Arts and Crafts Denim / UNDERCOVER by Jun Takahashi
At this very moment in time, hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands items are being created. These items are to be consumed by us people, will one day turn old and are thrown away with the garbage like mere pieces of cloth. They disappear from the memories of the people who wore them, the people who saw them being worn, even from the people who made them in the first place. People throw away and buy new items, and so the process repeats; this is how the cycle of the fashion industry turns right now. And yet. There exist items out there which don’t get caught in the whirlpool of consumer society, that have their own authentic value. Jackets that have made fans crazy ever since they were announced on the runway; M51 coats that have become revalued over the years; rider’s jackets and denim pants that have been raised to the level of art pieces. These aren’t just consumed and thrown away; they instead start shining brighter and brighter with the years. People sometimes call them ‘masterpieces’. In this column, we will introduce you to some of these masterpieces that remain in the history of men’s fashion, and look into the process in which they were created.
When trying to think of Japanese designers who have created actual ‘masterpieces’, the two names you will probably remember are Jun Takahashi and UNDERGROUND. UNDERCOVER is a brand that Mr. Takahashi created when he was still a student at the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, taking a lot of influence from the Sex Pistols, punk rock and Rei Kawakubo’s COMME des GARCONS. He wanted to create clothes like many people would feel they’d seen them before but that did not actually exist yet in reality; to do that, he created this brand, combining high-end fashion, punk and street fashion elements in a balanced way and these designs soon gained a cult-like following. Takahashi also worked together with NIGO to create the legendary shop called NOWHERE, said to be the start of the fashion trend commonly known as Ura-Harajuku culture; after this, he went on to show high designs at the zenith of high-end fashion, the Paris Collection, at a very young age and started representing an authentic Japanese shape of fashion. UNDERCOVER has been praised by many all over the world, and has lead the way for many other Japanese brands to find their way abroad. Recently they have been collaborating with brands like OFF-WHITE, NIKE and VALENTINO and continue to be at the center of the fashion world.
One of the greatest masterpieces designed for by Jun Takahashi which is still popular these days is a pair of crashed denim pants designed for their 2005 Autumn/Winter collection, in their Arts and Crafts period.
This period featured collections that gained inspiration from Takahashi’s own child playing with felt dolls and was designed with the image of clothing an adult and elegant woman would wear. And in reality, some of the models actually turned up on the runway wearing felt hair and many of the designs featured decorations made from felt. Having pieces of cut-up felt on otherwise elegant clothes might feel quite contradictory, but this season combines various ideas on a higher level and is loved by many fans, just like SCAB and BUT BEAUTIFUL.
This pair of crashed denim jeans from the Arts and Crafts period by is most representative for this season’s theme. It’s been crash processed for the whole length of the jeans, which is not often seen with any other brands and has also been wash-processed; above that it is decorated with cut-up pieces of felt, which gives it a unique look as well. Combining it with pieces of thermal clothing make it the ultimate representation of what the theme of Arts and crafts stands for. At the same time, it’s also a very item, representing punk culture and rebelliousness, which has led to it gaining a huge presence and great popularity in the fashion world. After second-hand brand clothing started being revalued for their design as a part of the archive, this pair of jeans also leapt up in value and after people like Travis Scott and Playboi Carti started wearing it, a worldwide scramble started between all people who wanted to own these jeans. Just like ’s slogan, We make noise, not a clothes, suggests, the noise that these jeans have been producing has continued to exist for over 15 years and still continues to do so. Now, wouldn’t we all love to wear this piece of art that is part of fashion history for ourselves?
Text_ SHUHEI HASEGAWA