As the director of BOUNTY HUNTER, he has been a key person who had great influence on the Japanese fashion scene ever since the nineties. The reason why he has been able to keep working at the front line for such a long time might be his great eye for beauty. In this installment, we asked him: what are the archive items you’re keeping an eye out for in 2020?
The first item he introduced to us were these sneakers, the adidas model called ‘rivalry’. “People like the Beasty Boys and Shawn Stussy have been known to wear these so I was really interested in them from a young age. At first I’d been using the white/dark blue model, but the black/white model was the one I actually wanted. At the time you didn’t have the possibility of just buying these easily online, so it was really hard to find them. But I just kept on looking for them until I finally found them, this pair of black/white high-cut sneakers. Back then I used to wear them every day.”
These rivalry model high-cut sneakers have re-appeared thrice by now and he owns a pair for each time they did. “This happened quite a while ago so my memory is uncertain but back then we (in Japan) used to pronounce rivalry differently or called these ‘attitude’. But if you try to look them up on the internet with those names you won’t actually find them. These days the Japanese pronunciation seems slightly different. I wonder why? It might seem like a trivial thing, but this is the kind of facts that interested people from my generation.”
This pair of sneakers mean a lot to him, so much that he’s been carefully using them and keeping them in his collection for over twenty years; still, there is one thing he compromised on. “Actually, the model I really wanted was the low-cut, not the high-cut model in black/white. But for some reason that model was never revived. Just when I was thinking ‘If they didn’t make it there’s no way of looking for it’ and had given up, the black/white low-cut model appeared inline last years. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity and bought two pairs. I was so happy that I kept them inside the box for the longest time. Recently when I was listening to Bad Brains’s Quickness (an album from 1989), I noticed bass player Darry Jenifer was wearing rivalry sneakers as well. To me, that was the ultimate sign that this was the right time, so I finally decided to start wearing them.
“When looking at the kind of leather jackets people playing in bands wear, I always think ‘I wonder what this person has on there’ and immediately get attracted by the badges and embroidered patches on there. It’s almost like a disease.” That’s how HIKARU introduces up to his next item, a product related to the 1979 movie The Wanderers, about a group of rebelling delinquents.
“I personally loved the Baldies team, a group of skinheads wearing leather jackets. This is an embroidered patch with a skull that looks like those people would wear. I found it in a second-hand clothes store around 1995. I’ve been keeping it safe for all these years, but when BOUNTY HUNTER was asked to make MA-1 jackets, we designed them so you could attach a patch to the shoulders, so I decided at that time to patch it on there and started wearing it from them.”
To HIKARU, these were items that embodied the Baldies, but then one day something peculiar occurred. “I wore this going to a friend’s hardcore concert. There were a lot of people there who were also fans of The Wanderers, so I went there hoping people would be interested in the patch. However, no-one reacted at all. In the end I started talking about it myself but everyone was like ‘what are you talking about?’. I was completely shocked.”
After he went home and watched the movie once more, he realized why. In the movie, the patch only appeared for a total of two seconds. “If you look up shots of the movie online, you can clearly see what the characters are wearing. But those scenes are completely cut from the actual movie. This is my personal guess, but while the movie was made in 1979, the setting is in 1963. Movies reflect well the era they were made in, so reflecting mannerisms that were weird in that period are a total no-go. So I suppose these scenes could’ve been cut because they didn’t fit with the setting.” This is the way HIKARU sees things.
He uploaded this sad story about the patch on his blog. “I received a message from a man known as Tai-chan from Sendai who is collecting SEDITIONARIES (the store run by Vivienne and Malcolm in England in the seventies). According to him, “The people working at SEDITIONARIES also attached patches to their clothing.” You can see them doing so in the photo collection called PUNK’S DEAD. So when JORDAN, who used to work at SEDITIONARIES, came to Japan last year, I asked him to sign my copy of the book.”
But that inspiring experience lead to a new question. “The patches that appeared in the American movie The Wanderers, also existed in the same time period in England. So does that mean it was an original item and not just a prop for the movie? If so, what’s the original item for this skull design? I got really interested the more I thought. Normally, if you start looking into these things there’s a person somewhere in the world that knows basically everything about the subject. But for this skull, we’re still not quite sure. I really want to know the answer, but at the same time, I don’t want to know it as well. If I do find out, I’ll probably be disappointed…” Not knowing something can be a driving factor that moves people to do something. HIKARU, working for BOUNTY HUNTER, ended up making an item inspired by this patch because of his obsession with this Baldies skull.
