As the former director of Hectic, he played a big role in the fashion scene of Japan in the late nineties, while also being famous as a skateboarder. These days, he’s active as a designer for his own brand Hombre Nino as well as PLUS L by XLARGE. One of the reasons he has continued to work at the front end of the scene might be his acute sense of beauty. For this project, we asked him about the items he thinks will raise attention in 2020.
Some of these items were inspired by his friendships with others in his Hectic period, some by his point of origin, which is skateboard decks. And some of these were selected by Yoppi based on his authentic fashion sense, which led to some oddball choices; in total, he selected eight items for us. We interviewed him about these items and why he thinks they should be revalued at this point in time, all based by the photo’s he took of them personally with his iPhone.
STASH is known as a graphic artist from the eighties onward, and was born in New York. In Japan, he started being known from the nineties as a designer of the apparel brand, SUBWARE. The photo sent to us was a collab item released in the nineties, made by STASH working with snowboard brand Burton. “Because my son started learning it, I’ve been going to snowboard again for the first time in a while. And if you have to get started, might as well start by getting your feet steady. So I started looking for a board that fits well with my current feeling. These days a lot of snowboard designs are simple and plain, or on the other end because snow surfing is starting to be a theme a lot of the designs have fish tail-like designs. That’s cool as well, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for. While I was looking for a nice board, I found this item lying around in the storehouse of my office. STASH is well-known for his designs using a spray-can motif; as you would expect, the design itself uses a lot of straight lines. I had a real eureka moment there; this was just what I’d been looking for. I remembered the good thing about his artwork; no matter when you see it, his artwork always stays fresh.” Graffiti art, starting out as a form of vandalism, moved on to become well-known in society by collaborations with street brands, and these days more and more people are recognizing it as a genuine form of art. In that field, STASH can definitely be seen as an important player.
“Just like STASH, Futura’s artwork also has a charm that doesn’t disappear at all after time. Ever since they started showing their work in the seventies (while in Japan, he only started being popular in the nineties), he has always managed to gather attention from the art scene year by year and continues to shine bright. Even today, the people that were only kids back when Futura was still calling itself Futura 2000 have now become creators and directors themselves and have gained popularity in the scene, and shake up the world time by time with their joint works. These days they don’t just work on the street scene but also in the maison field, and are becoming more and more known across the world. ‘What will they surprise us with next?’ is the question; many people are still waiting these days for their next project. Personally, I find it great that even after becoming such a big player in the field, they retain the humanity to keep in touch with their old friends as well.” About the two pieces he selected for this project, he says the following. “I have a lot of other items as well related to Futura, but this time I brought a Nike jacket and a pair of pants from MAHARISHI with me, both of which I used to wear myself in the zeroes. Recent items are great as well, but I sometimes like to enjoy the feeling of walking around wearing these kind of items that you can’t actually buy anymore; it gives you a special sense of superiority.”
No matter how hard you look, it’s really difficult to find any kind of information on this minor sneaker brand called British Knights. The shoes that Yoppi selected are a pair of plump shoes, quite representative of the nineties. “At the time, you had brands like Converse, PONY and NIKE AIR TRAINER SC, as well as British Knights selling these kind of sneakers. At the time, one of the skaters I was looking up to, Mr. Otaki (T19’s Hiroshi Otaki) would often wear these. I think these parts were sampled from other items, but because thirty years have passed since they were made, they look like some of the items that are at the forefront of high-brand fashion these days. History repeats itself, that’s what I was thinking when I bought these online. By the way, they only cost me twenty dollars, which is insanely cheap. High brand shoes often go for ten times, maybe twenty times that. Makes you think about a lot of things, right? These sneakers are a one-of-a-kind model that provide a chance to reconsider what you value in clothing.”
As many may know about Yoppi, he is a big fan of bicycles as well, having started his own shop before from what used to be just a hobby. “I often take my bikes apart by myself to customize them to my own style, but this is the only model I’ve never taken apart; it’s always stayed intact. It’s already complete so it’s hard to put my hand on it.” The bike he’s talking about is a BMX by the brand BROOKLYN MACHINE WORKS (BMW), which started out in New York in 1996 and was very popular in Japan as well from the nineties to the zeroes. “This is from the first period of popularity for BMW, so probably around 1996. For me, the appeal of BMW is the bicycle fork cut from a single piece of aluminum. It stays cool over the years. This is literally a unique product; you cannot find a similar design wherever you look, it just doesn’t exist. This brand is not just great for its parts, the story behind the brand is amazing as well. They started out with funding by MCA (Beasty Boys), but continued as a brand supported by Pharrell Williams. The logo design was also done by stash. The brand has HIPHOP written all over it even it’s a bicycle brand, which is interesting too. They were not active for a few years, but I hear they started running again since last year.”
