Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands [A Complete Guide]

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Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands

Have you ever wondered what Japanese Streetwear is and which are the top Japanese streetwear brands? The article will satisfy you with a detailed answer by providing full information from definition to the list of top streetwear brands in this country.

If you’re a fan of updating fashion, you can’t miss out on streetwear style. One of the most outstanding in this field we shouldn’t ignore is Japanese street fashion with a lot of Japanese streetwear brands. The trend has been widespread all over the world and even prevalent in many fashion shows. Today, in this article, we will together explore what Japanese streetwear is, the history of this style, and some outstanding brand names.

1. What is Japanese streetwear?

It can be said that Japanese street fashion is one of their most unique styles. It was the creative combination of local and foreign brand names. Besides, street fashion is well-known as a style that combines many elements such as music, sports, fashion, and many others to express one’s ego through creative outfits. The important feature which makes them become different from others is the lifestyle choice.

At that time, the young in this country had changed their mind a lot about the definition of fashion. They showed their personality through the way they choose their own mode. As many articles before, Shibuya and Harajuku were considered to be the foundation of Japanese streetwear. So, let’s explore how the style has developed and affected fashionistas.

Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands [A Complete Guide 2021]
Japanese street fashion

2. History of Japanese streetwear

If you walk on the Japanese streets in the 1940s, you might have a chance to contemplate traditional clothes like kimonos. However, in the 70s and ’80s, when American-style music like hip-hop was popular and had remarkable effects on the Japanese youth, their fashion also changed a lot.

One of the most famous cultures at that time is “kawaii” inspired by some magazines like “Olive”. After a decade, many Japanese streets were full of shops with various styles. Because the demand for streetwear style was too high, the appearance of Shibuya 109 and Laforet was like saviors. Thanks to the rise of many different trends, Tokyo became one of the fashion centers at that time.

Besides some famous brands, there were some names welcomed by many people such as UNDERCOVER, Takahashi, Nigo, and Urahara. Until now, a lot of streetwear brands still exist and have great effects on Japanese Streetwear fashionistas.

Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands
Japanese Streetwear

3. Top 15 Japanese streetwear brands you should know about

3.1. NEIGHBORHOOD

The Japanese Streetwear Brand was founded in 1994 by Shinsuke Takizawa or Shin. The label is considered one of the roots of Japanese streetwear. They concentrate on punk and biker styles, which were inspired strongly by countercultural moves. And now, they collaborate with a famous Western brand and their trend also changes considerably based on western culture. We can see that even when receiving the new wind-like military trend, they still remain their unique icons such as selvedge denim.

3.2. A BATHING APE (BAPE)

It’s not surprising when BAPE is known as one of the leading Japanese street fashion brand names. It was founded by Tomoaki Nagao and in 1993, the first store was opened in Harajuku. Anyone from all over the world desires to visit one of BAPE’s 19 stores to find some items they want. The products from BAPE often make people satisfied at the first sight because they’re casual and customers can use them in daily life. However, they still have some special icons printed on every item. This is considered to be a unique print that you don’t want to miss.

Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands
Big Sean x BAPE Collection | HYPEBEAST

3.3. UNDERCOVER

UNDERCOVER was founded by Jun Takahashi. This brand is also considered to be the embodiment of Japanese streetwear. Takahashi was considered to be one of the most famous designers in this community. Can you believe that he established his own brand when he was just in Bunka Fashion College? His original label was inspired by Rei Kawakubo and Vivienne Westwood. Now, his branch labels have many chances to cooperate with worldwide ones like Nike, Supreme, or Uniqlo.

3.4. COMME des GARÇONS

COMME des GARÇONS was established in 1969 by Rei Kawakubo. It was well-known as a top Japanese streetwear brand. Like Rei Kawakubo’s style, COMME des GAR*ONS combines avant-garde design and an eye-catching logo on almost every item. Over the years, the brand name has witnessed the revolution of Japanese streetwear. However, they still keep their own features which define the unique styles in the Japanese market.