“I knew from a while ago that the members of The Clash attached dog tags to their clothes, but a few years ago when Paul Simonon was featured in a magazine there was a dog tag on the photo. ‘Wow, he’s still using them. I should make one myself’ I thought to myself and immediately went to a military goods shop and started designing it. This is a different story, but there’s also this band called DAG NASTY, and I’ve been looking for a tour t-shirt from their album Field Day (their third album from 1988) for a long time. So one day I found a bootlegged version on eBay and bought it. These two events happened around the same time, which lead me to being interested in dog tags again.”
Sometimes good things happen at the same time, and so one day I received a mail at our BOUNTY HUNTER STORE. The sender was the ex-bassist of both DESCENDENTS and DAG NASTY. “I think H20’s Toby was the one who introduced us, but I suddenly received an e-mail from Doug Carrion, who used to be the bassist from DAG NASTY when they made their second album. Basically, he was announcing he wanted to come to Japan with his new band, Field Day, and was asking me from my opinion. Doug Carrion was collaborating with DAG NASTY’s Peter Cortner to create a new band, Field Day, and they were making a seven inch album. This was just when I was taking a new look at dog tags and had bought the Field Day tour t-shirt I had been looking for for a long time, so I was really surprised. This was definitely the best timing, and it got me really hyped for the coming summer.”
Finally, he told us: ”It just sounds really interesting to go out in town wearing clothes with a dog tag and being stopped by people wondering what it’s all about.” This child-like mind of his is quite lovable and is still alive at this age; he manages to show us his edge using words as well.
This is a story from when HIKARU went to Disneyland Florida at the beginning of this year. “The trimmed t-shirts with Mickey might seem quite standard (you often see them at second-hand stores) but when I went to Disney over the years they don’t sell them that often at all. So I was really hyped when I found out they were on sale now.”
HIKARU is, of course, known for his love of black t-shirts. Does he even get a chance to wear white T-shirts when he buys them? “To be honest, I have been wearing black T-shirts only for a long while. But these trimmed T-shirts I often used to wear in the nineties felt really fresh and in the moment to me now. That’s why I thought wearing a white T-shirt once in a while isn’t so bad either.”
By the way, BOUNTY HUNTER is also know to have released many collaboration T-shirts with Disney; the reason for that also has something to do with HIKARU’s love for black T-shirts. “There’s a lot of white body Mickey T-shirts, but there’s actually not many black varieties. My personal thoughts were ‘If only they existed, I would be wearing them’, so I asked Disney to let me make them myself. He also tells us this odd fact. “Disney items have this image of always having a copyright mark (©) on them, right? But in fact, this isn’t required at all. It’s only there because I personally wanted it to be there.”
Finally, there’s a band T-shirt that he has a very strong and deep bond with. His recommendation is this item related to the legendary band EXCEL, representative of the Venice scene of the eighties and nineties. Let’s start with how EXCEL and HIKARU first met. “It all started when House of Pain’s Danny Boy introduced me to this skate shop in Los Angeles, where I met the vocalist, Dan. He probably saw me as this long-haired Asian guy who came up to him and started talking about how much he loved EXCEL, and he ended up being really friendly to me. That’s when we started being friends. By the way, the reason my hair was long in this period was actually influenced by this Dan.” On the photo you can see a tour T-shirt from their Winterland tour in the nineties.
“On our T-shirts you can always find a bar logo on the bottom of the backside, which was inspired by this band T-shirt. It was designed by Michael Seiff. On the left, there’s the original item which I bought at the beginning of the nineties in this shoestore in Kamata called Lobby. In the middle, you can see the recently made revival version. Hearing something’s been remade, I always instinctively want to do the same thing myself, so I got working and we made a version with the colors dropped off.” Of course he’s done many collaborations in the past, but there’s something new he’s trying this time. “As a proof of our collaboration, we always used to print it with the BOUNTY HUNTER logo. But for the real EXCEL fans, there’s probably some people thinking ‘I don’t need this BOUNTY HUNTER logo on there!’. We want these people to wear it just as well, so this time we were faithful to the original and left our logo out. For people from our generation, this probably reminds them a lot of when they were kids, and for the younger people this is a good entry point to get to know this item. My biggest wish is just for people who love EXCEL to wear this item.” His final words bring a passionate end to this conversation.
BOUNTY HUNTER Designer
Many street brands started out from Harajuku and grew to have a presence all over the world. BOUNTY HUNTER is probably the most famous brand in Japan to use elements of punk culture in their items. HIKARU is a key person in this scene, working as the front man as well as a designer for the brand.
Photo_ Ryo Kuzuma