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.