A fashion born almost by chance, by those who live on the street and find their identity in the street.
We want to tell where – and especially how – Japanese Streetwear – considered the real forerunner of the global one – was born; and who were the visionary pioneers initiating this movement, increasingly connected to the world of high fashion.
Between the Harajuku and Aoyama districts, there is a small area of about four blocks called Urahara-short for Ura-Harajuku – which means “The Hidden Harajuku” in Japanese. These few meters of street will go down in history as the birthplace of Japanese “Streetwear,” according to some schools of thought, the authentic one.
In the mid-1990s Tokyo is experiencing an irrepressible ferment: every day a new trend is born, the streets compose a colorful stage, made up of eccentrically dressed people, where everyone “says” his or her own when it comes to style, as long as it is original.
Several stores, often half-empty unnamed warehouses, begin to see garments from America and England, sniffing out the potential of the American Hip Hop and Punk scene, in a country that all in all has always been reluctant to overseas influences and trends.
Stores such as “A Store Robot” and “Vintage King” are the first to have had a future vision of what potentially the new subculture of Hip Hop can represent: their idea is to instill in the souls of young Japanese people a curiosity about a new, exotic trend.
In order to get there, this type of clothing must be as present as possible among the streets of Tokyo, on school desks, in the focal points of youth interest; in this way, the reference brands of American Hip Hop would be a real topic of conversation, about where to buy this or that T-shirt, that precise denim, that sneaker.
After some time, slowly but steadily, the Hip Hop style spread like wildfire, generating a youth movement that saw its followers intent on a feverish rush to buy, mixed with a genuine desire for something new.
Into this fervid context comes “Nowhere” the store that will come to be regarded as the Mecca of Japanese Streetwear.
When it first opens its doors, it is little more than a store in Urahara, run by three boys from the neighborhood – Jun “Jonio” Takahashi, Hiroshi Fujiwara and Tomoaki Nagao, better known as Nigo.
“Nowhere” is the result of a fervent curiosity, suddenly rekindled in Tokyo’s youth in observing new American trends: a place that doesn’t want to attract attention and that thrives on word of mouth – in a pre-internet era-of high school kids asking each other where it was that they bought that T-shirt or those shoes.
The store becomes a community gathering and gathering point by those looking for the right, underground look.
The store is divided into two parts: on one side is Nigo, who prints the T-shirts with graphics made by him (that’s the real beginning of A Bathing Ape); on the other is the space where Jun Takahashi, who will soon found the brand Undercover, and Hiroshi Fujiwara, who will later start the brand fragment design, operate.