When it comes to street fashion, few countries do it as well as Japan’s OG Street Brands. From Nigo’s BAPE to Harajuku’s iconic PLAY, these OG Japanese brands have left an impression on the world through their signature take on streetwear basics.
Founded in 1969, Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo’s PLAY brand has straddled the line between high fashion and streetwear long before the likes of Virgil Abloh emerged. Their hoodies and T-shirts with the bug-eyed PLAY logo are a staple for rappers and celebs alike.
1. UNDERCOVER Japan’s OG Street Brands
WACKO MARIA, founded in 2005, is a unique brand that proposes a style that feels romantic and glamorous. Its clothes are influenced by music, film and art.
Another of the OG players in Japanese streetwear, UNDERCOVER (Jun Takahashi) took a punk approach to fashion before Virgil Abloh was a thing. The label straddled the line between streetwear and high fashion long before anyone else, creating collections that were both ahead of its time and ahead of the trend Japan’s OG Street Brands.
Evisu started out as a denim brand, but the company now makes a wide variety of clothing inspired by music and culture. Its collections are incredibly bold, with some pieces even lifting box art from famous video games.
Japan’s OG Street Brands From Nigo’s streetwear fave BAPE to Rei Kawakubo’s iconic COMME des Garçons, Japan has long been on the forefront of fashion. Today, there’s a host of Japanese brands making waves in the industry with their forward-thinking designs.
Founded in 1994, Neighborhood is one of the OG players from the Urahara movement and known for its edgy style inspired by biker culture. The brand is also renowned for its collaborations with big-name brands like Nike and Converse.
NEIGHBORHOOD, founded by Shinsuke Takizawa in 1994, draws inspiration from music and skate culture. The brand is known for its edgy and rebellious aesthetic, creating clothing that challenges conventions.
Japan is a country that doesn’t do things by half measures, from its high-speed bullet trains to the diversity of sandwiches on offer at neighbourhood konbini. This philosophy is also present in the country’s fashion, where brands like Nanamica ply their trade by creating clothing that is both stylish and practical.
Taking inspiration from the backstreets of Harajuku, the brand fuses London punk and utilitarian style with oversized silhouettes. This makes NEIGHBORHOOD perfect for those who are looking to bring some quintessential Japanese streetwear into their wardrobe.
4. WACKO MARIA
Japan’s OG Street Brands Founded by Keiji Ishizuka and Atsuhiko Mori, former J-League soccer teammates, WACKO MARIA was born out of an appreciation for culture. The duo engrossed themselves in everything from music to girls and bars as they retired – eventually founding the brand.
The brand’s aesthetic is inspired by rockabilly, punk and streetwear and their clothing often features wild patterns and controversial slogans. WACKO MARIA is also known for their music-related collaborations such as with Bedwin and this year, they worked with Jean-Michel Basquiat to produce Hawaiian shirts that feature the artwork of the American artist.
The collaboration taps into both brands’ intrinsic outlook on life. Featuring Camo coloured animal print Converse Chuck 70 sneakers and High Foxing tape, the collection is rebellious from top to bottom.
Japan’s OG Street Brands The country is home to fanatical style subcultures like Visual Kei and ganguro, but it also has some of the world’s most influential streetwear brands. From Evisu’s vintage aesthetic that made them a favorite of many rappers to Engineered Garments military influences and penchant for pockets, these names set the trends rather than follow them.
The creators of Nanamica are fans of neutral clothing that fits well and can stand up to anything nature throws at it. The brand creates durable, lightweight and element resistant styles with high-performance fabrics like GORE-TEX. The result is a collection of minimalist menswear that looks sharp but won’t break your budget.
6. United Arrows
Japan has a very distinct take on streetwear. From the iconic BAPE to the historic Harajuku district, Japan’s OG brands have had a heavy influence on Western culture. Whether it’s through their adoption by hip hop artists or through their influence on newer streetwear brands, the resulting cultural impact is unmistakable.
Founded in 1997, WTAPS is one of the OG players in the Japanese streetwear movement. They’re known for their loose cuts and military-inspired designs with an overarching utilitarian aesthetic.
The brand is also behind the parent company of fashion brands MonkeyTime, Beauty & Youth. Essentially, United Arrows is a clothing store that curates forward-thinking brands.