(Some quoted from Part 1)
Archive items made by designer’s brands are becoming a boom in the fashion world. But why are these archive items gathering attention these days? To find the reason for that and to find out which brands we should be paying attention to, we will look into the matter together with Kogi “POGGY” Motofumi. For this second time, we will go into detail about a Japanese brand we’re proud of that the whole world knows; COMME des GARÇONS. Through the lens of the archive and with the help of Kogi’s own view, we will unravel the story behind the creations by Kawakubo Rei, which continue to surprise the world,.
--- First, tell us about where this archive trend originates from.
“It probably came from vintage hip hop fashion. It’s not rare anymore to see secondhand stores sell something like TOMMY HILFIGER from the 90’s, but this wasn’t true in Japan until 5 or 6 years ago. The first time I saw these kinds of things was when I visited “FRUITION” in Las Vegas. It’s a boutique that was founded by some young folks in their 20’s, but I was shocked to discover that they had brands like JEREMY SCOTT sitting next to secondhand hip hop clothing from the 80’s and 90’s. This was a store that people like Kanye and Pharrell would shop at. In the meantime, in New York, Brian Procell opened “COAT OF ARMS” in the Lower East Side, and sold vintage hip hop clothing. Then “Round Two” opened in Los Angeles, and one of its owners, Sean Wotherspoon, landed a collaboration with NIKE with his own design. As stores jumbled up preowned clothes with designer brand items, there came a new perception and value that secondhand stores didn’t have in the past. While these stores opened one after another, I observed foreign designers and musicians go through those doors, and it made me think to myself, ‘there’s a new value being created.’ ”
--- If vintage hip hop style was what triggered a breakthrough in archival fashion, how did it expand itself to designer labels?
“I would say Kanye West is responsible for it. It’s rumored that YEEZY has its origin from when Kanye went to a vintage store in Osaka to buy loads of RAF SIMONS. This was then followed by street fashion fans starting to discover RAF SIMONS from the 90’s. And I think that this later spread to brands like Maison Margiela and KATHARINE HAMNETT. Another important thing to mention is, since about 2 years ago, foreign creators have been eyeing on Urahara styles by NUMBER (N)INE, UNDERCOVER, and A BATHING APE from the 90’s-00’s era. Today’s top designers like Kim Jones from GIMMIE FIVE and Virgil Abloh were heavily influenced by street fashion during their adolescent years. Looking at Kim Jones’ past reveals his admiration for Hiroshi Fujiwara, and you can tell that he was also very influenced by NIGO when he showed NIGO’s home in one of his YouTube videos. Virgil, Kanye, and Supreme are all doing the same thing, in which they are using 90’s Urahara style as a reference to create styles that match to our current generation.”
--- It seems like hip hop artists have played a major role in the archival fashion wave.
“Yes. It has to do with how hip hop artists like Kanye and ASAP Bari became keen on archival fashion. Kanye was also the one that was the fastest in bringing attention to Daft Punk and electro sounds like Justice from the mid-2000, gave birth to hip hop that is musically listenable, and fashion transformed itself from the previous oversized trend to perfect fit sizing. Rappers dramatically changed the fashion scene by demonstrating in their work how opposites attract.”
--- Why is their focus specifically on the Urahara style from the 90’s to 00’s?
“Before hip hop, breakbeat was popularized in Bronx in the 70’s, which later contributed to the rise of rare groove and sampling. Breakbeat started out when youngsters who couldn’t afford to go to the disco would instead play soul and funk records over speakers and turntable sets in parks. DJs noticed that the audience gets more excited during the songs’ breaks, and that they would also start dancing. They utilized just the breaks and made two records with the same sounds, played it on loop, and this eventually became to be known as breakbeat. So DJs around the world are still scavenging for such kind of old and rare “break” records. And recently they are raving about Japanese breaks. This is because back in those days, Japanese musicians had phenomenal performance skills, and invested a lot of money in recording so the sound quality was great. I think that this relates not just to music but also to the quality of archival designer fashion in Japan. Which explains why brands like UNDERCOVER and NUMBER (N)INE are being recognized around the world for their fineness in design and quality, and have been increasing its value.”
--- Could you tell us a little bit more about the archive items from COMME des GARÇONS?
“Well, first up we have this coat from 1985 which has the logo printed on the back, which is an item you could still wear on a casual occasion. It wouldn’t strike you as old-fashioned at all if you only saw someone’s silhouette. I also personally own a double jacket from the 90’s, which has a hook fixed on the inside to keep the jacket in place. This is a fairly classical detail that is also found in items by traditional Japanese tailors, but it’s also one of the great parts about COMME des GARÇONS. The design itself is made with big shoulders which makes it fairly avant-garde even for these days, so it’s interesting to find such small details. This is one of the reasons I love the jackets by COMME des GARÇONS.”
“I also have this flamboyant combination which if I remember correctly is an item from four years ago, which has an art piece by Brooklyn-based tattoo artist JKS printed on it. While they also do collaborations with mainstream people like Jaime Reid who made artworks based on the Sex Pistols, one of the amazing things about COMME des GARÇONS is that they also suddenly pick up artists like him who are still young and whose name is not that well-known yet. They just keep on surprising. The year before last, I went to ComplexCon which was held in LA, which apparently Ms. Kawakubo was also attending. What’s more, she was attending among all these street fashion brands, with a customer group of people who are mostly into hip-hop and street fashion, where she was purchasing new items. Amazing, right? I can’t really say this out loud as someone in my position, but the way Ms. Kawakubo keeps on looking for new ideas in different places and producing new items as well is really amazing.”
--- Lastly, please tell us about what you think defines archival fashion.
“For men, it represents “items that one must get their hands on one day.” You know how men enter their 30’s and 40’s and are still thinking about things they couldn’t afford to get or earn when they were younger? I think that we’re starting to admire brands that were popular in the past and are unfaltering, like Margiela and HERMES, especially now that designers are transitioning so quickly. In any generation, there’s always the desire to get things that are hard to obtain.”
Motofumi “POGGY” Kogi
Born in 1976. After starting to work part-time in 1997 at “UNITED ARROWS” and moving on to PR, Kogi opened the boutique “Liquor,woman&tears.” In 2010 he launched “UNITED ARROWS & SONS” where he was also the director. After becoming independent recently, there is growing anticipation for new initiatives from him this year.