The tectonic plates within the streetwear universe are shifting. No longer governed by the Supreme’s and Stussy’s of the world (though, they do still exercise formidable clout), the genre of dressing has expanded – stylistically and geographically.
And right now, its epicentre is Japan.
Anyone with a vague interest in Hype knows this. But the treasure chest of Japanese streetwear still contains many Easter eggs that haven’t yet been opened by the rest of the world.
And if you can’t justify an indefinite trip to scour the backstreets of Shibuya in search of the next coolest label or logo, discovering these brands is hard. Even those that have an online presence sell in very few stores internationally. But what even is streetwear if it’s not near impossible to procure?
Well, this is where MR PORTER steps in. The online retailer this week unveiled its ‘Japan Edit’ – a series of never before seen capsule collections designed exclusively for MR PORTER by 15 of Japan’s coolest menswear labels.
We’re talking Needles, Ambush, Beams Plus, Kapital and Human Made among others. If those names mean nothing to you, it’s time for an (overdue) education. And if you’re currently salivating at the thought of such coveted Japanese brands being so dang accessible all of a sudden, well, we’re right here with you.
Perhaps one of the hottest Japanese streetwear brands right now is Needles, which is one of Nepenthes’ most formidable labels. (If you’re scratching your head and wondering WTF Nepenthes is then no, it’s not a carnivorous plant. It’s a Japanese fashion collective that has five or six of its own fashion labels. Needles is one of them).
(Above: NEEDLES Oversized Tie-Dyed Fleece-Back Cotton-Jersey Hoodie and Glittered Webbing-Trimmed Tech-Jersey Track Pants.)
You might recognise Needles as being the brand that brought tie-dye to the attention of the streetwear world. Needles’ t-shirts and hoodies, which are characterised by their tab-like panels, are among the 122 garms that make up MR PORTER’s Japan Edit.
As are these super fly, super camp, lilac tracksuit pants, which happen to have a matching zip-up jacket (but if that sounds like a lot and you prefer to fly under the radar, you can purchase them separately).
This is the first time Needles designer Keizo Shimizu has made the tracksuit in this colour way. Streetwear Stans, you know what to do.
“When I design, I take influences, fabrics and materials from all over the world and incorporate them into the collection. […] From our panelled shirts to our signature track suits, these 11 pieces showcase the breadth of what Needles is known for,” says Shimizu of working with MR PORTER on the capsule.
(Above: HUMAN MADE Printed Loopback Cotton-Jersey Sweatshirt and Printed Ceramic Mug.)
Other brands to pull notably fresh fits out of their pockets for The Japan Edit include Human Made – which, for the uninitiated, is the brand-child of A BATHING APE founder DJ NIGO.
For the MR PORTER capsule, Human Made went as far as decorating a mug with a ramen graphic, which is a great entry-level piece for those of you not yet convinced of the gravitational power of Japanese streetwear (it's only a matter of time, though).
Kapital, the cult denim brand turned fully-fledged purveyor of ultimate steeze, have also brought some pretty impressive garms to the table. Their patchwork paisley is the stuff of streetwear lore and the Kimono-style pieces they’ve whipped up for The Japan Edit are no exception.
The fact MR PORTER was able to get this coveted cluster of labels to produce exclusive garms for the store is a coup of 18 Brumaire-proportions. It’s also an indication of where the needle on streetwear’s cool-compass is currently pointing: Japan.