Three independent Japanese labels—Neighborhood, Visvim, and White Mountaineering—are making a strong impression on aficionados of street wear.
The White Mountaineering label is steeped in the outdoors. Designer Yosuke Aizawa uses Gore-Tex in his rugged vests and pants, juxtaposing the material with vibrant prints. “I had the strong feeling that if I were to make my own brand, I would restrict it to the genre I loved most, and thought to include the word ‘mountain’ in the brand name as a declaration of intention,” says Aizawa, who got his training while working at Comme des Garçons under Junya Watanabe—a job he quit on a whim, when he was struck with the desire to go out on his own.
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EAST MEETS WEST
Visvim, launched in 2000, has found inspiration for its latest collection in the denim shirt worn by Paul Newman in the 1967 western Cool Hand Luke. But a move toward a melding of West and East is apparent in its Hawaiian-style shirts and the simple short-sleeve bu?on-down with a hand-painted fish on the front. “One of the things I was inspired by this season was a Model A Ford pick-up truck from the 1930s,” says Visvim designer Hiroki Nakamura. “It was beautiful, with the patina and character the truck had developed over the last 80 years. I strive to make product that has similar character; a type of product that somebody can look back on and perhaps feel what I felt when I discovered the truck.”
Neighborhood made its name in the ’90s with graphic T-shirts (skulls, bones, eagle heads, etc.). Its founder, Shinsuke Takizawa, spends his time away from men’s wear playing bass guitar in a band and customizing old cars and motorcycles, and his hobbies are reflected in much of the label’s swaggering, denim-heavy collections.