3.5. Yohji Yamamoto

Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands
Yohji Yamamoto

It is understandable that Yohji Yamamoto is recognized as a top fashion designer in Japan. The distinctive characteristic makes them outstanding among many Japanese streetwear brands in the back. This color is a special way to create their own identity. Recently, their designs have been dominating the streets of Japan with their mix of traditional Japanese elements and contemporary visions. Yohji Yamamoto’s collaboration with Adidas for Y-3 has been among the most successful collaborations of all time. That’s the reason why Y-3 is also considered to be one of the foremost streetwear brands all over the world.

3.6. Suicoke

Although nowadays, it is known as a high-quality brand name, not everyone actually knows their behind story. The label was just founded in 2006. At that time, they sold wooden Matryoshka Dolls instead of clothes as at present. It just became really famous when there was a collaboration with a famous Italian company to make an ultra-comfy foam base for their now-famous sandals. A variety of designs for both men and women are available with its lightweight, functional footwear that has adjustable Velcro straps.

3.7. Visvim

Visvim was founded in 2000 but it quickly became one of the most popular Japanese Streetwear Brands. The founder of the brand is Hiroki Nakamura, known to give up his designer to start up this label. It can be estimated that Visivim is the perfect combination of traditional and contemporary trends. Taking its inspiration from the Native American moccasin, Nakamura’s FBT is most influential in depicting this concept. An ornate tassel and durable Vibram outsole combine natural leather construction with an elegant look.

3.8. Cav Empt

Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands

Cav Empt was founded in 2011 after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was damaged by a huge earthquake. Then, its style, the bleak aesthetic was affected by the darkness and hushed background. Now, it consists of several minimalistic pieces with elaborate silhouettes, but they also produce graphic pieces. One of the most huge inspirations for them is dystopian work, like Phillip K. Dick. That’s why you can see the cyberpunk aesthetic style clearly on their lookbook.

3.9. BEAMS

Etsuko Shitara and Osamu Shigematsu created the label with designs rooted in American culture, specifically between the 1930s and 1970s. Originally a shop selling American Life products in Harajuku, BEAMS now has 160 locations and 4 lines. The brand has since collaborated with brands such as Converse and expanded its line to cover European streetwear and women’s clothing trends.

Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands
Products of BEAMS

3.10. Kapital

Kapital was started in 1985 by Toshikiyo Hirata. He named the company after the Japan denim capital, the hometown of his founder. Even though the brand started as a sewing factory, it has now grown into one of the most respected denim manufacturers in the world. As soon as the company changed its name to Kapital in 1996, everything changed. Having gained experience with other businesses, Hirata began to apply his craft design and manufacturing skills to the capital’s trademark cut-and-sew process. Kapital’s designs always contain many delicate details that are now their signature that they have reinvented the Americana style with innovative crafts and dyeing methods.

3.11. Wacko Maria

Founded in 2005 by Keiji Ishizuka and Atsuhiko Mori, Wacko Maria-style was based on the inspiration of art, music, and film. Even though they are one of the relatively new Japanese street fashion brands in the industry, they still have an impressive mark that everyone admires. WACKO MARIA clothing is a great mixture of bold colors and Japanese patterns. Not only clothing production, they even organize many events where artists have chances to discuss and cooperate.

Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands

Wacko Maria

3.12. Uniqlo

The Japanese Streetwear Brand was founded in the 1980s. It is also another name that can combine flexibly between traditional and modern styles. It can be the most popular streetwear brand in Japan because almost all locals shop their clothes in Uniqlo stores. The brand is famous not only in Japan but also widespread in America and Europe. Due to the fact that they are reliable for basic principles as well as trends, their audience is probably so loyal. Despite being more aggressive than its Japanese counterparts, Uniqlo contributes greatly to Japanese streetwear culture.

Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands

3.13. WTAPS

WTAPS was founded in 1996 by Tetsu Nishiyama. The designs of WTAPS take inspiration from authentic military designs. In order to create the brand’s aesthetic, authentic military designs are integrated with streetwear sensibilities.  In Japan, WTAPS is just as popular as Supreme. When they release products, they’re in high demand. Their products sell out rapidly.