“One of the items that immediately came to mind when asked about items I want to take another look at for the archive are the pins often sold by skate companies and street brands. These items are usually only available for sale in a specific period of time, which means they can be used as a valuable source of seeing what things were like at a specific time. So now matter how old I get, I still end up gathering them.” Yoppi told us, while showing the pins he held in his hands. “Here we have older items from Teenage Wolf and Cristian Hosoi, Screaming Hand and Santa Cruz, Subwear, all these brands as well as the brand I am personally involved with now, Hombre Nino. The periods they originate from are all different, but you can take a picture with them all in one row and it’ll seem fairly natural. Isn’t that weird?” The designs that are used for T-shirts often are one of the easiest ways to reflect the hobbies and ways of thinking of the wearer. They’re like a stand-in for your business card. It might be interesting to use these pins in your daily fashion in a similar way as well.
Charles and Ray Eames are a famous couple known for the Eames furniture they created. The shell armchair they designed is seen as their most famous item, and is well-known as an item in the Midcentury collection. On the photo, you can see a medical cast supporting the area from the leg to the buttocks which was also designed by them. “This one I collected a while back, when me and the people around me were looking into the design by the Eameses.” This wooden cast, which Eames also supplied to the US Marine Corps, is officially known as a ‘leg splint’. In the past, Eames also designed a light fixture, with a light pressed between two leg splints. The idea of this somewhat unique item, can be attributed to him related to skateboarding as well. “The concave part of a skateboard (the bent part of the deck) is said to have been based on technology first designed by Eames. The fact that a skateboard deck is made by pressed seven pieces wood into one deck is called a seven-ply, which is also said to be based on techniques developed originally by Eames. It might seem a bit farfetched, but I wonder what the scene would’ve looked like without the existence of Eames.” By 2020, the skateboard scene has reached maturity, which is a good reason as any to talk about this product and reconsider its value. Yoppi also tells us the following. “Eames didn’t just consider furniture as a single item, but also how it fit inside the interior, which gave a new perspective to the value system of the furniture maker. These days, even skateboards are decorated with graphics on their decks and are used as interior pieces for on your wall; I feel there’s a connection to be found here as well.”
The artwork of Phil Frost, famous for having designed the album cover for the albums of DJ SHADOW. “Hectic, the company I used to work for before, had a store before where we displayed the artwork he was so friendly to draw for us. At the time, there was a period of about one and a half months where he did a short homestay at my house. One day when I returned home, he had decided by himself that it would be a good idea to draw something on the guitar case my wife held dearly. I of course was delighted, but my wife was completely exasperated and we got into a big fight. This is the art he drew that time. After a lot of time has passed, it’s become somewhat of a family heirloom for the Egawa family. Recently Phil Frost has risen up in conversation for doing a collaboration with the skateboard brand HUF, so I’m keeping track of his recent activities as well!”
The skateboards made by Dogtown, a skateboard brand born in the seventies in Venice Beach. “The people that influenced me back in the period that I’d just started getting into skateboarding, like Mr. Otaki (T19’s Hiroshi Otaki), Aron Murray, Eric Dressen and Mino (T19’s Tatsuya Mino), would be walking around with skateboards with these designs.” Learning from the people that inspired him, Egawa as a teenager would always be using this item which he has fond memories of. “Dogtown’s designs have been brought out time and again, but for a long time this design named WEB (designed by Michael Seiff) never got that much attention. Recently I found out it was finally reissued and without a second thought I’d bought it for myself. For skaters of my generation, this was big news. There’s got to be a reason behind this timing as well; a perfect time to learn from the past to improve the future, and to take another look at the skate culture of the day from the perspective of 2020.
Yoshifumi “Yoppi” Egawa
Member of the Tokyo-famous skateboard group, T19. Director of the legendary brand, HECTIC, which was the firestarter for the Ura-Harajuku boom in the nineties-zeroes. In the zeroes, he was one of the leading figures in the boom for fixies (fixed-gear bikes) that occurred in different places across the globe, and also owned a bicycle store called CARNIVAL TOKYO in the past. These days he is active as the designer of his own brands, Hombre Nino and PLUS L by XLARGE.
Photo_ Yoshifumi Yoppi Egawa
Text_ Hisanori Kato