The latest manifestation of courage and sweat to toss their hats into the stress chamber of an industry that is fashion. The aspiring clothing brand is a collaborative effort put together by Timothy Ezekiel, 22, and Elizabeth Tan, 19. Originally an experiment to salvage old clothing, the ideas eventually birthed forth into an avenue to freely express themselves. “Judgement. is really just an expression of who we are and our own take on fashion”, Timothy said. “There’s something comforting about creating a piece of clothing that you, not just feel comfortable in, but also feel like you can truly be yourself; with no judgement.”
Keen photographers, the duo spent many a month thinking of their primary design and more importantly aligning their philosophy and steadying their artistic direction. “Creation and destruction is actually two sides of the same coin”, Elizabeth explains. “They’re really just two beautiful births in juxtaposition, complementing each other in process. One can’t create without destroying, and destruction itself creates and manifests into another form.”
Aptly named “We Are Not Your Friends”, their first collection aims to question the rules of society: the pillars of conventional thought. The collection specifically targets two specific groups of people: artists and anarchists. “Just in the way countries have flags, the aim is to have this collection represent those who are sick and tired of following what years of repeating this invisible, endless cycle has inbred into the fabric of our human nature”, Timothy said.
“Creation and destruction is actually two sides of the same coin”
Having seen many of his friends and family conscripted into the daily rat race, the collection also aims to “tear itself away from these systems, and to define their own worth”. “This is anarchy through art”, Timothy concludes with a silent thought. Although esoteric and introspective in thought, their designs don’t exactly fall too far off the grid with frayed fabric and raw edges representing “the beauty we see in decay”.
A sobering thought floats by and the duo acknowledges that for a small team of two, the workload has taken an additional toll considering that the duo already have commitments to national service and school. “Creating a brand isn’t easy”, Elizabeth said matter of factly when quizzed on their organisational tasks. “There are already tons of other great concepts out there. Exceptional is becoming the new norm.”
“Small-team syndrome” isn’t exactly a new concept to them either with its ugly head rearing early on in their planning phases. “Zero to no sleep is definitely a pre-requisite for success”, Elizabeth exclaims. “Suppliers tend to only reply during the wee hours of the morning. Understandable, considering the different time zones and such.” The team also shares multiple anecdotes of suppliers, who were “frankly disappointing” with the product they promised falling far off the mark. “We had suppliers who sent us samples with the designs already falling off, or with very, patchy threadwork that was beyond slipshot.” Though rueing the costs of these mishaps, they are satisfied as “the many wrongs have led to a right”.
“There’s something comforting about creating a piece of clothing that you, not just feel comfortable in, but also feel like you can truly be yourself; with no judgement.”
All negativity aside, the small Judgement. team also ensures that there is greater control in what happens within the brand with both members knowing their roles. Elizabeth’s tasks include overseeing the marketing and finances of the brand, while Timothy bears most of the creative and brainstorming load. “I’m a little neater and maybe a bit more structured in the way I do things”, she said with a laugh. “I think our personalities compliment well, and it ensures a good platform for the design to realise it’s fullest potential.”
Timothy’s tasking is rather non-linear, however, and comes in bursts and spurts, which takes its toll, often leaving him frustrated. “Similar to our philosophy, we both see the end product, though one of us sees it from beginning to end, and the other vice versa.”
When quizzed on their future endeavours and beyond their first collection, they take a moment to ponder, with both searching the other for answers. A small discussion takes place, and I wonder if the touted answers would eventually take shape in the future. A more conservative response is agreed upon however, and they admit that beyond their first collection, they are uninspired at the moment; an honest luxury that they know they can’t afford in the hustle that never sleeps. “Timeframe? Well, that’s something we can’t define at present”, Timothy answers carefully. “We’ll definitely need a bigger ‘thinktank’, than the one we had for this collection. New births, new deaths, who’s to say what this new experience is going to teach us?”
The collection is due to be released sometime in mid 2017.
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Influential people hanging out | photo credits: KEIICHI NITTA
Yes, it is 2017 now but we’re going to dwell on that BAPE x mastermind JAPAN collaboration that was definitely the highlight of the festive season. Five years in the making, the brands picked up where they left off and it was an easy, sure-win formula that was a resounding success. Skulls and apes aside, the collection is yet another brick in one man’s personal wall of fame: Hiroshi Fujiwara.
Like any dreamer, his first few steps into realisation began as an 18 year old moving away from his hometown to the sprawling and still-relatively Bohemian Tokyo. Quietly setting up his first boutique in the early 80’s, he was yet another faceless designer swimming in the sprawl of the countless other budding artists. The oriental design was then one that was domesticated within it’s own kind and probably one of the reasons where “cult following” can be traced to in an eastern respect.
Fujiwara was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of many of the who’s who during his trips to London and New York. It was the birthing of another one of his babies – music. It was the golden ages of Hip Hop, and Fujiwara was sold. One could almost call it an epiphany and Fujiwara’s revelation was a vision that he was sold and one that he brought back. Much like Marco Polo's many pilgrimages of exchange, this was to be his connection between east and west. It was also probably his most important trip ever.
Fresh (spelled with a capital ‘p’) was the consensus given upon his return as he shared his new magic amongst his peers, and already growing number of admirers. The appraisal unofficially crowned him the king of the Harajuku district as he continued pursuing both masters with great aplomb. It was then that he launched his first brand, Good Enough. His forays into music production were also greeted with great success; with hip hop culture in Japan giving him yet another crown.
Though an ever-present figure internationally, it’s probably closer to home where his influence reigns supreme with many renowned designers including Nigo and Jun Takahashi of BAPE and Undercover fame respectively having acknowledged his hand in their directions, both design and business wise. The duo incidentally met while studying in Bunta, and opened NOWHERE; the birthplace of both said brands. The shop opened quietly in uptown Urahara, and somewhere in the neon lights and backalleys birth forth the likes of Neighbourhood, WTPAS and Bounty Hunter amongst others. Fujiwara and Takahashi were also behind the brains behind the now defunct Anarchy Forever Forever Anarchy – the short-lived, openly counterculture clothing line that was popular amongst punks of that era.
The star was clearly shining brightly, and Fujiwara was just getting started. His collaborations with Nike have been known for their longevity and notoriously limited sneaker releases that have both resellers and enthusiasts licking their lips and pulling their hairs out. His dossiers of works have also stretched beyond just fashion, and counts the likes of Apple and Starbucks amongst his most high-profile collaborations. Bizarrely enough, Fujiwara also has his Midas touch in musical instruments with guitar makers, Martin & Co. releasing a “line” in collaboration with Eric Clapton - a testament to his success even in the music industry. Quite the DJ and performer, Fujiwara does make it on television sometimes playing a few tunes and then some.
Nowadays, Fujiwara has dedicated most of his time into his designs in Fragment. Most notably, Fujiwara has recently collaborated together with high-fashion label Louis Vuitton, releasing a capsule collection limited to the Japanese market within a few weeks of the latter’s own showcase at Paris Fashion Week. Crazily enough, another collection has already been recently teased. Known to be rather cryptic, it is anyone's guess what's in store for one of the GOAT.
It is rather incredible that his achievements far exceed his comparatively young age of 53. Though the New Year is often associated with all things different, we’d reckon it’s safe to say we want exactly the same from Hiroshi Fujiwara.