3.14. Mastermind Japan

Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands

Mastermind Japan was founded in 1987. The label is also known for two distinct characteristics: their use of black on virtually everything and their Skull and Crossbones logo. Taking their inspiration from the punk and goth scene, mastermind Japan’s products are known for their quality and attention to detail. As part of its 20th- anniversary celebrations, the brand launched a global label called mastermind WORLD. Consequently, mastermind JAPAN worked side-by-side with mastermind WORLD to release collections for various markets.

3.15. FACETASM

The Japanese Streetwear Brand was founded by designer Hiromichi Ochiai in 2007. FACETASM might be more your style if the minimalist stylings are not your style. There is no categorization for the brand. As opposed to this, each collection is meant to differ from the prior. Even so, Japanese street culture is expressed through their concept, and this has been the case since their previous collections. They tend to create designs that are playful, bold, and unique.

4. Where to buy Japanese streetwear?

4.1. In Japan

Probably the best place to start is in Harajuku, the place where streetwear culture originated in Japan. Throughout the streets, you will find a variety of boutiques that offer items in all price ranges. The Laforet mall, a popular place to shop for various Japanese subcultures, features dozens of levels, with each offering a different kind of Japanese street brand.

In addition to Harajuku, Shibuya is also a good place to shop for Japanese streetwear. Shoppers will also be able to find BAPE and Supreme stores in this neighborhood – both leading brands in streetwear culture.

Another place you can go is Ginza and pop by Dover Street Market. In this market, you can easily purchase from the well-known Japanese streetwear brands to unknown ones. In case you’re following the vintage styles, Shimokitazawa is an ideal destination for you. Finally, in case you can’t find any nearby stores to pick your streetwear clothes, the stores of Uniqlo are always ready to welcome you because you can easily catch up with a showroom of this brand in every corner.

Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands

4.2. Outside Japan

If you live outside of Japan, then you have to resort to online shopping to enjoy the best Japanese streetwear or using a Japanese shopping proxy service. Almost all the above Japanese streetwear brands have international shipping. Therefore, you don’t have to worry that you will miss your items.

5. Some outstanding Japanese streetwear styles

Actually, through the timeline, there are a lot of streetwear styles that have remained from the past until now. But we just want to focus on the styles in the nearest periods, the 1990s, to see how they changed their fashion until now. By looking at street fashion at that time, we can understand more thoroughly the remarkable development of the industry.

  • Urahara (1999)

Urahara is also a very popular style among women. Boys-looking girls with T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers are more common in Harajuku.

  • Ganguro gal (1999)

The ganguro gal style spread from Shibuya to its surrounding areas. Some of the former kogyaru-stylers have also gradually transformed into ganguro gals. One of the most distinctive features of this style is the combination of wigs, false eyelashes, and dark skin.

  • Kawaii: Joshi Kosei (1998)

High school girls dominated the fashion trend in the second half of the 1990s. Boys’ school uniforms were changed to blazers instead of the traditional gakuran, and girls’ sailor uniforms to blazers and pleated skirts. As a result, fashion has become more mainstream.

  • Kawaii: Joshi Kosei (1997)

Toward the end of the 1990s, high school girls led the fashion trends. School uniforms in Tokyo have been renewed: boys’ uniforms changed to blazers instead of the traditional gakuran, and girls’ sailor uniforms changed to blazers and pleated skirts. This has raised awareness that fashion is a part of everyday life.

Top 15 Best Japanese Streetwear Brands

Conclusion

Japanese streetwear focuses on baggy, loose-fitting styles. While shopping for Japanese streetwear, remember that vintage American-inspired styles make pretty safe bets when it comes to the culture of streetwear in Japan. There is no right or wrong definition of Japanese streetwear styles. Therefore, just be confident, choose your own style and dress up. Many Japanese streetwear brands were born out of this spirit of being different. In this day and age, the word streetwear is so broad and is used so frequently – what exactly is Japanese streetwear, then? Try out Japanese streetwear styles and see what happens!

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